We continue on with 1 Peter 4:1-6
We all know that our battle is not against flesh and blood. The weapons of spiritual warfare (Eph 6:10-18), that G-d equips us with, are mighty for bringing down strongholds. In this chapter Peter speaks about a weapon so powerful that not only does it work against the enemy, but it also works in a way to bring about a significant change in our lives.
v1: Arm yourselves: We need to prepare our minds for suffering. This (preparation -identifying with Messiah) is a powerful weapon with which we equip ourselves for warfare. When we suffer, we are being equipped for a spiritual battle.
- In the flesh: In this (frail, human) body
- He who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin: This is not talking about Yeshua but is talking about us. Yeshua never sinned, so He had no sin to cease from. ‘Ceasing from sin’ is one of the benefits derived from suffering.
- Ceased from sin: We all struggle with sin. We may desire not to sin, and we may ask G-d to help us to stop sinning, but until we are willing to suffer for our faith we are going to struggle with sin. Only when we are willing to become a pleasing sacrifice, willing to live out our lives in submissiveness to whatever G-d places us in, are we going to know victory (i.e. cease from sin).
v2: The lusts (desires) of men: Human desires. When we are willing to suffer for our faith, there is a change in our lives. The things that were relevant to us in the past no longer hold any relevance for us. We become a people who are noticeably different. Our mindsets and understanding changes. There is a shift in our focus.
v3: Gentiles/Nations: Those who have no covenantal relationship with G-d. When we are in a covenantal relationship with G-d things are going to be different. We have a different mindset. We have access to different provisions. G-d begins to work in our lives – edifying us and stripping away those things which are harmful for us. G-d is a loving G-d and He wants to see changes in our lives that benefit us for eternity. The problem is that we are often so short-sighted or earthly-minded. We want to run away from present-day troubles, hardship, suffering, pain, etc. but G-d knows that they are good for us as they pay eternal dividends.
- Abominable/abhorrent idolatries: When we study G-d’s word, especially the prophets, it speaks extensively about idolatry. Idolatry is always rooted in self – it’s always a pursuit of our own desires. This is abhorrent or abominable to G-d. The mindsets of those who walk in covenantal fidelity and those who walk according to the world are completely opposite. When we make a decision to be obedient to G-d’s instructions those who are of the world don’t understand.
v4: (Overflowing) Flood: It is displeasing to G-d when we live in a way that is against His commandments. When we live in sin it becomes more and more difficult to stop the sin – sin begins to overflow like a flood in our lives. People who sin eventually find themselves in a place where they are unable to control their behaviour and they begin to drown in sin. This is what Peter is speaking about.
- Dissipation: Debauchery. Ungodly behaviour.
- Speaking evil: Comes from the Greek word ‘blasphemy’. The spirit of the antichrist is a blasphemous spirit. Peter is communicating to us that we have to make a decision. We are either going to go the way of the world (meaning we are going to be very prepared for what the antichrist wants to do) or we’re going to go the way of the Kingdom and suffer. The easy way, in the short term, is to follow the world. This is what our flesh, personal desires, emotion etc will always lead us to do (without the help of the Holy Spirit). Unbelievers think it’s strange when we behave differently, when we don’t run with them, when we don’t have that blasphemous spirit that the antichrist does.
v5: Give an account: We know something that unbelievers don’t want to talk about. What is our view of the judgment of G-d? Many believers say: “We believe in a New Testament G-d.” What they’re saying is that they believe that G-d’s judgment was satisfied, and is no longer going to be displayed by Him, because of the cross. This is true for His people, but this is NOT true for those who are not in a covenantal relationship with Him – they are still going to be held to account.
- The living and the dead: No one can avoid judgment.
v6: Gospel was preached also to those who are (spiritually) dead: The gospel has been proclaimed to those who are alive spiritually (they responded to the gospel) and those who are dead spiritually (They have heard the gospel but have rejected its message). G-d wants no one to be lost (Matt 24:14). Before the outpouring of His wrath begins, it is absolutely necessary for this gospel of the Kingdom to go forth to all the nations as a testimony. Only after the gospel has been proclaimed will the wrath of G-d fall.
- Judged according to men…live according to G-d: We have a unique construction in the Greek here. It speaks about a very distinct separation: on the one hand this and on the other hand that…on one hand He is going to judge men according to the flesh (He is going to deal with sin) but (meaning on the other hand) He is going to judge those who are alive according to the Spirit of G-d.
- Live according to G-d in the Spirit: G-d is going to utilize His Spirit to bring His order into our lives. Our judgment is not a judgment of condemnation, but a judgment of rewards (Matt 6:19-21).