1 Peter 4:1-6
4 Christ suffered in his body. So get ready as a soldier does. Prepare yourselves to think in the same way Christ did. Do it because those who have suffered in their bodies are finished with sin. 2 As a result, they don’t live the rest of their lives on earth controlled by evil human longings. Instead, they live to do what God wants. 3 You have spent enough time in the past doing what ungodly people choose to do. You lived a wild life. You longed for evil things. You got drunk. You went to wild parties. You worshiped statues of gods. The Lord hates that. 4 Ungodly people think that it’s strange when you no longer join them in what they do. They want you to rush into the same flood of wasteful living. So they say bad things about you. 5 But they will have to explain their actions to God. He is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 That’s why the good news was preached even to people who are now dead. Human judges said they were guilty as far as their bodies were concerned. But God set their spirits free to live as he wanted them to.
There is complicated logic in this passage. I think the crux of it is that ‘he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin’ 4:1. Not that suffering physically for our faith causes us to give up sinning, but giving up a sinful life and living according to the gospel means that we are accepting that life will be difficult at times. Conversely someone with a superficial faith will avoid doing things that will attract the attention of the unbelievers around them. That kind of faith is limited by the need to avoid vilification in the physical realm.
So our willingness to endure suffering because of the different values we live under as Christians demonstrates our commitment. As Peter says, once we move out of the world of sinful pleasures we are loath to go back. Consolation for being outcast from the world comes as we remember that all sinners will one day be accountable to God.
Sometimes it’s hard to behave differently to the crowd, knowing that you will be ridiculed or left out of things. But I try to remember that pleasing God and being true to his standards will mean a better life for me now and will prevent others from falling into sin because of me.
Dear God, you have shown us the right way to live, and like Jesus we will suffer. Please be our strength and give us resolve to endure in righteousness, and find us acceptable before your seat of judgement. Amen.
Written by Dimity Milne