1 Peter 3:8–22 Study Guide

Our cars are equipped with lights on our display that come on to alert us when there’s something wrong with the car. If we ignore those lights, we do so potentially at great expense and to the peril of our car. Similarly, each one of us is equipped with an alert mechanism built into our person. We refer to that alert mechanism as our conscience. 

The conscience can be developed, and it can also be seared. The conscience is informed with all kinds of information – true and false. Your conscience must be open to truth if you are to have a good conscience. 

An honorable life lived by the truth keeps the conscience clean. In our text today we learn that, 

An honorable life is coupled with a good conscience and a good conscience is fuel for enduring unjust suffering.

How does an honorable life result in a good conscience before God?

I. An honorable life requires a Godly DISPOSITION (8-12).

•     An honorable life that leads to a good conscience requires a different disposition of the heart. Namely, a godly disposition. What characterizes a godly disposition? 

a. A godly disposition is characterized by an alien love (8).  

In music there’s something called dissonance: a lack of harmony among musical notes. It’s a tension or clashing that comes because of disharmonious elements. Jealousy, pride, position, rivalry, dissensions, envy, and strife are some of the dissonant sounds of the passions of our flesh that destroy the harmony that ought to exist in the body of Christ. These are some of the lustful passions at work within us that we are called upon to wage war against back in 1 Peter 2:11

  • I call this an alien love because it is unnatural. It is the alien love of God that has infiltrated the believer’s heart and formed a new disposition towards those around us. The Spirit of Christ is not irritable, rude, militant, divisive, or edgy. His Spirit is gentle, humble, kind, and good. 
b. A godly disposition is characterized by a bent on blessing others (9).  

•     Revenge is forbidden. We are not to repay injury for injury; insult for insult. The passions of the flesh want to take matters of justice into their immediate hands and repay. How? 

•     On the contrary, the treasured people of God are to live with a bent on blessing all those around us. The word ‘bless’ is ‘eulogize.’ Speak well of those who curse, slander, gossip, and threaten you. 

•     We bless our enemies because we have hope of a future blessing. Matthew 5:10

c. A godly disposition is characterized by a hunt for peace (10-12). 

•     See Psalm 34:12-16. Hunting for peace means that we look for ways to bless those who persecute us.

Application Questions: 
  • As our culture grows darker, what benefits do you see in developing this kind of Christ-like disposition in your heart? 
  • Think of examples of how you’ve seen the opposite of this disposition displayed by Christians. What was the impact? Think of examples of how you’ve seen this godly disposition displayed. What was the impact? 
  • What are some practical ways you can bless those who don’t like you because of a biblical stand you’ve taken? What good can you do for them? 
  • Who in your life can you encourage to do the same? 

II. An honorable life gives opportunity for a ready DEFENSE of gospel hope (13-17). 

•     Gospel people are future oriented. Our hope for the future is why we can bless those who curse us. Here’s a recipe with 3 key ingredients for a ready defense of our hope for the future:

a. Ingredient #1: An intensity to do good (13-14a, 17). 

•     This first ingredient for a ready defense of our hope is an eternal mindset on the fear of God coupled with an enthusiasm to do good to all. It is the groundwork for the defense of our hope. 

b. Ingredient #2: A heartfelt devotion to the Lordship of Christ (15).  

•     To honor Christ the Lord as holy in our hearts means we esteem our Savior by living according to His righteousness. We fear Him who can destroy both body and soul rather than those who can only do bodily harm. Be careful to do it with gentleness and respect. 

c. Ingredient #3: A clean conscience before God (16).  

•     A clean conscience doesn’t have to run and hide. A clean conscience should never lead us into a witness relocation program. A shameful and guilty conscience wants to hide. 

Application Questions: 
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, rate your enthusiasm for doing good to those who want to injure you or your reputation. Ask the Lord to strengthen you and fill you will an eagerness and a bent to bless. 
  • In what ways might your conscience be alerting you to heart, relational, or behavioral issues in your life? Is your conscience healthy, well-informed by truth, or seared? 
  • As you live honorably, in what ways are you ready to give a defense for your hope in Jesus? What might you say to someone who asks you? 

III. An honorable life gives rise to a victorious DECLARATION (18-22).

•     In this last paragraph Peter reminds us that the Pioneer of this pathway of suffering is Jesus himself. If God has taken the greatest case of unjust suffering ever perpetrated and turned it to the good of Christ and all who follow Him then as we follow in His steps on this path, He will do the same with our unjust suffering. Peter gives us four elements of Christ’s victory: 

a. Christ’s victory in bearing our sin (18). 
b. Christ’s victory proclaimed (19-20). 
c. Christ’s victory in salvation achieved (20-21). 
d. Christ’s victory over all established (22). 
  • To have a clean conscience we must live with a godly disposition within our hearts. This is impossible unless you know Christ as your Savior and he has begun to do His regenerating work in you. Have you accepted Christ’s sacrifice for your sins by confessing your sin to God, turning from them, and turning to faith in Christ as your Ark of salvation? 
  • How does Christ’s victory stir you to endure unjust suffering in your life? 
  • Think about how Christ’s sovereign rule over the demonic realm enhances your confidence in His rule over all your circumstances. What does this mean to you?
  • How is God shaping your disposition to match Christ’s? Spend some time praying and thanking Him for that faithful work of conforming you. Pray for specific areas where you need to grow.