Saturday, 30 November 2019
Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 1 Peter 4:1
The words “for us” are not in all Greek manuscripts and are debatable, but the point is made either way – Christ suffered, and His suffering was not for His own misdeeds, but for those of others. Peter notes that Christ’s suffering was “in the flesh.”
The word “flesh” is generally a negative word, signifying the carnal moral nature. But this is not always the case. It simply speaks of the physical body of humans which – because we are fallen – is closely connected with the fallen morality which accompanies the physical flesh. In the case of Christ, no negative undertones are implied. It simply means that He suffered in His physical human body.
This thought was especially highlighted in verse 3:18 –
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.”
Based on this, Peter now says, “arm yourselves also with the same mind.” The word Peter uses, and which is translated as “arm yourselves,” is found only here, but it conveys an idea which is seen in Paul’s writings several times. The idea is that believers are to carry the same purposeful intent as Christ did. Just as He was willing to suffer in order to bring about a good end, so should we willfully intend to do likewise.
With that expressed, Peter then explains why this should be the case. It is because “he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” Peter’s notion of Christ having suffered is inclusive of His death. Because of this, his words mirror the thought of Paul in Romans 6 –
“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” Romans 6:5, 6
Because Christ suffered (inclusive of His death), and because that suffering and death was on our behalf, we have died with Christ. He has freed us from this body of death and given us freedom to live for God. This is a theological truth which lives in us right now. We died with Christ, and thus law has no mastery over us. Paul says that it is by law that we have a knowledge of sin. But we are no longer under law; we are under grace. As this is true, we are free to be obedient to a new Master, the Lord. As Albert Barnes says of this, “…there is such a union between Christ and the believer that his death on the cross secured the death of the believer to the world.”
As this is so, we are to arm ourselves with that same mind, being resolute in our intent to live as Christ lived. His suffering for us is to lead to our obedience to living for Him.
Life application: Some of the points which were made in the previous chapter have led us to where we are now in Chapter 4. A quick synopsis of them will help remind us of what led us to this point –
1) We are to be compassionate towards, and good to, others. We are to bless them even when they persecute us.
2) This will bring a blessing upon us because the Lord is attentive to the righteous deeds of His people.
3) We are to give a defense of why we have the sure hope of our faith, but we are to do it in a gentle and meek way.
4) Through our display, and especially when it involves suffering, those who persecute us will be ashamed.
5) This pattern was set by Christ at the cross and is what brought us to God; this pattern worked in us and can be expected to have the same result in others.
6) This was seen in Noah before the flood – to a world abounding in wickedness – in order to make known the righteousness of God. So, we in this wicked world have the same pattern to follow.
7) Despite our actions, only a few may be saved – just as only eight came through the flood – but those eight became the type of how we also are saved and brought to righteousness, sealed with the Holy Spirit in baptism.
8) The resurrection is our assurance that we are on the right path and that we have the power of Christ behind us.
Because of all this, we should “arm ourselves with the same mind” as Christ. He suffered in His flesh to save us from sin. Arming ourselves with this mind is to act in the same way, even in suffering, to bring others out of sin. By failing to do this, our actions indicate that we feel others are less deserving of what was of infinite value to us. Let us never make that error, but instead let us hold others, even those who persecute us, with the same high value as God did when He sent Jesus to call them to righteousness.
Lord, it certainly is hard to look at the world around us and not feel angry at the sin and perversion going on. But we too once walked in that way so let us not forget the depths from which we were called. You saved us despite our actions, and You can save them as well. May You use our faithful testimony to bring others to righteousness. Amen.