Putting Aside Our Sinful Nature - 1 Peter 4:1-6

Have people ever come up to you and wondered why you are different? Have you heard gossiping behind your back because you won’t engage in certain activities? Is this because of the life you live according to Christ?

Have you put aside your prior sinful nature and pursued the will that God has in your life?

1 Peter 4:1-6
1 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. 3 For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.

We see Peter continuing his theme of Christ being the example of suffering for God’s Will, but overcoming unjust persecution. Christ suffered in human form for us, so Peter is encouraging us to be of the same mind. Have courage, resolve, and focus on overcoming through Christ. Peter uses the word ‘flesh’ twice. The first refers to the human form that Christ suffered. The second use of ‘flesh’ relates to our fallen nature as humans. Peter is encouraging us to put to death the nature of the flesh so that we can be free from sin through Christ. As a result, we can live free for the Will of God. If we put to death our sinful nature and align our hearts to strive for God’s Will in our lives, then our footsteps will become in step with His. If we make God’s Will for our lives our main desire, then it will become automatic and second nature to us. So, it is taking ownership of His Will for our lives and living accordingly throughout the remaining time that God gives us.

I like this quote by Matthew Henry that sums up our transition from our sinful nature to Christly living:
"As Christ suffered in his human nature, do you, according to your baptismal vow and profession, make your corrupt nature suffer, by putting to death the body of sin by self-denial and mortification; for, if you do thus suffer, you will be conformable to Christ in his death and resurrection, and will cease from sin."

Peter then addresses sin. He tells us what we need to do first, live according to the example of Christ. He tells us as Christians that we need to stop living like the world. Put our old ways behind us. We see a list of sins that Peter addresses with the recipients of his epistle. It appears that our world today still suffers from the same things. We are still human and fall short of the glory of God, despite the 2000 years between Peter’s letter and today. Our problems with sin have not been solved since the beginning of time, but we have hope. 
Peter is telling us what our actions as Christians should be. Be above reproach. As we saw in previous chapters, our living as a witness and testimony of Christ will shock the world. Do your coworkers at work know you are a Christian? Do those around you recognize that there is something different about you? They see this through our actions and our words…or the lack of using choice words…People fear things that are different. When we are set apart and sanctified in Christ, those around us will talk badly to us and about us. Are they saying these blasphemous words about us because the Holy Spirit is convicting them by our witness? All those who continue to live in sin will be judged. Even living a ‘good life’, being kind to others, taking care of the environment, helping charities, volunteering to those in need, etc. will not be enough in the end.

Why do we need to be reminded of Christ’s example of suffering? Why do we need to put aside and die to our sinful nature? Why should we avoid sin? Why will those around us speak badly against us for our living in Christ?... Because Peter points out that this is why the Good News is preached. This is why Jesus suffered for us so that we can live in the spirit according to God. He wants that connection to us, and it is through Christ alone.

Peter continues to remind us of how we are to live our lives in the footsteps of Christ. We will face our difficulties and trials, but only be strengthening our relationship with God. People are going to say unkind things to us as Christians. Their words will tear us down, but Peter encourages us to continue our steadfast faith in God because we are sanctified through Christ. The purpose at the end of our remaining time here on earth is to live for eternity in the presence of God. 

Peter has a reason for the continued emphasis on Christ’s suffering and for us to live according to His example. Maybe, we need to be continually reminded as well. Christ will return, and that is our hope because He is still alive after conquering death and sin. Let our lives be the witness of the Good News of Christ to our coworkers, family, children, and neighbors.
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