The Cross: An Instrument of Direction

Dr. Steve Viars September 4, 1999 1 Peter 2:21-25

- Tonight we’re going to be finishing the study we’ve been doing this summer entitled “Embracing the Cross”
- I hope this material has been a blessing to you -- I know I have thoroughly enjoyed the time in preparing for these messages, and it has reminded me again of what a privilege it is to be a pastor and be able to devote my energies full time to this kind of endeavor.

- we’ve been saying all along that one of the goals is that we would be building a catalog of verses about the cross that could help us as we face situations each day....
- let me remind you one last time of the key ideas we’ve studied thus far with the key passages we looked at....

1) An instrument of peace - Colossians 1:20 - and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross

2) An instrument of power - 1 Corinthians 1:18 - For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

3) An instrument of shame - Hebrews 12:2 - fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

4) An instrument of denial - Mark 8:34 - If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

5) An instrument of glory - Galatians 6:14 - But may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

6) An instrument of sacrifice - Mark 15:24 - And they crucified him...

7) An instrument of identification - Romans 6:5 - For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection,

8) An instrument of triumph - Colossians 2:14-15 - having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.

- Tonight we’re going to complete our study by thinking about how the cross is an instrument of direction.
- let me invite you to open your Bible to the book of I Peter chapter 2.

- there are definite reasons why I believe it is good for our church family to be thinking about this particular topic at this particular time of the year.
- there are some real senses in which the church year begins at the end of August.
- a lot of what we do here revolves around school schedules, and summer there really is a sense in which we’re starting a new year.

- that gives us a good opportunity to think about this topic of God wants us to live and what God wants us to accomplish in these coming months if Christ tarries His coming.

- let’s read I Peter 2:21-25  - READ [could farm out]

- there are a couple of places in our passage where the idea of direction stands out....
1) v. 21 - For you have been called for this purpose....
- of course that tells us that we jumped into the middle of a context that we will have to explore later....but this is very much of a “purpose oriented” passage

2) v. 25 - For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

- Can I ask you to think with me about verse 25 for a moment.
- INPUT - What pictures / concepts / images come to your mind when you hear verse 25, either positively when a person has what this verse is describing, or negatively when a person doesn’t?

- next, I’d like to ask you to think about this fall.
- please be thinking about situations that could arise in your family, or at school, or at work, or in the neighborhood, in the community, etc.
- INPUT - In what kinds of situations might a person in our church need direction this fall?

- now, the key question is, how does the cross of Christ provide direction?
- I believe these verses supply three answers to that question.

I. Jesus Christ is our Standard.

- verse 21 says that Jesus Christ was willing to suffer.
- if accomplishing what God wanted accomplished involved suffering, our Lord wasn’t about to let that stand in the way of His doing right.
- this, by the way, goes against the health and wealth philosophies that suggest that if you have enough faith, God will keep you well, and God will keep you rich.

- and that gives us an important question to ask right off the bat, and that is....if accomplishing what God desired from your life this fall involved suffering, what would your attitude be toward that?
- this is probably as good a time as any to talk about the immediate context. [we said when we read verse 25 that we were obviously jumping into the middle of a context].

- [Talk through verses 18-20]

- that’s why the words in verse 21 come as such a shock.....
- you just get over this poor servant being beaten for doing good and being asked still to endure that with patience....
- you barely catch your breath from that one and you read....”for you have been called for this purpose.”
- there goes your breath again!

[cf. Phil. 1:29]

- that’s why the next phrase in the verse is so important -- leaving you an example.
- the original word that is used there literally means “writing under”
- it was used to describe something that would be placed under a piece of paper that they would then trace over.
- “leaving you an example....a pattern over which to trace.”

- friend, that’s part of the beauty of all of this --- Jesus Christ is our standard, He’s our pattern over which to trace.

- now let me ask you to look at verses 22-23.
- what other ideas do we read here that tell us more about our standard?

1) He committed no sin
2) There was no deceit found in His mouth
[why would that be significant --- but everyone else was lying up a storm --- he didn’t stoop to that level]
3) When he was reviled, he reviled not again.
- literally means “to pile up abusive and vile language against someone”
4) While suffering, He uttered no threats.

- now someone might say, what does this have to do with the overall theme of the cross being an instrument of direction, or guidance?
- well, please think of it from this perspective, if you or I are going to “stray like a sheep” this fall, are going to “get off track” this fall.....what kind of event might trigger that slide?
- Answer - a situation where someone is treating us unfairly, or in an abusive way, or when we think they are [whether they truly are or not].

- now I probably need to stop and say, we’re not talking here about literal physical abuse.
- several months ago we studied what the Word of God says about that topic....and the notes are available if you’d like them....

- but back to the main point, one of the things that will probably potentially knock you or I off track the quickest is when we are being treated in a way that appears unfair or abusive....
- well, when those come up, we have a standard...we have an example....
1) Who committed no sin
2) With whom there was no deceit found in His mouth
3) Who when he was reviled, he reviled not again.
4) Who while suffering, He uttered no threats.

- and what does the passage go on to say....”He kept entrusting himself to Him who judges righteously.”

- that word literally means....”to hand over to someone to keep.”
- John 19:11 - when Jesus was “handed over” to Pilate
- John 19:16 - Pilate “handed him over” to the Jews

- this verse is saying that Jesus handed Himself over, but that He handed himself over to the Father.
- another important note on this word is that the verb is in the imperfect tense...which denotes repetitive action in the past.....
[Dana and Mantey - “continuous action in past time...a sort of moving panorama, a moving picture show.”]

- the point is -- this was anything but a once and for all act....he did it, and kept on doing it....he did it, and kept on doing it.

- INPUT - What kinds of things need to be true of a person in order for them to handle abusive situations this way?
[a high view of God].

- so the overall point here is that the cross is an instrument of direction....and God will undoubtedly give us many opportunities this fall to embrace the cross this way....He has given us a standard in the Person and work of His Son.
- the $100 question is, will we follow that standard? [will be trace that pattern?]

- now, let’s pause there and take some hypothetical situations that might come up, and talk about we can’t do, and what we should do.

1) A co-worker makes a critical comment about your work.


2) A family member treats you harshly.


- incidentally, are there any implications of all of this to the serving opportunities that may come up at church this fall?  INPUT?

- now, let me ask you what we’re talking about right now easy?
- is following this standard automatic?
- does it come naturally for you?

- no, which is why the text doesn’t stop there.
- yes, Jesus is our standard [example], but that’s not all He is [in fact., that’s not the most important thing that He is]

II. Jesus Christ is our Substitute

- verse 24 is a very important verse in our passage....”and He himself bore our sins in His body on the cross.”
- the NKJV - “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree.”

- can I ask you to let that one sink in for a moment.
- the only way that you and could hope to handle the kind of situations we’re discussing tonight properly is if someone has addressed the issue of our sin....
- this requires a death....and this requires a resurrection

[if time --- do you agree with that statement, and how is it true?]
1) It requires the death, burial, and resurrection of a Savior who can pay the penalty of our sin so we can be united with a God powerful enough to enact these changes
2) It requires the death, burial, and resurrection of the believer which makes it possible to begin living this kind of a new life in Christ.

- now, another question that comes up in this is --- is the latter half of this verse talking about our position, or our practice?
- it depends on which version of the Bible you have in front of you....
KJV - 1 Peter 2:24 - Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
NIV - 1 Peter 2:24 - He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
NAS - 1 Peter 2:24 - and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.
NKJ - 1 Peter 2:24 - who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness -- by whose stripes you were healed.

- I don't want to get overly technical here....but the best translation here is probably the way the KJV and the NKJV have it.
- but as we’ve seen in these other passages, there’s a constant interplay between our position and our practice.

- now, let’s not get lost in the technicalities and miss the point....I almost titled our study “The Cross: An Instrument of Purification” because of this verse.
INPUT - How would you respond to the person who would say, I have trusted the cross-work of Jesus Christ for my salvation, but I have no interest in growing, changing, putting off sinful habits and replacing them with righteous ones?
[that person is depreciating / undermining the cross-work of Christ]

[develop if time --- our lay counseling training program, wanting to help pastors to equip their lay folks to help others grow in this way].

- so the cross is an instrument of direction because Jesus is our standard, and Jesus is our substitute.....let’s conclude with how:

III.  Jesus Christ is our Shepherd.

- if you’ve studied the book of I Peter before, you know that they were facing tremendous persecution and pressure.
- it would have provided tremendous comfort for them to be reminded that their Savior was leading them as the Shepherd and Guardian of their souls.

- you wonder how all of this would have even been impacting the writer, Peter.
- I’m sure he couldn’t help thinking about what it was like to follow Jesus Christ as one of His disciples.
- I imagine he also thought about the way he behaved during these same events he’s been recounting.

- but now for many years he’s been following his shepherd, and his guardian.

- now, I’d like to ask to think about what this fall will look like if you and I work at more faithfully following our Shepherd.
- the cross is an instrument of direction....and what embracing the cross as an instrument of direction look like/

- let’s talk about that together in some key areas of life.

1) Since work was mentioned in verses 18-20 as leading into our text, can you think of some specific ways that an employee, or an employer might embrace the cross as an instrument of direction?

2) You may also know that what follows our text is a discussion about marriage.  What are some ways that married people can embrace the cross as an instrument of direction?

3) What appears next in the text is the subject of evangelism. [cf. 3:15]  What would embracing the cross as an instrument of direction in evangelism look like this fall?

[commend folks who put the add in the Purdue Exponent]

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video