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 ApplicationThe 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.