1 Peter – 1 Peter 4:1-6 – 12 of 18
Peter reminds us that because our ultimate citizenship is in heaven, this world isn’t our true home. We are representatives of a different kingdom, and we need to live that way. Like foreign tourists visiting another country, how we conduct ourselves may be the only glimpse our non-Christian friends get of what God and his kingdom are like. That’s why it is so important that we live in a manner consistent with who God has called us to be.
Peter opens chapter 4 with the word “therefore”. Anytime you see the word, “therefore”, you need to ask yourselves, “What is it there for?” Peter is saying: “In light of everything I have just written about Jesus, now I want to present you with some practical conclusions about how you should live.” (1 Peter 4:1-3). Sin’s dominion over us is finished, so when we sin as Christians, we do so because we choose to, not because we have to. The Greek word translated as “arm yourselves” (v. 1) is a military term that refers to a soldier taking up weapons in preparation for battle. Christians are to arm ourselves with the knowledge that Jesus defeated sin at the cross. Peter is reminding us that we’re not tourists here. We are not vacationing our way to heaven! We are soldiers, and all around us a great spiritual battle rages. The danger is real, and the enemy is formidable. And so Peter gives us four truths with which we are to arm ourselves for our tour of duty in this spiritually hostile world.  We no longer serve sin as our master (4:1),  we don’t spend our days overwhelmed by our desires (4:2a),  we live for the will of God (4:2b), and  we abandon lustful living (4:3). We will either live for our passions or for the will of God (4:2)—and Christians must not love the world (1 John 2:15-16).
Sadly, most of us are driven by our passions—“a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries” (v. 3). “Sensuality” is a life without moral restraint, especially in giving oneself over to acts of sexual immorality or acts of physical violence (cf. Rom. 13:13; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 4:19; 2 Pet. 2:7). “Lust” refers to a broad range of sinful human desires which exert strong influences on our actions. “Drunkenness” describes anyone who is controlled by substance abuse. “Carousing” describes wild parties involving sexual immorality. “Drinking parties” are the sort of party that promotes drunkenness and other immoral behavior. Finally, “abominable idolatries” refers to the worship of anything other than the one true God.
Most often, idols aren’t little statues—they reside in our hearts. Things such as pleasure, love, comfort, security, human approval, control, freedom/autonomy, peace, happiness, acceptance, admiration, respect, and success. You know you have a heart idol problem when you’re willing to sin to get these things, or when you respond in a sinful way when you’re denied them. Our culture loves these things and reacts negatively to God’s light (John 3:19-20). And that is why the unsaved often respond with push-back to your Christian faith (1 Peter 4:4). They judge you for seeking to do the will of God, but they will one day face the ultimate judgment (v. 5). Peter is writing to Christians in the first century who were being mistreated and unjustly persecuted for their faith. Some of them were martyred for their faith, but Peter’s point in v. 6 is that they did not die in vain. All of us would benefit greatly from reading both historical and modern accounts of Christians who have suffered for their faith, such as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.
Have you embraced Christ as your Savior? If not, what is holding you back? Are you living for the passions of men, or for the will of God? If you are living for the passions of men, Peter warns that God’s just judgment awaits. If you are a Christian, are you committed to letting your light shine brightly in a dark world? Are you will willing to take a stand for Christ in a culture that is increasingly hostile to the Christian faith? We need to be aware of the potential consequences of Christ-like living. In some places, it can cost you your life. In our country, you may be ridiculed and belittled. It may cost you a friend or maybe even your job. But it is a small price to pay to be faithful to the One who suffered and died for you. And perhaps God will use your example to draw your friends and neighbors to himself.
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
- If you’ve not already done so, embrace Christ as your Savior.
- Live for the will of God, not for the passions of men, which incur God’s judgment.
- Let your Christian light shine brightly in this dark world.
- Take a stand for Christ in our culture, which is increasingly hostile to our faith.
TAKE ONE STEP
Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large, that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)