1 Peter 4:1-11
Stephen Caswell © 2001
Clock Of Life
The clock of life is wound but once, And no man has the power
To say just when the hands will stop; At late, or early hour.
Now is the only time we own, to do His precious will,
Do not wait until tomorrow; For the clock may then be still.
Last time we looked at 1 Peter in December we saw how Jesus Christ suffered for us. In this passage Peter asks believers to evaluate how they are using their time. Since time can only be spent once, we need to use our time wisely so that it will really count. Peter mentions time in verses 2, 3 and 7. In light of all that Jesus Christ has done for us Peter asks believers to do two things with their time.
I. To Stop Sinning & II. To Start Serving
Firstly To Stop Sinning
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,
Peter begins by using a military illustration. He commands believers to arm themselves with the mind of Christ. A soldier wasn't ready for battle until he had taken up his weapons. How did Jesus respond to sin? He exposed it and attacked it. Jesus hated sin and spoke against it. In fact He came to destroy the power of sin. Jesus battled against Satan and the powers of hell and won. Peter commands believers to have the same attitude towards sin that Jesus Christ has. Soldiers must be determined if they are going to defeat the enemy. They must not give the enemy a foothold or stronghold from which he can attack them.
2 Corinthians 10:4-6 brings out the same thought. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. If Christians want to defeat sin we must start by having a militant attitude against it. We can't play with it. Jesus commands His disciples to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him. This means we put aside our rights and freedoms to serve the Lord. As Christians suffer for righteousness they can also stop sinning.
Getting Accustomed To The Darkness
We had dinner with some friends at a restaurant one evening. It was one of those places where the lights are low, and you need a miner’s helmet to find your table. We had been seated several minutes before we started looking at the menu, and I remarked that I was amazed how easily I could read it. Yes, said my friend, it doesn’t take us long to get accustomed to the darkness. There is a sermon in that sentence: It is easy for Christians to get accustomed to sin. Instead of having a militant attitude that hates and opposes it, we gradually get used to sin, sometimes without even realizing it. The one thing that will destroy the rest of our time is sin. So, Peter gives 3 good reasons why we should war against sin.
a. Christ Suffered For Our Sin
1 Peter 4:1a Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh,
The first reason is the serious nature of sin. God takes sin very seriously. Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death. Sin is so serious that Jesus had to suffer and die. If sin is this serious shouldn't we fight against it with all our resolve? But so often we think that little sins don't matter. After all were only human; God understands, doesn't He? Yes, God does understand when we fail, but He won't condone deliberate sin. We need to constantly renew our mind with God's Word lest we slowly lower our standards.
What Is Sin
Man calls it an accident; God calls it an abomination.
Man calls it a blunder; God calls it blindness.
Man calls it a defect; God calls it a disease.
Man calls it a chance; God calls it a choice.
Man calls it an error; God calls it an enmity.
Man calls it a fascination; God calls it a fatality.
Man calls it an infirmity; God calls it an iniquity.
Man calls it a luxury; God calls it a leprosy.
Man calls it a liberty; God calls it lawlessness.
Man calls it a trifle; God calls it a tragedy.
Man calls it a mistake; God calls it a madness.
Man calls it a weakness; God calls it willfulness. — Moody Monthly
b. Christ Saved Us From Sin
1 Peter 4:1b-3 for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 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. 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.
When God saved us, He saved us to live for Himself. Instead of being the servants of sin we are now to become the servants of righteousness. Before we were saved we lived for lustful pleasures. Because God saved us from depravation, Christians must live the rest of their time for the will of God. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says it well: Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. God redeemed us from sin so that we might live godly lives. We must use our time for the Lord. Ephesians 5:16 says: Redeeming the time because the days are evil.
Sam Jones used to have Quittin’ Meetings during his revivals. He gave the people opportunity to confess their sins and to repent. Many quit swearing, drinking, smoking, gossiping … Sam asked one woman what she planned to quit and she replied, I ain’t been doing nothing and I am goin’ to quit that too. True repentance means that we turn from sin.
c. Christ Will Judge All Sin
1 Peter 4:4-6 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. They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 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.
People in society can't understand why we don't run with them anymore. They think that there is something wrong with us. In fact sinners judge Christians as strange and often speak evil of them. When believers follow the Lord and live righteously they don't like it. It challenges their way of life and they feel threatened. So they respond by judging believers and speaking evil of them. This is to draw attention away from their own sin. Sinners have always mocked God's people. So how should we respond to their slander? By loving them and sharing the Gospel with them. By praying for their salvation. By living a pure life before them. If they continue to reject the Gospel then God will judge them for their sin. We needn't judge them, because one day God will condemn them and justify His people. One day God will judge the dead, lost, and the living, saved. Therefore we ought to live in the light of this!
Romans 14:11-12 For it is written: As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God. So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.
For Finney: “Then What?”
Charles G. Finney, a young lawyer, was sitting in a village law office in the state of New York. Finney had just come into the old squire’s office. It was very early in the day, and he was all alone when the Lord began to deal with him. Finney, what are you going to do when you finish your course? Put out a shingle and practice law. Then what? Get rich. Then what? Retire. Then what? Die. Then what? And the words came tremblingly, The judgment.
He ran for the woods a half mile away. All day he prayed, and vowed that he would never leave until he had made his peace with God. He saw himself at the judgment bar of God. For four years he had studied law, and now the vanity of a selfish life, lived for the enjoyment of the things of this world, was made clear to him. Finney came out of the woods that evening, after a long struggle, with the high purpose of living henceforth to the glory of God and of enjoying Him forever. From that moment blessings untold filled his life, and God used him in a mighty way, not as a lawyer but as a preacher, to bring thousands to conversion over a useful period of fifty years.
To start with, Peter commands believers to arm themselves with the mind of Christ. We must maintain a militant attitude towards sin like Jesus did. Then, Peter gives 3 reasons why we should. Firstly, Jesus suffered because of our sin. Do you take sin seriously? Or are you giving the enemy a stronghold in your life? Have let your standards drop? Secondly, sin belongs to our old life and Christ has redeemed us from this kind of depravity. Are you living a holy life in God's will or are you wasting your time on corrupt living? Thirdly, saints and sinners will one day give an account of their lives to God. Are you living in light of this?
Secondly To Start Serving
After Peter warns believers to stop sinning he encourages them to start serving. Both of these sections begin with commands that relate to our mind. If we have the right outlook we can bring about the right outcome in our lives. For Christian service to be effective requires three things, the right mind, the right motives and the right ministry.
a. Right Mind
1 Peter 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.
Because believers are living in the last days they need to think the right way. Peter picks up on a few important points. Firstly, Christians must be serious. The word serious swfronew means to be sober, moderate or self controlled. It means to be of a sound mind. The opposite of being sober-minded is frenzy, madness. It is the Greek word mania, which has come into our English vocabulary through psychology. If we are sober-minded, we will be intellectually sound and not off on a tangent because of some new interpretation of the Scriptures. We must be balanced in our thinking and not easily lead astray.
Secondly, we must be watchful unto prayer. Believers ought to pray often about all types of needs. Our prayers should be balanced and contain praise and thanksgiving as well as requests. You find the phrase watch and pray often in the Authorized Version. It simply means to be alert in our praying, to be controlled. There is no place in the Christian life for lazy, listless routine praying. We must have an alert attitude and be on guard, just like the workers in Nehemiah’s day. It is not good enough to pray God bless all the missionaries everywhere. We should pray intelligently and keep in touch with their current needs. Prayer letters are available so it doesn't take a lot of effort to be informed. Be informed of people's needs and the sick. Christian service begins with sober thinking, watchfulness and prayer.
b. Right Motives
1 Peter 4:8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.
Christian service also requires the right motive. Fervent love is that motive. Paul said that the love of Christ constrained him to preach the Gospel. The word love used here is ajgaph, God's unconditional love. When we love people we want to help them. Love is the greatest motivation for Christian service. In fact it is the only motive that God is pleased with. Love makes our service effective. Love for the saints is important, above all things. Love is the badge of a believer in this world. Especially in times of testing and persecution, Christians need to love one another and be united in heart. Jesus said that all men would identify His disciples be their love for one another.
This love should be fervent. The word pictures an athlete straining to reach the goal. It speaks of eagerness and intensity. Christian love is something we have to work at, just the way an athlete works on his skills. This love is also forgiving. Love enables us to overlook our brother's faults. It helps us to forgive each another.
It also means that we won't gossip about another believer's sins. Love does not condone sin; for, if we love somebody, we will be grieved to see him sin and hurt himself and others. Rather, love covers sin in that love motivates us to hide the sin from others and not spread it abroad. We can pray about it ourselves and personally challenge the person if we feel lead to.
Genesis 9:18–27 gives us a beautiful illustration of this principle. Noah got drunk and shamefully uncovered himself. His son Ham saw his father’s shame and told the matter to the family. In loving concern, Ham’s two brothers covered their father and his shame. Shem and Japheth behaved in love not Ham who broadcast Noah's sin. It should not be too difficult for us to cover the sins of others; after all, Jesus Christ died that our sins might be washed away.
Our Christian love should not only be fervent and forgiving, but it should also be practical. We should share our homes with others in generous and uncomplaining hospitality. In New Testament times hospitality was an important thing, because there were few inns and poor Christians could not afford to stay at them anyway. Abraham was hospitable to three strangers, and discovered that he had entertained the Lord and two angels. We help to promote the truth when we open our homes to God’s servants. In fact, when we share with others, we share with Christ. We should not open our homes to others just so that others will invite us over. We should do it to glorify the Lord.
c. Right Ministry
1 Peter 4:10-11 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Finally, Christian love must result in service. Each Christian has at least one spiritual gift that he must use to the glory of God and the building up of the church. We are stewards. God has entrusted these gifts to us that we might use them for the good of His church. He even gives us the spiritual ability to develop our gifts and be faithful servants of the church. Peter tells us that God's grace is manifold. The word manifold means multicolored, variegated. This further highlights the variety of spiritual gifts. Since everyone has received a spiritual gift what are we to do with them? Peter says that believers must minister them to one another. Since God gives them to build the Church, we are to use them to their full potential.
Because God gives them we must glorify Him. What is your spiritual gift? How are you using it? Because we are stewards of God's gifts, one day God will ask us how we used it. You might say that you don't know what your spiritual gift is. There are spiritual gift inventories that can help you. You can pray for God's leading and ask a Christian brother for guidance. Get involved in something and see how God uses you. If it doesn't seem to be your area of ministry you can try something else. When Warren Weirsbe was a young man a pastor said to him, Find the one thing you do that God blesses and devote yourself to it. Good advice!! Find your spiritual gift and use it. Spiritual gifts break up into basically two areas.
1. Serving Gifts: Ministry, giving, mercy, helps, administration, faith, discernment of spirits.
2. Speaking Gifts: Teacher, pastor, evangelist, encourager.
Romans 12:4-8: For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
Peter gives three instructions in the light of Christ's return. Firstly, believers must have the right mind. Peter commands us to be serious and watchful unto prayer. Are you disciplined and self controlled in your Christian life? Is your ministry balanced with prayer? Do you pray intelligently? Secondly, we must have the right motives. Does love motivate your service? Is your love fervent and growing? Do you forgive your brethren? Do you cover people's sins or broadcast them? Thirdly, we must use our gifts in the right ministry. What spiritual gift do you have? Are you using it to build up the church? Are you using it it's full potential as a good steward? Are you serving the Lord for His glory?
Today we have seen how Peter asks believers to use their time wisely. He told them to do two things with it.
I. To Stop Sinning & II. To Start Serving
Firstly To Stop Sinning
Before we were saved we wasted our time on sinful pleasures. But then God saved us to live for His glory. Therefore we should have a militant attitude towards sin. Becausde sin is serious we must continually fight against it. We must arm ourselves with the mind of Christ. Will you determine to stand against sin as Jesus did? Will you use your time for God's will?
Secondly To Start Serving
To serve the Lord effectively requires that we have the right mind, the right motives and the right ministry. Will you be balanced in your life through discipline, prayer and love? Will you use your spiritual gift for God's glory? I pray that we will all live the rest of our lives for God's glory! Amen!!!
1 Peter 5:10-11 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.