Peter has been encouraging his readers to have strong a personal testimony to those around them such as friends, family, co-workers, servants, etc. Believers who are living their spiritual lives by advancing in the Christian Way of Life and producing divine good should have no fear that harm will come to them as a result of producing good. However, having no fear of harm does not exclude the advancing believer from undeserved suffering. We simply should have no fear of it. Part of having a testimony that honors the Lord is how we handle suffering as believers. There are times when suffering is deserved and times when suffering is undeserved
There are many reasons why you suffer that have nothing to do with divine discipline. This verse says you are happy when you suffer for righteousness’ sake. This is a very rare “if,” it is a fourth class condition — “if, I wish you were but you are not.” The implication is that in undeserved suffering you can be happy. Peter is somewhat skeptical as to whether the believers he is writing to will suffer for righteousness sake since he uses the fourth class condition of “if.” He hopes that if they suffer it will be for righteousness’ sake and not for divine discipline, but he has some doubts. This verse says you can be happy and that God has provided a way to have perfect happiness in adversity just as much as in prosperity. In fact the word for blessed indicates a type of happiness that does not depend on your circumstances, it depends entirely on Bible doctrine.
And do not fear their intimidation and do not be troubled. There is a way to stop fear in its tracks according to I John 4:18. This way is called “virtue-love” (“perfect love” in the King James Version of the Bible). The Greek word for “perfect” is “teleios,” which means complete or mature. It has also been used in connection with the Greek word “arête,” which means virtue. Therefore, virtue-love is mature love. The love spoken of here is “agape love” or unconditional love. Virtue is strength of character in believers, it the character of Jesus Christ being produced in them. When we put it all together, virtue-love is Christ’s character of unconditional love exhibited in the life of the maturing believer.
This is the love that drives out fear and replaces it with faith. The reason this is true is that what you love the most, you think about the most. If our love for God has matured into unconditional love based on our virtue and our integrity from God, we will not fear anything or anyone because we have Divine Viewpoint Thinking. This virtue-love brings with it confidence and courage: confidence towards God and courage towards man and circumstances. Courage is being able to think clearly under pressure.
Uncontrolled fear is the opposite of courage. Fear causes self-induced misery and often carries with it a punishment of its own. For example, a believer who succumbs to fear has placed himself in a position of weakness. This weakness causes him to make poor decisions, which often bring with them poor results. He has become the product of his own decisions to disobey God by failing to name his sin and to resume his spiritual life. Fear can be controlled! It can be controlled by an advancing believer utilizing the Faith-Rest Technique and exhibiting virtue-love.
A companion sin to fear is worry. Worry is a result of fear. Worry causes all kind of problems: spiritual, emotional and physical. Worry keeps the believer from experiencing all that God has designed for him to enjoy. God did not place us on this earth to be miserable and worry about every detail of life. The Word of God says in John 10:10, that God has given us life and given it more abundantly. God wants us to be free of worry and anxiety by having a relaxed mental attitude. A relaxed mental attitude is possible only when we are executing God’s plan for us under the control of the Holy Spirit. This means staying in fellowship with God a maximum amount of time.
It also means using the Faith-Rest Technique, having a personal sense of destiny and being oriented to God’s grace policy. An understanding of who we are and what we have as a result of our relationship with Jesus Christ should cause us to relax and stop worrying. Stop worrying about things over which we have no control, about what others think of us and about the future. God’s Word commands us to stop worrying and start trusting (that’s faith). (Matthew 6:25-33; Philippians 4:6-9)
Isaiah 41:10, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
God’s power system (the filling of the Holy Spirit) is the only effective way to execute His plan, purpose and will. It should not surprise us, therefore, to learn that Satan has a counterfeit plan that he uses to distract and deceive the believer. The greatest counterfeit to the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer is emotion. Given to us by God, emotion is a wonderful thing if kept in its proper place. Emotion is meant to be an appreciator. In the Age of Grace, the works of the Holy Spirit are neither seen, heard nor felt. They are simply facts for us to believe. (Romans 16:17-18; Philippians 3:19)
Speaking in tongues, hearing the voice of God, seeing visions, performing miracles and healing the sick were legitimate for certain men in the early church as a “badge of authority” to authenticate their ministries. These legitimate gifts from the Holy Spirit were never wrought with emotion, even in the early church. Since we now have the completed Canon of Scripture, our “badge of authority” is found in the pages of God’s Word. (Acts 19:11-20; Hebrews 2:3-4)
Satan is now distorting these gifts, which are no longer valid, into a system of human emotions designed to distract people from the truth. We must always remember that Satan is able to transform himself and his ministers into “angels of light” and “ministers of righteousness” (the wolf in sheep’s clothing). (I Corinthians 13:8; Philippians 2:27; II Timothy 4:20)
The filling of the Holy Spirit is God’s power system and the believer’s power source for the proper execution of the Christian Way of Life. The filling of the Holy Spirit is the one spiritual asset received at salvation that is revocable (based on the free will of the believer). Even though we are continually commanded to be filled with (controlled by) the Holy Spirit, it is our responsibility to allow the Holy Spirit this control. Personal sin, of course, removes the filling of the Spirit and removes the believer from fellowship with God. This means that the believer has “unplugged himself” from the divine power source and is no longer operating by God’s power. However, this divine power is still available since the believer is permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The believer must use God’s recovery system and “plug himself” back into the power source by acknowledging his sin and resuming the Christian Way of Life under the control of God the Holy Spirit. (I John 1:5-10)
As believers we are told that we have the mind of Christ, which is Divine Viewpoint Thinking. This divine thinking can be discovered by study, knowledge and application of Bible doctrine. The result of this kind of thinking is peace, power, stability and victory. This means that ALL believers are capable of having Divine Viewpoint Thinking. (II Timothy 1:7; II Corinthians 10:5)
During the Church Age, God has chosen to reveal His essence and plan through His written Word. Therefore, our attitude toward the Word of God is our attitude toward God. If we pursue Bible doctrine, we love God; if we only listen or study at our convenience or when we are in trouble then we insult God. If we only study and fail to apply the doctrine we are learning, then it does us no good.
Application of God’s Word means that we have metabolized it (it has become a part of us). The best illustration is eating food. You can buy the food, but it does your body no good. You can even prepare the food, but it does your body no good. You can then place it on the table, but it does your body no good. You can even put it in your mouth, but it does your body no good. Not until you chew the food and swallow does it do your body good. It can then be converted to energy, etc. God’s Word is the same, you must put into practice what you are learning or the Word of God will do you no good. If the Word of God is not changing your thoughts and actions, then you are not applying it. Wise believers (wisdom is application of Bible doctrine) are believers who use what they learn.
David knew and applied this principle. (Psalms 138:2) David also taught us a divine principle in this verse: God, specifically Jesus Christ, has magnified His Word over His name (a reference to His reputation). In no other way can we approach God, understand God, or fulfill God’s plan than to KNOW and APPLY His Word. God’s blessings are poured out upon those who have and use Bible doctrine because they have developed the capacity to receive blessing.