1 Peter 4:1-11 Living for the Will of God

1 Peter 4:1-11      Living for the Will of God                         WC McCarter

We have been talking about suffering. We have been talking about how, as believers, we are going to suffer unjustly in this present wicked age. Yet, we know that Christ has gone before us and also suffered unjustly. He did so to pay for our sins and all those who will come to Him by faith. He suffered in the flesh, we were told last week in our paragraph, but He has been highly exalted. This was His pathway to victory, and as a servant is not greater than his master, so, too, we shall follow Christ down that same path of suffering.

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Living for the Will of God (1-2)
Since Christ suffered for us in the flesh à Arm yourselves with the same mind
The word, “therefore,” is our signal that a conclusion is being drawn from the previous passage. What was it that we saw last week? Christ has been highly exalted, and His pathway to that victory was through suffering. That attitude of mind that Christ had, we should take as ours as well. Suffering is our call in Christ. Pain is part of the process, but that we should be exalted with Christ. This is seen as a weapon, a weapon against all things worldly. This is how you fight off temptation, sin, and all lusts. The military term reminds us again that we are in a spiritual battle. Like soldiers preparing for war, we should prepare for suffering. How drastic is that Christian doctrine from, for example, an Islamic jihad concept! We don’t prepare for physical battle and grab up a sword. We prepare for suffering and grab up the mind of Christ.

He who has suffered in the flesh à Has ceased from sin
This wording points us back to 3:18 where we were reminded that Christ suffered to the point of death in the flesh. Not only that, but Christ suffered in the flesh for sins, that is, to pay the penalty for sin that it might be done away with, canceled out, paid for. When we choose to suffer, we are choosing to not let sin reign over us. We are choosing to be done with sin. The one who chooses to suffer is the one that has truly broken from a lifestyle of sin. You can pursue comfort and ease at all costs, but that is to only allow sin to reign over you.

He no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men à
          But for the will of God
Choosing to gladly accept suffering is choosing to do the will of God, it is choosing to be in the will of God, that is how sin loses its control. How ever many years you have left on earth, you are to live passionately for the will of God. True, born-again Christians are those who prepare to suffer, who put away sin, and who live for the will of God.

Living According to God (3-6)
We’ve spent enough of our past lifetime doing the will of the Gentiles (pagans). The church is seen as the new Israel. The unbelieving lifestyle is:
1) Lewdness (debauchery): sin in general but maybe specifically to sexual sins
2) Lusts: same as above
3) Drunkenness: people of God are not those who need a buzz
4) Revelries (orgies): linked with drunkenness, wild sex
5) Drinking parties (carousing): social drinking parties
6) Abominable idolatries (detestable idolatry): worshiping man-made gods

*The idea of excusing teens, college age, and 20-somethings from moral standards must go. This extended idea of “adolescence” should not be tolerated in the Christian community. We need to teach our children and young adults that these things are disastrous to us and displeasing to God.

Your pagan family, friends, coworkers, classmates, etc. think that it is strange that you do not continue in the same “flood of dissipation” or, in other words, you no longer live for self-indulgence (alcohol and sex are key in this passage). You are no longer wild and careless. Outsiders think that you are strange because most people live for the moment, live for themselves, and live for instant pleasure. But not you! When you do not fit into that mold, they insult you and think less of you. Our culture used to at least keep evil things hush-hush and sweep-it-under-the-rug, but since the great revolution of the 60s, no one cares any more. Everyone thinks that you should be able to live wild and free. Your body is your body and no one can tell you what you can and cannot do with it—not even God. That is why we are called pilgrims and exiles. We no longer belong to this world and the lusts of this world. God has called us out of it and saved us from the present wickedness that we might live unto Him.

The thing about it is—the apostle states emphatically, they will have to give an account to the One who is ready to judge the living and the dead. There will come a day of reckoning. This age will not last forever. We will all have to give an account for everything that we have done in this body. The sad thing is that most people today scoff at the notion of a Judgment Day. But, Jesus taught about this during His earthly ministry. He taught that in the last day that people will be like they were in the days of Noah—eating, drinking, and marrying with no care in the world about the things of God and judgment will come upon them suddenly and swiftly. The Lord has said that He will come like a thief in the night with no one expecting Him. (See Luke 17:26-37).

We were dead in our trespasses and sins, but the Gospel was preached to us calling us out of that death and into life by the power of God. Now, we are enabled by the Holy Spirit to live according to God in the spirit. This is a very spiritual conversation. We live a very spiritual life.

The End of All Things is at Hand (7-11)
The Bible makes clear that there will be a Last Day, a Day of Reckoning, a Judgment Day. In light of that day, which Peter calls “the end of all things,” we are to be prayer warriors. Now, I certainly think that some people are gifted in this area more so than others, but we are all commanded to be people of prayer. In our praying, we are told to be serious and watchful. We need to put things in perspective. We must see the big picture. For example, instead of turning a blind eye to our kids and grandkids in their “adolescence,” we should be praying for them all the more that they would be protected and saved from this present wicked age and the lusts thereof.

Now, let’s save verse eight for just a minute. We are told to be serious and watchful in our prayers, then, in verses nine through eleven we are also told to be hospitable to one another and to minister our gifts to one another.

Set your attention back on verse eight which says that “above all things have fervent love for one another.” It does not matter what your personal life may be, your marriage, your relationships with any others, love can cover a multitude of sins. Love is the theme of the New Testament. Love is the distinguishing mark of a true believer. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you should love one another as I have loved you.” And how did He love us? He laid down His life for us. The apostle John said in 1 John 3:16, “By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we also ought to lay down our lives for one another.” The apostle Paul teaches in 1 Thessalonians that the Christians were already loving, but that they should love more and more. Christians are to abound in love knowing that God first loved us.

Conclusion and Christian Application
The chief goal of all our activity, of all our pursuits, of our lives is that God may be glorified. So, he tells us: take this mind of suffering—arm yourselves—let this be your weapon—that you are willing to suffer, even unjustly, for the cause of Christ. Do the will of God. Put to death sin in your life and how the Gentiles live. You used to live like that—we excused it in your youth—but God is calling everyone, everywhere to repent knowing that the end is near. We should pray passionately, be hospitable to one another, to minister to one another depending on each of our giftings, and above all to have fervent love for one another. This is how God will be glorified in your life, in your family, and in this church—above all things, love one another.

1 Peter 3:18-22 Christ Suffered Once for Sins

1 Peter 3:18-22   Christ Suffered Once for Sins                   WC McCarter

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When you first read this passage (if you are like me, and I imagine you are), there are a lot of questions that are raised. For example: How does this connect to the previous passage? Who are the “spirits in prison”? When and how did Christ preach to them? What does Noah have to do with anything we have been talking about? And, maybe most importantly, what does any of this have to do with our lives today?

Logic of the passage:
1) v17 Christians, it is ok to suffer for doing good
2) v18a Christ suffered, even though He was righteous—for the unrighteous
3) v18b Although Christ suffered, God favored Him and raised Him to life
4) v19 In the Spirit, Christ preached to those who are now in prison
5) v20 The spirits are imprisoned because of rebellion in Noah’s day
6) v20 Salvation for the righteous few was through water
7) v21 Baptism is like that salvation (empowered by the resurrection)
8) v22 Christ, who suffered, has now been exalted (Christians will be too)

Christ’s Suffering and Resurrection (18)
Notice the word “For” to start the sentence in verse 18. This links us back to v17 and the previous paragraph. The sentence begins literally in the original, “Because also.” What is the link? The link is from our unjust suffering to Christ’s unjust suffering. The point, of course, is that Christ’s suffering serves as an example for us when we suffer, but, more than that, Christ’s suffering and exaltation guarantees our ultimate victory. It is not as much about imitating Christ as it is hanging on to Him by faith because of the victory He has secured for us. The great promise is that even though we may suffer in this life, even unto death, we will be victoriously raised with Christ and will reign with Him in the next age. Although it may look like we are on the losing end in this age, we will certainly triumph in the next age.

Christ’s suffering was unique:
1) “Once”: Christ’s suffering was a one-time event. This will not take place again, it is not re-enacted at any other time, and there is no need for any other sacrifice besides His.
2) “For sins”: Christ death was totally unique, also, for the reason that He died for sins. He did not die for His own sins, but for ours. He died for the sins of the whole world—past, present, and future. He bore our penalty.
3) “The just for the unjust”: This seems to allude to Isa 53:11. Christ is completely righteous, that is, He was and is perfectly sinless (2:22). This is the only way that He could pay for the sins of the world. Not only that, but He died for the unjust. He bore our penalty as our substitute.
4) “That He might bring us to God”: The chief end of the suffering of Christ was to reconcile humanity to God. He had to suffer. He had to suffer unto death. He had to be the sinless sacrifice. He had to suffer in our place as our substitute. He had to pay for our sins. And He did it all so that He might bring us to God. There was a great obstacle between us and God, but Christ was set forth as our propitiation. He removed the obstacle and has become the meeting place between God and man. You can have a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.

Christ’s Preaching to the Prisoners (19-20)
Christ went after His resurrection and proclaimed the victorious completion of His redemptive work to the fallen angelic spirits who are now imprisoned because they were instrumental in leading the sinful rebellion in the days of Noah that brought down God’s wrath. Let’s look at Gen 6, 7:21-24.

I think we underestimate or do not even think much about the interchange between God and the angelic hosts. There is so much going on that we are either not privy to or we know very little about. This is one of those things.

We do not want to do Bible study, just for the sake of study—as fun as it is. We want to know God’s message to us. So, why the Noah illustration?

1) Christ has been present with us in His humanity and has suffered for us.
Christ was with Noah and his family in their suffering.
Christ is with us in our suffering.
He was there, He is here, He is everywhere and reigns over all.

2) However severe the suffering of this present age may be, it does not compare to the suffering of an eternal prison, that is, Hell.

3) While Christians may be in a considerable minority and surrounded by slanderers, haters, and persecutors, the same is true of righteous people of ancient generations—for example, Noah and his family. You may feel outnumbered and overwhelmed at times, but just as Noah and his family were saved, so too will you be saved.

Christian Baptism (21)
One of the great scholars on the book of 1 Peter, Peter Davids, has said of baptism in the apostolic age, “In baptism the person officially pledged his or her commitment to Christ and therefore was only considered a Christian afterward. It was the official moment of salvation. . .” (ZIBBC, 140).

Peter says that baptism saves us, but then he quickly qualifies that statement with three more statements. (1) “Not the removal of filth from the flesh”: this is what plain ol’ water does, not what baptism does. (2) “The answer of a good conscience toward God”: in baptism, we ask God to cleanse our consciences and forgive our sins on the basis of Christ’s finished work. We throw ourselves at His mercy and submit to His redemptive plan. We do not trust in ourselves but in His mercy and grace. (3) “Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”: there is no special mojo in the water. Baptism’s source of power is in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

You see, the water of Genesis Flood separated the righteous and the unrighteous. It was salvation for Noah and his family, but it was destruction for the unrighteous world. The waters of baptism, like the flood, signify that destruction is inevitable, but believers are rescued from that judgment when baptized into Christ because He has emerged victoriously and with power from the wrath of God. In baptism, we are united with Christ’s death and also His resurrection.

Christ’s Ascension and Reign (22)
This last verse in our sermon text today provides another point that may prove our interpretation right about Christ’s proclamation over the fallen angels because it specifically refers to them. After Christ’s resurrection He went and preached and now He has gone into heaven. He went and preached to the spirits in prison, and now He has gone to the right hand of God with angels subjected to Him.

Conclusion and Christian Application

(1) Let me encourage you to hang on in this life because Christ’s victory has secured our victory for the next age.

(2) Let me also encourage you, if you have not been baptized, to come and experience the resurrection power of union with Jesus Christ.

(3) In our suffering, in the big things of life and the small, Jesus reigns.

1 Peter 3:8-17 Turn Away from Evil and Do Good

1 Peter 3:8-17     Turn Away from Evil and Do Good           WC McCarter

After specific instructions of how Christians are to relate to the secular governing authorities, how slaves are to relate to their masters (employees/employers), and how wives and husbands are to relate to one another, Peter now turns his attention to the church. If you have heard those messages and received them gladly, then you have done well. Thank you to all those who have graciously spoken kind words to me about those messages. If you have heard those messages and still do not know if you can accept them, then please meditate on those Scriptures, pray about it, and come to an accurate, godly understanding of those things. If you have not heard those sermons, then please get a recording so that you can hear what we teach.

We’ve discussed our places in society, the workplace, and the home, now we can talk about the church. So, verse eight begins with the words, “Finally, all of you. . . .” Verse eight serves as a conclusion to the previous context and naturally connects to the next passage. Thus, most of our text flows out of verse nine and concerns the issue of how Christians should handle opposition.

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Christian Unity (8-9)
1) “Be of one mind” (likeminded): congregations are susceptible to discord and disagreements, so the apostle commands them to have unity of mind. They are to function in harmony and thinking on the same page.
2) “Having compassion for one another” (sympathetic): we are called to care “deeply about the needs, joys, and sorrows of” our fellow Christians (Schreiner).
3) “Love as brothers”: this is brotherly love, that is, we are to love one another as family. This was an important concept that Peter wanted to convey. He has already talked about love of the brethren in 1:22 and 2:17, and he addresses the recipients of the letter as the “Beloved” in 2:11 and 4:12.
4) “Be tenderhearted” (merciful, compassionate): just as our Lord has shown great compassion to the multitudes and to us as individuals, we are to care for those who are hurting—physically, emotionally, etc.
5) “Be courteous” (some manuscripts say humble): this is to consider others better than yourself. We are to abandon pride and selfishness. This was a distinctive Christian virtue in the first century. The Greco-Roman culture despised those who would humble themselves to others. They saw those folks as weak and inferior.

The exhortations to the church are many and almost like bullet points. There are five listed, and notice which one is at the center—brotherly love. Loving one another as spiritual family is the heart of the church community. It is the heart of all Christian virtues. This is the lifeblood of the Christian life.

These godly virtues are meant to bind the Christian community together. The New Testament constantly teaches that we are to be united: Christ prayed for Christian unity; Christ died for Christian unity; and the apostles fought for Christian unity. So, I cannot let you off the hook. You must be connected to the local church. You have got to get plugged-in.

The beginning of verse nine is certainly related to verse eight. It is a general principle for the Christian but is specifically applied to how Christians are to conduct themselves in relation to the world. How are we to respond to unbelievers who mistreat us? “Not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling” (insult with insult). This is the teaching of the New Testament. Jesus said, “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” and also taught us to love our enemies. Paul said, “Make sure nobody pays back wrong for wrong.” The Christian principle is that we bless those who curse us. To pray a blessing is to ask God to show His favor and grace for someone.

Now, at the end of verse nine, Peter once again states that Christians are “called” to a certain action. The action in this verse is repaying evil with blessing. In doing so, we are promised a blessing ourselves. So, it is our high calling to ask God to do good for those who have done evil to us. We follow the example of our Savior who hung on the cross and prayed to the Father, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” The great blessing we receive as those who follow in Christ’s way is the blessing of eternal life.

Christian Pursuit of Good and Peace (10-12)
In verses ten through twelve we have a quote from Psalm 34:12-16. The background of the psalm is intriguing and is recorded in 1 Sam 21:10-15. A quick summary would be: David fled from King Saul and sought refuge in Gath, but those people soon turned on David and locked him up. David feared that Abimelech, king of Gath, would kill him, so he pretended madness in order that the king would send him away, which Abimilech did. When David thought that he would lost his life, he escaped. He thanked the Lord for it.

The language in the first phrase of verse ten must be intended by Peter to refer to eternal life. David says and Peter echoes, the one who loves life and to see good days must:
1) “Refrain his tongue from evil”: good morals are about refraining, that’s ok
2) “Refrain his lips from speaking deceit”:
3) “Turn away from evil and do good”: consciously shun evil (war against), do good
4) “Seek peace and pursue it”: we must actively pursue peace (not wish)

You see, the Lord relates to the righteous and the wicked in different ways:
1) The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous: those who do good, not evil
2) The ears of the Lord hear the prayers of the righteous: those seeking peace
3) But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil: insults, speaking deceit

Suffering for Righteousness’ Sake (13-17)
Verse 13 makes a general statement in the form of a question. While there are certainly exceptions, for the most part, no one will bother you if you do good. From a personal perspective, I cannot really remember a time that I have been treated harshly by an unbeliever. It has always been from supposed Christians.

Verse 14, then, addresses the exception. Even if you do suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are promised a blessing. Of course, this promise is not only found in this verse. It is written all over the New Testament beginning with the words of Jesus. In the greatest sermon ever delivered, the Lord Himself said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” So, then, this is a Beatitude. If you suffer for righteousness’ sake, blessed are you! You should be happy because the Lord looks favorably upon you!

The last sentence of verse 14 is a quote from Isa 8:12. There was great pressure and many threats hurled from Assyria toward Judah. Of course, Assyria was a massive world power in those days while Israel was a tiny nation. The Lord said to Isaiah, the prophet, “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” The situation of Christians in first century Rome would have been similar. They would have been a very small minority in the shadow of a mighty world empire. Yet, the Lord says to His people, “Do not be afraid.”

Instead of being afraid or troubled by the threats of their persecutors or opponents, Christians are to do two things: (1) Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts (or, some manuscripts say, revere Christ as Lord), and (2) Always be ready to give a defense/answer to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you. The first, “sanctify the Lord in your hearts,” may be based on Isa 8:13 which says, “The Lord of hosts, Him you shall hallow; let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.” Believers are to have a long-range view, an eternal perspective. So, we are not to fear the threats of men, but we are to fear Almighty God. When defending the Faith (apologetics), Christians are to respond with meekness and fear. We should speak confidently and boldly but also with gentleness and respect toward the other party.

There is nothing more freeing for the Christian than to live without any regrets or guilt. To have and keep a good conscience, all we must do is have good conduct in Christ. If you know that you are in accord with the will of Christ, then you have nothing to plague your mind, even if you are accused of evil. If anyone slanders you, if you continue in righteous behavior, they will be shamed in the end. There is no clear conscience, approval from God, or satisfaction in Christ for those who suffer for doing evil. But, for those who suffer for doing good, they continue in the will of God and are blessed by Him.
Conclusion and Christian Application
For the last 200 years or so, what has it meant to be a Christian in America?

It has meant that you wanted to be respected. It has meant that you are healthy and wealthy and popular. It has meant that you are an insider and everybody likes you. To be a Christian in America has simply been to fit-in, but that is all about to change, and we are going to have to relearn what it means to be a New Testament Christian, to be an outside, outcast, in the minority, to not be well-respected or well-loved by the culture. It has been too easy to be a Christian in America, but it is going to get harder. Are you ready for that? I think we need to prepare. Here is a good start to relearning what it means to be a New Testament Christian.