Lesson 21 - I Peter 4: 1-5

Lesson 21 - I Peter 4: 1-5

Lesson for June 16, 2013

The Book of I Peter

Chapter 4:1-5

Verse 1

Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also for the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.

Therefore refers back to, “For Christ also died for sins.”  (I Peter 2:24, 3:18)  Suffering is a part of the Christian life, but we must be careful not to bring suffering upon ourselves by our own sinful attitudes and actions.    We can never fully understand the sufferings of Christ on the Cross but we can understand the mental attitude with which He approached this unique suffering. (Matthew 26:39, 42; Philippians 2:5-8; Hebrews 12:2-3)  Writers of Scripture recognized the uniqueness of the suffering of Christ and His mental attitude during it.

 It is with the same mental attitude that Christ endured suffering that we are to arm ourselves.  The Greek word for arm is “hoplizo” meaning the training, the arming and the equipping of a Greek soldier.   Therefore it means to train and to equip one’s self.  It refers to the whole function of the daily intake and application of Bible doctrine and to the construction of the edification complex of the soul.  The more Bible doctrine you know, the better equipped you are to handle suffering.

The translation for the same purpose is not accurate.  We have a Greek noun here, “ennoia” for purpose.  “Noia” is thinking; “en” is in, meaning with the same inside thinking.  The Christian Way of Life is a supernatural way of life, which cannot be lived apart from knowledge of Bible doctrine and the guidance of God the Holy Spirit. (Romans 7:6, 8:2; Galatians 5:25; Ephesians 5:18) This way of life requires thinking.  All changes in our lives must come from the inside.  The true character of the believer is determined by what he thinks, not by what he does.  God never forces the believer into any course of action.  We determine what our own spiritual lives are going to look like based on what we allow ourselves to think.  Divine Viewpoint Thinking equals a victorious Christian Way of Life. (Romans 12:1)

He who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin is a reference to undeserved suffering.   The Greek verb “pauo” used for ceased means to pause, to desist, to refrain or to stop. The one having suffered in the flesh has paused from sin (or desisted at that point from sin).  In other words, undeserved suffering always occurs in a time when you are in fellowship.  Whenever you are in fellowship the suffering is designed for blessing.  The blessing comes from being armed with Bible doctrine in your soul.  The greater your intake of doctrine, the greater your capacity, the greater your blessing.  Jesus Christ is the perfect illustration of undeserved suffering and by following His example of divine viewpoint thinking we will be able to pass any test of undeserved suffering.

Verse 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.

After salvation we continue to live in this fleshly body complete with a sin nature, which is not eradicated upon faith in Christ.  The Greek adverb for no longer is “meketei,” and it means that the believer should no longer follow the same pattern of life, including the thought life, that he did before salvation.  As a new creation in Christ, God expects the believer to follow a pattern of life and thought consistent with His will. 

The next three verses make it clear that the believer is to have discernment when it comes to their former lifestyle, including friends.  Sometimes it is necessary to separate yourself from those with whom you no longer have things in common. 

Verse 3

For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles.

Once again Peter uses the Gentiles as an illustration of a habitual sinful lifestyle.  Peter lists sins in this verse illustrating the pattern of a believer caught up in lascivious lawlessness (what we might call a party animal).    Peter is saying that you believers have had plenty of time in the past living outside the will of God, but now your time should be spent doing the will of God.  Contrary to what some “holier than thou” Christians believe, a person’s lifestyle does not necessarily change overnight when they believe in Christ.  This false concept normally comes from a misinterpretation of II Corinthians 5:17.  This verse says, “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come.”  Let’s examine this verse so we can get the true meaning.  First, we must consider the context of the passage in order to reach an accurate interpretation. 

The content of II Corinthians 5 is the results of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the placing of the believer into union with Christ.  This union with Christ is neither seen nor felt.  It is our union with Christ that gives us the potential for a personal sense of destiny, knowing that we have a place prepared for us in Heaven.  It is in light of this doctrinal truth Paul tells us in verse 17 that we are “new creations in Christ and that old things have passed away and behold all things have become new.”

Contrary to popular belief “all things becoming new” is not a reference to a person’s lifestyle or bad habits.  We know this from the original language and from many other passages of Scripture.  Once a person accepts Christ as Savior, his lifestyle does not automatically change.  If there needs to be change, then the only legitimate change must come from the spiritual growth based on the Word of God, not on some religious taboo.  As a matter of fact, this passage refers to what God does for us, not what we do for God.  Becoming a new creation is a matter of God’s grace.  Therefore, all human effort is eliminated.  The reason a person becomes a new creation is that he is in union with Christ.   This union means that the believer shares Christ’s destiny and His inheritance. 

The first word of verse 17 is “therefore.”  In Greek the word is “hoste” and can be better translated “conclusion.”  Paul looks back at the context of the passage and draws a conclusion based on previous doctrinal information.  The conclusion is “if (first class condition meaning if and it is true) any person is in Christ (baptism of the Holy Spirit) that person is a new creation.”  Creation (creature) is the Greek word “ktisis” and refers primarily to the creative act in process.  It is the believer who is being acted upon by God.  This act of creation is when God, at salvation, creates a human spirit in the believer.  In order to better understand what Paul is teaching we will use the term “a new spiritual classification” since this describes more precisely what occurs at salvation.  This creative act by God creates something in the believer that previously did not exist.  It is “new,” it is “spiritual” in nature and the believer becomes a different “classification” (Royal Family of God). (I Corinthians 2:9-14; Galatians 6:10; Ephesians 2:19)

“Old things” is actually one word in Greek.  It is the word “archaios.”  “Archaios” literally means, “that which existed in the beginning.”  It is a reference to something that is ancient (really old), something in the past.  It does not, therefore, refer to the believer’s bad habits or lifestyle.  It refers to something that is thousands of years old. 

What exactly passes away at salvation that would fit into the meaning of the Greek word?  The context makes the meaning very clear.  It is a reference to an old condition – spiritual death.  Thousands of years ago our original parents, Adam and Eve, sinned and the result was spiritual death.  Spiritual death passed to every member of the human race as a result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience.  It is spiritual death that Paul has in view when he uses the word “archaios.”

“Passed away” in Greek is “parerchomai” and means “to go,” “to pass,” “to come to an end,” “to disappear” or “to neutralize.”  In our passage, therefore, it means that spiritual death has gone, passed away or come to an end.  At salvation, spiritual death comes to an abrupt end.  Once you are placed into union with Christ spiritual death disappears forever from you.  Never again will you be spiritually dead.  You can reject the Christian Way of Life and turn your back on God and His Word, but you can never be spiritually dead again.  This is grace! (Romans 6:23)

Verse 4

And in all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excess of dissipation, And they malign you.

There is one thing that really surprises the old crowd and that is when you leave them behind.  They are surprised. Why would anyone want to leave the fun and games environment?   We are to separate from certain types of believers and unbelievers who practice certain types of carnality.  You can’t separate from all believers because all believers practice carnality in one way or another.  Separation from believers who are negative toward Bible doctrine is found in II Thessalonians 3:6, 14, 15. (The exception is if you are married to someone who is negative)  Separation from believers who make emotion their criterion and enter into some form of pseudo-spirituality is found in Romans 16:17,18. (Stay away from the tongues crowd)  Separation from the superficial social life of the apostate fun crowd is found in Jeremiah 15:17.  Separation from unbelievers where doctrine is compromised is found in I Corinthians 6:14; Hebrews 13:13.  Separation from religion and apostasy is found in II Corinthians 6:17; 2 Timothy 3:5. (Remember Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ)

Verse 5

But they shall give account to Him Who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

“So everyone of us shall give an account unto God”. (Romans 14:12)  There is coming a time when every believer will stand before Jesus Christ to be evaluated.  This evaluation is not based on our sins or human works.  It is based, instead, on our response to God’s plan for us to learn and apply His Word and to grow-up spiritually.  The Judgment Seat of Christ is for believers only and takes place sometime shortly after the Rapture of the Church.  At the Rapture, all living and dead believers from the Church Age will meet Jesus Christ in the air and will be led in a processional to Heaven.  Having received a glorified body like Christ’s, fully conscious, fully recognizable and with increased knowledge.  God’s Word indicates that there will then be a time of celebration, when we worship and praise our Savior. (I Corinthians 4:5; 15:51-54; I Thessalonians 4:13-18; Philippians 3:21)

Scripture tells us that our Savior has already departed to prepare a dwelling place for us, the Bride of Christ (as we will be called in Heaven).  But before the Lord can reveal all that will be ours for the eternal state, we must all be evaluated at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  It is during our evaluation that we will suffer shame for those failed opportunities to fulfill our spiritual lives. (John 14:1-3; II Corinthians 5:8-10; Romans 14:11-12)

Most of us, as believers in Christ, will never receive recognition in this life for our accomplishments, but I assure you that this will not be the case in eternity.  There is going to be great inequality in the eternal state for believers.  It is only our fulfillment of God’s plan under the control of the Holy Spirit that will be rewardable in eternity, not our human good works.  Only divine production is rewardable.  All divine production is a matter of God’s grace and is never based on human works.  The questions are going to be: “Did you tap into God’s system?” or “Did you go it alone?”  (I Corinthians 9:24-27)

So, how are you going to meet your Savior?  Will you have fulfilled the mandates of Scripture to advance to spiritual maturity, which has led you into a life of purpose?  Or will you make it into heaven “by the skin of your teeth,” having failed to advance in your Christian life, which has led you to a life of misery and failure?  At the Judgment Seat of Christ, it will be too late to do anything about your failure; the time is now, today!  You must take the initiative and begin to study and apply God’s Word, immediately, if you want to hear, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”  Upon hearing this from our Lord Jesus Christ, rewards beyond anything you can imagine will be yours for all eternity. (Matthew 25:21; James 1:25)

At death, the unbeliever’s body goes into the grave and their soul goes into a compartment of Hades called Torments. (Revelation 20:11-15; Luke 16:19-31)  At resurrection they receive a body of some kind. (John 5:28-29; Matthew 18:8-9)  The soul joins the body and appears before the Great White Throne Judgment where the Lord Jesus Christ will judge them according to their human good works.  Finding that their good works fall short of God’s righteousness, they will be sentenced to the Lake of Fire for all eternity. (Revelation 20:11-15)