All Sermons

All Sermons

Armed to Suffer and Surprise (1 Peter 4:1-6)

Series: 1 Peter (Living in Exile)

As a minority community, Peter has been preparing us to be both questioned and slandered for our hope and actions by pointing us to Jesus who also suffered the same things. Today, he will tell us to arm ourselves to suffer and to leave behind human passions. Next, he will warn us that, in their surprise, the world will revile and vilify us for not joining them, but that we should not worry because they will have to give an account to God for this. Notice verses 1-3.


Arm Yourselves (4:1-3)

Jesus didn’t play games when it came to proclaiming the truth. God’s kingdom was drawing near and it was time for all to “sin no more” (Jn. 5:18; 8:11). So he came “to bear witness to the truth” (Jn. 18:37). And yet, though he loved them as his own children, the world hated the Truth. He refused to let lost Israel wander, so he came to turn them from their error; yet, the leaders in Israel twisted his words and falsely accused him of unrighteousness, blasphemy, and of plotting to destroy the temple. They asked for a murderous insurrectionist to be released instead of him, whipped him, dressed him up like a mock-king, stripped him naked, nailed him to a cross, spat on him, and made fun of him.


Peter says we must arm ourselves with Christ’s way of thinking. This is not a time to be soft. We need grit, fortitude, and discipline (Schreiner). That sounds easy now, but think through what this may look like. Imagine friends and acquaintances at school or work whispering about you, saying you’re a bigot. Imagine how your neighbors will look at you when they think you are phobic. Imagine your online community humiliating you and blocking you for being judgmental. Imagine how the country will charge us of being disloyal and unpatriotic. “You are destroying everything they hold dear.”


Here’s some good news: when we continually arm ourselves like warriors to suffer in the flesh, something happens in our battle against sin: “Whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of time no longer for human passions but for the will of God.” When we are willing to be mocked, falsely accused, lose friendships, jobs, lied about and be told “you’re no fun,” “you’re not loving,” we show that we are done with sin. We show that our will, your will doesn’t matter any more. I’m living for the will of God now, not human passions.


I love how Peter puts it in verse 3: the time that is past suffices for carrying out the desire of the Gentiles. They say we’re missing out on the pleasures of Egypt and Babylon, but haven’t we spent sufficient time carrying out what they desire? What fruit were we getting from those things we are now ashamed of? We have spent enough time in that way of living.


Can we imagine being a church like that? A church where we proclaim both Jesus’ welcome, “You are forgiven” and Jesus’ command, “Sin no more” and actually expect that of ourselves and one another? Have you noticed that about Jesus and the apostles? They commanded people to lay down sinful lifestyles immediately. Prostitutes left their business, adulterers went back to their spouses, tax collectors restored what they defrauded, magicians burned their books, persecutors became preachers, masters treated Christian slaves like brothers. That immediate ceasing of sinful lifestyles is not always part of church culture today.


I think in the past I failed to deal sin a more decisive end because suffering for Christ wasn’t a concrete reality for me. Verse 1: “Whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” Proclaiming “Jesus is Lord” has lost its offense — not because the land is filled with true knowledge of him, but because it has been spiritualized and watered down. In the first century, Caesar was called, “Savior,” “Lord,” “Son of God,” and the gospel of his birth and ascendency was proclaimed everywhere as the beginning of a new day in world history. When Jesus’ followers proclaimed the gospel of Jesus in that political environment, they were proclaiming that a Jew charged of insurrection and executed by Rome on a cross is the true Lord, Savior, and Son of God. That was an inherently political statement, so they had to think seriously about where their allegiances lied before publicly proclaiming Jesus is Lord in that world. They had to arm themselves to suffer like the King for the King. If we do that, Peter says it will change us. Who wants to be maligned, vilified for King Jesus while you’re still fooling around with Satan?


Personally, I feel that at times in the past I have tried to straddle a line: give allegiance to Jesus, but make it seem less offensive. Yet, I have still lost dear friends doing that. That has streamlined my focus. Family, we will lose those who are not loyal to King Jesus anyway, so why compromise?


We are not yet perfect. Sanctification certainly is a lifelong process. But, if we arm ourselves to suffer like the King, we’ll say we’re done carrying out the world’s desire and ready to live for God’s. Now, notice in verses 3-4 the response we will get when we start abstaining like this.


They Are Surprised by You (4:3-4)

We will come back to this list in verse 3 in one second, but let’s first emblazon in our minds that people will be surprised by us and they will malign and vilify us. We are destined to be misunderstood by the majority — even by our past friends. “Why don’t you come with us any more? Do you think you’re better than us? You’re not fun. You’re not loving. You’re not loyal. You’re not patriotic. You’re phobic. You’re causing a disturbance.” This will plague our consciences at times. We may wonder, “Why is this so surprising to them? Maybe I am misunderstanding God’s will.” But, they charged God’s own Son of being evil when he was faithful and they’ll do the same to us.


Now, let’s go back to this list in verse 3. Note the three themes here: sex, alcohol, and idolatry. They  typically do not speak evil of us for helping the needy. What surprises them and leads them to malign us is we do not treat sex, alcohol, and creation like they do. Peter sums this up as “flood of debauchery” in the ESV or as “excesses of dissipation” in the NASB. Where we show restraint, they cast it off. But why does this surprise them? They’ve been deceived by Satan — let’s unpack how so we aren’t deceived by their surprise.


They are surprised we don’t join them in sensuality and passionate lusts. Greek and Roman cultures were obsessed with sexuality. It was their religion. It was quite common for men to visit prostitutes or to have their way with their male and female servants. One interesting note: Christianity was actually very popular among women in the ancient world because churches demanded husbands treat their wives better and constrain their sexual energies within marriage. But, apparently, this restraint was bewildering to many - and that is certainly the case today.

Today, while Sigmund Freud’s explicit ideas have been debunked, his overriding theory that we are primarily sexual beings has literally become part of the air we breath. To live in our secular age is to believe that at the deepest part of our identity and who we are lies our sexuality. (Note that while Rome and Greece were obsessed with sex, but they didn’t see it as who they were) My sexuality is perceived as who I am and how I can be happy. It is the path to freedom, release, and never-ending ecstasy. This message is all over our media. Magazines tell you how to light your sex-life on fire. Books obsess over fantasies. Songs, movies, and shows idolize sexuality as the pinnacle of human happiness all while insisting it should be casual. (Side note: don’t use secular erotic songs, books, or movies to “spice up” your marriage. While we may think all is safe within marriage, these things will both subtly and overtly train us to think about ourselves and sexuality in poor ways that are not easy to identify.)


Thus, when we show restraint here and reserve our sexual energies within an undefiled marriage bed, we look strange and prudish to them. Hauerwas explains this well: “It often sounds as if we are somehow ‘against [relations].’ What we fail to make clear is that … passion (the good gift of God’s creation) is now subservient to the demanding business of maintaining a revolutionary community in a world that often uses [relations] as a means of momentarily anesthetizing or distracting people from the basic vacuity [or emptiness] of their lives. When the only contemporary means of self-transcendence is [relations], we Christians are going to have a tough time convincing people that it would be nicer if they would not be promiscuous.” (Resident Aliens, 63)


They don’t understand why we don’t watch porn, sleep with our girlfriend or boyfriend, have open marriages, or why, if one has same-sex attraction, why they don’t act on it. The reason the world doesn’t understand is because sexuality is often one of their only forms of self-transcendence. When Jesus restores our humanity and our life purpose, sexuality gets put back in its proper place. We are not anti-sex at all. Read the Song of Solomon and don’t be a hearer of the word only — it’s a collection of songs devoted to celebrating romantic and sexual love in marriage. The Bible offers a beautiful vision sexuality that unites a husband and wife in pleasure and procreation. This view of marriage and sexuality is deeply fulfilling because it honors God and is actually a living representation of the relationship between Christ and the church. But, unless we put romance and sexuality on the throne, many will be bewildered by our restraint.


Furthermore, they are surprised when we don’t join them in drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. For the world, life is difficult and boring and it ends in painful death, so alcohol and parties are how a person has fun and avoids thinking about their meaningless lives. So, they swipe, drink, hit the club, sleep, work, repeat. But with Jesus, life is full of meaning and purpose. It is an adventure that leads through suffering to eternal life. So, we leave God on the throne and have enjoyment without excess or obsession. We have great evenings and weekends without clubs and drinking parties. We enjoy God’s blessings even more than they do because we put them in their right place: instead of worshipping creation, we enjoy creation, family, and friends in orderly ways that lead us to praise the one who fills our deepest longings. But, the world only knows how to pursue basic instinctual passions and forget their Creator in the process.


If we will understand their surprise and slander is because they have been deceived, it won’t be so surprising and disconcerting to us. And, we’ll be able to help them understand better. Now, note the confidence Peter gives us that their slander and our righteous life will not be forgotten by God.


They’ll Give An Account (4:5-6)

Right now, it can seem like we are the losers who have no reasonable justification for how we live and speak. But Peter says they are the ones who will have to give an account for their lawless living and for how they treated us. That kind of talk can make us uncomfortable. Some might accuse Peter of reveling in the destruction of the wicked. But the bottom line is that the world often calls Christians to account for their ways and they mock our responses, and, despite how much we want them to see and turn, it is comforting to know the tables will be turned for those who don’t.


In view of this day of judgment, this is why the gospel of King Jesus was preached to those who are now dead. Some may wonder, “Why was the gospel preached to them? Now they’re dead — a lot of good that did them!” Some had similar thoughts while Jesus was on the cross. “He trusts in God; let God deliver him now if he desires him” (Mt. 27:43). But he was vindicated by the Spirit in his resurrection and so will we. This is a good reminder to us. As much as we pray and God answers our prayers and delivers us from sickness and death, we will all be judged in the flesh and die before Jesus comes. And while it appears those who believed the gospel and died have lost, we declare by faith they are ready for the day of judgment and will be vindicated and live in the spirit the way God does (all my commentaries said this refers to the resurrection, but some believe this refers to life with God now).


This is why we preach the good news of King Jesus. One day we will all stand before the throne and give an account for what we have done in the body, whether good or bad. We preach the good news so people know to turn to the King now and repent and so be reconciled to him.



Are we done with sin? It is time to arm ourselves to suffer and to look like fools in this age. When we do that, we will be ready to stop carrying out the world’s desires and live for God’s. They’ll be surprised and they’ll malign us and when we die it will appear as though we lost, but as Jesus lives in and by the Spirit of God, we will too.

  • Sermon PODCAST

  • Get the latest sermons delivered right to your app or device.

  • Subscribe with your favorite podcast player.