Surprised by Suffering

1 Peter 4

“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.” 1 Peter 4:1-2

I have to admit that the phrase in this passage “ceased from sin” bothered me just a little. First of all, we know that no one will ever “cease” from sin until he or she goes on to glory. I thought it strange that Peter would put that in there. So I went digging into commentary and other versions and read forward and what I came up with, and what made sense to me is not that Peter was saying we would never sin again if we have suffered with Christ, but that the resistance to sin and the fleshly desires to LIVE in sin would become easier as we place our trust and our lives in Christ. Peter goes on in the next few verses and explains this a little further. He gives a list of sins that would most definitely be aligned with “living in sin or in the flesh”. 

“For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery and they malign you, but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.” 1 Peter 4:3-6

When Peter says “what the Gentiles do” we can interpret this to be what the world is doing. He is saying that it surprises the “world” when we, as Christians do not live the same way as they do. Think about it, generally speaking does it not seem to surprise them that we live the way we do. And going back to the first thought in the first verse where Peter says once you suffer for Christ you will “cease from sin”, is it not true? As you put away fleshly desires, and as you align your life with Christ does it not become easier to resist those fleshly desires over time. When you have been through things that only Christ can get you through, the things of the world become less important and following Christ becomes your aim. And people who are living worldly lives will never understand as long as that is their aim. 

“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” 1 Peter 4:7-11

We hear all the time we are living in the last days. Here it sounds to me like Peter thought they were living in the last days. Whether we are or we are not, the bottom line is it says in scripture that no one knows the day or the hour, not even the son, so we should be living self controlled lives. The NKJV says “be serious and watchful in your prayers”. When it comes to prayer we should take it seriously whether we think we are living in the last days or whether the last days are still 100s of years from now. And then above all, we have to love each other. Peter says to love and show hospitality and serve without grumbling. Oh that is the hard part for me. I find myself grumbling and whining and falling into that critical spirit so fast. I need to write these verses on my forehead! We have to remember love and service and that serving each other is the way we serve Christ and that is what glorifies God! 

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:12-13

Suffering can come in many ways, we may feel that we suffer persecution for our christian beliefs, but we also may be suffering because of bad choices that we have made. One thing we can be sure of is as long as we are still on this earth, there will be suffering. Sometimes we want to be surprised by the suffering, because we don’t understand how this could be happening to me? Oh, I’ve been there, I have asked God a lot of why’s over things that have come my way. Some by my own hand, some by the hand of others and some just because we live in a sinful fallen world. But the the one thing I know and can testify to, is that every amount of suffering that I have endured has not been wasted IF I lay it at the foot of the cross and ask Him to use the pain and to grow me and to be glorified in it. 

“Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And ‘if the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?’ Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” 1 Peter 4:16-19

Friends, we are being watched by the world. Let us be sure that we are handling the things that come our way in a way that glorifies God. If we don’t then what is to become of them? How we handle the sufferings that come our way is what will either point the world to Jesus or away from Him. 

Author: Sonia Sticker

I am a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, employee, woman. And I simply need more JESUS in my life!

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