For them, to not blend in was as good as putting a target on their back. To live like citizens of a heavenly kingdom was to increasingly be at odds with the kingdom around them. To stand out from the crowd was to invite the increasing wrath of the government. And so Peter writes to the “elect exiles of the Dispersion” to encourage them to keep on keepin’ on by providing some “big picture” context for their current persecution.
He reminds them of their living hope and the “salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
And he reminds them of their calling. That they are a chosen people, a spiritual house, a holy nation. As such, they were to be holy because their God is holy.
But honestly, holiness only increased the difference. It only made them stand out more. And standing out hadn’t been working out so well.
So Peter also reminds them of their Savior. And that their call to suffer, even for doing the right thing and the holy thing, wasn’t unlike Christ’s suffering for them. Though He had committed no sin, though there was no deceit found in His mouth, though there was no accusation that could legitimately stand, when Jesus suffered unjustly He entrusted Himself to Him who would, one day, judge justly.
So Peter says, think like Jesus.
Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.
(1Peter 4:1-2 ESV)
And it’s the phrase “ceased from sin” that’s got me thinking this morning. Peter encouraged these believers that, if they could adopt the mind of Christ and be willing to suffer in obedience to God, then sin would cease and desist. That it would come to an end. That they would be released from it.
Not that they would become sinless this side of heaven, but that sin would no longer be the great dictator of their lives. That the flesh–the old man, the natural woman–would no longer be the navigator setting the paths down which they sojourned.
Instead, Peter indicates there could be a turning point in a believer’s life when, having chosen to suffer for Christ, “human passions” would be supplanted by “the will of God” as the soul’s internal GPS. True north would be reset. Their own desires giving way to God’s direction. Their lusts having less influence over their lives as His purposes became more interwoven into their plans.
Again, not about being without sin. Not talking of perfection. Instead, about no longer being compelled, or impelled, or propelled by “evil human desires” (NIV). About no longer being “tyrannized by what you want” (MSG). About increasingly living out our days for what God wants. And this all possible when, through the enabling of the indwelling Spirit of God, we remind ourselves of the sufferings of Christ and seek to “arm ourselves with the same way of thinking.”
Think like Jesus, live for God.
Not wanting to be overly simplistic, but isn’t that in essence what Peter says will happen? Isn’t that the cause and effect being laid out here? The command to obey and the promise to believe?
I’m thinkin’ . . .
Only by His grace. Always for His glory.