In this sermon, Pastor Babij examines First Peter 4:1-6 and explains the way to suffer as a Christian citizen:
1) Imitate Christ
2) Break with your sin
3) Understand the backlash
4) Realize two opposing evaluations
Father, as we look at the prescribed word of God, that we can see, read, hear, and think about it. I pray, Lord, that we would take this passage of Scripture and begin to flesh out the things, in which Peter is talking about, for our daily lives. We know, Lord, it gives us the purpose of suffering as a Christian citizen still in this world, but part of another Kingdom. I pray, Lord, that You enable us to understand these truths, so that we may capture our heart and mind, and do them. In Christ’s name, Amen.
We have come to this last section of 1 Peter. Remember, the first section was on salvation, the second section was on submission, and this final section, all the way to the end of the book, is on suffering. Part of the Christian life is going to have an element of suffering in it, so we will see the purpose of suffering as a citizen.
The first part of it is to be equipped with the mind of Christ, so that we, as believers, will realize that our struggle and battle will be for the cause of righteousness. Peter’s main purpose was encouragement and exhortation for Christians under fiery trials. In 1 Peter 4:12, it says:
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you
Sometimes trials are going to come into our life that do seem strange, but they are there for a specific reason. Part of it will be for our testing, but also to see if we put into practice the principles we have been learning along the way in the word of God.
Peter wants to exhort and encourage Christians under trials and prod them to continue to have courage in the faith, remain pure towards the world, and trust the Lord, Jesus Christ, who has also suffered, so that we may have eternal salvation. Thus, Peter’s soul rested on a firm foundation, and he wanted his fellow believers to have the same firm faith.
However, he knew that it would be accompanied by times of testing and suffering. His mighty testimony fortified and informed his fellow Christians against the pressure and storms of life. His main exhortation was to endure considering the transitory nature of suffering in contrast with the eternal nature of salvation.
God called you to belong to Jesus Christ and share His eternal glory. Eternal marked the contrast between present suffering, which is only temporary, and life is only temporary on this earth, against God’s vindication, which will last for all eternity. Ultimately, the hope of all Christians stands in His strength and His faithfulness, not necessarily our hold on Him, but His hold on us.
Christians are now called, with the remainder of their life, to live for the Lord. From this day forward, the admonition is to live for the Lord. Whatever the past was, leave the past behind. Thus, the purpose of suffering as a Christian is to live for the Lord with the same mind and character that the Lord lived. To do that, Scripture will point to four things that we do and know.
First, we know that the purpose of suffering as citizens is that we are to imitate the purpose of Christ in suffering. 1 Peter 4:1 says:
Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin
Here, we are looking at facing suffering with armor on. In 1 Peter 4:1, “arm yourselves” recalls the image of a military context. The word arm is used in other passages, and in each one, we get the sense that the believer is to be equipping themselves for a struggle or a battle. It is a term appropriate for those living in a hostile society or under suffering, persecution, or ridicule.
If we are going to go into battle, don’t go without your armor on. It will give you a greater foundation to survive the trial or battle because you can deflect things with your armor. A similar passage of Scripture is Romans 13:12:
The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
These are things that the spirit of God doesn’t do for us. Once we learn the principles that we have learned in 1 Peter 1-3, we are to put on the armor and be ready for any conflict that may come our way. In Ephesians 6:11, it says:
Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
Behind some of our suffering, the devil wants to discourage you in the faith, and wants you to quit and take your armor off. Sometimes, things in your old life may look better than what you are going through now suffering as a believer. Nonetheless, in Ephesians 6:13 it says:
Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
As a result, a person putting on their armor will stand firm in anything they are going through. Behind all of that, God is giving you the ability to stand firm. 2 Corinthians 10:4 says:
for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.
In other words, the battle is going to be much going on in your mind. When you become a believer, Satan wants to win over your mind, and deceive you as to what is true. God wants you to put the armor of God on, so that you are firm in what you believe in your mind so that he cannot deceive you and you stand strong.
In our text, the weapon that we are to arm ourselves with is a way of thinking, a principle of thought, and an attitude. In 1 Peter 4:1, purpose in the Greek is from a noun that means mind. The mental conception that follows a consideration and deliberation on something. In other words, a way of thinking. Think the way Christ thought. Here, it is a concern for the cognitive dimension that leads to behavior. We think of something, which leads to behavior.
In this case, it is putting on our armor, and our armor is a way of thinking that gives us victory over any deception that may come our way, especially during times of trouble. We are considering the work of Christ and suffering once for our sin. As a result, sin was done away with by Christ and it was finished. In other words, Jesus Christ was finished with it as we saw in 1 Peter 2:23-24:
and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.
We don’t just die to sin, put our sins down, and do the next thing. No, we put our sin down and pick up the righteousness and learn how to live righteously. The only way this will happen is if we are armed in our mind. No one can convince you that this is not the right thing to do found in the word of God.
Although Jesus did no sin, He bore our sins in His own body on the tree, and the burden of our sin was on Him, He carried it up to Calvary, but it ended there. His death finished His involvement with our sin. In the passage of Scripture that we read in 1 Peter 4:1, the next thing Peter brings up is that we are to face suffering victoriously.
In 1 Peter 4:1, the point is that union with Christ means death to sin. The Apostle Peter applies this principle to us. If we are in Christ and Christ’s spirit is in us, then what goes with that is something very real, which is that we die to our sin. Like what Paul said in Romans 6:11-14:
Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
The Apostle Peter is telling us to arm yourself with the same principle of thought where union with Christ, in His suffering, means for us death to our sin. Several commentaries pointed out:
Resolve is not to suffer, but rather to have the same attitude and response to suffering that Christ did. Also, to have the same attitude Christ had as to what His suffering accomplished for His children. The relationship we once had with our sin has completely changed.
Once somebody becomes a believer, they cannot go on in the old sinful patterns in their life. If they are truly a believer, that must end. If it doesn’t end and they just live with no issues or problems, then they are probably not a believer. The result of Christ’s death produced in us a desire not to want to continue in sin.
We have this change in our mind as to how we look at and deal with our own sin. Accordingly, Christians do not regard sin as a matter of indifference, which is to think that falling into sin is no serious matter. Well, it is a big deal. In fact, it is a bigger deal as a believer to fall into sin and live with a certain pattern of sin than it is an unbeliever.
If you are going to be encouraged in your faith as to whether you are a believer or growing in Christ, then where will you see it the most? You will see that the old sins are no longer there anymore. Not only are you fighting with them to put them to death, but the desire to do them is waning. Eventually, it just goes. It doesn’t mean that you will never be tempted with that sin again. Satan is slick, and he knows how to tempt you.
There is no such thing as a pink sin, a green sin, a white sin, or a little sin. Some sins are more serious than others, but sin is rebellion in your heart against God. Whether we consider it a more serious one or not, all sin, to a believer, is a serious matter. They know that they are not sinless. We still have remaining corruption. We know that we are not in fact free from the temptation to sin and sin itself. We know the great price our Lord, Jesus Christ, suffered in our place, so that we may be forgiven and made righteous before the Father.
Those are the things that are armed in our mind and in our thinking, so the Christian should live in a way where they manifest a growing opposition to their own sin. We need to put our sin down, and we have all the power, by the Spirit of God, to do that. Thus, a Christian is growing in their opposition to sin, and our attitudes become our weapon. How we view sin is the way God views it. How we view sin is knowing that our sin nailed Jesus to the Cross too. Meaning, sin to God becomes a very serious matter.
In fact, if someone is not forgiven of their sin, they are heading for a lost eternity, which is a very sad thing to think about. Even though a Christian commits a sin, they do not want sin to reign over them anymore, so they turn from it, in repentance and strength God gives, to put off the dirty garments and put on the garments of righteousness, which is the practice of a believer.
However, the Apostle Peter seems to focus his attention, in our text, not on necessarily the principle of sin, but the concrete acts of sin. In other words, a believer should know what a sin is. It should not be something, for a Christian, that you cannot define. We should know, before anybody else, what is sin, and the very sins we commit in our own minds, which is where sin needs to be put to death.
When we understand this, then for the remainder of our earthly life, we are going to want to break with our sin, which is part of the battle and putting on the armor. Breaking with your sins is essential for a believer. It is not a give or take thing, what you decide, but what happens when you become a believer, which includes living by a new standard of conduct as a believer. 1 Peter 4:2 says:
so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.
There is a certain liberty that God gives us in our salvation that ushers in a new time of life for us, in which we have a choice to make a new investment. In making that choice, there is always two things going on, or two ways to live life. The first way to live life is that your life is determined by the will of human desire.
Being dead to sin does not mean that we are perfect, without sin, or that we will never sin again. What it means is that we no longer belong to the realm of sin, in which we are dominated by sin, under its power, and governed in its various ways of different lusts and desires that sin conjures up. Living in the lusts of men means that we live in a power domain where everyone was holy within its grip. Meaning, in the sinful sphere, we were in the grip of sin, subject to that sin, and we were helpless to gain any kind of escape from that sin.
So, our Great God has moved His children from the spiritual graveyard where Satan rules, fleshly desires and cravings dominate and enslave, and where the world system constantly changes with confusing messages. He has moved us from there to a heavenly realm where our good, merciful, and loving God rules with all power and authority now and forever.
Being a Christian is not having a nice, comfortable feeling inside, but to enter the kingdom of God and Christ, which is to enter the realm where God rules. Before, God did not rule in our life no matter how religious we tried to be, but sin ruled in our life. Sin was our master.
To be a Christian means to be taken out of the horrible darkness, out of the life of sin, shame, and evil, and to begin to live a new life, with a new heart, and with a new way of thinking. The spirit of God is transforming our minds, so that we know what the will of God is.
When it comes to our own sin, we can no longer claim ignorance. We are no longer children of the ignorant. We are no longer to be led around by the changing wind of human cunning, crafty, and deceitful schemes. Rather, we are to live the rest of our time, on earth, according to a specific standard of conduct the Christian conforms to, which leads to the second way to live.
Now, a Christian can live by both ways. They can decide to go along with their own desires and passions. However, when we start learning the word of God, the word of God begins to transform our mind, so we start to arm ourselves. We begin to determine purpose by living by the will of God. This desire overtakes our desire for sin. It helps us to recognize where we do sin, so that we don’t displease our Lord. We want to please our Lord. Thus, the divine will must control the believer’s life rather than mere human impulse.
For the Christian, the rest of his or her life is to no longer be shaped by the desires of sin, but by the will of God. Each one of us lived a lifestyle that swept us along with the crowd. The Lord has freed us from the old, wretched life to a new life.
From now on, we are living life for what God desires, not for the old, sinful, selfish, and self-centered desires that we were so common to. In fact, we didn’t even know we were being led that way, and you don’t really know this until you become a believer. When you start understanding the Scriptures, you see that’s what you really were.
When you come to Jesus Christ, there is a transformation that starts and continues to take place until the day we drop off these filthy coats of remaining humanness. Meaning, the unsaved person has only one capacity and one course of action, which is to serve sin and self while leaving God out of their life.
On the other hand, the believer, or saved person, has an option, which are these two. However, when we start taking the first option too much, you, as a believer, will be heavily convicted by the spirit of God, which is what ought to happen until the spirit of God doesn’t allow you to go one more step until you take care of that sin. Your life is on hold until that sin is dealt with. Then, the spirit of God begins to magnify in your life and heart that this must be put off before you can put on righteousness and move forward again.
The second way is the way that begins to dominate as we grow in Christ, in our knowledge, and wisdom of the word of God. We want to serve God as long as we are in these human bodies. However, we will do it in the struggle of the flesh, which desires to leave God out. Of course, the flesh always wants us to leave God out and live according to the former lusts and passions.
Again, in our mind, we must decide. We must consider ourselves delivered from this present evil world. Galatians 1:4 says:
who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father
Secondly, you must consider, as a believer, that you are now an overcomer in this present world. 1 John 5:4-5:
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Then, as Peter has been telling us, we are not home, we’re heading to home, passing through on our way home, were travelers, and citizens of another kingdom. We must consider, too, that we live in a transitory mode heading to an eternal place. While we head to that place, we are to deal with our sin, and make sure we are putting our sin to death.
Next, we are to consider ourselves to be no longer a friend of the world. In James 4:4, it says:
You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
We don’t want to be a friend of the world anymore. The world is not the one dictating what I do in my life anymore, how I think, and what I purpose to do. As a believer, we consider in our mind that we are different now. Another thing we consider is that we no longer want to love the world. 1 John 2:15:
Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
There are a lot of things the world says to love, to be like, to dress a certain way, talk a certain way, act a certain way, listen to certain music, and go to certain places. The world is telling you all kinds of things, but you must determine since now you can think as a believer, which is in a different way. Your mind is being transformed to say:
No, I don’t have to do those things anymore. I don’t need those things to live my life anymore. I am not loving the world. I am not a friend of the world. I am an overcomer in this present world. I have been delivered from this present, evil world. Now, I’m in the Kingdom of Light, so I am different.
According to these passages, we must consider these things in our mind: who we are and how different we are. According to the next thing in 1 John, we have spent far too much time on our old pagan desires and passions. 1 Peter 4:3 says:
For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries.
Breaking with your sin is essential; secondly, living the past life is over. There must be a decision that a believer makes, based on the word of God, that it is time to make a break with sin. In our text, he gives a list of sins. There is sensuality, which can also mean sexual immorality. There are lusts, which includes passions and desires of all kind of evil appetites.
Then, notice drunkenness, which is alcoholic beverages consumed frequently until the substance controls a person. This is a general way of saying anything that controls you. Concerning alcohol and people who are controlled by it, Proverbs 23:29-35 says:
Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has contentions? Who has complaining?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has redness of eyes?
30Those who linger long over wine,
Those who go to taste mixed wine.
31Do not look on the wine when it is red,
When it sparkles in the cup,
When it goes down smoothly;
32At the last it bites like a serpent
And stings like a viper.
33Your eyes will see strange things
And your mind will utter perverse things.
34And you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea,
Or like one who lies down on the top of a mast.
35“They struck me, but I did not become ill;
They beat me, but I did not know it.
When shall I awake?
I will seek another drink.”
That is a person who is controlled by a substance, and we know people in our own families that is that person. Maybe even you were that person. It is not just alcohol, but also marijuana, cocaine, heroin, prescription drugs, and opioids. In fact, our great state of New Jersey is going to legalize marijuana and gambling. That’s what we really need, right? It’s going to produce money to pay the bills, but what about the end result when peoples life and families are destroyed? It doesn’t help us as a state or a country.
See, they don’t think like that, which is utter foolishness. However, a believer doesn’t live there. A believer knows what is right and what is wrong, and they say no to participating, endorsing, or voting for these things. These are concrete sins that are destructive and cause death.
Then, in our text, there is carousing, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. With this last one, some people will say this:
Today, we don’t really get involved with idolatries.
They think they could never be prone to be tempted to some kind of idolatry. However, they don’t understand what idolatry is, which is worshipping anything other than the Lord himself. If you are living by your passions and desires, then who is your idol? You are, so we are really good at making idols in our hearts.
In fact, the day and age in which we live, there is a spiritual vacuum where people are prepared to fill by looking kindly on syncretism, witchcraft, and experiments with a cult. Of course, they don’t say those things, but package them very nicely.
Therefore, the Biblical warning against idolatry needs to be taken to heart, especially since the evil loves a world filled with religions. He is the driving force behind a world that has always been filled with all kinds of multicolored religions. Satan used this old age formula of syncretism to deceive every generation, and he is still up to his old tricks.
For the sake of clarity, syncretism means when one aspect of religions is assimilated into one another and fundamentally changed by each other, so he morphs and produces religious systems that people adhere to and there are thousands of them. Today, people don’t realize that yoga is not innocent. Behind it, if you look at people who are in charge of Hinduism, this is an entrance to the way they are thinking and it’s their evangelism program. They don’t realize that the positions practiced in yoga, for what they call relaxation and meditation, are positions to the gods.
They don’t tell you that, but they tell you that it is innocent, that it is just exercise, and to empty your mind. The Bible says that meditation is not emptying your mind but filling your mind with truth so that you know what is right. In our church, there will never be anything connected to yoga, and you should not be either. It is not innocent because Satan is behind it, and he makes everything look innocent.
There are plenty of ways to exercise, so you don’t need to be doing yoga, which is another system of the world. We shouldn’t be part of things like that, especially since we need to know who is behind it all. With the merging of eastern and western ideas, which is often called The New Age Movement, there has been mounting pressure for the unification of religions, which the church should not be part of or endorse.
Any function where lustful passions are aroused, unclean behaviors and conversations are being lived out, or some kind of innocent, religious practice is taking place, then we must examine all of it, especially since there is a danger to become part of them. When we think of these past sins and things that pull us in, we weren’t necessarily agreeing with them in action, but agreeing with them in reality. 1 Corinthians 6:9-12:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. 12All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.
Simply, Paul is saying that it is not just sin that he doesn’t want to master him, but anything that prevents him from becoming Christlike. Meaning, it doesn’t have to be sinful, but something that takes you away from the very means that God has given us to make us Christlike. Ephesians 5:7-12 says:
Therefore do not be partakers with them; 8for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light 9(for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; 12for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.
Here is a believer, who is completely opposite of what you used to know. You are different, you are light, and you are God’s children, so we need to remember that what we were before we met Christ. From time to time, we must review our past for the sake of remembering where the Lord brought you from and the things He has been doing in your life all along the way.
When you read through the Old Testament, the Scriptures say to Israel in Deuteronomy 15:15:
You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today.
Remember that since it will aid you throughout your journey. Then, in Isaiah 51:1 it says:
Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness,
Who seek the LORD:
Look to the rock from which you were hewn
And to the quarry from which you were dug.
In other words, when you became a believer, God pulled you out of a pit. When you remember those things, invest the rest of your time, on this earth, for the Lord. We will find out, in Scripture, that fervent love of the brothers and sisters in Christ replaces lust, awareness of the times replaces being controlled by mind controlling substances, and joyful adoration, in the risen Lord, replaces the folly of idolatry.
We serve one God, who is the true and living God, manifested in the Father, Son, and the Spirit. There are no other Gods. There is not one who can compete with Him or come close to Him. They are just dumb idols. They cannot speak, hear, walk on their own, or do anything. However people want to form an idol in their heart and mind, they cannot compete with who God is.
Now, we live by a better way, which is the will of God. Here is our option: we can live by the old way of the flesh or we can live by the way of God. However, living by the will of God is the place you want to be in.
In saying all of that, our next point is understanding that breaking with your sin has a backlash to it. Do you think you are going to lay your sin down and have no trouble? Do you think you will deal with those things and have no opposition or conflict? 1 Peter 4:4 is the unbelievers surprised reaction:
In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you.
In other words, Apostle Peter mentions the difference in lifestyle after one comes to Christ. The unbeliever is saying:
What happened? We were having such a good time, living it up, we were free, doing what we wanted, and when we wanted. C’mon! Let’s plan to have more fun and party.
In other words, this is the result of the pagans or the unsaved astonishment that their Christian neighbors no longer want to recklessly live with them anymore in that way, so they malign you. In other words, they are saying:
What do you mean you don’t want to come with us anymore? Oh no, you didn’t become one of those Christians, did you? You did, didn’t you? What a boring life that is. Boy, have you gotten off the ship. I don’t want to hang around you anymore. You are brainwashed and no longer fun to hang out.
Then, they finally say in the end:
When you get over your religious phase and realize there is nothing there, then come back over here and we’ll talk.
The primary form of persecution, in the epistle of Peter, has been verbal abuse, accused of wrong doing, insulting them for who they are, speaking against them, slandering them, and mocking them. We must mark this truth down on our calendar: Christians, who follow Christ and want to do the will of God, will find out the very goodness of God in their life can be an offense to the world.
It can be regarded as a handicap if you are too truthful on your job. It can be regarded as a handicap if you are always wanting to do the right thing, what is good, and right towards people. You will never get into that gossip group or amongst the people because you always seem to be opposite of what the group wants to do. You are trying to interject some sanity of truthfulness to what a group might say or do. Then, you are maligned for your goodness, your truthfulness, and willingness not to lie or deceive.
Isn’t it funny that people, in general, do not think it is strange when people wreck their bodies or destroy their families and homes, but when a drunkard become sober, lives for the Lord, and lives a holy life, their family or friends will say that that have lost their mind and that it is time for therapy.
One time, I had a lady say to me that her husband got miraculously saved out of drunkenness and beating her. A year went by, he was so into the Lord, and she said, “I liked him better when he was drunk.” Are you kidding? However, this is exactly what happens. It’s frightening, but here’s the game changer: they know that the way they live counts.
Either you live life determined by the will of human desire, or a life lived determined by the will of God. However, there is something heavy that our text brings out in 1 Peter 4:5:
but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.
This is not what they are banking on, but this is what the believer knows. Unbelievers are accountable before God, and this is where believers come. Either we can criticize them, judge them for their lifestyle and behavior, or we do the right thing, which is to bring them the Gospel of Jesus Christ and live the Gospel before them. Behavior and message go together, so we do this because they are heading for an eternity of loss and under the judgement of God.
That should produce us to loosen our tongues, and to inflame our desires to want them, more than anything else, to know what we know, which is to believe in Jesus Christ. No matter what they are saying about us, what they are doing, or how they are living, we know what they need. They need Christ. In Hebrews 9:27, it says:
And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment
There is no purgatory here. In our text, it says that they will give an account to Him, who is ready to judge the living and the dead. In God’s program, He is ready, so the unsaved have an accountability before God, which is personal. Unbelievers must give an account of themselves, the way they live their life, how they treated people, and the way they responded and treated God, who is their creator.
There is a greater level than death, which is judgement. That is something that should weigh heavily on the hearts of believers, which is the motivation to get out of our comfort zone and tell somebody about Christ. If you don’t tell them, who will? Don’t assume somebody else is going to, so we have to tell them. Of course, it is uncomfortable and yes, you will be ridiculed, but so what? You know the truth, and they don’t.
Their ship is sinking, and they don’t know it. Their house is burning to the ground, and no one is telling them. That is what believers are to do. For those who have been bought by the blood of Christ, the throne of judgement has changed to the throne of mercy. However, for those who have not and do not come to Christ, after they die, they are ushered into the throne of judgement.
Most have not considered the fact that death is a spiritual matter, and that this question of Jesus Christ will be the most important issue there when someone dies. Here’s the real issue and failure: most do not think about death the right way. There is a failure to realize the spiritual part of death, and that the condition of a person’s soul is the most important matter at one’s death, not the way they die or when they died, but where is their eternal soul going to be? Is it going to be in the presence of God, or of God’s judgement?
Men don’t die again and again, but once. We are to help them know where they are going, and what the verdict is going to be when they die. They verdict for the believer is eternal life in heaven, but the verdict for the unsaved is commendation, hell, and then the lake of fire, which is separation from God forever.
Lastly, we will be evaluated. Evaluating an earthly, godly life will do two things. One, it will be negatively evaluated by the human standard of unbelievers. 1 Peter 4:6 says:
For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.
This is addressing those who heard the Gospel while alive and responded but have since died. Even though while alive, they were judged by a human standard. Be encouraged since victory and divine vindication await those, who suffer for doing what is right, living, and following the Lord for the rest of their life. Thus, we are going to be judged negatively by the unsaved. However, that is not what we are to worry about.
Two, we await divine vindication and complete victory. The end of 1 Peter 4:6, he is talking about being judged by a divine standard. In other words, the lives of Christians, who have cast from this world, have been evaluated, in one way, which is by pagan, unsaved neighbors, and in an entirely different manner, which is by the divine law court. We know that Christ takes our judgement.
Therefore, we will not be judged based on whether we are in or out, but we will be judged as believers about how we lived our life where we get rewards or rewards taken from us. Final judgement is with God, and though we will be falsely accused by men, we will live according to the spirit of God.
In other words, rejected by people, but in God’s sight, chosen and honored. As believers, we are to be encouraged by the negative things and judgements on this earth. However, don’t worry about those, but worry about how God sees you, which is the main concern.
We have learned that the purpose of suffering as a Christian citizen is fulfilled by imitating Christ, by breaking with your sin, by understanding the backlash when you live for Christ, and by being evaluated by the world in a much different way than by God’s divine standard. Again, it all has to do with our thinking, and our minds are armed with these truths. We know what God wants, what He has made us to do, what He wants us to be, and how we are to live for Him on this earth. We are armed with that, and no one is going to be able to move us from it. Every day, we must put our armor on, live these things, and God strengthens you and enables you to do so. Let’s pray:
Lord, I Thank You for the word of God. Again, it is a great encouragement to know these truths. Thank You, Lord, that they clarify many things in our life and in our position. I pray, Lord, that You may embed these things in our mind, so, Lord, that we armed with them every day. As we are armed with them, Lord, give us this resolve in our mind to think and respond to things like You did according to the will of God, not according to our old, sinful passions. As we do so, that everyday we would live to be able to be ready to give the Gospel to those who have not yet heard it, and that we would be able to stand strong when we are accused of things that are not true, or when we are maligned for being a believer or doing the right thing. I pray, Lord, that we would rest knowing that our vindication is before God, so we don’t have to worry about anything. Take care of us in that way, Lord, and let all the glory, praise, and honor go to Your great name. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.