by Mike Ratliff
13 Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. 17 For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. 18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. (1 Peter 3:13-20 NASB)
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.
1 Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. (1 Peter 4:1-2 NASB)
1 Χριστοῦ οὖν παθόντος σαρκὶ καὶ ὑμεῖς τὴν αὐτὴν ἔννοιαν ὁπλίσασθε, ὅτι ὁ παθὼν σαρκὶ πέπαυται ἁμαρτίας 2 εἰς τὸ μηκέτι ἀνθρώπων ἐπιθυμίαις ἀλλὰ θελήματι θεοῦ τὸν ἐπίλοιπον ἐν σαρκὶ βιῶσαι χρόνον. (1 Peter 4:1-2 NA28)
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 (ὁπλίσασθε) ourselves with the same mind (ἔννοιαν) 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 ἔννοιαν 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 “he who 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 live for their own pleasure but according to the will of God and for His glory.
3 For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. 4 In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God. (1 Peter 4:3-6 NASB)
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.
7 The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. 8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint. 10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:7-11 NASB)
What is Peter talking about with the statement, “The end of all things is near…?” 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 near,” 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. Our Lord is preserving and building His Church. Therefore, we must be very careful whom we follow here in the temporal. If compromise is 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 or with apostate religions such as the Roman Catholic Church 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!