Essential Sequentials for Spiritual Maturity

1 Peter 5: 1-11

Keith Trevolt, Wichita, KS

As Peter closes his first epistle, he addresses two important topics. The responsibility of shepherds and the responsibilities of sheep. The main thrust of this last chapter is one of exhortation. He writes to "the pilgrims of the dispersion" who are in the grips of horrible persecution. What will he say to them? How will he say it to them? How will he exhort a scattered people going through suffering? What issues are covered in this short letter?

He begins by reassuring them of their unbreakable relationship with God (I Peter 1:3-9). No matter what may occur, they are "kept by the power of God" (vs. 5). He reminds them of their responsibility in a vile world. He tells them that as "obedient children" they are to "be holy in all their conduct" (vs. 15-16) and to "love one another fervently with a pure heart" (vs. 22).

How can we be holy before God and demonstrate an attitude of pure love to others? He makes it very clear that this comes only as a result of an intense craving for God's Word (vs. 2:2). They are going through perilous times, but Peter commands them to be submissive to authorities (vs. 2:13), in slavery (vs. 2:18-21) and in marriage (chap. 3).

As he pens this last portion, he addresses issues of great importance to all believers in any age and in any situation. Here the reader will see an exhortation to leaders and instructions for the flock. Times of persecution call for the best leadership. In I Peter 5:1-4, Peter calls out for the shepherds of God's people to exercise oversight (vs. 3:2) and be examples to the flock (vs. 3:3). Beginning in verse 5, Peter gives the saints a series of imperatives or commands that must be observed for spiritual maturity. So, of all the profound things Peter could address to close out his epistle, he goes back to the fundamentals of spiritual growth.

Spiritual maturity is not a result of wishing, hoping, imagining or even positive thinking. It is a result of biblical fundamentals being learned then applied in our daily lives. It is clear to see that what is seen in I Peter 5: 11 are attitudes. It is not how we act, but how we think. What are the motives behind what we do? These are the building blocks for maturity. It should also be noted that these are sequential attitudes. They must be followed and done in the order listed. No one attitude can be overlooked or eliminated. These are sequential essentials.

Submission (vs. 5)

This is not the first time he has talked about this. It is not a new theme, but it is a vital attitude. Without an attitude of submission one will never grow. " Subject" means to "line up under" and was a military word. Often times at school, a whistle is blown and the children immediately, without question, line up behind their teacher. This is the idea of submission, to obey without question. It is a call for respect and honor to those in leadership. It is a willingness of the heart to obey. Not being made to obey, but obeying because one chooses to do so. He directs this to the "youngers" because they tend to be the most aggressive and disparaging about the older generation. There is more of a pull to be headstrong and impatient. A lack of submission is a characteristic of youth and immaturity.

Our lives are to be a demonstration of submission to those in spiritual leadership and to all saints (vs. 5:5). Submission is the cornerstone in one's spiritual life because if one cannot submit to spiritual leaders, then there will be no submission to God. It is God who has established all authorities.

Humility (vv. 5-6)

This is the second attitude that goes hand in hand with the first. If the attitude of submission devours self-promoting pride, then humility confronts self-love. Peter does not say to show humility, but "be clothed with humility" (vs. 5:5). To "clothe" means literally to tie something on with a knot or bow. It is used of a work-apron worn by slaves. It is indicative of humble service and it is an apron that has one size which fits all.

When thinking of servanthood and humility, one is drawn to Philippians 2:5-8. The Lord Jesus is the classic example of a humble servant. Not only did He stoop to wash the disciples fee, but He became "obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross."

Humility is directed in two ways: toward others (vs. 5:5) and under the mighty hand of God (vs. 5:6). In every aspect of the believers life, SELF does not come into view. The aspect of submission and humility is contrary to sinful flesh and God graciously gives two incentives to adhere to Peter's exhortation. Simply put, God hates pride, which is completely contrary to humility. Proverbs 6:16 proclaims that there are things God detests and the first is haughty eyes. Not only does God hate pride, but He will hold back blessing from those who will not obey. When there is humility, there is grace (vs. 5:5).

The mighty hand of God (vs. 5:6) is an Old Testament symbol for God's covering power, His sovereignty. With His mighty hand God provides deliverance (Ex. 3:19-20), shelters during testing (Job 30:20-21) and chastens those He loves (Ezek. 20:33-34, 37-38). Where there is willing humility, there will eventually be divine exaltation (vs. 5:6).

Trust (vs. 7)

To humble oneself under God's mighty hand indicates compete reliance on God. If one will not submit and demonstrate humility then there will be no trust in God. it doesn't matter what the situation or calamity may be, when one places oneself willingly under God's powerful hand, then there will be complete, unquestioning trust.

"Casting" means to throw at or on something. I can discharge all my cares, concerns, despair and because I've submitted myself to Him. Trusting God is an indication that He will provide.

Self-Control (v. 8)

Because I trust my Savior I know that what ever He allows is according to His will. Therefore, I am soberminded. To be soberminded means to be thinking correctly. It is a discipline of mind and an understanding that the priorities of life are eternal things not earthly. It means to be self-controlled. We should not tolerate mediocrity in our lives. Our flesh must be harnessed and under control. It is essential that we be clearminded because we have an adversary that desires to cloud our mind with things that hinder our walk. We must be spiritually alert. That's why without self-control we will not be ready for the next attitude.

Readied Defense (vv. 8-9)

Submission leads to humility which leads to trust which leads to self-control which in turn causes us to on guard for our enemy. There is nothing more sad than casualties of war. We must be mentally alert because the devil stalks his prey intently. A lion roars AFTER it has caught his prey. As believers we must be ready for his onslaught. We want our lives to be a witness for our dear Lord not one which brings Him grief. It will be a hard battle, but we are guaranteed a victory. Sometimes while we are attacked we may drift into despair and discouragement. That is exactly why Peter mentions that other believers are going through this same attack. When we trust Him and know He is in control it leads to the next attitude.

 Hope (v. 10)

Peter says that God has "called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus...". This promise is added to the exhortation to remain faithful in persecution. We have this precious hope of future eternal glory. To be in His glorious presence in glorified bodies unhindered by our sinful flesh, the world's system, or our adversary the devil. With this hope we can endure any "light affliction." God's purpose realized in the future requires pain in the present. This hope helps produce spiritual strength and steadfastness. When I am spiritually attacked I am not discouraged, but lifted up. The reason why is because I am consumed with Him. That leads to the last attitude.

Worship (v.11)

Worship is a total awe and adoration of the Lord Jesus Christ. The heart of every believer must be consumed with Him. We cannot worship our Lord unless there is first total submission to Him.

We must continually pray for these attitudes to be why without self-control we will not be ready for the implemented in our lives. Submission, humility, trust, sobermindedness, readied defense, hope and worship are the essential sequentials of every believer's life if we want to see spiritual maturity.