Sunday, 1 December 2019
…that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 1 Peter 4:2
Speaking of the one who emulates the mind of Christ, Peter just said, “for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” He now gives the reason for this by saying, “that he no longer should live the rest of his time.”
Here, Peter uses two words which are unique in Scripture. The first is bioó, or “to live.” It signifies the spending of one’s time. In other words, it doesn’t simply mean the state of living, but the act of living. One can live for baseball. One can live for fishing. Peter says that the one who is of the same mind as Christ will not spend his time living in the flesh.
The second unique word Peter uses is epiloipos, or “rest of his time.” It signifies that which remains. HELPS Word Studies says of it, “This intensified term (used only in 1 Pet 4:2) stresses the profound, eternal results that build on each decision (action), in every scene of life.”
If one is in Christ, and pursues the mind of Christ, he will consider his state and act in a manner which is appropriate to the life he has set his mind to. It will not be “in the flesh.”
Interestingly, Peter had just said in the previous verse that “Christ suffered for us in the flesh.” Christ assumed a truly human nature and suffered in it for us. But for those who are in Adam, this human nature, this flesh, is earthly and morally corrupt. Christ, whose Father is God did not inherit Adam’s sin-nature. His flesh was human, but not morally corrupt. Peter contrasts Christ’s flesh to the general state of man by saying that believers should no longer life “in the flesh.” He obviously means that we are not to live in the morally corrupt earthly flesh, but to live in a state of spiritual holiness.
From there, he then describes exactly this by describing the flesh as “for the lusts of men.” The words here bear a close resemblance to that stated by John in his epistle –
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12, 13
What God intends for us is not what men lust after. And what the will of the flesh sees as good is not what the Spirit of God wills for. There is to be an attaching of our lives to God through Christ, and we are to pursue that will which God seeks for His redeemed. This is explicitly stated by Peter with the words, “but for the will of God.”
The will of God is what the Spirit of God wills, and it is what the mind of Christ wills. There is a complete harmony within the Godhead concerning will, purpose, and intent. The three bear the same purpose and goal at all times, and at no time is there division in the mind of God. Only the roles within the Godhead in performing the will of God is unique to the individual member.
Peter is making an argument similar to the one made by Paul in Romans 6:1-4. Notice the similarity in the following verses to what Peter is saying –
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
It is certainly right and fitting that both men discuss the same issue in a similar way. Should only one account have been recorded, misinterpretation of these verses would be even easier than they are. Already people fail to understand the significance of baptism and how it is applied in this epistle by Peter. There is also a misreading of what it means to live holy lives, and there is also a misunderstanding about the eternal state of man – all because people grab single verses and run with them rather than taking all things in context and comparing Scripture with Scripture.
Life application: The Bible is not as complicated as many people make it, but it is very detailed. With teachers (or in our own studies) skipping around and picking and choosing verses, we can easily be led down the wrong path. For now, just know that we are to put away the life of flesh and live for God. This is our calling to holiness through Jesus. Although we cannot attain sinless perfection in this life, it should always be our goal to live in a manner which shuns fleshly lusts and strives for holy living.
Lord God, You have given us the pattern by which we should live. We certainly fail You often and often slide backward. But Lord, give us spiritual traction so that we may press onward towards the life of holiness that You have called us to. May You be the One who is glorified as we pursue You every step of the way. Amen.