1 Peter 4;1-6 - We've Spent Long Enough in Sin
1 Peter 4:1 “ Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles — when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.”
4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. 5 They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.”
In the last message I preached from 1 Peter 3: 18 - 22, I tried to deal with a passage that has puzzled many. If you remember it was about Christ preaching to the spirits in prison, and I may have left you more confused than you were before I attempted to explain it.
But fortunately, we can leave that passage behind and move on to chapter 4: 1 - 6
In earlier chapters we note that Peter spends considerable time teaching us about the reality of suffering in the Christian life.
It may surprise us to learn that we can expect suffering as a part of the Christian life. We know that there is suffering in the world - terrible suffering. And we know that mental and physical and emotional suffering may come to any life. But perhaps we sometimes give way to the idea that trusting Christ should protect us from suffering. Surely, if we are really living as a Christian, we will have peace and joy and blessing and God will exempt us from sorrow, and loss and pain. Wrong!
One area of suffering should be familiar to us as we look at our bulleting and its list of 17 people who are experiencing health problems or are unable to attend services because they are shut in.
I saw an example of this yesterday as I visited Doreen Stuart. Doreen has been moved from Bedford Manor to Evergreen Place in the Overlander Extended Care.
Doreen was very unhappy with the move. As she shuffled her way to the dining room, she told me that she didn’t know why she had been move. She was fine where she was looking after herself, This is s a good place for those wh need it, but I am not ready for thuis!
As I visit with each of these dear ones in the various facilities, it reminds me that I too am getting older and one day may have to be in one of these homes and I confess that I don’t look forward to it!
In this passage of scripture
- We see that the best way to deal with the sorrow and pain in life is by fixing our eyes firmly on the Lord Jesus.
1 Peter 3:18 “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God,” and 1 Peter 4:1 “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind,...”
No, the Christian is not exempt from trial, but, trusting in Jesus, you can have joy and peace and blessing in the midst of whatever you are called upon to experience.
- The second thing that we learn from this passage is that becoming a Christian brings a changed life.
When I began attending the Thessalon Bible Chapel many years ago, I became aware as I listened to the word faithfully preached that this matter of receiving Christ as my Saviour and Lord was going to bring about some pretty significant changes in my life. It wasn’t just a matter of saying yes to Jesus and asking him into my life.
Now frankly, there was a day when Baptists and other evangelicals were looked upon as “Thou shalt not” people. Christians didn’t smoke, or drink or dance or play cards or a number of other things. A lot of you grew up with very strict rules too, and those rules were to try to protect us from a worldly lifestyle and to help us to live a clean life for the Lord Jesus. One of the down side of those rules was that they could make us quite negative in out attitudes and quite smug about our holiness. I confess that it concerns me that our evangelical churches have become “liberated” and now accept practices that may not be too wrong in themselves, but have started Christians down a slippery slope that the liberal churches embraced many years ago.
When we come to this passage of scripture it puts these things into a larger perspective. Listen to these words.
4:2 “that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles——when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.
Scripture nails down sins of the flesh quite well, doesn’t it/ It seems to me that it describes pretty well the culture of our times - a culture which says the kids will have sex anyway, so we should put condoms in the bathrooms to try to keep them “safe.” We may be quite sure that our society is going rapidly down hill, but we take not of the fact that the above verses were written about life in the Gentile world of 2,000 years ago. Truly, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Perhaps some of you were protected from most of these sins and didn’t have to turn away from these things. I myself never got involved in the lifestyle described in these verses, but that doesn’t mean that I was free from sin in thoughts and words and deeds.
But coming to Christ brought changes in lifestyle then and brings changes in lifestyle now. This is made clear by the next sentence.
4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.”
It’s still true that the lifestyle described in these verses has such a hold on our society that Christians who live a different life are still looked upon as strange - (there was a day when I might have said that we were seen as “queer” but we can’t us that word today. It’s been taken over for a different way of life.)
Now it may be that there is someone in our midst tonight who is in the same position I was in almost 50 years ago. You are looking at this whole Christianity thing. You rather like coming to church. I hope you enjoy hearing the word of God preached. You may have a desire to receive Jesus and enter into the Chrisitna life, but perhaps like me, you hang back because you aren’t really prepared to live the life of a born again Christian.
It is not wrong to take your time to think through the implications of becoming a Christian.
Don’t let anyone fool you, apart from marriage, this is the most important decision you will ever make in your life, and this decision is even more important than marriage. I am frankly concerned when I hear someone claim that they presented the gospel to someone he or she had never met, and that person immediately prayed to receive Christ. The Bible illustrates conversion by the birth of a baby, and no baby is born at the moment of conception. There is a gestation period in which that baby is being formed, and there is nothing more disheartening than a baby that is stillborn.
And so it is in the spiritual life. For a young child, accepting Christ may be relatively easy, for they do not yet know of all the tugs and pulls of selfishness and sin. But as you move on into your teens, and into adulthood this is no longer the case. One has come to grips with the reality of sin. Decisions have been made, actions taken, habits formed and one knows the power of the world, the flesh and the devil.
So when we begin to attend a church where the Word of God is faithfully and truthfully preached, don’t be surprised if you find yourself wanting to pull back, getting angry, or facing a struggle in your heart.
They tell the story of the first visit of famous person to a church in Hollywood. The preacher preached the Word of God and when she went out, she wanted to know, “Who told the preacher all about me?” That is exactly how I felt during those two years of struggle. God was searching my heart. He was showing me the truth about my thoughts and my attitudes and my actions, and I found it very uncomfortable. As the little boy said, when he was asked how he became a Christian, “I fought as hard as I could and God did all the rest.”
Yes there was struggle, but there was an attraction there also. It was the attraction of truth. And this is what changes our lives: It is the truth that God knows everything about you, and He loves you just the same. He knows your weaknesses, your frailties, your mistakes, your selfishness, and your sins, and he willingly sent His Son Jesus to die for you, so that you might be completely and utterly forgiven, so that you could be washed completely clean, so that you could receive a brand new start, a fresh page, a new life.
Oh, dear ones, becoming a Christian brings a changed life. Small wonder that it says in verse 4, that those who are still in the world think it strange that you no longer run with them in the same flood of dissipation and they speak evil of you.
Yes, when you become a Christian, not everyone will be pleased, and some of those who are displeased may be very close to you, in your own family, and it will become your task to live for Jesus in front of them until that same desire is kindled in their hearts also. And I will be perfectly honest with you, this may be the source of the pain and suffering we spoke of earlier. It is not easy to watch our loved ones fight against God once we are really aware that verse 5 warns “that they will give an account to Him Who is ready to judge the living and the dead.”
Yes, dear ones, there is a judgement day coming in which we shall all have to meet Jesus, and give an account of our lives. How wonderful to meet Jesus as our loving Saviour, rather than as our terrible Judge!
No, it is not wrong to take your time and really think about what changes it will bring when you become a Christian, but it is wrong to delay too long. You don’t know what tomorrow may bring, or even today. You already know enough to trust Christ. You know that you have fallen short of the mark. You know that Jesus died for you. You know that He has called upon you to turn to Him for salvation and to trust Him for forgiveness and eternal life. In the words of the title of this message, “We have lived long enough in sin.” It is time to turn to Christ for forgiveness and cleansing.
You can’t make these changes by yourself but there is good new. You don’t have to make the changes by yourself. The Holy Spirit who has been drawing you, who has been convicting you of sin and the judgement iswith you and is working on your heart, within your own body. He will help you to decide to trust Christ, and will show you what changes are needed.
Then too, there is a church family here who are glad to assist.
I doubt that our church family is aware that there is an accountability group within our church, led by our pastor assisted by a few of our me. The goal of that accountability group is to be a place where men ( and it could include women) can open up to one another and ask for help from one another to help men gain the victory over areas that are touched on in this passage of scripture. If anyone wanted to find out more we could fill you in on more details. Meanwhile you dear saints who love the Lord need to know that your prayers would be welcome to help those who struggle in some of these areas but who are committed to make changes with hekp from others.
We have lived long enough in sin. Now we want to live a new life of victory over sin and the flesh and the devil.
The image of the church which I have liked throughout my ministry life is not of a preacher standing above the congregation saying “Stop sinning!” but rather of a pastor standing with his arms around the congregation saying. We’re in this together. Let’s go forward together in love for Him and for one another.