1 Peter 4:1-11 (Part 1)

Part 1

It might do to recall where we’ve come from. The Lord Jesus Christ changes everything:

Peter wrote to strangers and pilgrims who had lost everything, yet have everything in Christ.

  • New birth/new life because of the resurrection of Christ
  • Un-losable inheritance kept in heaven for them.
  • Once not a people but now the people of God
  • Called to do good in the world (making Christ known) even if they suffer for it.
  • Christ as suffered for them, they willingly endure suffer for him.
  • Submitting to lawful authority is a big part of Christian’s way of life.
  • Jesus’ people can do with confidence because Lord Jesus Christ is in control of everything.

Peter now spells out a few more implications of the good news of Jesus Christ.

Jesus changes everything – particularly how we are to think.

We are to be dead to old ways, alive to new ways (Rom 6 and Eph. 6), always grounded on Gospel.

  • Christ’s death for us means ‘putting old ways’ to death.
  • The Christian’s hope cannot be dented by mocking, or death or judgement.
  • Our present suffering is not forever, so we can use our remaining time well.

Christ’s death means putting old ways to death:

Therefore, since Christ has suffering for us in the flesh, we also should arm ourselves with this same mind, because the one who has suffered in the flesh has been released from sin.

To suffer in the flesh means to die – the reference here is particularly to the death of Jesus Christ.

‘Has ceased’ with regard to sin: This doesn’t mean the our personal death deals with our own sin.

Rather, Jesus’ work on the cross is finished as far as our sin is concerned. When He suffered in the flesh, his people are regarded as having suffered (i.e. died) for their sin.

Jesus died in our place the death we deserve for our bad attitude to God and neighbour.

  • This happened outside of us. Think of it this way: My great-grandfather come to Australia from Ireland in 1877. He acted outside of me – before I was born – but his action resulted in me being born as a citizen of Australia 82 years later. In a similar way, Jesus Christ acted once in history but his act brings benefits to people who weren’t even born then.
  • This happened for us.  By trusting Jesus, we are regarded as having suffered in the flesh (died). The benefits are:
    • The Law’s claim on us at an end – the truth that ‘the soul that sins shall die’ does not apply to Christians in an ultimalte sense.
    • We are forgiven
    • We have friendship with God
    • We have everlasting life
  • We have a new citizenship – We ought to live now as Christ’s people.
    • We must first be a Christian in order to live like a Christian. (Christianity is NOT simply MORALITY.)
    • We died with Christ, we are raised with Christ, we now live for Christ.

My father-in-law came originally from England. He became an Australian citizen, but he had it both ways whenever there were sporting competitions between the two countries. A Christian is not to have it both ways – we are to follow Christ.

As Christians, we still have the sinful attitudes that we inherited from Adam who rebelled. Like him, we retain rebel thoughts and actions.

Dealing with our former deadness is a life long thing. William Haslam (1818-1905) was a minister in the Church of England for 10 years before he became a Christian. He recognised that there were habits that he had developed during his non–Christian life that had to be dealt with. He knew that he had been saved by Christ, but he had remaining sinful habits. It was, to him, as if he were like Lazarus — the man whom Jesus brought back to life from the dead. As he walked out of the tomb, Lazarus had to get rid of his grave-clothes, the cloth that was still wrapped around his now living body. Haslam regarded his remaining sin as grave-clothes that need to be put off. I think it a helpful picture to think on.

In Jesus Christ, we become a new creation.

  • God treats us a new way because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus in our place,
  • We begin to think and act in new ways. We want to do things God’s way.

Arm yourselves with this same mind…

  • Repentance is a change of mind. It is a gift of God’s kingly love.
  • Our initial repentance (when we first came to trust Jesus) changed our attitude to God and the Good News of Jesus Christ.
    • We once rejected God and good news with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.
    • We now embrace God and good news with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.
  • On going repentance changes our attitude to everything else because of the Good news of Jesus Christ.
  • We are to ARM ourselves  – put on the ARMOUR of the Gospel of Christ
    • We have a spiritual battle on our hands
    • Not to gain life, but
    • to live our lives as reasonable responses to God’s mercy.
    • Not armed with guns or bullets, but with the love and forgiveness of the Gospel
  • Many things conspire potentially to misdirect our lives as God’s children.
    • Our former attitude to life
    • The people who knew us before we became Christians.
  • We need to arm our minds against attacks from these two sources.

Part 2

1 Peter 4:1-11 (Part 2)

Part 2

Our own former attitude to life – the ‘old man’ referred to by Paul:

The one who has suffered in the flesh is released from sin to the end that [he] no longer lives the rest of his time in the flesh for the desires of men, but for the will of God. For sufficient of our past time of life [has been devoted] to doing the will of the nations, having gone on in immorality, lusts, excessive wine, drunken parties, binge-drinking and wicked idolatries.

Peter gives a list here to encapsulate a mind-set that Christians are to fight against.

Old habits die hard. A violin teacher said “Practice doesn’t make perfect, it make permanent.”

Our old ways of thinking and acting were vain attempts to ignore the true God and avoid our duty to him and others.

  • Immorality – misuse of sex, lying, stealing, disobedient to parents etc.
  • Lusts – wanting things (anything) obsessively
  • Drunkenness — drug culture of any kind – attempt to block out conviction
  • Making a god in our own image – like drug culture, only a ‘spiritual’ rather than a physical trip.
    • Not necessarily a physical object
    • Ezekiel talks of idols set up in our hearts, which is often expressed even within ‘Christian’ circles by a ‘Jesus’ unlike the real Jesus who is presented to us in the Bible.

Life had been all about ‘us’.  These old ways of ours are still with us to some extent.

  • Subdued — their real power broken by Jesus Christ, Yes!
  • But these old ways have a residual power. They can still draw us off course for a time.

We must arm our minds against them. How?

Remember that Christ suffered in the flesh for us.

Jesus has fought our sin to the death & has won forgiveness & eternal life for us.

We too, are to fight our old attitudes to the death (Rom 6).

The other influence that can derail us from following Christ as we should comes from people who knew what we were like before we were Christians.

In this, they think it strange that you know longer run with them in the same unruly excesses, speaking evilly of you.

This pressure to go on with friends, family, work colleagues as if Jesus changes nothing can be difficult to resist:

  • Old paths might still be ‘fresh’ for the Christian and the temptation strong
  • Desire not to hurt feelings is and ought to be with us, but ought not deter us from living a new way
  • Desire not to give the impression that we are ‘superior’ or the ‘judge’ (we are neither superior to anyone nor are we their judges)
  • But, 1 john 1 – if and when we mess up, we still have Christ and his forgiveness.

Nevertheless, living as a Christian in these situations can be powerful, if our minds are armed:

  • New way of life (not morose but happy) – we have been set free from sin and death
  • Living out new attitudes in a humble, gentle way
  • When we mess up in these things (appearing superior, for example) there is the  opportunity to ask our family, friends, colleagues to forgive us.
  • Opportunities to give a reason for hope that is in you – tell the good news.

This last point is important as the issues are serious.

Part 3