By Hoyt Wilson
Pastor, Flatwoods Baptist Church, Holladay
When confronted with danger, both people and animals must choose flight or fight. Peter recognized there was potential for significant persecution of believers scattered in the five provinces mentioned in I Peter 1:1. He warned: “… since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves … ” (I Peter 4:1). No, He was not advocating that they prepare for physical battle, but he did want to help them be equipped to live under persecution and to glorify God in the process. Peter did not leave them hanging, but shared how they could be equipped to live in times of spiritual warfare.
He referred to the fact that Jesus suffered in His body and advised: “… arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin” (KJV). He is saying two significant things here. First, he is saying that Christ’s suffering was purposeful. Isaiah said it long ago: “Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering.” He suffered for our sin so that we could be forgiven and saved. Second, Christians are to have the attitude of Christ in that persecution because of Christ is also purposeful. Suffering in the body because of identification with Jesus is a strong testimony to the saving grace of God. Consider that Peter said: “… for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin.” Some scholars point out that ceased (pauo) is in the middle voice or the passive and means one “hath got release” from sin. The NIV says “is done with sin.” Released from slavery to sin, one can arm oneself with a changed lifestyle. Peter indicates that a saved person will live the rest of his life to the will of God. I have always heard that “enough is enough” and Peter says that “… you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do – living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and detestable idolatry.” Take time to look up each of these words in a dictionary and you will say: “Wow! I am truly grateful that through Christ I have been released from these to live the will of God.”
Past associates will have a hard time accepting the change that one makes with Christ as Lord. Normal living for an unbeliever is abominable living for one repenting of sin and arming with the mind of Christ to live in the will of God. There is a tremendous incentive for one to be saved since Peter said: “But they will have to give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” Death will not deliver one from judgment but to judgment. There is a great advantage both in life and in death for the believer. In life Christ is their Lord and in death He is their mediator with the Father. One may need both the Savior and the mediator sooner than they think.
“The end of all things is near,” wrote Peter. Revelation 22:7 records Jesus saying: “I am coming soon!” I Peter 4:7 advises two things: “be alert and of sober mind.” In other words: “Wake up and think about it!” If one wakes up and thinks “up,” they will certainly do all they can to be equipped to live. This will involve three things: (1) loving other Christians deeply, v. 8; (2) using your spiritual gifts to serve others, v. 10; and (3) causing God to be praised through Jesus Christ, v. 11.
When the end of all things comes, it will be too late. One must be equipped to live while living. In Revelation 22:10-11 John tells us: “… the time is near. Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy.” When the end of all things comes, one will be what they are forever. It is time to get equipped to live eternally.