Living Word Magazine
1 Peter Chapter 4. v 1 - 19.
Living for God's Will v 1-8.
4:1 So, since Christ suffered in the flesh, you also arm yourselves with the same attitude, because the one who has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin,
Since we are no longer of the world, for Christ has chosen us out of the world, we can expect to suffer tribulation just as he did. Christ died for our sins. 1 Cor 15.3. In Him we have died to sin Rom 6.2;6.6. So we are to reckon ourselves dead to sin - no longer obeying it in its desires. Rom 6.11,12. Christians face an ongoing battle with sin, from within (sinful attitudes / temptation) and without (the opposition of sinful men Heb 12.3) We must "arm ourselves" or "prepare" our minds to face such sufferings as the lot of every Christian. We are following in the example of Him who died for us.
4:2 in that he spends the rest of his time on earth concerned about the will of God and not human desires.
If we have died with Christ, then we also live together with him in newness of life, possessing that new nature which is born of God and delights to do His will.
4:3 For the time that has passed was sufficient for you to do what the non-Christians desire. You lived then in debauchery, evil desires, drunkenness, carousing, drinking bouts, and wanton idolatries.
We have spent enough time in the past living to satisfy our own fleshly appetites, as unbelievers. We once lived as they do, in "shameless indecent wantonness, lustful desires, drunkenness, revelling, drinking parties and abominable idolatries".
4:4 So they are astonished when you do not rush with them into the same flood of wickedness, and they vilify you.
Now that we have left this behind, unbelievers, especially our former friends are unable to understand what has happened to us. An unsaved person cannot understand what it means to be "born again", they just think it strange that our way of life has changed. They think we've gone wierd or "got religion" and they heap abuse on us.
4:5 They will face a reckoning before Jesus Christ who stands ready to judge the living and the dead.
But they shall have to give an account of their way of life to the God who is ready to judge all men, both the living (saved) and the dead (unsaved).
4:6 Now it was for this very purpose that the gospel was preached to those who are now dead, so that though they were judged in the flesh by human standards they may live spiritually by God's standards.
This is why the Gospel was preached to the unsaved - so that it might judge the lives they have lived and give them the opportunity to repent and to share the eternal life of God in the Spirit. JBP.
4:7 For the culmination of all things is near. So be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of prayer.
Since we know that the end of the age is imminent - and so is the day of judgement - we should be serious, self controlled and always stay alert to our need of disciplined prayer.
4:8 Above all keep your love for one another fervent, because love covers a multitude of sins.
More than anything else, as the day of Christ approaches, we must love one another fervently (intensely and unfailingly) for love forgives and disregards the offences of others. (Prov 10.12)
Serving in God's Will v 9-11.
4:9 Show hospitality to one another without complaining.
As Christians we are to offer hospitality to our brothers and sisiters in Christ, providing for their needs, whether in terms of lodging, feeding or clothing them or giving them whatever else they need. We are to do this without grudging the cost or time spent or the giving of ourselves.
4:10 Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of the varied grace of God.
As Christ has entrusted us with His gifts, whatever they may be - they differ for every one- so we are to be good stewards of what he has given- using those gifts for His interests, building up His church. Whatever we have received we are to minister one to another.
4:11 Whoever speaks, let it be with God's words. Whoever serves, do so with the strength that God supplies, so that in everything God will be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.
Those who speak or teach should speak only the word of God, making His will and counsel known and not their own opinions. Anyone who serves should do so with the strength that God provides so that in all things God may receive the praise for all the good things that he has done in our lives through Jesus Christ. All authority and praise belong to Him always and forever. Amen.
Suffering in the Will of God v12 - 19.
4:12 Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you.
4:13 But rejoice in the degree that you have shared in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice and be glad.
As believers we should never to be surprised or bewildered about why we encounter sufferings, referred to by Peter as "fiery trial". The picture Peter gives is of gold being refined in a furnace. The fire does not destroy the gold - it purifies it. When trouble comes into our lives, threatening to destroy us, we need not fear, for it cannot destroy us. Instead, God permits these trials to strengthen our faith. We should not regard the trial as something strange - something that should not be happening to us. We know the expressions "Why me?" or "You can't do this to me!" We might be tempted to think that because of who we are, God's people, we ought to be immune from suffering. We might think it unfair.
Instead of this, we should rejoice in the fact that we have been given the privilege of sharing with Christ His experience of suffering. Although He once suffered, He has now entered into His glory Lk24.26. Even so, it is certain that as we now share in his sufferings, we will when he comes again, share in his glory with tremendous joy. 2 Tim 2.12
4:14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory, who is the Spirit of God, rests on you.
Peter reminds us of the teaching of Jesus in Matt 5.11,12. As men revile and insult us, it is not us they are really insulting, but the Spirit of Christ in us. Whilst he is insulted by them, he is glorified in our lives by our obedience to the truth which is proof of the grace of God in our lives.
4:15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or thief or criminal or as a troublemaker.
We are not to suffer as murderers or thieves or as any other kind of criminal. Not even for meddling (busy bodying) in the private affairs of others. If we did, then we would be suffering for doing wrong and not for Christ, and such sufferings do not bring glory to God. We cannot complain about being punished for the wrong that we do - for we deserve to be. As those who bear the name of Christ we must not bring shame on his name, but are to live to glorify God. We must never be ashamed that we suffer for Christ. 2 Tim 1.11,12
4:16 But if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but glorify God that you bear such a name.
4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin, starting with the house of God. And if it starts with us, what will be the fate of those who are disobedient to the gospel of God?
There are many aspects to Christian suffering and here is another one. God is our heavenly father. He corrects and disciplines us. Often this discipline will take the form of a trial or suffering. Discipline is not punitive. It is not merely to punish us for doing wrong, but it is to teach us to do right. We should be thankful for it. Heb 12.5-11. God, who is holy, will deal with his children in very stern discipline. But what of unbelievers - they are not his children and so he is unable to correct them in the same way as his own. For them, God will deal with them as a judge and the punishment will be punitive and everlasting Rev20.15. The discipline that believers experience is for a time. 1 Cor 11.32. It is now, in this life and at this present time that God is training us to be his children. The punishment of unbelievers will be hereafter and eternal.
4:18 And if the righteous are barely saved, what will become of the ungodly and sinners?
Is a quote of Prov 11.31. On the face of it, it is not correct. No one is "scarcely" saved, for Jesus Christ saves to the uttermost. What it means is that if God deals with his children with such strict disciple then what can the wicked and ungodly expect to receive from him?
4:19 So then let those who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator as they do good.
Since we have learned that the trials which come our way are intended by God for our good Rom8.28 , let us take encouragement and place ourselves in the hands of him who does all things well. Let us commit the keeping of our souls to him, who is faithful to his promise and continue to do good, surrendering our lives unreservedly to him. 2 Tim 1.12
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