In 1 Pet 2:11-17, Peter instructs us as Christians on how to conduct ourselves. Now that we are saved, we are “strangers and pilgrims,” [1 Pet 2:11] in the earth. We are “the people of God,” [1 Pet 2:10] citizens of “an holy nation,” [1 Pet 2:9]. Therefore, we are “not of the world,” [Jn 17:16]. Yet we still live in the world. So, we must know how God expects us to live among those who are not his people. As Christians, we are to:
Abstain from fleshly lusts – 1 Pet 2:11 – in the world, we all have fleshly lusts [1 Jn 2:16]. They “war against” our soul. They lust against and are contrary to the Spirit [Gal 5:17]. Therefore, we are to abstain from them. That is, we must choose not to do whatever the flesh wants. Don’t make “provision for the flesh,” [Rom 13:14].
Have our conversation honest – 1 Pet 2:12 – our conversation is our conduct, our behavior. We are to “walk honestly,” [Rom 13:13]. That is, our conduct ought to be marked by integrity. We should adhere to a code of godly values. Of course, because the world is opposed to God, they don’t adhere to our values, at all. To them, we are “as evildoers,” when we don’t go along with their sin. Like Solomon said in Prov 29:27, we are an abomination to them. The world hates Christians [Jn 15:19]. Nevertheless, in the “day of visitation,” [Acts 15:14], when some receive the gospel and believe, they will glorify God for the good works that they behold in us. Consider Paul’s great change in attitude toward Christians after he got saved.
Submit to every ordinance of man – 1 Pet 2:13-14 – though we are saved, we are not above the laws of men. We are to be “subject unto the higher powers,” [Rom 13:1], as Peter said, “for the Lord’s sake.” In other words, when you obey the ordinances of man, you are obeying God. The only exception to this is when the law of man is directly opposed to the clear command of God, as in Acts 5:28-29. Concerning the ordinances of man, “the king (is) supreme.” He sends “governors” to punish “the evildoers,” and to praise “them that do well.” See Rom 13:1-4.
With well doing put to silence foolish men – 1 Pet 2:15 – “well doing” is the will of God. It is not uncommon for men, who are ignorant of God, to bring accusations against Christians. Yet, when you do well, they have no legitimate accusation to bring against you [1 Pet 3:16-17]. And, thus, they are silenced. They brought false accusations against Christ [Matt 26:60-62]. They brought false witnesses against Stephen [Acts 6:10-15]. They brought false accusations against Paul [Acts 24:10-13]. The “well doing” of Jesus, Stephen and Paul has testified to this day; their false accusers have been silenced for nearly 2,000 years.
Not use our liberty for a cloke of maliciousness – 1 Pet 2:16 – as Christians we have liberty [Gal 5:1]. Like Paul said, “all things are lawful for me…” [1 Cor 6:12, 10:23]. Nevertheless, we are not to use our liberty as “a cloke of maliciousness.” That is, we are not to use our liberty to justify doing something that is sinful or unlawful. We are “the servants of God.” Today, there are Christians who are mixed up in sin and justify themselves because of their liberty.
Honour all men – 1 Pet 2:17 – the trouble with people is that they want to “receive honour one of another,” [Jn 5:41-44]. Peter’s exhortation, Like Paul’s in Rom 13:7, is that we are to honour all men. Christians are to “each esteem other better than themselves,” [Phil 2:3].
Love the brotherhood – 1 Pet 2:17 – This follows directly from the Lord’s command to his disciples to “love one another; as I have loved you,” [Jn 13:34]. It is important for us to remember what John said in 1 Jn 4:20, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”
Fear God – 1 Pet 2:17 – this is perhaps the shortest sentence in the Bible. Yet it is undoubtedly the most profound. The fear of God is seriously lacking among professing Christians today. Paul and Peter definitely understood the duty to fear God [Ecc 12:13]. Paul knew the terror of the Lord [2 Cor 5:11] and admonished us to “work out (our) own salvation with fear and trembling,” [Phil 2:12-13].
Honour the king – 1 Pet 2:17 – the king reigning at the time Peter wrote this was Nero. Nero was very ruthless and very immoral. And he was responsible for Peter’s death. Nevertheless, Peter wrote, “Honour the king.” The reason is that we are to honor the office, because of its authority, regardless of the occupant.
Conclusion: These are very clear instructions on our conduct. Examine your own life to see whether you are living according to these demands. If not, make the corrections and get in line with God’s word.