Tuesday, 3 December 2019
In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. 1 Peter 4:4
Referring to the list of things that pagans choose to do, Peter now says something that is not unexpected for anyone who turns from such a life to living in holiness in Christ. He says, “they think it strange that you do not run with them.”
The term Peter uses is literally “not running with them.” They are a band of miscreants running as quickly to the gates of hell as they can, and suddenly one of them realizes the error of his way and stops. The others turn their heads in surprise and wonder what on earth is going on. “Hey, this is the way to hell! You’re never going to get there like that.”
But this is the point of living in holiness and not for the flesh. It is to turn to what reflects the nature of God, and to what God expects for His people. However, they cannot see this as their minds are clouded by the things of the flesh. It is a complete surprise that you have ceased to join with them “in the same flood of dissipation.”
The words of Peter speak of debauchery to the point of excess, even to overflowing. The word Peter uses, which gives the sense of “excess,” is found only here in the Bible. Vincent’s Word Studies notes that when used in classical Greek, it speaks of tides which fill the hollows. There is an overflowing sense of debauchery which they are engaged in, but which the believer suddenly realizes is wrong. In stopping and turning from it, Peter then says that they are “speaking evil of you.”
The idea here is, “You idiot. Stop acting so self-righteously. We know who you are and what you have done. You are as bad as us, and now you act as if you are a saint.” It is common for those who do evil to not turn from their evil when they see holiness on display. Rather, they do their utmost to pull the one who has turned from his wickedness back to their own level. Like crabs in a bucket, they will always pull the one attempting to get out of it back in – even so that they can be boiled alive together.
Life application: Peter is making a connection to the previous chapter where the flood of Noah was introduced. Surely Noah faced the evil tongues of those around him who belittled him as he steadily built the ark. But in the end, he was saved through the flood and the others were destroyed. Likewise, if you have come to Christ and have given up on the character and conduct you once lived, you have probably faced (and possibly still face) the jeers of those you once hung around with.
They may look at you as if you’ve lost your mind, thinking it strange that you don’t run with them anymore. The fact is though that you are the one who has found reason and understanding, and it is you who are being safely guided through the very same flood that you were once drowning in. Don’t be disheartened and don’t be discouraged by the constant beat of the drums calling you to return to this empty way of life. Rather, stand fast and march on towards the goal which is the high calling of life in Jesus Christ.
By your steadfast attitude, you may even become a witness to the very people who are currently giving you such a difficult time. In the end, they may have their eyes opened, simply because of your faithfulness to Christ. Stand firm then in Jesus, and may He be your safe hiding place and strong refuge. Don’t let the life you once lived take over and nullify the glorious work of sanctification that Jesus is working in you.
Lord Jesus, you know the temptations we face, the taunts we endure, and the continuous call for us to return to our previous way of life. Give us a strong and resolute spirit to stand firm against these things and to be bold and faithful as witnesses to the glorious change You have brought about in us. This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.