1 Peter 4:1-6
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.
In this chapter, Peter makes it clear that when life is easy there is a danger of drifting into a state of mind which accepts every blessing in life as if it were owed to us. When this is the case, we do not value life as we should. God allows his sons/daughters to suffer in order to keep us from sin and give us a proper value of life. From my own personal experience, God has used my suffering to draw me closer to Himself and give me a new direction for life.
Once again, Peter reminds us of Christ’s suffering. This is a reminder that in His human body Christ not only endured pain but was actually put to death in the flesh. Christ brought an end to His relation to the sins of man when He died on the cross because He bore the penalty for sin in His own body. Christ will not come back to die for sin; “It is finished!” The completed work of Christ has the power to rescue people from the penalty of sin, the power of sin, and the presence of sin. We are the benefactors of His completed work on the cross. God has enabled us to have victory over death and sin by the redemptive sacrifice of His Son.
“Arm yourselves with the same attitude,” means to think as Christ did about obedience and suffering: to be convinced it is better to do right and suffer for it than to do wrong and prosper. In this passage Peter is clearly communicating that obeying God and not avoiding hardship is the most important motivation for living out the Christian faith. To be “done with sin” does not mean we no longer sin at all. It means that as believers we are not to live our lives governed by human feelings but by God’s will.
After we have trusted Christ as our Savior, it would be foolish to spend our lives on the things we did before. Since we are now united with Christ, we cannot chase after the things of this world. We must live each day for God with eternity in view. In this new life that is ours through Christ, we are going to live to please God or live to please men. If we live to please God, we will not be popular with the worldly crowd. The good news is that God equips us with the Spirit to live a life set apart for His service.
Peter closes out this section with a strong reminder that God is “ready to judge the living and the dead.” Unbelievers cannot escape responsibility for their actions because one day God will hold them accountable. Believers will be judged as well. Not for salvation, which was secured when they trusted in the person and work of Christ, but God does discipline his wayward children in this world (see Hebrews 12:1-11). He will not let a believer get away with sin since He is judging the world for sin.
Questions to Ponder
How does human suffering impact the way you view life? Are you still chasing after the things of this world? How has the book of 1 Peter shaped your view of human suffering? Do you find yourself drifting toward the entitlement mentality? How do Christ’s words, “It is finished,” make you feel?
- Worship the Lord who is humble in heart and who clothed Himself in humanity. Praise Him for being the perfect sacrifice and defeating the grave.
- Thank Him for His obedience and endurance, making a way for us to be reconciled to God.
- Pray we will live to please Him and not man.
- Pray for the church all across America, that we will confess and turn away from any entitlement mentality.
Gracious and Glorious Father in Heaven, I praise You as Eternal God, Everlasting, and Faithful. Lord, I ask today that You would comfort and grant endurance for all those suffering. Reveal Yourself to them as their Provider, Helper, Constant Companion, and Wonderful Counselor. Lord, I ask that each person would know You better and rest in Your perfect love. Set eyes and hearts on You and grant them eternal encouragement. I ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.