Date: June 19, 2011
Bible Text: 1 Peter 3:10-12 | Roger Voegtlin
Series: Transcribed Sermons
Please turn in your Bibles to I Peter chapter 3, verses 10 through 12. I’m going to preach this morning simply on how to enjoy life. Everybody wants to enjoy life; but some don’t, and some do. I think we see the secret to enjoying life in I Peter 3 starting with verse 10. “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.”
Enjoyment or pleasure, whatever you want to call it, is kept in mind when making almost any decision that we ever make. We even look for enjoyment in buying a house. The neighborhood, the neighbors—will we be comfortable? The same thing could be said about a car. Some people like a big SUV, a gas guzzler. Some people want a little car that gets 70 miles to the gallon and burns corn oil, or something like that. Some people would like to have a convertible, and others, like my wife, would hate to have one. You see, again, everybody has his likes and dislikes; and when we make choices, we keep them in mind whether it’s a job, or marriage, or church. Will I enjoy it? Will it help me to enjoy life?
Let me insert that many Christians are not enjoying life because they are basing their decisions on the wrong facts. Their choices are distorted and tainted by the world. When I counsel people, especially newer Christians, they don’t come out and say it, but in reality they would say, “Now I’m saved, and I thought I would be happy because I’m saved.” People think if they’re saved, they are going to be happy. The Bible doesn’t say that. If you are saved, you are going to go to heaven. But if you continue to live like the world, you will be very unhappy because when you are saved, the Holy Spirit lives within you. And the Holy Spirit will convict you about sins you used to commit with a clear conscience before you were saved. You read the Bible, and the Bible will convict you. You won’t even be happy around good Christians. As a pastor, I’ve always seen this. Good Christians love to be around good Christians. Weak Christians hang with weak Christians because they are not happy around good Christians. They feel uncomfortable with good Christians. But if you follow the Lord and His teaching, you will enjoy life. You will be happy.
As I read the Bible and look at the life of the Lord, I don’t think that He was a pessimistic person. I don’t think He was all black and melancholy. I don’t think He walked around with a long face. He was a pleasant person. A person Who was enjoyable to be around—a victorious person. You say, “He was nailed to the cross and everybody hated Him.” He lived a victorious life. He was, I believe, a very happy person. People would come to Him and ask Him about His life, the secret to the fullness of His life, but His answer was very different than the world would expect. “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” The things you think would make life enjoyable are not the things that do. You see, Jesus Christ lived without those things. Christians have accepted the idea that if a man possesses many material things, he will be happy. That idea is not from God. Jesus said, “Do you want to be really happy? Do you really want to enjoy life? You don’t need a house. You don’t even need a bed or a pillow. I have no place to lay my head.” Now He didn’t say that a house was wrong. What He said was that it does not bring happiness.
Some here, I’m sure, would think that if they had a million dollars they could quit work and be happy the rest of their life. You picture the house you would buy and the car you would drive and all the rest of this, and you wouldn’t have to do anything. You would not have to listen to that boss again. We’ve all heard stories, haven’t we? Somebody wins the lottery—$170 million. I’m sure their first thoughts are, “I’m going to be happy the rest of my life.” I think that most of you have read the same stories that I have. A happy couple, struggling as it were through life but happily married—all of a sudden they are miserable, and they are divorcing. I’ve known of people who were willed large amounts of money. I don’t think it is wise to give your children large amounts of money—it just makes them lazy. It gives them the wrong priorities. It makes them miserable. I’ve known instances where a woman worked her husband through law school or medical school; and when he finishes, he doesn’t think that she is what he deserves and divorces her. You understand what I’m saying. Money does not bring happiness. No matter if the world seems to think it does, it does not.
Turn to I Timothy 6:9. I’ve never seen a group of millionaires singing, “Oh, How I Love Money,” but Christians will knock on doors and tell people how they love Jesus. Christians will go to the old folks’ home and tell people about the Christian life. Christians will go to the jails—go any place and tell people about how Jesus satisfies. Whether they are rich or poor, Christians sing, “Oh, How I Love Jesus.” He’s the answer. The pursuit of things, especially the things of this world, will never bring happiness. In fact, the Bible teaches the opposite. If you are going to be a successful Christian, you have to understand this.
I Timothy 6, starting with verse 9, reads, “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.” They lust after houses, lust after cars, lust after clothes, lust after bank accounts, lust after these things, “…which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” That’s clear. People say, “I can’t understand the King James Bible. We need a new version.” I understand it, and you can, too, can’t you? Now some who are poor would quote this passage as saying to be rich is wrong—to be rich is the root of all evil. The Bible doesn’t say that, does it? The Bible says, “For the love of money…” I know some “poor” people who love money more than rich people. It’s the love of money.
Now the Bible says if you are going to truly enjoy life, you will have to be careful first of all about what you do and say. I Peter 3:10 says, “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile…” Keep your finger there, but turn back a couple pages to James 3. The man who has learned to control his tongue has made good progress on the road to enjoying life. James chapter 3, starting with verse 5, says, “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.” Let it sink in. It’s talking about your tongue and mine. It’s a wicked, wicked part of our body. “For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.”
Now, some would never drink. In fact, the majority of people in this auditorium would never drink and never smoke. They will dress like a Christian should dress. But if you allow your tongue to flap at both ends, you are a wicked, wicked sinner. “I love Brother So-and-So, but anybody who has any sense knows Brother So-and-So…” You’ve heard it. It’s always started with, “I love them, but…” You do more harm gossiping and tearing down another Christian than you would if you dressed like a hippie, got drunk, and blew smoke out of both ears. James says here that we can put a bit in a horse’s mouth and control him—that big animal, maybe 1,000 pounds or more. If you are a horseman, you can control him. You can put a little rudder, comparatively a little tiny rudder, on a big ship and turn the ship. We can train wild animals. But the little tongue we can’t control.
What is it that makes us want to hurt somebody with some juicy tidbit? Somebody throws some gossip out today, especially on the internet. Let me mention something to you—stay away from it. There are independent, Baptist gossip centers on the internet. What draws us to that? What makes us want to hear something about some church member? Every single person in this room has been guilty of it. The tongue is unruly like a snake, set on fire from hell.
You say, “Why don’t you preach on something important?” I am. This kills men’s character. There’s nothing worse than that. Something could be said about the best Christian you know, and you say, “I don’t believe it.” But it’s always back there, isn’t it? It’s always rattling around. That’s why you want to stay away from gossips. You’ve heard the illustration of taking a pillowcase full of feathers and throwing it up in the air. A day later you try to get those feathers back, but you will never do it. You can say, “I was lying. It was wrong.” You’ll never get it back, and the Bible says a good name is worth so much. Don’t listen to gossips, and don’t gossip.
The Bible says that to enjoy life, we are going to have to live with ourselves, and a gossip is not a happy person. We are going to have to live with ourselves, and we’re going to have to live with God’s judgment. We are not going to be jabbering. James 1:26 says, “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.” Here’s a man who seems to be religious. He goes to church every time the doors are open. He looks like a Christian. He tithes. But he says, “Oh, I love this person, but…yak, yak, yak.” Or, “Did you hear…?” The Bible has a lot to say about gossip, especially in the book of Proverbs. What is it that makes us want to hear it and repeat it? We just want that juicy tidbit. The Bible says if we are that way, our religion is in vain. If you can’t control your tongue, your religion is vain and void.
If you go to the doctor, one of the first things he will do is say, “Stick your tongue out.” He’ll press that stick on your tongue and choke you. The tongue, in a sense I guess, is an index of our physical condition. In the same way, the tongue is an index to man’s spiritual condition. Again, read James 1:26. Apply it to yourself. “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.” If there is a person you really like and you really get along with him, you enjoy him, but he’s yapping, yapping, yapping—don’t worry about his feelings. Just tell him, “I’m not listening to you anymore. That’s it. Go your own way.” You say, “I don’t want to hurt his feelings.” You hurt him, yourself, and the people he yaps about when you listen.
Turn to Matthew 12, starting at verse 34, “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” What is it saying? “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.” You see, your tongue is like an x-ray of your soul. Why do boys swear? An evil heart. Why do men tell dirty stories? An evil heart. Why are women bossy when the Bible says not to be? An evil heart. Gossip? An evil heart. Again, in our text, I Peter 3:10, “For he that will love life, and see good days…” This is better than the power of positive thinking. It’s better than my telling you how to make a million dollars. Do you want to enjoy life? “…let him refrain his tongue from evil and his lips that they speak no guile.” Little kids down in our junior churches sing, “O, be careful, little tongue, what you say… For the Father up above is looking down in love… O, be careful, little tongue, what you say.” That’s important.
But secondly, “…he that will love life, and see good days…” must watch what he does. Turn from evil. “Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.” Turn to I Corinthians 10:13. You will never enjoy living until you learn to turn away from evil. It’s as simple as that. You will never enjoy your Christian life. If you are truly saved, you will be more miserable after you’re saved and sinning than before you were saved and sinning. God will make you miserable. And there is no reason why any Christian should not turn away from evil. You have everything you need to have victory over wrong. There’s no excuse. Some evil or some sin has you by the neck—and for some people, I believe, it is television. Some of you wonder what’s wrong with your kids. “My kids must be different.” No, they sit in front of that “boob tube” day and night, hour upon hour, and you wonder. They are being fed the philosophy and the sins of the world. It may not be television, but look at this, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
Now, ask God, “Lord, what is my temptation?” Most of us know exactly what it is. It might be the love of money. It might be gossip. It might be lust. Who knows what it is, but there is no excuse. Pride. The people who are the most prideful have the least reason to be. The people who live the most slovenly lives, whose kids are going to grow up and live for the devil, are the prideful people. They are not going to listen to that preacher. They are not going to listen to those “punk” staff people. “They are only 32, and I’m 48. I know more than they do.” Don’t forget what the Bible says about pride. Pride comes before the fall. We all know that, don’t we?
Are we going to fall if we are wise? No. We are going to fall if we are stupid and say, “We’re not going to listen to that preacher, and we’re not going to listen to that principal, and that teacher is just picking on us. That good Christian, I know a fault about him and that’s why I gossip. Everybody thinks he is perfect, but I have that juicy tidbit that I heard from this person who heard from that person, who heard from that person.” Right? You don’t have to be that way. You say, “I’m just made that way.” No, you’re not. That is sin. You don’t have to be covetous. You don’t have to drink, you don’t have to curse, you don’t have to steal, you don’t have to tell dirty jokes, you don’t have to do any of these things. You say, “But I’m a sinner.” Yes, and you are a sinner saved by grace.
If you have a problem, go to this passage. I Corinthians 10:13. Nail it to a wall. Put it on every wall. Put it on the mirror. Put it in your car. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man…” The devil says, “You’re the only one who has that problem.” People have drug problems, and I feel for you, and I don’t want you to feel bad when I say this, but listen, don’t let the devil say, “You have the problem that nobody else has.” It’s a lie of the devil. You don’t have to have somebody who had the same problem that you have feel sorry for you. You’ve got the Bible. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man…” Praise God, “…but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” Listen, don’t make excuses, God commands us to do otherwise. Do the commands of God mean nothing to you? Have you ever noticed the favorite verses of people are usually the promises of God, not the commands. Promises about everlasting life in heaven and answers to prayer. But we almost never memorize God’s commands. “Flee youthful lusts.” “Love the Lord thy God.”
If you are going to enjoy life, our text and the rest of the Bible says you are going to have to turn away, run away from wickedness and sin. Turn back to Psalm 24. If you are going to be happy, you are going to hate sin. That’s our problem. We love it. We want the sin that conquers us. We think we cannot be happy without it. Let’s say it is lust. We think we can’t be happy without it. “I go to church, and I tithe, and I go soulwinning. I do this, I do that…” We make excuses. No, you’ve got to hate it. And once you hate it, it will be gone. Psalm 24:3 and 4, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.”
Now turn to Hebrews 12. If there were a group of kids playing in the snow and they wanted to make a straight line in the snow, a straight path, usually the little kids would not be able to do it but the older kids would. How do you make a straight path? You look at something, and you walk toward it. Now the little kids will be looking at their feet and walking around in circles. In Hebrews 12:1, we see how to be successful at what I’m preaching about. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses [Christians who have gone before us to heaven], let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” What a wonderful verse, but then there’s something else, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…”
How are you going to be a successful Christian? You were saved last Sunday. How will you become a successful Christian? “I’m just not made that way.” That’s what the devil wants us to think. You are made the same way as everybody else in this church. We are all made the same. It’s just how much we look to Jesus. “I’m saved. Should I get baptized?” Ask Him. Get into His Word. There it is. There’s the answer. “Should I join the church?” Ask Him. You say, “What do you mean, ‘Ask Him’?” You walk with Him. If you’re right with God, you pray to Him and you say, “Lord, show me.”
To my knowledge, I’ve never gone to any person and said, “You should join Fairhaven Baptist Church.” I don’t think I’ve ever done that in my life. What I’ll tell everybody is, “Pray about it.” I don’t want anybody to join this church if it is not God’s will. Pray about it. God will show you. “Should I read the Bible?” Ask God. “Should I pray? Should I try and win my friends?” Ask God. Read the Bible. “Should I tithe?” “Looking unto Jesus…” You see, if you are looking unto your neighbors, if you are looking to your friends and asking them, if you are wondering what people think, you are going to be like the little kid going around in circles. Keep your eyes on Him. Please Him, and you will have a pretty straight line, and you’ll have a pretty happy life.
If you are going to be happy, you should watch your tongue. You should also watch what you do. Go back to our text passage in I Peter 3. You are supposed to do good and please God. “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good: let him seek peace, and ensue it.” That means go after it. Just do good and look for peace.
Someone wrote to his congressman and said, “Where is all that happiness that I’m supposed to be assured of because I’m a citizen of the United States, because of the Constitution, because of the Bill of Rights? Where is it?” The congressman wrote back and said, “You are not guaranteed happiness, but you are guaranteed the right to pursue it.” And that’s what the Bible is saying here. When you are saved, you are not guaranteed happiness. In fact I’ll say it a third time, if you get saved and you live for the world, God will judge you. God will convict you. You are going to be miserable. There’s nobody more miserable on the face of this earth than a Christian who is not living for God. But if you are saved, you have every right and responsibility to pursue happiness. I think most here want happiness and peace. But in order to have it, we’ve got to pursue it.
Do you want good feelings in your heart? Do you want to lay your head on the pillow and go to sleep happy? Do you want to look in the mirror and feel satisfied? I don’t mean self-satisfied, I don’t mean proud, but happy. Do good and look for peace. Go back to what we said before. Keep your tongue from flapping, then do good and look for peace. What does that mean? Well, the Bible very clearly tells us that we are supposed to tell other people about Jesus and how to go to heaven. Go out there and knock on doors. Maybe there’s a guy at work whom you work with or a relative. Tell them how to be saved and lead them to the Lord Jesus Christ. If anybody has ever done it, he knows it is one of the happiest times of his life. Somebody got saved!
I’m not saying you won’t have problems. I’m not saying nobody will gossip about you. Because there’s something about people who are backslidden—they want to tear the person down who is trying to do what is right. But do good. Maybe you find out one of the men here is 78 years old and his roof is leaking, and you know how to fix roofs. Go fix it. Maybe someone is out of work. Give him some groceries. You should always be looking for somebody in need. A guy is out of work. “Well,” you say, “the church secretary will call me and tell me if they need groceries.” No, you be looking. Pursue it.
You say, “What’s a bag of groceries?” A bag of groceries says, “He cares for me.” It’s an encouragement. Maybe there’s a shy family. Some people are so inward. They slip in and slip out and say, “I’m not happy. There’s something wrong with the church. The church is not what it used to be.” Oh, yes it is. I’m here to tell you that this church is healthier than it ever has been in its history. There’s something wrong with YOU. You are inward. Look for somebody who is shy. Look for somebody that you could bring into the church family. A single lady living by herself—her furnace goes out and you know how to fix furnaces. All you have to do is give a little bit of your time. Ensue good. Look for it. Give to God’s work.
I suppose some people come to work nights with a bad attitude. But if you come with a right heart, it makes you feel good, doesn’t it? It makes you feel good when you are doing God’s work. When a friend is down, you lift him up. You don’t just say something, but you do something. “Come on over to my house.” Maybe you are a Cubs fan and you can take him to a ball game with you or something. Do you want to be happy? Do good and pursue after peace. I think sometimes Christians think they are picked on. Don’t get me wrong. I think Christianity is hated in the United States of America today. I really do. And if Christians really live the Christian life, they “catch it.” But I think sometimes we are looking for trouble. Now the Bible says whether it’s real trouble or it’s not trouble, if you have something between you and another person at work, go to him. Tell him you want to be his friend. You have to do it in your own way. But the Bible says, “…as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” Some of you are saying, “Well, you don’t know this guy.” I know. It says as much as is possible. But make sure it is not you. You must pursue it. Peace with God, peace with yourself, pursue it. You must have a clear conscience to be happy. Who cares whose fault it is? Maybe he had a bad day. Maybe he is backslidden. You take care of you. Life is too short to have grudges.
Let’s close by reading the whole text again. “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” He sees. He hears. He’s against them that do evil. Do you want God to be against you? He is if you do evil.
Turn last of all to Psalm 34. As you are turning, I just want to remind you that He sees you fix that furnace or that roof. He knows when you swallow your pride and don’t fight back. He sees when you help someone who is having a hard time, maybe he’s lost his job or something. And that’s what normally happens when somebody gets saved. His finances are messed up, and he wants to put his kids in the school. And you say, “I’ll help you.” The Bible says God sees this, and He makes that person happy. He makes you happy. He makes us enjoy our lives.
Psalm 34:12 says almost the same thing, “What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.” Do you want Him to answer your prayer? Be righteous. “The face of the LORD is against them that do evil…” Do you want Him to be against you? Do evil, gossip, be against peace. “…to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.” Do you want God to hear you when you pray? Do right. “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” Don’t just say you believe the Bible. Live it.