Prepared for Our Purpose

We have spoken often of Peter’s use of the word “purpose.”  He has said twice already that we are called for this purpose; see here and here.  Peter is reminding these particular scattered Asian Christians that they are called for His purposes, that their lives together in His Body serve a good purpose, there is meaning, their lives are not meaningless or “too small” or in any way insignificant.  Now in chapter four Peter reminds them they must arm themselves for this purpose.  Similar to the other passages of Scripture that use this metaphor of being armed, Peter is talking about “arming” the inner man, or the mind and heart. 


Remember our first week, we focused on Peter’s point in writing this letter: that they would know the true grace of God and stand firm in it.  To stand.  When storms and trials and assaults come, which they do and they will, we stand firm in His grace, not in ourselves.  The whole letter is one of encouragement, one to impart endurance.  We will endure to the end, and stand, if we are in Christ, in His true grace (1 Peter 5:12; Romans 5:1-2).  We need endurance, and the Spirit assures us of His constant lavish flow of streams of grace; the Spirit enables us to endure!

1Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because the one who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 

How do we arm ourselves? By setting our minds on the things of the Spirit (see Romans 8); and sharing Christ Jesus’ mindset and holding fast to the Word of life (see Philippians 2:5-16).  Jesus claimed to be doing His Father’s will, obeying His Father.  We arm ourselves by having that attitude, of looking to Him, listening to Him, walking with Him.  Christ’s suffering on our behalf freed us from our slavery to sin; we are done with sin because of His victory!  “So that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.”  (1 Peter 2:24). We are not perfect, but we are no longer enslaved.

2 so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human lusts, but for the will of God. 3 For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of indecent behavior, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties, and wanton idolatries. 

We were once enslaved by our desires for things of the flesh (see Romans 8:1-5 and Titus 3:3).  We acted freely according to our desires, yet our desires held us captive, we sinned and could not free ourselves. Our desires lead us into temptations, giving way to sin, which leads to our demise, death. (James 1:14-16

God’s Will, Our Desire

That is the past for Christians, we live now for the will of God.  The Spirit who renews us, gives us the ability to desire what is truly good, beautiful, honorable, praiseworthy, pure, delightful, eternal.  Like Jesus we will grow into the mindset of “not my will, but Thine.”

Pray for one another according to Colossians 1:9-11 
“we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power according to His glorious might for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.”

4 In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them in the same excesses of debauchery, and they slander you;

They are surprised, and have knee jerk reactions, and repeated reactions with the intent to slander.  Slander, Malign, and one commentator says Vilify.  Have you not seen this all over media and social media?  We are vilified for not celebrating their debauchery.  We are vilified for teaching our children what is true, noble, virtuous.  We are vilified because they wrongly throw about words, they lie, they claim to want “tolerance” and show none.  

We turn the other cheek, eh?  We do not join in, we do not redefine terms or boundaries or truth.  We stand firm in His grace and weather the storm (allthewhile we groan with the Spirit for the time when all will be well–Romans 8, 2 Corinthians 5, 2 Peter 3:13, Revelation 22).

 5 but they will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 

If Peter’s letter is intended to bring comfort–this particular verse will comfort their anxious hearts, and the anxious hearts of believers in every generation.  Why?  Because we do not need to justify ourselves to those who do not understand; we do not demand justice now, we do not mistakenly hope in perfect reconciliation with those who are God’s enemies.  Jesus has said they will hate us, so when they do–we look to Him for comfort, not to our enemies for comfort.  And God reminds us that His enemies, the ones who slander and malign and vilify us now, will give account to Him in the end.  It is sure, and we will not demand anything less now.  

Peter does not need to give a full scale doctrine of hell here–it is well established already from the teachings of Jesus.  The point of the epistles, this one included, is not to simply reiterate all of Jesus’ teachings, but to grow and establish and comfort and direct the church.  This is not written to unbelievers to remind them of what awaits if they do not obey the gospel, it is written rather to believers who do not need to ponder here at length the wrath of God. Here we are asked to ponder that He is the Judge, this should be enough to reassure our hearts to continue trusting in His Providence.  

6 For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as people, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.

Gospel Hope

It is well established that the first Christians looked for Christ to return in their lifetime.  As believers died, many wondered, grew anxious, even despaired.  Paul has comforted believers elsewhere concerning this very thing.  See here.  We grieve as those who have hope; we remember that our dead heard the gospel and are not going to die a death that is eternal.  We share in His Life.  He is the resurrection and the life, so that he who believes will live even if he dies (see John 11).  Our deceased Christian brethren have passed out of death and into life (John 5:24).  

Those who malign, who slander, who vilify, have no doubt grilled these believers with questions they could not answer.  “I thought he or she loved Jesus, how come Jesus let him or her die?  I thought you said you would live forever with Jesus, but here is the dead body!!!!”  Peter reminds these Christians that the gospel promises are sure, those who have died before Christ’s return are alive in the spirit.  It is somewhat mysterious, we cannot see or describe how this is so, just that it is so.  We do not need to attempt answering these malicious questions, it would be casting pearls before swine.  

We will ponder next week how these slanderous attacks really do hurt us, they send our minds reeling; they send our stress hormones through the roof and if we are not careful to look to Him, we will spiral into anxiety, depression, hopelessness and despair.  So we listen to Peter who tells us to be sober minded, and we hold fast to the Word of Life!

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