Essential Sequentials for Spiritual Maturity

1 Peter 5: 1-11

Keith Trevolt, Wichita, KS

As Peter closes his first epistle, he addresses two important topics. The responsibility
of shepherds and the responsibilities of sheep. The main thrust of this last chapter is
one of exhortation. He writes to "the pilgrims of the dispersion" who are in the
grips of horrible persecution. What will he say to them? How will he say it to them? How
will he exhort a scattered people going through suffering? What issues are covered in this
short letter?

He begins by reassuring them of their unbreakable relationship with God (I Peter 1:3-9).
No matter what may occur, they are "kept by the power of God" (vs. 5). He
reminds them of their responsibility in a vile world. He tells them that as "obedient
children" they are to "be holy in all their conduct" (vs. 15-16) and to
"love one another fervently with a pure heart" (vs. 22).

How can we be holy before God and demonstrate an attitude of pure love to others? He makes
it very clear that this comes only as a result of an intense craving for God's Word (vs.
2:2). They are going through perilous times, but Peter commands them to be submissive to
authorities (vs. 2:13), in slavery (vs. 2:18-21) and in marriage (chap. 3).

As he pens this last portion, he addresses issues of great importance to all believers in
any age and in any situation. Here the reader will see an exhortation to leaders and
instructions for the flock. Times of persecution call for the best leadership. In I Peter
5:1-4, Peter calls out for the shepherds of God's people to exercise oversight (vs. 3:2)
and be examples to the flock (vs. 3:3). Beginning in verse 5, Peter gives the saints a
series of imperatives or commands that must be observed for spiritual maturity. So, of all
the profound things Peter could address to close out his epistle, he goes back to the
fundamentals of spiritual growth.

Spiritual maturity is not a result of wishing, hoping, imagining or even positive
thinking. It is a result of biblical fundamentals being learned then applied in our daily
lives. It is clear to see that what is seen in I Peter 5: 11 are attitudes. It is not how
we act, but how we think. What are the motives behind what we do? These are the building
blocks for maturity. It should also be noted that these are sequential attitudes. They
must be followed and done in the order listed. No one attitude can be overlooked or
eliminated. These are sequential essentials.

Submission (vs. 5)

This is not the first time he has talked about this. It is not a new theme, but it is a
vital attitude. Without an attitude of submission one will never grow. "
Subject" means to "line up under" and was a military word. Often times at
school, a whistle is blown and the children immediately, without question, line up behind
their teacher. This is the idea of submission, to obey without question. It is a call for
respect and honor to those in leadership. It is a willingness of the heart to obey. Not
being made to obey, but obeying because one chooses to do so. He directs this to the
"youngers" because they tend to be the most aggressive and disparaging about the
older generation. There is more of a pull to be headstrong and impatient. A lack of
submission is a characteristic of youth and immaturity.

Our lives are to be a demonstration of submission to those in spiritual leadership and to
all saints (vs. 5:5). Submission is the cornerstone in one's spiritual life because if one
cannot submit to spiritual leaders, then there will be no submission to God. It is God who
has established all authorities.

Humility (vv. 5-6)

This is the second attitude that goes hand in hand with the first. If the attitude of
submission devours self-promoting pride, then humility confronts self-love. Peter does not
say to show humility, but "be clothed with humility" (vs. 5:5). To
"clothe" means literally to tie something on with a knot or bow. It is used of a
work-apron worn by slaves. It is indicative of humble service and it is an apron that has
one size which fits all.

When thinking of servanthood and humility, one is drawn to Philippians 2:5-8. The Lord
Jesus is the classic example of a humble servant. Not only did He stoop to wash the
disciples fee, but He became "obedient to the point of death, even the death of the

Humility is directed in two ways: toward others (vs. 5:5) and under the mighty hand of God
(vs. 5:6). In every aspect of the believers life, SELF does not come into view. The aspect
of submission and humility is contrary to sinful flesh and God graciously gives two
incentives to adhere to Peter's exhortation. Simply put, God hates pride, which is
completely contrary to humility. Proverbs 6:16 proclaims that there are things God detests
and the first is haughty eyes. Not only does God hate pride, but He will hold back
blessing from those who will not obey. When there is humility, there is grace (vs. 5:5).

The mighty hand of God (vs. 5:6) is an Old Testament symbol for God's covering power, His
sovereignty. With His mighty hand God provides deliverance (Ex. 3:19-20), shelters during
testing (Job 30:20-21) and chastens those He loves (Ezek. 20:33-34, 37-38). Where there is
willing humility, there will eventually be divine exaltation (vs. 5:6).

Trust (vs. 7)

To humble oneself under God's mighty hand indicates compete reliance on God. If one will
not submit and demonstrate humility then there will be no trust in God. it doesn't matter
what the situation or calamity may be, when one places oneself willingly under God's
powerful hand, then there will be complete, unquestioning trust.

"Casting" means to throw at or on something. I can discharge all my cares,
concerns, despair and because I've submitted myself to Him. Trusting God is an indication
that He will provide.

Self-Control (v. 8)

Because I trust my Savior I know that what ever He allows is according to His will.
Therefore, I am soberminded. To be soberminded means to be thinking correctly. It is a
discipline of mind and an understanding that the priorities of life are eternal things not
earthly. It means to be self-controlled. We should not tolerate mediocrity in our lives.
Our flesh must be harnessed and under control. It is essential that we be clearminded
because we have an adversary that desires to cloud our mind with things that hinder our
walk. We must be spiritually alert. That's why without self-control we will not be ready
for the next attitude.

Readied Defense (vv. 8-9)

Submission leads to humility which leads to trust which leads to self-control which in
turn causes us to on guard for our enemy. There is nothing more sad than casualties of
war. We must be mentally alert because the devil stalks his prey intently. A lion roars
AFTER it has caught his prey. As believers we must be ready for his onslaught. We want our
lives to be a witness for our dear Lord not one which brings Him grief. It will be a hard
battle, but we are guaranteed a victory. Sometimes while we are attacked we may drift into
despair and discouragement. That is exactly why Peter mentions that other believers are
going through this same attack. When we trust Him and know He is in control it leads to
the next attitude.

 Hope (v. 10)

Peter says that God has "called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus...".
This promise is added to the exhortation to remain faithful in persecution. We have this
precious hope of future eternal glory. To be in His glorious presence in glorified bodies
unhindered by our sinful flesh, the world's system, or our adversary the devil. With this
hope we can endure any "light affliction." God's purpose realized in the future
requires pain in the present. This hope helps produce spiritual strength and
steadfastness. When I am spiritually attacked I am not discouraged, but lifted up. The
reason why is because I am consumed with Him. That leads to the last attitude.

Worship (v.11)

Worship is a total awe and adoration of the Lord Jesus Christ. The heart of every believer
must be consumed with Him. We cannot worship our Lord unless there is first total
submission to Him.

We must continually pray for these attitudes to be why without self-control we will not be
ready for the implemented in our lives. Submission, humility, trust, sobermindedness,
readied defense, hope and worship are the essential sequentials of every believer's life
if we want to see spiritual maturity.