Suffering in The Flesh
1 Peter 4:1-2 ESV
“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, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.”
When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we die with Christ to sin that we might live to Christ and to his righteousness. We die to our self-life, to our flesh, to doing what our flesh desires, so that we can live to please God, to doing what he desires.
And, this is because Jesus, in his death on a cross, put sin to death on our behalf so that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. This is the very purpose for which he died, that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us.
So, the Christian life is not just about “getting saved” so that our sins are forgiven, so that we are freed from the punishment of sin, so that we can go to heaven when we die, even though that is what a lot of people teach.
The Christian life is about daily dying to sin and to self and daily walking in obedience to our Lord in going wherever he sends us, and in doing whatever he calls us to do, and in saying whatever he commands us to say for his glory and honor and praise, and for the salvation of people’s lives.
The Christian life is also all about loving God and loving others with a god-like love which prefers what God prefers, which is what is righteous, holy, pure, upright, honest, and moral. Therefore, it will do good to others and will not intentionally do them harm.
But our suffering is not limited to just our dying daily to sin and to self. We will also suffer rejection, persecution, mistreatment, false accusations, false imprisonments and even death for the sake of our faith in Jesus Christ and for the sake of the gospel of our salvation from sin.
For, through suffering we are humbled, we are learning to rely on God and not on ourselves, we are learning perseverance and strength of character, and we are gaining moral fiber. And, God uses our suffering to conform us to his likeness that he might use us for his design and purposes for our lives.
The Time is Past
1 Peter 4:3 ESV
“For 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.”
Amen! Oh, how I wish all people who profess faith in Jesus Christ would believe this, would take it to heart, and would put it into practice in their daily lives. For we aren’t “saved” just so we can go to heaven when we die. Jesus died to save us from our slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin.
Jesus’ intention in dying on that cross was not just to forgive us our sins, and it certainly was not so that we would go on living in our sin without guilt while using his “grace” as an excuse for belligerence and open rebellion against his commands.
Just because we are not under the guardianship of the law, it doesn’t mean we are now free to live like the ungodly. And, it doesn’t mean we are free to disobey Christ’s instructions to us, either.
“Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Rom 6:16)
We need to get this! We are either slaves to God and to his righteousness or we are slaves to sin. If to sin, it leads to death, to eternity in hell. If to obedience to Christ, it leads to righteousness, which then leads to sanctification, and its end, eternal life (Rom 6:16-23; cf. Gal 6:7-8).
So, don’t believe the lie that says that God’s grace gives you free license now to sin as much as you want. And, don’t believe the lies and the liars who try to convince you that you can’t help yourself or that you are hopelessly doomed to remain in addiction to sin.
Jesus paid the price of his blood on that cross to deliver you from your addiction to sin. By his grace you can be free! You can live no longer under the control of sin, but you can now live under the control of the Spirit of God, walking in victory, in holiness, and in godliness, in the power of God. Amen!
And, that is the “Good News!” It is never good news to lie to people and to tell them that they are saved from their sins while they leave them still in bondage to their sin with a false hope of eternal life with God in heaven.
They are Surprised
1 Peter 4:4-5 ESV
“With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.”
People you know, even within the gatherings of the church, even those in leadership in the church, are not all going to unite with you in this belief, though.
For the vast majority of those today who call themselves Christians are believing that they can be saved from their sins and bound for heaven, and yet continue in their sinful practices (addictions).
Or, they may not take it that far, but they may feel as though they can immerse themselves in their culture and that they can blend in with the world, and that they can compromise in some areas, and enjoy the pleasures of the world, and still be saved and bound for heaven. And, this is because they don’t see their salvation as a life committed to Jesus Christ.
So, they may see your dedication to Jesus Christ and to his gospel as you “having gone off the deep end.” And, they may try to encourage you to be more “normal,” and to spend more time playing games and having fun and watching TV and movies. And, they may encourage you to spend less time with the Lord in his word and in prayer and in sharing your faith, too.
Or, they may get more severe than that. They might begin mocking you or openly criticizing you or falsely accusing you to yourself or to others. They may ridicule you and call you names and even suggest that you are crazy. And, they may get downright nasty, too, purposefully saying things to you which they know are going to hurt you, and out of spite.
And, sometimes this is because your life convicts them, and that makes them uncomfortable, and so they want to shame you, sometimes in hopes that you will back down and in hopes that you will retreat. And, sometimes it is because they know they are doing wrong and so they resent you for doing right or they are jealous of your relationship with Jesus and of your love for him.
But whatever their motivation, it still hurts. But God is the healer of our hurts. So, we need to go to him in our times of sorrow and let him bring comfort and encouragement to our hearts.
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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