PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

1 Peter 4:1-6; Victory Through Suffering

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20090510_1peter4_1-6.mp3

05/10 1 Peter 4:1-6 Victory through Suffering

1 cristou oun payontov sarki kai umeiv thn authn ennoian oplisasye oti o paywn sarki pepautai amartiaiv 2 eiv to mhketi anyrwpwn epiyumiaiv alla yelhmati yeou ton epiloipon en sarki biwsai cronon 3 arketov gar o parelhluywv cronov to boulhma twn eynwn kateirgasyai peporeumenouv en aselgeiaiv epiyumiaiv oinoflugiaiv kwmoiv potoiv kai ayemitoiv eidwlolatriaiv 4 en w xenizontai mh suntrecontwn umwn eiv thn authn thv aswtiav anacusin blasfhmountev 5 oi apodwsousin logon tw etoimwv krinonti zwntav kai nekrouv 6 eiv touto gar kai nekroiv euhggelisyh ina kriywsin men kata anyrwpouv sarki zwsin de kata yeon pneumati

Peter is encouraging suffering believers that it is worth it to suffer for Jesus’ sake. Suffering is the pathway to victory in the Christian life. There is no need to fear, because Jesus also suffered and he was ultimately victorious. He will ensure that we who are suffering for him will be brought victoriously to God. The rescue of Noah and his family illustrates the triumph of Christ and the preservation of his people. We looked at the goal of Jesus in his death as our substitute to bring us to God:

3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, …

And we ended up last time with a view of Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father having conquered every spiritual power by his resurrection from the dead.

21 …through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

Peter now goes on to draw practical instruction for us:

1 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. 3 The time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. 4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.

We are at war. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, then you are at war. You are in a war with sin. Happy Mother’s Day! Here’s how I’m going to tie this passage in with Mother’s Day. My mother recognized the battle that is raging for my soul and she engaged in the war. She wore out a pair of knees praying for me and my siblings. And during some critical years in my life when she saw the spiritual forces of temptation and sin that were seeking to destroy me, she did battle every morning. She would get up before school and fix my breakfast, and then, while I sat to eat, she would take up the Sword of the Spirit and read me a Proverb – whether I liked it or not. This passage deals with how to obtain victory in the war with sin. So, although this would probably not be my first choice of a passage for Mother’s Day, this is where we are in our study of 1 Peter, and I think that it has some important things that we need to know as we wage war for our souls and for the souls of our children.

Peter is drawing instruction from the example of Jesus, and he puts it in military terms.

1 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.

The military metaphor for the Christian life is common in Paul’s letters:

Romans 13:12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.

2Corinthians 6:7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left;

2Corinthians 10:4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil…

1Thessalonians 5:8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.

Here, the weapon we are to take up in our spiritual battle is a mindset, a resolve or intention. Peter has given us a similar idea in:

1Peter 1:13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober–minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

This is something we decisively do. We are to arm ourselves with this way of thinking. That means that we need to study, to ask ‘what was the mindset of Jesus?’, and ‘how practically can I resolve to think the same way?’

Here, the mindset we are to have is the mindset of Jesus toward suffering.

Luke 9:44 “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.”…51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem….53 But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem.

Jesus was resolved to go and suffer.

Matthew 16:21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”

23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

Jesus knew that suffering was a necessity. He had his mind set on the things of God, in contrast to Peter, who was setting his mind on the things of man.

John 12:27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour‘? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.

Jesus kept his purpose in mind.

Luke 22:42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

Jesus was willing to set aside his own preferences for the will of God.

Hebrews 12:2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus looked past the suffering to the ultimate goal.

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,

The suffering was once. It had a definite end, and there was a good purpose.

1 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.

We arm ourselves with the resolve to suffer the way Jesus suffered, recognizing the purpose of God in our suffering, knowing that it is the plan of God and it is necessary, knowing that our suffering will be short, that it is the pathway to glory and it will result in victory over sin.

Peter gives us great encouragement here. He tells us that ‘whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin’. Peter is not holding out the possibility of sinless perfection; there are too many clear passages of scripture that rule that out (1Ki.8:46; Pr.20:9; Ecc.7:20; Jas.3:2; 1Jn.1:8). What he is saying is that someone who has resolved to obey God even when it means physical suffering is engaged in a mindset where obedience is even more important than our desire to avoid pain. We must abhor sin so much that we would willingly suffer for righteousness – like Jesus did. When we come to this place – where there is no more enjoyment left in sin – then we are done with sin. We will no longer live for sin. We will stumble. But we have made a clean break with sin. We live for a higher purpose. Peter draws the contrast in verse 2:

…whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.

We are no longer driven by human passions. Peter has already told us:

1 Peter 1:14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,

1 Peter 2:11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.

We are no longer motivated by what motivates the rest of humanity. Our fleshly cravings lead us in many different directions to find satisfaction. We now have a single unifying goal. We live for a higher purpose. We live for the will of God. Our driving purpose and passion is what God wants, not what we want. Our desires fall in line with his desires.

…whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.

The Psalmist expresses the thought well:

Psalm 119:65 <TETH> You have dealt well with your servant, O LORD, according to your word. 66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments. 67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word. 68 You are good and do good; teach me your statutes. 69 The insolent smear me with lies, but with my whole heart I keep your precepts; 70 their heart is unfeeling like fat, but I delight in your law. 71 It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. 72 The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

Peter goes on to give us reasons for our willingness to suffer for righteousness.

3 The time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.

Parties, alcohol and sex. A shameless lack of personal self-restraint; trying to satisfy the inward cravings in things that leave you empty. If I become a Christian, will I have to give up _______? I’d like to follow Jesus, but I’m not sure I’m ready to give up ______. Stop filling your mouth with gravel and come to the living water and drink, drink, drink. You’ve wasted enough time and energy and life in pursuit of worthless things. Don’t spend any more days building future regret. Social parties, drunkenness and sexual gratification – Peter concludes his list with ‘lawless idolatry’ – worshiping, pursuing, loving something that is not God, pouring out your affections on anything beside God. Stop wasting your life! Wherever you are today, the time that is past was more than enough. Don’t continue in it; don’t look back; don’t go back. It’s all idolatry.

4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you;

Your old friends are shocked at the change in you. The community is offended that you no longer participate in the status quo. There has been a clean break from your old lifestyle. You no longer plunge with them into the torrent of pleasure seeking. This is the word that described the prodigal’s living in Luke 15:13. The word is ‘a-sotia’ [aswtiav] – the negative of saving. They plunge into everything that is devoid of any saving quality. When you refuse to join them, they defame you. The word here is literally ‘blaspheme’ – they slander your name, and insofar as you are following Christ, they are blaspheming God himself. No-one slanders God’s holy name and escapes punishment. Peter goes on:

5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

Just as Peter has pictured our salvation as ‘ready to be revealed’…

1 Peter 1:5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

…So the One who is to be the Judge of all mankind stands ready to call all people to give account for every careless word:

Matthew 12:36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,

The living and the dead is a way to say that no one is excluded. Those who slander and persecute the believers will give account to the Judge. Even the dead cannot escape the final judgment. Peter takes his phrase ‘the living and the dead’ and expands on it to give further encouragement to us to persevere.

5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.

Your former friends do not understand the change that has taken place. It is a continual surprise why you no longer join them in their fun. ‘Come party with us!’ From their perspective you are missing out on a great deal of enjoyment and you have nothing to show for it. Christians die just like everybody else and they end up as worm food pushing up dandelions just like everyone else. ‘You say you have received new life. What’s the great advantage of following Jesus? You give up all the fun and have nothing to show for it in the end.’ This is why the good news was preached (past) to those who are dead (present). People who heard the gospel and believed it, are now dead, and according to human judgment – in the flesh – they are just dead; they wasted their life; but according to God – in the spirit – they have real life – eternal life. Those who received the gospel are not just dead – they are the ones who have real life. Even though the immediate result of receiving the good news is condemnation and disapproval in the eyes of the world, the ultimate result is eternal salvation.

-summary

Jesus has suffered for sins once in order to bring us to God. He was put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit. Resurrected, he is now seated at the right hand of God with angels, authorities and powers having been subjected to him. Since he suffered in the flesh and conquered sin once for all, our battle with sin is a battle against a defeated foe. We can fight against sin by taking the attitude of Jesus toward suffering – we can resolve to face the suffering that comes to us knowing that it is the will of our loving father and it is for our good. We know that it is temporary and will soon be replaced by inexpressible joy. And we know that our suffering is the pathway to joy and will result in victory over our sins. We no longer live chasing our own desires; we live the rest of our few short days pursuing the will of God. We’ve wasted more than enough time already chasing pleasure in things that don’t satisfy. We are slandered by our old companions who feel condemned when we refuse to join them in wasting life. The judge stands ready and everyone will answer to him for how they spent their life. Believers who have died already and seem to have gotten nothing for their faith have been brought successfully to God and are enjoying their reward. It is worth it to suffer for Jesus’ sake! Life is our reward. Peter has quoted Psalm 34:

Psalm 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! 9 Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! 10 …those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.’ 11 Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. 12 What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? 13 Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. 14 Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. 15 The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. 16 The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. [1 Peter 2:3; 3:10-12]

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

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May 10, 2009 - Posted by | 1 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , ,

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