Your sinful nature doesn’t need any help responding to offense. The arsenal of the flesh is well-supplied with counterattacks: bitterness, despair, biting anger, self-pity, resentment — we can get quite creative in response to the affronts and insults of others.
What the flesh cannot do, in response to reviling, is bless. The flesh cannot trade goodness for evil or love for reviling, and yet this is exactly what Peter commands in 1 Peter 3:9–12. When the gospel collides with sinful hearts, Peter assures (and we can attest) that some will respond with reviling and hateful words or deeds. How do Christians respond so that Christ looks beautiful?
The Christian response to reviling, Peter says, is fearless resilience, an untouchable settledness in the soul that comes from honoring “Christ the Lord as holy” (1 Peter 3:15). We do not fear those who revile (1 Peter 3:14). We fear God, being prepared beforehand to trace the contours of our deepest hope in gentleness (1 Peter 3:15).
Christians are not desperate to defend themselves, but rather to exalt the glory of God. This is not a response that the world expects. In their shame (1 Peter 3:16), it may be that some will come to see the glory we enjoy and share in the blessing for which we hope.
Look at the Book is John Piper’s latest effort to help teach people to read the Bible for themselves. It’s an ongoing series of 8–12 minute videos in which the camera is on the text, not the teacher.
As part of this initiative, Desiring God is putting on regional events focused on certain passages of Scripture. This is Part 7 in a series on 1 Peter called “Hoping, Singing, and Loving in the Refiner’s Fire.” More parts will be released in the coming weeks.