1 Peter 4:1-6 Leaving the Old Life Behind

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

Leaving the Old Life Behind

Pagans make choices in line with who they perceive themselves to be.  They don’t really understand why Christians don’t join in with their fun, because it is all that they know.  However, Christian’s pleasure comes from service of Jesus.  It may sound sadistic, but Christians get pleasure out of suffering because it is an honour to suffer for Jesus.  Christians also know that fleeting, selfish choices have eternal results.  Reckless, wild living overindulges the senses in ways that leave them dulled.  Reckless, wild living leads to broken relationships and heartache.  Partying is not a twenty-first century invention, people have been going wild for years.

What motivates this behaviour?  Some people have experienced pain and the numbing of the senses through sex, drugs, or alcohol takes the suppresses the pain for a while.  Unfortunately, choosing sex, drugs, and alcohol to drown sorrows often gives rise to more.  A lack of satisfaction with what one has can lead one into a vain quest for more.  Lust believes that I am being deprived of ultimate pleasures or fears that they will never be mine.  Teens drink alcohol before they can really make wise decisions regarding its consumption.  Youths have sex because they don’t believe that they should wait for the security of marriage.  People take drugs so that they can find the elusive highs which they crave.  Such cravings shorten life.  The body was made for peace and harmony.  There is a tranquil satisfaction that God wants for us.  Religion is not about the alternative to sex, drugs, and alcohol.  What I mean is, we are not meant to lose ourselves in some spiritual experience that numbs us or makes us uncontrollably wild.  Our experience of God, through Christ, should be a sustainable life with its quiet moments and excited outbursts.  But we look to God’s leading, we don’t take our resources and dissipate them over a short period of time.  Like a person who knows the quality of the ice-cold beverage they drink on a day where the heat is relentless, the Christian draws out the moment and savours it.  We become aware that every moment is precious because we share it with our Lord Jesus Christ.

The quality of the relationship is a deep mystery.  It is hard to explain.  However, once a false selfish religion gives way to a pursuit of God, nothing in life seems the same.  The parties of writhing bodies, intoxicated beneath strobe lights begins to look like empty shells of containing malnourished souls, mindlessly dancing their way to hell.

Prayer

In the name of freedom, we have made choices to embrace destructive lifestyles.  Help us to see reality in light of our future hope.  Help us to see the darkness that surrounds the partying and carousing that many of us once embraced.  There is more joy in the shared experience of a family picnic than there is in a passionate liaison with a stranger.  Help us to remember that the senses are best used to look out from a mountain over creation, not to be flooded by drugs and alcohol.  Help us to take time to question why we want unhealthy things.  We give over to you the corrupted desires of our former life.  Heighten our senses to your presence.  Let us be satisfied with you.

Questions

  1. What does suffering in the body show?
  2. What does seeking pleasure as the greatest good show?
  3. Why do you think Peter had to remind suffering Christians of the judgment at the end of time?
  4. Why does the church in the west keep quiet about living with final judgment in mind?
  5. What life have you left behind?  How would you talk to someone enticed to go back to it?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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6 Responses to 1 Peter 4:1-6 Leaving the Old Life Behind

  1. Christina Zezulak says:

    Suffering in the body shows that one is done with sin, and are live for the will of God. Seeking pleasure as the greatest good shows that one lives for evil human desires, like the pagans. It is so easy to lose heavenly perspective in the midst of pain and suffering. It is so easy to forget the destinies of those who are in constant rejection of God when their lives seems “better off” now than ours do. I believe that Peter reminded these suffering Christians about judgment because without judgment, the evil deeds done would go unpunished. Judgment reminds us that justice will be done, and that God will grant mercy and sonship to those who have put faith in His Son eternal life. However, following Christ comes with a price. Suffering for Him is pretty much a given, according to Scripture. However, when we suffer with Him, we are also glorified with Him. Oh, how every drop of pain will be worth it when we are glorified and raised with Him! What on earth could possibly be better than this? When you truly know Him, you realize that there is nothing greater.
    When I came to Christ – I left behind a life of trying to please everyone and trying to exalt myself. I left behind a life that looked to boys, friends, grades, morals, etc. to satisfy me and to give me self-worth. Now, I am free in Jesus Christ! He is my identity and now my soul has found rest. As Augustine famously said in his confessions, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” He is my delight and my treasure, and there is nothing else that compares to Him.

  2. 33324bg says:

    One thing is Paul is saying is not to fear those who malign you right now because you do not join with them in the normal sins expected of you; do not fear and do not worry because they are going to be judged, both for maligning you and also for doing the very things they feel they can’t live without, the sin they live for and in- sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. Judgment day is coming and an everlasting day when the evil will no longer be able to hurt the righteous. Come Lord Jesus come.

  3. kevin w. says:

    Suffering in the body as a Christian is evidence that one is no longer living a life of sin. Those who seek pleasure as the greatest good spurn the creator of what is good and pleasurable. Gratification as a goal sets it up as a god in one’s life. Truly it is idolatry.
    We must remember that one day we all will be judged by the one who embodies justice, the almighty creator God. Keeping this in perspective helps ease the present pains and challenges which arise from following Christ because we know that we will be vindicated in the end and it will be better to suffer now for God than to fall into the hands of an angry God–a truly terrifying prospect! This would be not only a comfort to the recipients but also a challenge to maintain the course and live the new life and identity they had in Christ.
    The West does not like to be judged by anyone. “Don’t judge me” has become the common retort to any criticism or truth which is not pleasant. We prefer to think of God as the loving gracious God who will forgive and forget anything which we do because He is “dying” to have relationship with us. Ironically, this misconstrues God’s love and grace. Grace is not an entitlement, for this would go against its very definition. Love is not the opposite of justice or judgment. It is also good to keep in mind that believers are God’s children and will be disciplined in this life and our works judged before Him at the end.

  4. Eric Wildermuth says:

    A christian’s suffering in the body reveals that they are no long slave of sin; it has lost the war and is being removed from the Christian by the Holy Spirit.
    Hedonism shows that a person has low standards or has not experienced anything better than the carnal passions in which they indulge.

    The final judgment Peter talks about keeps his readers, the Christian Church, focused with the proper perspective. It has to do with remaining sober-minded. Rather than getting caught up in debauchery and sin with drink and passion, the Christian should soberly look toward the day of Christ’s return and live in light of that.

    In the case of suffering, the Christian can be assured that justice will be served on the final Day. Those who have mocked them will receive what they have deserved, and the Christian will fully receive the gift of eternal life promised through the Son.
    Life will be in perspective with this in mind, even amidst life’s most absurd and awful circumstances.

  5. Suffering in the body shows that we are with Christ and trying to fight against sin. It’s not for us to say look at me, but look at Christ and what He is doing in my life. Apart from Christ this is not possible. It shows we are living for the will of God.
    Living for pleasure shows that we don’t care about God and what he has set up for us in how we live our lives. We over indulge and our lives become a train wreck even though we think we have it all together.

  6. Sometimes for me I think I am miss out out on all the fun and i am tired of being an outcast. but being reminded of the judgement helps put my thoughts back to focus. And understand what God wants for me and has for me in the future and for right now.

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