Tonight in my weekly Bible study we'll be looking at 1 Peter 2:18-25. As I've studied this passage this week, I've been struck again by how often the NT authors explicitly root their ethical instruction in specific aspects of the gospel. For example, here in 2:18-20 Peter exhorts servants to be submissive to their masters, even if it means suffering unjustly. Then in 2:21-25 Peter roots this endurance of unjust affliction in the example of Christ, leading him to make six statements about Christ did or did not do:
1. Commited no sin
2. No deceit found in his mouth
3. Despite being reviled did not revile in return
4. Despite suffering did not threaten
5. Entrusted himself to the one who judges justly
6. Bore our sins on the cross
This leads then in 2:24 to a purpose statement: so that having died to sin you might live to righteousness.
So note the gospel pattern here: (1) exhortation to specific actions; (2) foundation in some aspect of the gospel. I think this pattern underlies all of the ethical instruction of the NT, even where the gospel foundation is not explicitly stated. In those cases, though, I believe we are required to make the connection in order to truly understand how to live out the commands of Scripture.
And as one final note, I have once again been struck by oour amazing Savior, who did all of this. Who among us can be sinless for even one day, or perhaps even one hour? Who among us never deceives with our speeh? Who among us does not return insult for insult? Who among us does not offer threats? Yet Jesus perfectly embodied these impossible traits. How can our hearts be cold towards one who is so amazing in his sinless perfection?