Sermon Notes & References

Leaving the Old Life

1 Peter 4:1-6

August 11, 2019

1 Hence Christ suffered bodily. You also then, equip yourselves (as for war) with the same thinking: because he who has suffered bodily has finished with sins. 2 To this end, that you live your remaining bodily life no longer by evil human desires, but by the will of God. 3 For you have passed enough time accomplishing pagan purposes, having conducted yourselves in excesses, in evil desires, in times of drunkennesses, in wild parties, in drinking-bouts, and in lawless serving of idols. 4 In this the pagans think it to be alien – and speak evil of – your not running with them unto the same excessive abandonment. 5 These will render account to the one in readiness to judge the living and the dead. 6 For unto this purpose it was proclaimed to the dead, in order that though they should have been judged bodily according to men, they are living spiritually according to God.         (RGH)

A. The Context

    1. Of This Letter Footnote

    2. Of This Passage Footnote

B. Being Finished with Sin (verses 1-2)

    1. Armed with Christ’s Mind (1) Footnote

    2. Transformed (2) Footnote

C. Out with the Old (verses 3-4)

    1. The Old Nature’s Desires (3)

    2. The Old Friends’ Reaction (4)

D. Judgement is Coming (verses 5-6)

    1. All Held Accountable (5) Footnote

    2. The Gospel Remedy (6) Footnote

E. Conclusion

    1. Carry on Pilgrims! Footnote

Endnote  1 Peter 4:1-6. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Leaving the Old Life


A. The Context

    1. Of This Letter

        a. when we began our study of the letter of Peter

            (A)    and from time to time since

            (B)    we have pointed out that he is writing to us

            (C)   as foreigners on a pilgrimage through this world

            (D)   and that our real citizenship is that in heaven

        b. so, and this theme is repeatedly found in this letter, we are not to be surprised when we run into trials

            (A)    for that is part of the Christian journey

            (B)    as has been the case from the earliest days of the Church

            (C)   so that Paul & Barnabas returned to the churches they had founded

            (D)   strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.’” (Acts 14:22)

            (E)    and these two missionaries knew well such tribulations which included corporal alienation, punishment, imprisonment, weariness, shipwreck and sickness, just to name a few


    2. Of This Passage

        a. the immediate context is found in the last few verses of the previous chapter

        b. this is the section that begins with its keynote verse, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;” (1 Peter 3:18)

        c. which makes us aware of the sufferings of Jesus Christ

            (A)    that they we endured for our sake, to bring us to salvation

            (B)    that they included alienation, corporal punishment, weariness

            (C)   they went far beyond those and involved

                 (1)    He, the just One, being laden with our sins

                 (2)    and took Him to death, even death on the cross

        d. and Peter now addresses the believers’ question, ‘What about us when we have to suffer, suffer even to the point of martyrdom?’


B. Being Finished with Sin (verses 1-2)

    1. Armed With Christ’s Mind (1)

        a. Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,

            (A)    Jesus is the one who suffered to the extreme case, that of death

            (B)    so, it is in Him we shall find the answer to our concern in this

        b. something to note in looking at these verses

            (A)    is that ‘flesh’ is used in the Bible in a number of different ways

                 (1)    as a reference to our humanity – as when Christ encouraged His disciples in Gethsemane, ‘the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak’ – where there is no thought of criticism meant

                 (2)    or, more negatively, as a reference to our old, fallen nature, that was our lot before being saved, and whose weaknesses and sins continue to beset us

                 (3)    or, as a reference to our physical being, especially as being subject to death

            (B)    while on the other hand, the spirit or soul exists beyond death, thereby constituting the important part of our reality

        c. so, in the matter of our sinfulness

            (A)    suffering is one of God’s ways of cleansing us from it

                 (1)    being spoken of as a refining work

                 (2)    that we might, like Job, come through it as pure gold

            (B)    but, in the extreme, it is death that rids us fully of our sin

        d. yet, the Bible speaks of a moral form of death which the Christian is to experience that also does away with sin

            (A)    not leading to sinless perfection

            (B)    but rather an ongoing cleansing, such as in 1 John 1; consider the lesson shown by baptism:

                 (1)    that we died to sin, Romans 6:2,

                 (2)    we have been baptised into His death, Romans 6:3

                 (3)    and have been united with Christ in His death, Romans 6:5

                 (4)    and “our old self crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin, for he who has died is freed from sin.” Romans 6:6-7.

            (C)   or of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:31, “…which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.

            (D)   and in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.”

            (E)    whereby we may be dead to sin, though yet alive: being ...


    2. Transformed (2)

        a. so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

            (A)    there are two words for desire in this verse

                 (1)    there is that used for the desires of men and usually with the implication of being evil, and thus translated, as here, lusts

                 (2)    there is another, which is used here of God, showing what God desires: used sometimes of His will to be recognised (i.e., what pleases Him), sometimes of His will to be obeyed (a command)

            (B)    and in this verse, these two – man’s desires & God’s desires – are in sharp opposition the one to the other

        b. but the child of God, in his remaining time here on this earth

            (A)    is to abandon the first in favour of the second

            (B)    voluntarily putting to death, as it were, our old selves

            (C)   in agreement with Romans 12:1-2, “1 I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.


C. Out with the Old (verses 3-4)

    1. The Old Nature’s Desires (3)

        a. For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties and abominable idolatries.

            (A)    the word which is translated Gentiles – is ethnos

                 (1)    which simply means nations or peoples in a racial sense

                 (2)    which was used by the Jews to refer to anyone not a Jew

                 (3)    and therefore who was heathen, a pagan

            (B)    and it is used in that sense in this letter (as in much of the NT)

                 (1)    not as pagan in contrast to the Jews

                 (2)    but rather in contrast to those who follow Jesus Christ

        b. you have no doubt observed

            (A)    that every child is born a savage & has to be civilised

            (B)    so, every one of us was born a pagan, needing salvation

        c. now, the list of evil desires that are part of that pagan nature

            (A)    are not necessarily indulged in by every unbeliever

            (B)    mere civilisation – external training – may dampen their fire

            (C)   but the point is that though these things be submerged in many men and women without Christ, yet they underlie their actions

        d. the one who is not in Christ has their actions governed by self-centred, rather than God-centred, desires

        e. so what is the result when Christ enters your life & transforms it


    2. The Old Friends’ Reaction (4)

        a. And in all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excess of dissipation, and they malign you;

        b. this is what the pilgrim – the sojourner in this world – finds

            (A)    there were activities – and those mentioned in the preceding verse are those of a social nature, done with others, and generally not of an admirable quality – which the Christian no longer desires

            (B)    they are no longer enjoyable; many are even guilt-ridden

        c. this transformation in the believer’s life causes reaction

            (A)    the fault must be in the Christian – for what is wrong with the enjoying of yourself in this way

            (B)    but the change in the Christian is an implied criticism of these actions and of those who do them

            (C)   which does not go over well with these former friends

        d. so, their natural response is ‘they blaspheme, they speak evil, malign’

            (A)    the word ‘you’ is not in the original language

            (B)    and in fact, the speaking of evil, goes beyond personal affront

            (C)   to malign our faith, our fellowship, our Lord; and so, a warning …


D. Judgement Is Coming (verses 5-6)

    1. All Held Accountable (5)

        a. but they shall give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

            (A)    the Lord Jesus, in various parables, taught that God can be made light of for only a season – a day of reckoning is coming

            (B)    and the results of that judgement are final

                 (1)    on the one hand, the redeemed are invited to enter into the joy of their master

                 (2)    and on the other, ‘there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth’

                 (3)    at this God’s court, there is no further appeal

                 (4)    “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,” (Hebrews 9:27)

        b. the living and the dead

            (A)    but when Christ returns, there will be a general resurrection

            (B)    so that all men – those then living, and those raised – will have to give an account of their deeds while alive

            (C)   with only those who are in Christ being delivered from the sentence to punishment which we all deserve

        c. ready does not mean that it is on the verge, about to happen

            (A)    although, indeed, it could take place at any instant

            (B)    but God, in His forbearance and patience, delays the return of our Lord Jesus Christ & this judgement, so men may repent

        d. He is ready to judge because everything preparatory to that judgement has been carried out

            (A)    as Romans chapters one to three demonstrate, God’s righteous requirements have been made known to mankind

            (B)    the solution to man’s sin has been accomplished at the cross

            (C)   the truth of this has been published to mankind

            (D)   Paul says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have; ’their voice has gone out into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.’” (Romans 10:17-18 (Ps 19:4))


    2. The Gospel Remedy (6)

        a. For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.

            (A)    literally ‘on the one hand according to men in the flesh ... on the other hand according to God in the spirit’

            (B)    a sharp contrast between man’s and God’s assessment

        b. here Peter, like Paul does in 1 Thessalonians chapters 4 and 5

            (A)    gives comfort to believers as they face the possibility of suffering, particularly suffering in the extreme, that unto death

            (B)    the Christians of that day were being judicially punished

                 (1)    they were rejected by the Jews – which was a recognized and allowed religion

                 (2)    they didn’t follow the idolatries of the pagans round about

                 (3)    they did not have any visible gods

                 (4)    so they were accused of atheism; and all kinds of aspersions cast upon their meetings together

            (C)   The Gospel is the solution

                 (1)     they were dying for their faith (as are countless numbers today of the persecuted church in many lands) being misjudged according to man’s ideas

                 (2)    but, they have heard the gospel

                 (3)    even those who have died for this reason

                 (4)    and in it, they have life

        c. but ‘though being dead they still were living’

            (A)    being alive in their spirit

            (B)    just as were Abraham, Isaac & Jacob in the day of Christ, as he pointed out to the Sadducees in Matthew 22:31-32, & elsewhere

            (C)   so then, we as Christian pilgrims are not to be despondent when we suffer for Christ, even to the point of death, because all of our future – its eternal bliss – has already been sealed at the cross.


E. Conclusion

    1. Carry On Pilgrim!

        a. yes, we are strangers in this world

        b. and often strange to those of the world ... even old companions

        c. but the Bible encourages us in this life as we head to the next

        d. so that we confidently say, ‘the lord is my helper, i will not be afraid. what shall man do to me?’ (Hebrews 13:6)

        e. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)