I Peter 4:1-6

Sunday, April 17th, 2016

LIVE ACCORDING TO THE WILL OF GOD

INTRODUCTION:

 

II Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

 

When someone gets saved, a change takes place – he receives a new spiritual nature. This change will be reflected in the way he lives. He has been saved from his sins as well as from their consequences, and He needs to live this way. Therefore, he should live the rest of his time in this life according to the will of God rather than the way he did before he was saved.

 

In I Peter 4:1-6 , we see that we as believers should live according to the will of God rather than like we were living before we were saved.

 

I Peter 4:1-6 – (1) Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; (2) That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. (3) For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: (4) Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: (5) Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. (6) For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

We see that –

    I.     CHRIST SUFFERED FOR BELIEVERS IN THE FLESH – 4:1A

 

I Peter 4:1 a – Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh. . . .

 

Forasmuch . . . as Christ hath suffered is understood in the sense of because Christ has suffered.

 

For us specifies those for whom Christ hath suffered and indicates substitution, i.e. that Christ suffered on behalf of us, in our place, or in our stead when we deserved to be there suffering for our own sins.

 

In the flesh tells where He suffered. It was in His physical body when He was crucified for our sins. In the flesh is understood in the sense of physically.

We furthermore see that –

  II.     BELIEVERS SHOULD HAVE THE SAME MIND THAT CHRIST HAS – 4:1B

 

I Peter 4:1 b – . . . Arm yourselves likewise with the same mind. . . .

 

Arm yourselves means equip yourselves.

 

With the same mind refers to the mind found in the Lord Jesus Christ where mind is used in the sense of thought or insight. It indicates that Jesus was intent on doing the will of God even though it meant suffering. By suffering according to the will of God, Jesus obtained eternal redemption for all who place their faith in Him. Accordingly, believers must equip themselves with the same insight of desiring to be in the center of God’s will even though this may result in suffering.

We also see that –

 III.     THE ONE WHO HAS SUFFERED PERSECUTION IN THE FLESH HAS CEASED FROM SIN – 4:1C

 

I Peter 4:1 c – . . . For he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin.

 

For is because

 

He that hath suffered is a general statement, true of every believer who has suffered physically as the result of persecution because he is a believer. It is literally the one who suffered.

 

In the flesh is literally in flesh and implies physically.

 

He ceased from sin in the past and this cessation from sin has continued to the present time. He is done with sin. He has separated himself from sin.

 

Sin is the general term meaning a missing of the mark.

 

It is best not to understand he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin as referring to Christ because He never committed sin of any kind; so He never had to cease from it.

 

Might it apply to a believer who was put to death for his faith? Without question he would have ceased from sin at the time he died and would never again be subject to it. Therefore, some have suggested that Peter is advising his readers not to fear martyrdom because at that point in time they will never again commit sin.

 

However, had he intended to say this, he could have said it. Furthermore, he speaks of the rest of the believer’s life in the next phrase.

 

Therefore, it is best to understand he that hath suffered in the flesh as referring to every believer who has been physically persecuted for Christianity. The reason he is suffering is for righteousness’ sake. Were it not for the fact that he has ceased from sin, the world would leave him alone because the world is not persecuting its own because it loves its own. That the one who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin follows Paul’s teaching in Romans 6:11-14 .

 

Romans 6:11-14 – (11) Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (12) Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. (13) Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. (14) For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

 

The world recognizes that the believer has ceased from sin, hates him for it, and persecutes him for it. This should not be surprising because it hated the Lord Jesus and sought to slay Him.

 

In this light the persecution of the individual believer demonstrates that he is living for the Lord and has a good testimony before the unsaved.

 

It does not mean that he never commits a single act of sin in his life. It means that his old sin nature no longer rules over his life; and as a result, it means that he does not habitually commit sin. Similarly, John wrote –

 

I John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

 

I John 3:6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.

 

I John 3:8-9 – (8) He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. (9) Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

Next, we see that –

 IV.     BELIEVERS SHOULD NO LONGER LIVE THEIR LIVES IN THE LUSTS OF MEN – 4:2A

 

I Peter 4:2 a – That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men. . . .

 

That introduces a purpose clause or a clause expressing intended result. It is understood as in order that or with the result that.

 

No longer suggests from now on.

 

Should live suggests should live his physical life.

 

The rest of his time in the flesh is throughout the time left of his physical life or throughout the time remaining of his physical life.

 

To the lusts of men refers to the sphere (or realm) in which unbelievers live. They live within the realm of the lusts of humanity where they are controlled by the desires of their old sin natures.

In addition, we see that –

   V.     BELIEVERS SHOULD LIVE THEIR LIVES IN THE WILL OF GOD – 4:2B

 

I Peter 4:2 b – That he . . . should live the rest of his time in the flesh to . . . the will of God.

 

But introduces a statement in strong contrast to the idea of living the rest of his life in the flesh to the lusts of men.

 

To the will of God is in the sphere of the will of God. This contrast makes it evident that living in the will of God is the opposite of living in the lusts of men.

 

Paul wrote along the same lines in Galatians 5:16-25 .

 

Galatians 5:16-25 – (16) This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (17) For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. (18) But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. (19) Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness [i.e. immorality], lasciviousness [i.e. licentiousness or debauchery, a term used especially of sexual excesses], (20) Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance [i.e. strifes, discords, contentions, or quarrels], emulations [i.e. jealousies, envies], wrath [i.e. outbursts of anger or rages], strife [i.e. contentiousnesses], seditions [i.e. dissensions], heresies [i.e. dissensions or factions], (21) Envyings [i.e. jealousies], murders, drunkenness, revellings [i.e. excessive feastings, carousings, or revelries], and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, (23) Meekness, temperance [i.e. self-control]: against such there is no law. (24) And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. (25) If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

 

Although God’s will regarding Christian service may be different for each believer, God’s will regarding Christian character is the same for all believers and has been expressed in the Scriptures.

 

A believer has two natures: an old sin nature, which chooses to live in the realm of the lusts or sinful cravings which are common among men, and a new spiritual nature, which is sinless, and which chooses to live a godly life according to the will of God.

 

The old nature is variously referred to as the flesh or the old man. It is to be put off like someone puts off a dirty garment, and believers must live Christlike lives in the power of the Holy Spirit. This is accomplished by studying the Bible and by submitting the heart, mind, and will to the plain teaching of the Scriptures.

Moreover, we see that –

 VI.      BELIEVERS HAVE HAD PLENTY OF TIME PRIOR TO SALVATION TO LIVE THEIR LIVES IN THE LUSTS OF MEN – 4:3

 

I Peter 4:3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:

 

The time past of our life refers to the portion of life which has already been lived. Inasmuch as Peter is writing to believers, our is limited to them and does not include the unsaved.

 

May suffice us means is sufficient for us, is enough for us, or is adequate for us.

 

To have wrought is to have achieved, to have accomplished, or to have done.

 

The will of the Gentiles is set in contrast to the will of God from the previous verse. Gentiles means pagans or heathen.

 

Before we were saved, we were like all the rest of the unsaved as far as our old sin natures are concerned, even though by the grace of God we may not have committed the exact same sins. Before we were saved, we had adequate time to have committed more than enough sin to last us the rest of our lives.

 

Now that we have been saved, we ought to move on to better things, i.e. to living righteous lives in the will of God. It is time for a change.

 

When we walked in is used in the sense of when we went in, when we proceeded in, or when we traveled in.

 

Lasciviousness is used especially of sexual excesses denoting an absence of restraint where the prominent idea is shameless conduct. It is used in the sense of licentiousness, sensuality, debauchery, unbridled lust, wantonness, outrageousness, or shamelessness.

 

It may show itself in suggestive, filthy words or stories, indecent bodily movements, impure handling of males and females, and, perhaps, even in the way people dress. Lasciviousness is plural in the Greek text, indicating that it is not an isolated act. It is one act of licentiousness after another.

 

Lusts is also used in verse 2 and generally means desires or longings. Here, it indicates desires which are evil or forbidden in the sense of lusts or cravings. It is also plural, indicating that this is not something occurring only once. It is one lust after another.

 

Excess of wine means drunkenness, and it is plural in the Greek text, i.e. drunkennesses. It is one state of drunkenness after another. They would habitually get drunk.

 

Revellings means excessive feastings or carousings where the revellers paraded around the streets of town. It is also plural, which indicates that it is the normal habit of the unsaved to move from one revelling to another. Furthermore, it comes as the result of the drunkennesses. It is translated rioting in Romans 13:13 .

 

Banquetings is drinking parties. It means drinking, especially a drinking party or carousal. The fact that it is plural suggests that the typical unsaved crowd engaged in one drinking party after another.

 

Abominable idolatries accompany the immoralities and drunkennesses. Abominable is unlawful, lawless, or wanton. Idolatries is also plural. It is one idolatrous involvement after another.

We also see that –

VII.     UNBELIEVERS THINK THE CHANGE IN BELIEVERS IS STRANGE – 4:4A

 

I Peter 4:4 a – Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot. . . .

 

Wherein they think it strange indicates the reaction of the unsaved crowd to the change that God has brought about in the lives of the believers at the time of their salvation.

 

Wherein is in which and refers back to the will of the Gentiles.

 

They refers to the heathen, the unsaved people with whom the believers were formerly associated in their sins.

 

They think it strange is they are surprised or they are astonished, and it shows the amazement of the unsaved crowd toward the change in the believers’ lives. It is something foreign to their way of thinking.

 

That ye run not with them to the same excess of riot indicates what surprises the heathen peoples about these believers. Before they were saved, these believers had done the same things right alongside the rest of the heathen. Now, these believers no longer choose to engage in the same activities.

 

Ye refers to Peter’s readers, and that ye run not with (them) means that you not run together with (them). It is used figuratively of close association and means that you not go with (them) or that you not plunge with (them).

 

To the same excess of riot is what believers no longer run to but which unbelievers still run to.

 

Excess is literally a wide stream and then a pouring out or flood.

 

Riot is the word translated excess in Ephesians 5:18 (And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit) and means debauchery, dissipation, or profligacy. It refers to the sort of life lived as a result of drunkenness. This same word translated riot is used as an adverb in the Greek text in Luke 15:13 in reference to the prodigal son where he wasted his substance with riotous living, i.e. by living riotously. The unsaved are amazed at the change in the believers.

Not surprisingly, we see that –

VIII.   UNBELIEVERS SPEAK EVIL OF BELIEVERS – 4:4B

 

I Peter 4:4 . . . Speaking evil of you:

 

Speaking evil of you further indicates the reaction of these pagans when those who have been saved no longer wish to engage in the same sins they committed before their salvation. When used of men, it means slandering, reviling, defaming, or injuring the reputation of.

 

You identifies those who are slandered and refers to Peter’s readers. By being slandered these believers may begin to find themselves suffering according to the will of God for well-doing. Those who are still unsaved cannot understand the miraculous change that has taken place in their lives and begin to slander them.

But we also see that –

 IX.     UNBELIEVERS WILL GIVE AN ACCOUNT TO CHRIST OF WHAT THEY DO – 4:5

 

I Peter 4:5 Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.

 

Who shall give account refers to those who are pagans, who think it strange that you no longer run with them to the same excess of riot, and who speak evil of you. They are unbelievers.

 

What they will give is an account or a reckoning.

 

The same terminology is used in Romans 14:12 where believers will someday give individual accounts of themselves to God.

 

It is also used in Hebrews 13:17 where pastors give account for those in their churches.

 

To him that is ready to judge is the One to Whom this account will be given. According to verse 6 this would appear to be God the Father. This same thing is taught I Peter 1:17 . In other Scriptures, Christ is pictured as the judge. It appears that God the Father is judging through Christ.

 

That is ready to judge is literally the One Who is holding (Himself) in readiness to judge and indicates that He is ready to begin judging.

 

The quick and the dead are those whom He will judge. The quick are those still physically alive at the time, and the dead are those who have already died. In this context it seems best to understand that these living and dead ones are all unsaved people.

Finally, we see that –

   X.     THE GOSPEL WAS PREACHED TO SPIRITUALLY DEAD PERSONS IN ORDER THAT THEY MIGHT LIVE ACCORDING TO GOD IN THE SPIRIT – 4:6

 

I Peter 4:6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

 

For for this cause indicates that a reason or purpose for something is about to be given. It is literally for unto this (i.e. for unto this reason or for unto this purpose). The content of this is that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

 

Was the gospel preached to them that are dead indicates that the gospel was preached to some who have since died. They are dead now, but they were still alive when the gospel was proclaimed to them. It does not mean that the gospel was preached to those persons after they died as unsaved persons in order to give them a second chance.

 

That is in order that or for the purpose that.

 

They refers to them that are dead.

 

Might be judged according to men in the flesh is set in contrast to but live according to God in the spirit.

 

Men is the generic term for human beings which may include females as well as males. Therefore, according to men means by human standards.

 

It is the purpose of the proclamation of the gospel that those who hear it will accept it and be saved.

 

If they do accept Christ as personal Savior, their sins will be judged in Christ. Then they will be judged according to men in the flesh, i.e. they will be persecuted and suffer for righteousness’ sake at the hands of the unbelieving crowd; but they will live according to God in the spirit.

 

When we are saved, we are immediately given eternal life; and this new spiritual life will be enjoyed not only in this life but also in heaven. We should live the rest of our lives according to God and His will in our new spiritual natures.

 

However, those who refuse to trust Christ as Savior will be judged by God at the Great White Throne Judgment and will be cast into the lake of fire as taught in Revelation of Jesus Christ 20:11-15 .

 

Revelation of Jesus Christ 20:11-1511 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

CONCLUSION:

 

Believers must be living in accordance with their new sinless natures rather than in accordance with their old sin natures.

 

If you are unsaved, you need to be saved.

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