2 Peter 2:5

Sermon preached on July 29, 2018 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2018. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

A couple of weeks ago I read a story about a woman named Ellen Fleming who received a phone call from a financial consultant who told her that he had just deposited 1.1 million dollars into her bank account. She was greatly surprised as she wasn't rich. In fact, she was just the opposite. She said that before he put the money in she had something like $50 in her bank account. She didn't know what to make of the phone call and after she hung up she phoned her mother. Her mother urged her to call the consultant back and make sure he knew he had made a mistake. The money was supposed to go to the account of a woman in Florida who had the same name. It soon got all straightened out and they took the money out of the Ellen's account and put it in the other woman's account. Afterwards Ellen posted a tweet on Twitter which read,

"Please make sure that in my obituary I am referred to as 'One-time millionaire Ellen Fleming.'"

That's funny. Being a millionaire didn't really describe her life—but it did describe her life for the few minutes the million dollars was in her account.

After you're gone, what phrase could describe your life? What will your epitaph be? I actually find some of the obituaries I read very disappointing. Some families write obituaries that describes the person's life in very superficial ways. Some of them have things like,

"He was a great Toronto Blue Jays fan."


"He liked going to movies."


"She loved her cats."

Some of them really surprised me. I remember one that said the woman who died loved going to parties. That's not a distinguishing feature. Just about everyone loves going to parties. I thought that was a silly thing to put in. Another said that the person liked playing cards. Another obituary said that the person who died liked to travel. I've read several where it said the person who died liked having fun—whether it was dancing, bowling, or bingo. But who doesn't like having fun? Still another said that the woman who died always spoke her mind. Haha. I really liked that one. I'd like to hear some examples of what made them put that in. When I read that I was kind of glad I had never met her. I even read one where it said that the young lady who died was a big fan of some country and western singer I had never heard of, I think it was a guy named Johnny Reid. I thought that was really weird to put in an obituary. I wondered why they would mention something so inconsequential.

I think I was getting a little bit full of myself. But then I read some described me and they were rather trivial. Then I read another that said the person liked listening to music. Another said that the person who died was a big Bobby Orr fan. Then I read that another person who died loved computers. Another said that a guy loved Cape Breton where he grew up. All of those described me. That was bad enough but then I read a post on Facebook by an old friend and he tagged me and mentioned how in the 1970's I used to love the singer, Linda Ronstadt. Oh dear! In at least one person's mind I'm right up there with that Johnny Reid girl. After that I decided I wouldn't be so hoity-toity when reading obituaries.

But I still have hope that when I'm dead and gone, that those things won't me seen as the most significant things in my life. I hope I have some better qualities would perhaps nudge them out.

Peter summarized Noah's life as,

"a preacher of righteousness"

What a great epitaph. That's way better than any I've read in the newspaper. Noah's epitaph reminds me of Genesis 5:22 which says,

"Enoch walked with God…"

That one is right up there with Noah's.

But what about you? What will your epitaph be? How will your life be summed up? Both Noah and Lot are described in terms of righteousness. Noah was a preacher of righteousness and Lot is referred to as,

"that righteous man…"

It also says that he was tormented,

"in his righteous soul…"

They both lived in difficult and dark times. They were both sinners. Yet, to a great extent, they kept themselves unspotted from the world. Their epitaphs have to do with righteousness.

In many ways our society is becoming like the world Noah and Lot lived in. Will your epitaph have to do with righteousness? Is that how you will be remembered? If you're not a preacher your life could never be summarized as 'a preacher of righteousness', but like Noah and Enoch your life is to be supposed to be about righteousness. For this to be so—you have to do certain things.

First of all, our text shows you that

you must stand up for righteousness.

Last week we saw how we are to grieve because of the evil around us. That grieving has to do with our inward attitude, our inward feelings, our heart.

But if we grieve properly over the evil we see in the world, it will inevitably lead to action. Noah preached against the violence of his day. He rebuked and warned the people who were doing evil.

Lot did the same. He sought to put God's Word into practice. When he saw the angels waiting in the town square, he brought them in because he knew they were in danger. When the men of the city came for them, Lot went out and rebuked them.

If you're going to be righteous, you must do the same thing. You must stand against the evil around you. Edmund Burke wrote,

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

Albert Einstein said,

"The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything."

As a Christian you are called to actively work against evil. This is our calling.

Christians are told today that Christianity is something private and that we should not seek to impose our private beliefs on our society. When William Wilberforce was working to abolish slavery in the British Empire, one of his opponents, Lord Melbourne said, (Abortion, R.C. Sproul, p. 144)

"Things have come to a pretty pass when religion is allowed to invade public life."

Like many people today, he thought that Christianity should be kept private, inside of churches, inside of Christian homes. Lord Melbourne reminds me of Pharaoh when Moses went to him and said, (Exodus 5:1)

"This is what the Lord,
the God of Israel, says:
'Let my people go…' "

Pharaoh replied,

"Who is the Lord,
that I should obey him and let Israel go?
I do not know the Lord
and I will not let Israel go."

But Pharaoh soon found out that God was Lord over the whole earth. Everything belongs to Him. Colossians 1:16 says of Jesus,

"For by him all things were created:
things in heaven and on earth,
visible and invisible,
whether thrones or powers
or rulers or authorities;
all things were created
by him and for him."

God is the rightful owner and ruler of all things. Everyone is accountable to Him whether they like it or not. Most are following the ways of Satan and heading for destruction.

But Jesus, because of His great love, has provided salvation for sinners. He died for their sins and therefore took away the curse that was against them. After Jesus rose from the dead He told His people to go to all nations and preach the gospel. As Jesus said in the Great Commission, (Matthew 28:18-20)

"All authority in heaven
and on earth has been given to me.
Therefore go and
make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name
of the Father and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey
everything I have commanded you.
And surely I am with you always,
to the very end of the age."

We're not trying to forcefully impose this on anyone. Churches are to preach the gospel and urge people to repent and turn to Jesus. It's not about coercion. It's about persuasion. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:11,

"Since, then, we know
what it is to fear the Lord,
we try to persuade men."

The world today tells us that we don't have a right to judge them and we don't have the right to tell them what to do. But God has a right to do that and He sends messengers to warn them and urge them to find life in Jesus.

Like Noah, you Christians are to be messengers of righteousness.

There are different ways to do this.

First, it means that you should sometimes verbally confront those doing evil and rebuke them.

This is what we see in Noah. He was a preacher of righteousness. This obviously means that he rebuked the violent because of their sin. He confronted them. Just as Lot told the men of Sodom that what they were doing was wrong, Noah spoke against the evil they were doing. We are to do the same. Leviticus 19:17 says,

"Rebuke your neighbor frankly
so you will not share in his guilt."

Noah did that. Lot did that. We are sometimes called to speak out when we see evil in this world.

Secondly, it means that you sometimes need to do more than speak out against the evil.

When the men of Sodom came for the angels in Lot's house, Lot went outside to confront them. He locked the door behind him.

Proverbs 24:11–12 says,

"Rescue those being led away to death;
hold back those
staggering toward slaughter.
If you say,
'But we knew nothing about this,'
does not he who weighs
the heart perceive it?
Does not he who
guards your life know it?
Will he not repay each person
according to what he has done?"

There are may things you can do when confronted with evil. You can and should let it influence how you vote. You can expose evil. Ephesians 5:11 says,

"Have nothing to do
with the fruitless deeds of darkness,
but rather expose them."

You can protest against the evil.

Indeed, sometimes violence is needed to stop evildoers. There is no doubt about that. If someone breaks into someone's house, a father is justified in using violence if an intruder is attacking his family.

If you were in a parking lot and you saw a woman or a boy or a girls being kidnapped and dragged into a car, it wouldn't be enough for you to tell them,

"Stop that!"

That wouldn't be enough. You should try to intervene and get between the attacker and the person being kidnapped and do your best to save them.

Moses intervened and killed the Egyptian that was mistreating the Israelite.

The police sometimes have to use violence to stop evil from taking place. A country uses violence when it sends its soldiers to stop someone like Hitler.

But having said that, except in rare cases where you see someone being attacked, you are to eschew violence. As I understand the Bible, except for instances I have mentioned, violence is not for us as individual Christians.

It is not our calling to practice violence.

Noah preached against a violent world. What good would his preaching do if he himself were violent? When Jesus was being taken in custody and Peter took out His sword to defend Jesus, Jesus told him to put it away. He said, (Matthew 26:52)

"Put your sword back in its place,
for all who draw the sword will die by the sword."

In 2 Corinthians 10:3–5 the apostle Paul wrote,

"For though we live in the world,
we do not wage war as the world does.
The weapons we fight with
are not the weapons of the world.
On the contrary, they have divine power
to demolish strongholds.
We demolish arguments and
every pretension that sets itself up
against the knowledge of God,
and we take captive every thought
to make it obedient to Christ."

In 2 Corinthians 6:4–8 Paul spoke about the kind of ministry Christians have. He wrote,

"as servants of God
we commend ourselves in every way:
in great endurance; in troubles,
hardships and distresses; in beatings,
imprisonments and riots; in hard work,
sleepless nights and hunger;
in purity, understanding,
patience and kindness;
in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love;
in truthful speech and in the power of God;
with weapons of righteousness
in the right hand and in the left;
through glory and dishonor,
bad report and good report;"

Our weapons are not the weapons the world uses.

The role of violence has been given to the state. The first part of Romans 13 makes that clear. I know that some people interpret that to mean that you should only submit to the state if the rulers are good. It is certainly true that the examples of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and many others show us that we must not obey the state when it is wrong.

But this does not mean we can use violence to overthrow it. Romans 13 does not tell us to only submit to the state when it is a good state. Paul wrote the book of Romans when Nero was Emperor.

Jesus paid the temple tax (Matthew 17:24-27) even though the religious rulers of the time were corrupt.

Even though King Saul was being disobedient to the Lord, and David had been anointed king by Samuel, David would not lift a hand against the Lord's anointed. (1 Samuel 24:6, 26:4) Indeed, he was conscience-stricken because he cut off a little corner of Saul's robe.

David was not allowed to build the Lord's temple because he was a man of blood, who had fought many of the Lord's battles. David did what was right in fighting Goliath and other of the enemies of God's people. He is not to be criticized for it. Nevertheless, God's refusing to allow David to build His house, because David had shed much blood, shows that the way of violence is not the way for God's people. (1 Chronicles 22:6-10)

In your fight against the evils of this world, always remember that you are not to use the weapons of the world. You are to use weapons of righteousness.

Thirdly, it means that you need to live a righteous life.

Noah lived a righteous life while he was building the ark. Some have suggested that Noah's being a preacher of righteousness included his lifestyle. The way Noah lived condemned sin and proclaimed righteousness.

Words in themselves can be worthless. Robert Murray M'Cheyne once said that what a congregation needs most from its minister is personal holiness. This is also what the world needs from Christians. If your life doesn't match your words, they won't listen to you.

In the Bible being righteous is sometimes described as being 'a light'. In Matthew 5:14–16 Jesus said to His disciples,

"You are the light of the world.
A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
Neither do people light a lamp
and put it under a bowl.
Instead they put it on its stand,
and it gives light
to everyone in the house.
In the same way,
let your light shine before men,
that they may see your good deeds
and praise your Father in heaven."

If you're a light don't be surprised if the world hates you. In John 3:19 John wrote concerning Jesus.

"This is the verdict:
Light has come into the world,
but men loved darkness
instead of light
because their deeds were evil."

You Christians need to be different from the world. The world is characterize by greed, by selfishness, self-indulgence. As Christians you are to live your life for Jesus.

Christians, be righteous. Fight against evil like Jesus did. (Luke 6:27)

"Love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you,"