And a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense is a reference to Jesus Christ. The Greek word for a stone of stumbling is “proskomma,” which means anything against which one dashes his foot, to stumble or to cause to stumble. Rock of offence is the Greek word “skandalon,” which means a snare or a trap. Taken together they picture the unbelieving Jews of Peter’s time who heard the Gospel, were eyewitnesses to the miracles of Christ, heard Him proclaim His deity and still allowed themselves to fall into a trap of disbelief. In other words the religious Jews took offense at Christ because of the principle of grace. Accepting grace meant they would have to go against everything they had been teaching and in their arrogance they could not accept the Gospel. The religious crowds were shocked by the Gospel because it excluded human good and human participation (keeping the Mosaic Law). Accepting grace would have meant giving up their luxurious lifestyle and power over the congregations.
For they stumble because they are disobedient to the Word, and to this doom they were also appointed refers to the fact that the unbelieving Jews had no excuse for rejecting Jesus Christ as their Messiah. They had all the necessary information regarding the coming of Messiah. Over 300 prophecies are found throughout the Old Testament regarding Jesus Christ, but they failed to recognize Him because their knowledge of Scripture was tainted with their Jewish tradition and religiosity. It was (and still is) God’s will and God’s provision for everyone to be saved, especially His chosen people the Jews. (Romans 5:6; 2 Corinthians 5:14,15,19; 1 Timothy 2:6; 4:10; Titus 2:11; Hebrews 2:9; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 2:2) All of these passages teach that the entire human race was “appointed to salvation.” However, rejection of Jesus Christ also comes with an appointment with God at the Great White Throne were Jesus Christ will judge unbelievers for their rejection of God’s plan of salvation and sentence them to the Lake of Fire for all eternity. This will be their “doom.”
For you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession.
Here we have a description of believers and each one of these is designed to show that they are given something unique by God at salvation. Each adjective describes an aspect of positional truth.
But ye are a chosen race refers to the new spiritual species that believers become and means that God has a purpose for our life. Jesus Christ is a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. He is seated at the right hand of the Father as a priest, but that isn’t all; He is seated there as a king. He is a King-Priest and we are in union with Christ. Therefore, we are not only a priesthood we are a royal priesthood. That is something the Levitical priesthood never was. The holy nation is the Church. Being a holy nation means to be entirely separated unto God. A people for God’s own possession means we belong to Him and we are protected by Him.
That you may proclaim the excellencies of Him Who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light refers to light as a characteristic of God; light is also a characteristic of doctrine. His amazing light is turned on in your life through Bible doctrine. “Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
In order to properly understand this statement we must examine the words “light” and “darkness” in the Scriptures. Jesus declared that He is the “Light of the World” and the “Light of Life” in John 8:12. This verse also says that in Christ there dwells no darkness. The analogy of light versus darkness seems obvious. However, without knowing the Biblical meaning of each, an accurate interpretation cannot be reached.
Light in the Bible is used for:
The word light in Greek is “phos” and metaphorically means “to make evident” or “to make to appear.” Jesus Christ, as the Light of the World, makes God evident and makes Him “appear.” Light, when used to describe God’s nature, denotes the highest quality of character and the absence of any impurity.
With this definition of light and its usage in Scripture, we can see that when “light” is used in reference to God it encompasses the entire character of God (His nature and impartiality) and His work in the life of the believer (His favor, illumination and guidance). It is God’s “light” (we are called “the light of the world”) that is being reproduced in the life of the advancing believer as the character of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 5:14-16; Galatians 5:22-23) And the believer will spend all eternity in the “light.”
Darkness in the Bible is used for:
The word darkness in Greek is “skotia” and metaphorically means “a condition of spiritual or moral depravity.” Therefore, in God is found no spiritual or moral depravity. God’s character is the exact opposite of darkness (a term often used to describe Satan, his cosmic system and man’s sinful nature). (Ephesians 6:12; I Peter 2:9; I John 2:11)
The believer who chooses to reside in God’s power system under the control of the Holy Spirit can avoid intellectual, spiritual and moral darkness. The believer can also avoid the evil works of darkness by residing in God’s power system. And, of course, the believer will avoid the eternal place of punishment (hell). (John 12:35-36; II Corinthians 4:1-6)
For you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy means that at salvation each one of us became a member of a unique “people.” These unique people are Church Age believers who are entered into union with Jesus Christ as Royal Family of God. Israel was unique and had a unique relationship with God. They continue to be “God’s chosen people.” Like Israel, the universal church (consisting of all believers of the Church Age) is also a chosen people.
Mercy is grace in action and the people of God are the ones being acted upon by God in pouring out His grace to us. His grace is poured out to us first at salvation and second as we execute the Christian Way of Life and then ultimately when we receive our resurrection body.
Beloved is an entire study unto itself. God the Father loves each believer with the same amount of love that He has for His Son, Jesus Christ. No one loves us the way God loves us. His love for us is so superior to any love we will ever know on earth. Because we are so loved by God and we are in union with Christ we can be called beloved. The Greek word for beloved is “agapetos,” which means to be loved by God as God loves Christ.
Aliens and strangers are very similar words in Greek. Aliens is the Greek word “paroikos,” which means someone who is well-known living in a land which is really not their land. It might be translated a temporary residence. This does not mean to deny the citizenship in our country; this would deny the divine establishment, this would deny the whole concept of nationalism and patriotism. So the word strangers refers to a temporary residence. Strangers is the Greek word “parepidemos” from a Greek verb “epidemeo” meaning to dwell among people as a well-known person but as a visitor. So believers are visitors living in a temporary residence – Satan’s world system. Our true citizenship and permanent residence is in Heaven.
To abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul is an imperative that denotes a purpose. In a straight imperative you are given a command but you are not given the purpose for the command. In an infinitive you are given a command but you are given the purpose behind the command. This is a present tense which means it keeps on being a command. The middle voice indicates the action of volition in responding to this command and it brings out the simple concept of the priesthood which is free will - volition, human freedom. Abstain is a compound Greek verb: “apo” means ultimate source; “exo” means to have or to hold. So the word doesn’t mean to abstain so much as it means to keep or to possess. And here it has the concept that it possesses what goes before and it rejects what follows. So what goes before is strangers and pilgrims. So it means possess your priesthood and in possessing your priesthood you reject what comes after it (fleshly lusts). That’s why it is translated “abstain,” which basically becomes a good translation based on the exegetical concept from Greek.
Fleshly lusts refers to the desires which come from the sin nature that resides in our flesh. The sin nature is at war with the new spiritual nature of believers for control of the soul. Fleshly lusts war against the mentality of the soul and produce mental attitude sins. The biggest hindrance to our executing the Christian Way of Life is us!
Every believer has volition (the freedom of choice). Satan is the ruler of this World System and has an army of demons to do his bidding. Satan is neither omnipresent nor is he omniscient. Contrary to popular belief, Satan can be only one place at any given time and most of his time is spent in Heaven before the throne of God accusing believers of wrongdoing. However, we cannot ignore him because he is powerful and brilliant (much smarter than any human being). He uses his knowledge of mankind through years of observation to influence them to do both human good and evil. Satan’s demon army is at work continually leading unbelievers and believers astray. Though demons (including Satan) cannot indwell a believer, they can influence him through this corrupt world system and the sin nature. So every believer has a three-fold enemy that must be recognized and dealt with effectively: Satan, the world system and the sin nature. How you deal with each will determine your success as a Christian.
Handling Satan (and his demons) is simple. The Bible says that we are to flee from and resist him. We are never commanded to go on the offensive with him. Satan is much more powerful than human beings and has the ability to influence us into doing both human good and evil. Since the power of the Holy Spirit is much greater than Satan’s power, we must learn how to use that power to overcome Satan’s deceit and trickery. Remember that Satan and his demons disguise themselves as “angels of light” and “ministers of righteousness.” Satan is the greatest counterfeiter of truth that the world has ever known. He comes as a wolf in sheep’s clothing in order to devour us. As believers we must constantly be on guard against the subtleties of Satan’s program. He wants to deceive us into believing that God does not want the best for us and that his way is superior to God’s way. However, a brief study of God’s Word should be enough to convince anyone that Satan’s program leads only to destruction. For the unbeliever, following Satan’s program leads to eternal separation from God and for the believer it leads to destruction of his spiritual life. (II Corinthians 11:3)
Handling the world system can be successfully overcome only by a power greater than yourself. This power of course, is the power of God the Holy Spirit in control of your life. It is also a matter of spiritual growth and the utilization of the Ten Problem Solving Devices. Since it is your thinking that the world system attempts to influence, it is your thinking that must be renovated by the Word of God. The Christian Way of Life is a life of thinking – thinking divine viewpoint instead of human viewpoint. The believer cannot accomplish this apart from a consistent life of study and application of Bible doctrine. A sermon or devotional occasionally will not get the job done. Study is hard work – work to which most believers are unwilling to commit themselves. (I Jn. 4:4)
In like manner, the sin nature can be controlled only by positive volition toward the filling (controlling) ministry of God the Holy Spirit. Study and application of Bible doctrine gives the believer the necessary tools to understand and use doctrinal rationale to successfully make the right choice to allow the Holy Spirit to control his soul. All temptation comes from your sin nature, not directly from Satan. When a person sins it is because he wanted to sin – Satan didn’t make him do it – he chose to do it. This is why we are all accountable for our own sins. It is sin that must be dealt with after salvation and God in His grace has given us a fantastic system of recovery. By simply naming, acknowledging or admitting our sins we are forgiven of all sins (known and unknown), restored to fellowship with God and filled with (controlled by) the Holy Spirit. (I John 1:5-10) Success in the Christian life is not an accident and God does not have a “magic wand” that He waves every time you get in trouble or want something from Him. He does, however, have a system of grace that is above and beyond anything that the world or Satan has to offer. But God never forces His system on anyone; you and you alone must make the decision that you will learn this system and live within it. God has set you apart in a permanent position that will never change regardless of your spiritual condition. You can also be set apart to God experientially by the use of God’s power system – the filling (control) of the Holy Spirit.