Armed and Ready – Sermon Notes for 1 Peter part 15


1 Peter Part 15

Armed and Ready

1 Peter 4:1–6

armed

AUDIO FOR THIS SERMON CAN BE FOUND HERE

In the 3 chapters that have come before, Peter has laid out a number of foundational truths for his suffering readers.

 

Let’s review a number of them quickly, and then we will go on to the text before us today, and tease out a number of tools – or as I will call them – WEAPONS that Christ has provided for us in what is a true BATTLE for Christians living in this World.

 

  1. Reckoning with their/our Dual status as Elect, and yet Exiles. And that these are not mutually exclusive categories. 1 Peter 1:1–2 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

 

For Peter’s first readers – these dislocated and marginalized Believers in a very hostile environment – being mindful that their situation is not only not CONTRARY to God’s working – but PART of God’s working His good will and pleasure in them is of vital importance.

 

It is for every Believer in every age. Contrary and difficult circumstances are not hindrances to our Spiritual growth, but in fact essential to it!

 

  1. Remembering the “Blessed Hope” that awaits the Believer irrespective of current circumstances. 1 Peter 1:15–16 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

 

  1. To not stop Practicing their Priesthood, and living lives that accord with that call: 1 Peter 2:9–10 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

 

  1. Seeing every relationship through the lens of redemption and manifesting Christ’s Spirit in the world. 1 Peter 2:13–15 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.

 

  1. Responding to persecution and marginalization in the Spirit of Christ as our “calling”: 1 Peter 3:9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

 

These things said, Peter knows still that ever since the Fall in Gen. 3 – mankind has been plagued with an inward sin principle that wants to live contrary to the way of life just described in the preceding 3 chapters.

 

The Believer is a “new creation” as Paul says in 2 Cor. 5:17 – but we are not yet all that we are destined to be.

 

Peter is thinking the same way his fellow Apostle John does: 1 John 3:2–3 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

 

We are in what theologian George Eldon Ladd labeled: “The already, but not yet” state.

 

Or to use Paul’s words in Philippians: 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

 

The work has been begun in us, but it is not yet completed. And that work as Romans 8:29 states it is: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

 

If you are born again today, this is what God is about in you.

 

He is both calling you, and ordering the circumstances of your life around this work of conforming you to the image of the character of Jesus Christ. Till that is what you are like too – in all His perfections.

 

In the meantime however, you are at war  – at war with the remainder of the sin within you that resists that conformity. That still wants to rebel and to be your own god – living for your own plans and purposes irrespective of God’s.

 

The Biblical writers all agree in this: This condition leaves us at war with our own sinfulness. This, in place of the once losing war we were at with God – over who has the right of supremacy over our lives.

 

But Christ has purchased you out of this bondage, to walk in the freedom of those who belong to His Kingdom. And as citizens of His Kingdom, we find there is still a warfare to be waged.

 

This warfare is part of the absolute substance of the true Christian life. J. C. Ryle writes:  There is a vast quantity of religion current in the world which is not true, genuine Christianity. It passes muster; it satisfies sleepy consciences; but it is not good money. It is not the real thing which was called Christianity eighteen hundred years ago. There are thousands of men and women who go to churches and chapels every Sunday, and call themselves Christians. Their names are in the baptismal register. They are reckoned Christians while they live. They are married with a Christian marriage-service. They mean to be buried as Christians when they die. But you never see any “fight” about their religion! Of spiritual strife, and exertion, and conflict, and self-denial, and watching, and warring, they know literally nothing at all. Such Christianity may satisfy man, and those who say anything against it may be thought very hard and uncharitable; but it certainly is not the Christianity of the Bible. It is not the religion which the Lord Jesus founded, and His Apostles preached. It is not the religion which produces real holiness. True Christianity is “a fight.”[1]

Let us consider well these propositions. Let us take care that our own personal religion is real, genuine, and true. The saddest symptom about many so-called Christians, is the utter absence of anything like conflict and fight in their Christianity. They eat, they drink, they dress, they work, they amuse themselves, they get money, they spend money, they go through a scanty round of formal religious services once or twice every week. But of the great spiritual warfare,—its watchings and strugglings, its agonies and anxieties, its battles and contests,—of all this they appear to know nothing at all. Let us take care that this case is not our own. The worst state of soul is “when the strong man armed keepeth the house, and his goods are at peace,”—when he leads men and women “captive at his will,” and they make no resistance. The worst chains are those which are neither felt nor seen by the prisoner. (Luke 11:21; 2 Tim. 2:26.)[2]

 

It is this “fight” language that finds its way into the first vs. of the 4th chapter and that helps frame what Peter is after here.

 

But before we look at that, we need to be aware of a danger here to look out for. For if you are going to fight ANY war, you have to define the enemy you are fighting with precision.

 

Christians may be easily diverted to the wrong fight!

 

Exam. 1 – We may be at war with the culture, and try to make it and those in it, into something we prefer.

 

Exam. 2 – We might be diverted to the political war raging so violently in our own society today. Confusing that for this spiritual battle.

 

Exam. 3 – We may wage war against other people’s sins rather than our own.

 

Exam. 4 – We might be fighting the losing war of trying to exterminate sin from our souls altogether, which is a false war since sin doesn’t die – instead, we learn to die TO it – To its inward urgings, bents and compulsions. Rom. 6 makes this abundantly clear.

 

Exam. 5 – And we might be engaged in the imaginary war of ease or comfort. Thinking the battle ground is to somehow avoid any pain, dis-ease or discomfort in life – because the “victorious” Christian life (we falsely believe) is one where everything goes our way, and nothing too bad ever troubles us.

 

Exam. 6 – Prosecuting a war against Science as though true Biblical faith and science are mutually exclusive.

 

What IS the actual war then, and HOW do we fight it?

 

The actual war is one against living with the same values and desires as the culture and society around us, against a life lived for “self” and against inward desires incompatible with the character of Christ Jesus having full sway within us.

 

Fighting THIS battle, will make us truly stand out in contrast to the culture around us.

 

And it takes a highly specialized approach. For it is an inward battle.

 

One which this opening portion of the 4th chapter Peter lays before us in wonderfully clear terms.

 

1st Weapon: Christ our Example and Encouragement. 1 Peter 4:1a-b /  Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking,

 

Think as Christ did – that suffering in the Christian is to be expected and not treated as aberrant.

 

2nd Weapon: Keeping our eye on the immediate goal. 1 Peter 4:1c- 4:2

/  for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.

 

Flesh = “sarki” not “soma” (body) i.e. in this earthly or present life.

 

When we deny ourselves sinful attitudes and actions – it is a painful exercise. Face it. And learn that the more uncomfortable I am willing to be by not indulging sinful desires, the more I cease from sinning period. These are in direct proportion to one another.

 

3rd Weapon: Re-exploring the bankruptcy of sin.  1 Peter 4:3 / For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.

 

Haven’t you had enough of sin already?

 

Do you really want to go back to the guilt?

Back to the seaminess?

Back to the bondage?

 

4th Weapon: Expecting to be misunderstood and maligned.  1 Peter 4:4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you;

 

Karen Jobes writes: Pagans of the first century viewed Christians as killjoys who lived gloomy lives devoid of pleasure. The pleasures from which Christians of the first century typically abstained were the popular forms of Roman entertainment: the theater with its risqué performances, the chariot races, and the gladiatorial fights with their blood and gore. Christian lifestyle also condemned the “pleasures” of an indulgent temper, sex outside marriage, drinking, slander, lying, covetousness, and theft. These attitudes toward contemporary Roman customs and morals, combined with the Christians’ refusal to burn incense to the emperor—a gesture of civic gratitude intended to assure the well-being of the empire—earned Christians the reputation of being haters of humanity and traitors to the Roman way of life.[3]

Paul Achtemeier in his commentary adds: “It is a problem that will recur whenever Christians are forced by their faith to oppose cultural values widely held in the secular world within which they live.”[4]

 

5th Weapon: Remembering the end of those outside of Christ. 1 Peter 4:5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

 

6th Weapon: The Promise of Everlasting Life. 1 Peter 4:6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.

 

It is in using these powerful weapons at our disposal, that we begin to live the Christian life in earnest.

 

And I must be clear here, those who are not fighting in such a way, so as to bring the mind into conformity with Christ’s plans and purposes and means – are either living deluded, defeated lives as Christ counts life – or are still not born again, and are living with the delusion of salvation altogether.

So the great question before us today is: Is this MY life?

 

Am I in this battle, and fighting it God’s way?

 

Or am I living woefully below the Gospel?

 

And perhaps not a Christian at all?

 

If you are a Christian and not living on the front lines of this battle – Hear His call to you today to wake up, and take up arms and begin at once. There is no time to lose.

 

And if you find in fact that you are not a Christian today – which is why you are not fighting this battle – Hear His call to run to Christ for the forgiveness of sins and reconciliation to the Father!

 

There is a Heaven to be gained and a Hell to be shunned. There is a real battle. And none but those on the side of Christ and His Kingdom will be spared.

[1] Ryle, J. C. 1889. Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots. London: William Hunt and Company.

[2] Ryle, J. C. 1889. Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots. London: William Hunt and Company.

[3] Jobes, Karen H. 2005. 1 Peter. (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

[4] Jobes, Karen H. 2005. 1 Peter. (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

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