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, 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. 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. In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you; but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 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.
1 Peter 4:1-6
Peter is now summing up what we covered last time: Therefore…
Jesus as our great example suffered death so that many would be saved from sin and death; therefore, we need to take on the same purpose as He, which is to say that we too need to concern ourselves with the salvation of those who have not yet found it, even in our times of trial and suffering. This somewhat awkward sentence goes on to tell us that since those who suffer for Christ have put an end to living for the allures of this world, they will now live for the will of God. This is another way of saying that we set aside the things of this world to serve Christ. We have already had our chance for worldly living, that is now over… and our former associates will sure be surprised!
I’ve run into many who hesitated to commit to Christ for fear that their family and friends will think them crazy, and I’ve always assured them that they are probably right. When they commit to Him anyway, and over time their lives change, friends and family often follow them to the cross. Let’s be clear, this doesn’t usually happen overnight, but it often happens with time. These former associates may also “malign” you, but this is something for which they will ultimately be called to account for.
This is why the gospel has been preached to those who live without Christ, even though they are dead in their sins, they may respond to the gospel and live as children of God. To be perfectly honest, this is our calling, to take the gospel to those who have yet to commit to Christ, or as Jesus Himself said, to “make disciples.” It is what we do because we love our fellow humans, even when they do not first love us.
That might sound familiar to some of you…