Our New Life in Christ
1 Peter 4:1-11
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Feb. 10, 2013
*A new house, a new truck, a new TV, a new phone, a new book, a new grandbaby: We like new things. But better than all is the new life we have in Jesus Christ. In John 3:3, Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” And in 2 Cor 5:17, Paul said, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
*When we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we receive a brand new life. But how do we live this new life? -- What’s it all about?
1. First: Our new life in Christ is about right living.
*And in the first six verses, Peter gives us a flood of good information about right living.
 In vs. 1, we see God’s weapon for right living.
*Here Peter tells Christians: “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.” God’s weapon in this verse is the mind of Christ. And Peter says, “Arm yourselves with the same mind.”
*Christians, we can do that because in 1 Cor 2:16, Paul tells us that “we have the mind of Christ.” This is the new nature we receive when we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. We are born again with the mind of Christ.
*And this new nature enables us to live the right way. But in Philippians 2:5, Paul urges us to “LET this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”
*In other words, there is a struggle between the old nature and the new. So, in vs. 1, Peter tells us that we have to intentionally and consistently ARM ourselves with the mind of Christ. That’s God’s weapon for right living.
 But in vs. 1&2, Peter also shows us God’s will for right living.
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.
*Our goal for right living is the same goal Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer. Listen to part of this model prayer from Matthew 6:9&10:
9. . . “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.
10. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
*Our goal for right living is also the same goal on Jesus’ heart, as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. In Matthew 26:39, Jesus “fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’”
*Our goal for right living is God’s will in our lives.
 Next in vs. 3, Peter talks about the ungodly waste of our lives without Christ.
3. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles when we walked in licentiousness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.
*What a wasted life! -- God doesn’t want us to walk in “licentiousness” or “lasciviousness” in the KJV. What’s that? -- It’s unrestrained indecency: No blush, no shame. Also in 3, God doesn’t want us to waste our lives on drunkenness, wild parties and false gods.
*All of these things add up to the ungodly waste of our lives without Christ.
 Then in vs. 4, we see that our Godly living will bring on some ungodly words.
*In this verse, Peter said, “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.” Peter reminds us that some people will think we are crazy for trying to live the right way, and many do think we’re crazy.
*But there are also people out there who are dying to see somebody who’s real, somebody whose life has been radically transformed by Jesus Christ. We need to be those people! -- And it’s not always easy.
*I may be wrong, but I think it’s a hundred times harder to live the right life than it was 50 years ago. When I was a kid, we had shows on TV like “Gunsmoke,” “Bonanza,” “The Andy Griffith Show,” and “I love Lucy.” Today’s TV line-up is filled with all kinds of terrible trash. And that’s just one example.
*It may be much harder to live the right life today, but it’s never been more important!
 That’s why in vs. 5, Peter gives people a Godly warning: “They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.”
 God’s judgment is coming. So in vs. 6, Peter also gives us God’s Way of salvation: 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.”
*The only way that anyone can ever live the right way is through the good news about Jesus Christ, the gospel good news:
-That God loves us in spite of our sins.
-That God’s Son, Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins.
-That He rose again from the dead.
-That we can have God’s mercy and forgiveness by trusting in the Lord.
-And that we receive a brand new life when we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior.
*“For this reason the gospel was preached” that we might live the right way “according to God in the spirit.” Our new life in Christ is about right living.
*Sarah Jo Sarchet has served as a Presbyterian pastor in Chicago. Back in the early 2000’s, there was a ten-year-old boy in her church named Cameron. One day, Cameron walked into the pastor’s office and said he needed to talk.
*Fresh from soccer practice, and wearing his Cincinnati Reds baseball cap, Cameron had a request: “I'd like to be baptized,” he said. “We were learning about Jesus' baptism in Sunday School. The teacher asked the class who was baptized, and all the other kids raised their hands. I want to be baptized too.”
*Pastor Sarah asked: “Cameron, do you really want to be baptized because everyone else is?” -- He looked up and replied, “No. -- I want to be baptized because it means I belong to God.”
*The pastor was touched and said: “How about this Sunday?” -- Cameron’s smile turned to concern and he asked, “Do I have to be baptized in front of all those people in the church? Can't I just have a friend baptize me in the river?”
*“Where’d you come up with that idea?” she responded. Cameron replied, “Well, Jesus was baptized by his cousin John in a river, wasn't he?” -- Caught off guard, the pastor said: “You have a point. But, if a friend baptized you in the river, how would the church recognize it?”
*Cameron thought about it as his pastor got on a footstool to reach for a book on a high shelf. Good question: How would the church recognize that he belonged to Jesus? -- While she reached, Cameron wisely said: “I guess by my new way of living.” When his pastor heard that profound answer, she almost fell off the stool! (1)
*Cameron got it just right. They will know we belong to Jesus by our new way of living. Our new life in Christ is about right living.
2. And it’s about regular praying.
*We see this truth in vs. 7, where Peter said: “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.” The KJV says: “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.”
*The idea is that we will not get distracted by the things of this world, but will be intentional, serious and disciplined about our prayers. Why did Peter tell us this?
-Because he knew that the things of this world are passing away.
-And because he knew the power of prayer.
*Peter knew how important prayer is, and how much it can do. God answers our prayers at just the right time, in just the right way, so we should pray. The greatest Christians who ever lived were people of prayer.
*Many of us have heard of George Mueller. He was the remarkable British Christian who supported his orphanage ministry exclusively by prayer. Mueller never directly asked anyone for a contribution. He simply prayed to God about his circumstances. Someone once told him: “It looks like a hand-to-mouth proposition.” But Mueller replied: “Yes, it is. -- But it is God's hand (to) my mouth.” (2)
*God answers prayer! -- So, our new life in Christ is about regular praying.
3. And it’s about rich loving.
*As Peter said in vs. 8: “Above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’” The KJV says: “Above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” At the end of this verse, Peter quoted Proverbs 10:12, and the “love” or “charity” he commands us to have is God’s kind of merciful, grace-filled, agape love.
*God wants us to love each other deeply, strongly, fervently, because love covers a multitude of sins. It certainly did for me! -- And Christians, it did for you, too. -- Amen? --Yes!
*That’s what the cross was all about: Covering a multitude of sins. And it is a rich, costly love that Jesus has for us. William Barclay once said: “Forgiveness costs. There is one eternal principle which will be valid as long as the world lasts. The principle is: Forgiveness is a costly thing.
*Human forgiveness is costly. A son or a daughter may go wrong; a father or a mother may forgive; but that forgiveness has brought tears. There was the price of a broken heart to pay.
*Divine forgiveness is costly. God is love, but God is holiness. God, least of all, can break the great moral laws on which the universe is built. Sin must have its punishment or the very structure of life disintegrates. And God alone can pay the terrible price that is necessary before men can be forgiven. Forgiveness is never a case of saying: ‘It's all right; it doesn't matter.’ Forgiveness is the most costly thing in the world.” (3)
*And God wants us to have the same kind of love for each other that He has for us: A fervent love that will cover a multitude of sins.
-Our new life in Christ is about rich loving.
4. And it’s about rich giving.
*This is Peter’s message to us in vs. 9&10, where he said:
9. Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.
10. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
*Here Peter is talking about hospitality, and all kinds of generous giving, all kinds of giving. William Barkley explained it this way: “Such gifts as a man has he must place ungrudgingly at the service of the community. This is a favorite New Testament idea which is expanded by Paul in Romans12:3-8 and 1 Corinthians 12.
*The Church needs every gift that a man has. It may be a gift of speaking, of music, of the ability to visit people. It may be a craft or skill which can be used in the practical service of the Church. It may be a house which a man possesses or money which he has inherited. There is no gift which cannot be placed at the service of Christ.” (4)
*So we are to give as we have received. And God wants us to be generous givers, because He is a generous giver! God also wants us to be cheerful givers, not grudging or grumbling or complaining. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 9:7, “God loves a cheerful giver.”
*But sometimes we make it hard to give that way. That’s why Tuck Roberts once said: “If you think you can’t afford to tithe, then really, you’ve got something else you can’t afford.” I say, “If you will make the commitment to be a generous, cheerful giver, God will make a way.”
-Our new life in Christ is about rich giving.
5. And it’s about radiant serving.
*This is Peter’s message to us in vs. 11, where he said: “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.”
*The first kind of service Peter mentioned was speaking. Certainly he was talking about preaching here, but we can also include teaching, witnessing and encouragement.
*The KJV says, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.” There is only one way to do that, and that is by prayerfully using the Word of God. When God called me to this blessing of a church, He impressed on me to preach the Word, and that is my undying commitment to you.
*We ought to have a high view of the Word of God! -- And I will only preach sermons to you that are rooted and grounded in God’s Word. I will never stand before you without going to God and saying: “Lord, what do you want me to tell your people. Please show me what to say.”
*That is the only way to speak as the oracle of God. And it’s radiant service, because Psalm 119:105 says: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” It’s radiant service, because it glorifies Jesus Christ!
*But this is not only true of speaking for the Lord. It can be true for all of our service to Jesus. So in vs. 11, Peter went on to say this: “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.”
*We can all radiantly serve the Lord, bringing glory to God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And the glory goes to Him, because the goodness comes from Him.
*Joni Eareckson Tada reminds us of this truth. Most of you know that she is a quadriplegic, paralyzed from a diving accident Joni had way back in high school. But Joni Eareckson is a radiant servant of the Lord through her art, her singing and her speaking. How does she do it?
*Joni told about being surrounded by a crowd of women during a break at a Christian women’s conference. One woman said, “Oh, Joni, you always look so together, so happy in your wheelchair. I wish that I had your joy!” Several women around her nodded. “How do you do it?” -- Joni replied: “I don’t do it. In fact, may I tell you honestly how I woke up this morning?”
*Several women leaned closer to listen. Joni breathed deeply and said: “This is an average day. After my husband, Ken, leaves for work at 6:00 am, I’m alone until I hear the front door open at 7:00 am. That’s when a friend arrives to get me up. While I listen to her make coffee, I pray, ‘Oh, Lord, my friend will soon give me a bath, get me dressed, sit me up in my chair, brush my hair and teeth, and send me out the door. I don’t have the strength to face this routine one more time. I have no resources. I don’t have a smile to take into the day. But You do. May I have Yours? -- God, I need You desperately.’”
*“So, what happens when your friend comes through the bedroom door?” one of the women asked. “I turn my head toward her, and give her a smile sent straight from heaven. It’s not mine. It’s God’s.” (5)
*Church, that’s the only real way to have radiant service for Jesus Christ. All of the goodness comes from Him, so all of the glory goes to Him.
*God wants all of our lives to be marked by right living, regular praying, rich loving, rich giving and radiant serving. But we all need God’s help to live this new life. Let’s ask for His help now, as we go to God in prayer.
(1) From a sermon by Sarah Jo Sarchet at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago - Source: Sermonillustrations.com email - 01122003
(2) Online Sermon: “Can You Trust God’s Hands?” by David Holwick -John 10:24-29 - illustration #1705
(3) David Holwick illustration #2341 - SOURCE: Christianity Today AUTHOR: William Barclay, In "The Letter to Hebrews" PAGE: 48 DATE: 105/92
(4)“Barclay's Daily Bible Study Series” (NT) by William Barclay - Revised Edition (C) Copyright 1975 William Barclay - First published by the Saint Andrew Press, Edinburgh, Scotland - The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - “Christian Responsibility” - 1 Peter 4:9-10
(5) Joni Eareckson Tada testimony - Source: “Decision” - March 2000 - www.graham-assn.org/decision - Found in “Dynamic Preaching” sermon - First Sunday in April, 2002