by Mike Ratliff
Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. 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, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. (1 Peter 3:13-20 ESV)
Genuine Christianity cannot coexist with any other religion. God has given us the tenets of our faith and they are mutually exclusive with the claims of all other religions. There can be no peace between them and true Christianity because once compromise has taken place here then what remains is something less and no longer true. We are called to live our lives in the flesh here in the temporal, but with entirely different motives than non-Christians. The confusion about this exists because what passes for Christianity, for the most part, in our time has been compromised. The world has been welcomed in in various ways at different levels and the professing Christians within are far more concerned about their temporal existence rather than obeying God in all things for His glory.
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. (1 Peter 4:1-2 ESV)
1χριστου ουν παθοντος σαρκι και υμεις την αυτην εννοιαν οπλισασθε οτι ο παθων σαρκι πεπαυται αμαρτιαις 2εις το μηκετι ανθρωπων επιθυμιαις αλλα θεληματι θεου τον επιλοιπον εν σαρκι βιωσαι χρονον (1 Peter 4:1-2 WHNU)
Peter gives us Christ’s suffering as his model and inspiration for us. Jesus went to His crucifixion willingly. He laid His life down for His sheep. He knew that the spiritual accomplishments through this far outweighed the pain and shame that He had to undergo in order to finish His mission. Peter is telling us to arm (οπλισασθε) ourselves with the same mind (εννοιαν) or way of thinking. The Greek word translated as “arm” here could also be rendered as “equip.” With what are we to equip ourselves? It is the same εννοιαν or “mind” as Christ as He prepared to go to the Cross. That is, that to triumphant in this battle with our flesh, we must equip ourselves with the same mindset of our Lord’s as He willingly went to His death. This mindset says that we can be triumphant in suffering, even the suffering of death. Peter is exhorting us to grasp that we should voluntarily accept potential death as part of the Christian life. What does it mean that “whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin”? Peter is telling us that when believers are willing to suffer, the nerve center of sin is severed in their lives. In this life, we will always have to deal with sin, but when Christians endure suffering for the sake of Christ they show that their purpose in life is not to life for their own pleasure but according to the will of God and for His glory.
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. 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. 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. (1 Peter 4:3-6 ESV)
Who are “those who are dead?” These are Christians to whom the Gospel was preached when they were alive, but who have since died. They have been “judged in the flesh the way people are. However, being in Christ, they now live in the spirit the way God does.
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies–in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:7-11 ESV)
What is Peter talking about with the statement, “The end of all things is at hand…?” All of God’s good works to redeem and secure His people had been completed. Christ had died on the Cross. He was resurrected on the third day. He has ascended to the Father. The Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Church at Pentecost. These events are in the past so our Lord’s return could happen at any time. However, just because the return of our Lord “is at hand,” does not mean we can stop working in the Kingdom. No, we are to be self-controlled and sober-minded. We are to be devoted to prayer so as to maximize our usefulness in the Kingdom.
The genuine Church is under attack, but what we must never forget my brethren, the part of it that compromises and embraces the doctrines of demons and follows false prophets is not the genuine. No, Our Lord is preserving and building His Church. Therefore, we must be very careful whom we follow here in the temporal. If compromise in on the lips of the so-called Christian leader then avoid them like the plague. If they attempt to blend the church with the world then rebuke them then move on. Point everyone who will listen to the truth and never stop praying from our Lord to return soon.
Soli Deo Gloria!