July 5: The Joy Arising From Our Hope 1 Peter 4:1-11
Our lesson this week is taken from First Peter 4:1-11. Our lesson book focuses on verses 1-2 and also 12-19. However, in reading Chapter 4 and studying I think there are some valuable things we can learn from verses 1-11. I think that most Christians would agree that we are living in the last days, what some have called the “last of the last” days. With this in mind, the question we need to ask ourselves is, what should be our attitude as we await our Savior’s appearing? There are four attitudes that we can focus on.
(1-2) In the last days, Christians should have an attitude of commitment.
Verse 1 - Since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind: The commitment God calls us to have is nothing greater than the commitment Jesus had in enduring suffering for our salvation. In the last days we need to have a commitment to God that will endure through great struggles.
Jesus communicated the same idea when He told us that anyone who would come after Him must take up his cross and follow (Matthew 16:24). Taking up the cross meant that you were absolutely committed and not looking back.
Arm yourself with the same mind: Many of us are defeated in our battle against sin because we refuse to sacrifice anything in the battle. We only want victory if it comes easily to us. Jesus called us to have the kind of attitude that would sacrifice in the battle against sin (Matthew 5:29-30).
. He who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin: When a person suffers physical persecution for the sake of Jesus, it almost always profoundly changes their outlook regarding sin and the pursuit of the lusts of the flesh. That one is more likely to (verse 2) live the rest of his time in the flesh not for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.
If we have not physically suffered for following Jesus Christ, we can still connect ourselves by faith to Jesus, who has suffered for us in the flesh. “I beg you to remember that there is no getting to quit sin – there is no escaping from its power – except by contact and union with the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Spurgeon)
He no longer should live the rest of his time: Peter gave us two time references that are helpful in having the right attitude in our following of Jesus Christ.
· First, no longer should we live in sin, and we should answer every temptation and sinful impulse with the reply, or as we might say “no more”
· Second, we should carefully consider how to live the rest of our time. God has appointed us some further days on this earth; when each of us must answer to Him how we live this time.
(3-6) In the last days, Christians should live with an attitude of wisdom.
For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles: Peter realized we have all spent enough time living like the world. Now we are called to live like Christians. It is a profound and foolish waste of time for Christians to live like the world, and we must simply stop being double-minded and start living as Christians.
Sadly, many Christians (in their heart of hearts) think that they have not spent enough time doing the will of the ungodly or they think I have one foot in the world and one foot in Christianity. What was it that Jesus called these types of people. Double Minded. They want to experience more of the world before they make a full commitment to godliness. This is a tragic mistake and takes a path that leads away from eternal life.
Peter then beginning in verse 3 list many of the sins that come out of a life that is double minded. When we look at this list (lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries), we see just how little fallen man has progressed in the last 2,000 years. These problems have not been solved in the time since Peter wrote this letter.
Verse 4 says - They think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation: When the world looks at our godly living, they think it strange that we do not follow them in their flood of dissipation(wastefulness). If life lived after the flesh is anything, it is a waste.
Speaking evil of you: When we don’t participate in the sin around us, we convict those who practice their sin, and they don’t like that – so they speak evil of us.
They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge: When this account is required, all who live in the sins Peter described will clearly see how foolish they have been. Even if one seems to live the “good life” living by the world’s rules, his life will be a waste in the measure of eternity.
Verse 7 In the last days, Christians should live with an attitude of serious prayer.
But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.
The end of all things is at hand: If we really believe that we live in the last days, it is all the more appropriate that we give ourselves to prayer (therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers).
Many Christians who believe that Jesus is coming soon based on prophecy charts and political events fail to apply that belief in the proper way. They fail to apply themselves to more diligent prayer.
Therefore be serious… in your prayers: We must give ourselves to serious prayer. As we see the weight of eternity rushing towards us, we dare not take the need for prayer lightly.
Therefore be… watchful in your prayers: We must give ourselves to watchful prayer, primarily having our hearts and minds watching and ready for the return of Jesus Christ. But this also means watching ourselves and watching this world, measuring our readiness for Jesus’ coming.
(8-11) In the last days, Christians should live with an attitude of love.
Above all things have fervent love for one another: If these are the last days, then it is important for us to love those we are going to spend eternity with. In light of eternity, we must have fervent love for one another.
For “love will cover a multitude of sins”: Love does cover a multitude of sins, both the sins of the one loving and the sins of the one who is being loved.
As one commentator clearly states - “Where love abounds in a fellowship of Christians, many small offences, and even some large ones, are readily overlooked and forgotten. But where love is lacking, every word is viewed with suspicion, every action is liable to misunderstanding, and conflicts about – to Satan’s perverse delight.” (Grudem)
Be hospitable to one another without grumbling: Love will show itself in hospitality. Christians should often open their homes to others and doing it all without grumbling.
As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another: Love will show itself as we give to the church family what God has given us as gifts. As we do so, we are good stewards of the many-faceted (manifold) grace of God given to us.
Verse 10 tells us - If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies: Every part is important; each has its job to do. Even the smallest, seemingly least important part of the body of Christ is important.
As we serve one another, we do it with the strength God provides, the ability which God supplies – so that to Him belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever.