V11Therefore, 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,. The first verse of chapter 4 is directly in connection to what is previously said. You can derive that from the word “therefore”. That word makes clear that a conclusion follows. When Christ was on earth He “suffered in the flesh”. That does not refer to His work on the cross, but to His life in the midst of people who were hostile to God, how religious as they may have been. He did not give in to their carnal desires and in no way He could be tempted to sin. The will of God was decisive for His life and to Him He entrusted Himself. The result of that was that He had to endure sufferings. He suffered, because He was fully focused on God and did not want to have anything to do with sin. He did not want to do anything independently from His God. That is the thought you should arm yourself with.
The appeal to arm yourself proves that there is a battle to be fought. If you want to win the battle like the Lord Jesus has won, you are to arm yourself. The weapon is not a material weapon, but it consists of a thought. The content of that thought is Christ and that He has suffered in the flesh. When you are being tempted to sin, then you should take out this weapon: the thought that Christ has suffered in the flesh. He has suffered and He has endured and has overcome.
The essence of this thought is that Christ has endured the suffering in the flesh, because He lived in the full confidence of His Father in doing His will. Satan tempted Him by offering Him the kingdom without having to suffer for it (Mt 4:8-108Again, the devil *took Him to a very high mountain and *showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory;9and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.”10Then Jesus *said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’”). Men have tempted Him by trying to make Him King without Him having to suffer for it (Jn 6:1515So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.). The Lord has rejected each temptation and chose to suffer, because this was God’s way to glory.
A person who in this view looks like the Lord Jesus is Joseph. Joseph also suffered, because he did not want to have any part in sin. He was not willing to cooperate with the sins of his brothers and he neither wanted to cooperate with the sin that Potiphar’s wife wanted to tempt him with (Gen 37:2b2These are [the records of] the generations of Jacob. Joseph, when seventeen years of age, was pasturing the flock with his brothers while he was [still] a youth, along with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives. And Joseph brought back a bad report about them to their father.; 39:99There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?”). Due to that he suffered like the Lord Jesus for the sake of righteousness. You are to arm yourself with the same mind, meaning that you choose to suffer instead of sinning.
The point is that you do not give in to sin, what the world continually seeks to tempt you to. When you suffer in the flesh, that is in the body, it is clear that you have dealt with sin and that you do not surrender yourself to it. When you do surrender to it you do not suffer. Enjoying sin in not suffering. You can choose to enjoy sin (Heb 11:2525choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,), but you must consider that it is a passing pleasure that has a bitter and often permanent after taste. Christ did not have anything to do with sin and due to that He suffered. The same goes for you, who follows Him, as you have confessed, as I hope, with your baptism.
V22so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.. With your conversion and baptism “the rest of the time” has come to live “for the will of God”. You have thrown away enough time in the past by trying to fulfil your lusts. May I ask you how you spend your time now in contrast to the past? It cannot be the case that you just go on to excessively consume movies and other kinds of entertainment, can it? You should have ceased being obsessed with sports and recreation together with the world, shouldn’t you? You are not continually occupied anymore with making your house more and more comfortable, are you?
It is not always about things that are wrong in themselves. The point is that these things determine the life of people who do not consider the will of God, but live after their own desires.
V33For 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.. You also belonged to those people in the past and you also lived the way they do. That must have changed when you converted to God and when you surrendered yourself to the Lord Jesus, hasn’t it? Since then your life has had a totally different principle and a totally different content and a totally different purpose. When that is reality for you, it will be seen by a real change in using your time.
For you have spent enough of your past lifetime in carrying out “the desire of the Gentiles”. Away with that! That is past tense now! Peter reminds us of that time. Sometimes it is necessary and useful to be reminded of the past. That is not to blame you again for your sins, but to show you from where you have been redeemed, from what kind of a horrible pit you were saved. It will help you to increase in gratefulness towards God and in your devotion to the Lord Jesus.
Just look at the will of the Gentiles, what they desire and compare that to the will of God, what He has planned for you. The Gentiles live in total rebellion against God and they fully follow their own will wherein they satisfy their lusts in the most perverted way. They do not allow anyone to tell them to do anything and they swallow all unrighteousness like water. They surrender themselves to everything that can satisfy the physical and spiritual needs. Thereby they have no respect with anyone and they also sacrifice the health of their own body. Unlimited sex, uncontrollably consuming food and drink and a total surrender to demons are the ingredients of this life of debauchery.
V44In [all] this, they are surprised that you do not run with [them] into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign [you];. They find it strange that you do not join them in “the same excesses of dissipation”. Your new conduct is very strange and incomprehensible for those who used to be your friends in the past. Because you do not have part in their dealings anymore, they will talk all kinds of evil about you. They do not understand that God takes care of you. When you have received something they may for instance talk around that you have stolen it. Do not mind about that at all and do not worry about it.
V55but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.. You can surrender it to Him Who judges righteously (1Pet 2:2323and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting [Himself] to Him who judges righteously;). He is ready to “judge the living and the dead”. The judgment about the living will be carried out by the Lord Jesus when He comes to establish His kingdom (Mt 25:3131“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.). He will carry out the judgment over the dead between the expiration of the millennial kingdom of peace and the beginning of the eternal condition (Rev 20:1111Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.). Both the dead and the living will have to “give account” to Him with Whom they did not want to have anything to do and they therefore mocked, persecuted and slandered those who confessed Him.
V66For 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.. With a view to that judgment a joyful message was already proclaimed in the past. The Scripture calls that the “everlasting gospel” (Rev 14:6-76And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people;7and he said with a loud voice, “Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.”). The content of that gospel is that each one who acknowledged himself guilty before God and accepted God’s judgment over his life as a man in flesh as just, was made alive by the power of the Holy Spirit. So through all ages it has been the Holy Spirit Who gives life and in that way enables us to have part in the resurrected Christ and His future. This is an encouragement for the believers to whom Peter writes and that is also an encouragement for you who also has accepted the gospel, though it is both for those and for you in its richer form: the gospel of grace.
In verse 55but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. you have read that the Lord Jesus is ready to come and judge all ungodliness (cf. Jam 5:99Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.). That means that the end of all things is near. That is already the situation when Peter writes this letter. How much more does that apply to the time we live in. That it has not been yet, is due to the patience of God, Who does not want that anyone should perish (2Pet 3:99The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.).
V77The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober [spirit] for the purpose of prayer.. When you think of the end that is near, it may encourage you. It will not last long anymore and then all boasting of man will cease. Also everything, in which a man may put his hope, will come to an end. Hereby you may think of his self-made religion with his self-shaped imaged of God. Materialism and spiritualism will be judged at the coming of the Lord Jesus. Then also all slandering, mocking and persecution will come to an end for those whom have put their trust in the Lord Jesus.
When the Lord Jesus comes and when He has judged all unrighteousness, the millennial kingdom of peace can begin. When you focus on that, it will give you strength to bear and to endure what otherwise you are not able to bear and endure. Don’t allow yourself to be fired up by the news of the day, through which you may take a wrong action.
“Be of sound judgment”, respond calmly and consider. Let yourself be led by God’s Word. Keep your eyes fixed on the coming of the Lord. Then you will be able to see all things around you in its true perspective.
Be of “sober [spirit]” too, meaning that you do not allow the spirit of times to blur your view, but that it remains pure. See everything that comes towards you in the light of God and of the future, so that you may see the things as they really are and not as they seem to present themselves to you. That watchfulness does not make you overconfident, but it leads you to “pray”. The real awareness that you live in the end of times will lead you to a deep dependence on God.
V88Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.. After having presented the relation to God like that, attention is now being paid to the relation of Christians to one another. What is important “above all”, is that they have “fervent … love for one another”. A real and firm relationship among Christians is especially noticeable by the interest in one another. Then you also get to know each other, regarding both the strong characteristics and the weaknesses.
In the end of times it is more than ever important that the company of believers meet and encourages one another (Heb 10:24-2524and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,25not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging [one another]; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.). Real love seeks what is for the benefit of the other. Then they do not dig up the weaknesses and sins (Pro 16:27a27A worthless man digs up evil,
While his words are like scorching fire.
), but on the contrary, they cover them (Pro 10:1212Hatred stirs up strife,
But love covers all transgressions.
). Seeing other people’s mistakes and enlarging on them is not the love of the Lord. He does not see sins anymore in those who are His, but He covers them with His love.
That does not mean that you should not call evil by its name. It certainly does mean that sin is to be judged as soon as possible and after that there is also forgiveness. Love cannot live with sin. When a person commits a sin, love will do everything to convince the brother that has sinned about that, so that the sin can be confessed and be put away (Mt 18:1515“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.). The devil will always try to cause disharmony among believers, often by using small matters. He will absolutely not succeed when we have fervent love for one another.
V99Be hospitable to one another without complaint.. That love will also be expressed by being “hospitable”. That is not only regarding your friends, but also and especially people who you do not know. ‘Hospitality’ literally means ‘love for strangers’. When a believer, whom you do not know, comes to you, you not only ought to offer him a meal, but also a home. Let him feel to be welcome and that your whole house is available to him. That doesn’t mean that you should be naive, but that you must have such an attitude.
It is also for a reason that Peter adds to it that you must do it without grumbling, for that can easily happen. An unexpected guest can actually disturb your program enormously. You may find it also awkward, because you may just have cleaned up and put everything in the right order and now have to fetch everything back for that strange guest. And not to mention the costs that this visit may possibly bring. Therefore take account of this word and do not take action by grumbling or by even trying to figure things out, but show an abundance of hospitality. Invite one another, receive one another and serve one another.
Now read 1 Peter 4:1-9 again.
Reflection: What is the most important thing in the end of times?