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  • Writer's pictureLou Hernández

09-06-24 - THEY THINK IT STRANGE - 1 Peter 4:1-16

Updated: Jun 17

MESSAGE BY PASTOR ROB INRIG

FROM BETHANY BAPTIST IN RICHMOND, BC.

Let's pray, If you are visiting the blog I invite you to pray with me, Father God hear our pray, we humble cry before as your word say "All things whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive" (Mat: 21-22) we are asking healing for our beloved members of our family and also dear friends that are suffering with illness in their lives struggling and suffering under much pain, we are asking a miracle for each one of them, you know them by name ( Gaby, Vicky, Nancy, Tere, Stevie, Les, Miguel, Socrates, Kate, Liz ) as your precious children, make their faith strong in you with a miracle in their lives oh Father God hear our pray, and also we pray for all people around the world that are suffering with devastation, hunger, pain and sorrow we ask beloved Father God to give them strengths in faith in you we now you love them so much oh Father God hear our pray, We ask in the name of Our Lord of Lords and King of Kings your beloved son Jesus Christ. AMEN!


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. 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.


The culmination and application of submission is living according to Truth. The Truth of God who created all things to live in loving and harmonious relationship with Him and that Truth being the beginning and end of all motivation, reason, and affections


Living according to Truth is to live God’s Way - perfectly exemplified by Jesus Christ, God’s Son.


We’ve been told to submit through persecution, now we’re encouraged to be prepared for suffering. No matter how we look at it, here, suffering is mentioned as a beneficial thing. Suffering isn’t something we should be doing our best to avoid.  It doesn’t always mean judgment, or that God is not loving.  We aren’t taught to pray against suffering, instead we are to pray THROUGH suffering.


To be fair, the suffering talked about in 1 Peter, especially the example of Christ’s suffering, IS something that is quite detached from us today - as Christians 2000 years later living in North America in an advanced economic society. 


Even though DC Talk sang about being called [Jesus] freaks, most of us would not identify ourselves as having suffered for BEING a Christian, which, I think, is ESPECIALLY WHY we need the message and teaching of suffering that is Christ-centered.


We are not told to go out and look for suffering - it WILL come to us in various forms. Even if it’s not overt persecution for believing in Jesus. It starts with subtle kinds of suffering for living LIKE Jesus.

 

There should be some kind of suffering that follows our faithful commitment to live in a way that SHOWS Jesus and Truth to the world.  The world that does not know, nor accepts the Truth will scoff at us. In some cases call us freaks, but at least weirdos - maybe even traitors.  They will look down on us and “slander" us as the NLT translates, which is ironic because all we are doing is living according to the Truth.  From 2000 years ago, the deniers of Truth have persecuted and even killed those who believe in Jesus.


The world’s judgement of the followers of Jesus will be held to account by God.


The sinful world may judge Christians according to their immorality. Christians may suffer and even die in their hands, but those who receive and believe the Good News and Truth of Jesus Christ live forever with God.  It is a lose-but-win situation - We never lose with Jesus.


The Bible teaches us that there is a point to suffering that is tied to our salvation by faith in Jesus Christ and the NEW LIFE we live in Jesus


Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4


Exercising or working out is HARD, PAINFUL work

A few years ago I decided I needed to get in better shape so I started running. When I told people I started running, they say things like, It must feel great! You must love it!  Actually no.


The first few weeks, I felt like I was going to die after running for 5 minutes. Even after 1 year of running and improving my fitness and stamina, it still hurts to push my body. But it took much more to hurt it now and if I wasn’t hurting, I wasn’t trying.  I was being complacent and ineffective.


It’s tempting and easy to automatically equate suffering with sin - that we suffer because of our sin which can and does happen, as a consequence - but it is not a straight, biblical equation, nor the only absolute equation. Today’s passage also teaches us the opposite - suffering aids us in overcoming sin as we live like Jesus 


Suffering humbles us, whether it’s knowingly or unknowingly. Suffering points out our limitations and helps us pace ourselves - when we need to slow down, rest , even stop or withdraw. Suffering helps us to listen to the Truth and truly understand it, so we can learn to obey it and submit to it 


This is being “perfect and complete” as it says in James 1 - “needing nothing” knowing that our being comes from our new life in Jesus.  That without Him, we have nothing and with Him, we are everything God meant us to be.

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Gal 2:20   


We suffer, die and with Jesus so that we can experience resurrection with Him - resurrection at the end of the world, but also in NEW LIFE now, to live in the spirit, the way God does as Jesus lives in us


I think Peter is teaching us that, suffering being quite connected with sin, helps us better understand the ramifications of sin and we become more resilient against sin, even when our suffering is a direct consequence of our sin.  Suffering helps us understand the truth of the sinfulness of humanity and specifically ourselves, this helps us grow in Christlikeness 


A few years ago, in a pastors meeting at the church I was serving in back in Korea, our senior pastor was talking about interviewing candidates for pastoral positions.


He said something that deeply resonated with me and I have become a principle of sorts.  If there were 2 applicants completely equal in every way, he would hire the only who has experienced hardship and suffering in their life.  The one who knows suffers understands perseverance, grace and dependence on God.  Obedience and humility 


My personal application of this that I also have been passing on is to choose the harder option. The harder option will force you to pray more, learn to depend on God because it is beyond you


Living God’s way, as shown by His son Jesus, is to live by faith, even and especially through suffering of various kinds.  To not fear suffering, to even CHOOSE the path of suffering, knowing that God IS and WILL be in control and He will never let you suffer more than you can bear and He will prove Himself TRUE.



 1 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


Arm yourself in your thinking. Notice Peter’s warning is phrased in a military term, arming yourself against the thoughts allowed in, the temptations dwelled on, the lies given home to.  He, emphasizing that battles are won or lost by the thoughts we hang onto. Typically in a war, the battleground is determined by the enemy.  The enemy scouting out the terrain; exploring areas of weakness, putting distance from where the opposition is strong. And that knowledge in hand, the enemy engages in places thought most vulnerable. 



For us that means the enemy deceiving with stimuli – to entertain, to entice - luring with attractions that this is a, ‘not to be missed’ opportunity. To glance at the forbidden, experience what’s been denied, try what’s never done. He sending invitation with large print, compelling ‘only offered now’ attractions and microscopic, small print, warnings about where those choices will lead.  Our minds bypassed by emotion that does its best to disarm and convince.    

   

And Peter’s warning, ‘arm yourself’ in your thoughts. To be clear, we don’t have much control over initial thoughts that come but we do have control over the thoughts that we feed on and give home to, that we rehearse and return to. To these Peter is saying – shut the door on the illicit that enters and scrape off the gloss that covers the lies. In short, engage your mind so it governs and rules over what unchecked emotion is calling you to believe.  


Think back to the serpent’s approach to Eve in the Garden, Has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’? ... You surely will not die!  For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. Gen 3:1,4,5 

   

Notice the serpent’s approach – 1st the planting of uncertainty – Can the words God said be relied on?  Satan’s initial, Did God say? used to throw bait into the waters, luring Eve close and then dangling an emotional, ‘too good to be true’ hook, You will be like God.  And with an emotional attraction like that, truth was up for grabs.  The lies of the serpent given greater value, greater believability, than the voice of Creator God.  

   

In the face of attractions like these that are designed to deceive and birth doubt, Peter says, Arm up!  The word for armed refers to heavy armour used of a fully outfitted soldier complete with javelin and shield. In the verb tense used, he is telling us that we need to make a decisive choice in response to an immediate and urgent need.  Grab hold of Truth and don’t let go.


His reference takes us back to 1 Pet 1:13, Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober.  As Peter writes this, he may be thinking of a runner running a race. To run freely and without hindrance, he would reach down to gather the long, dangling ends of his garments and tuck them up under his belt. With the loose ends out of the way, he could then run freely.  


But I think Peter’s primary emphasis is reserved for the battlefield because he knows what’s at stake.  He’ll come back to this battle image again in 5:8, Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

What Peter is saying is in line with what Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 regarding the armor of God.  In describing these, one item of dress is mentioned that seems small but in fact, it is critical to the soldier’s safety – the belt, more specifically, the belt of truth. Generally, who cares about the belt?  It’s hardly seen. It makes no fashion statement.  As a weapon it poses no threat.

But for the Roman soldier the belt was critical.  This thick band of leather provided back support helping him stand firm after long hours on his feet.  It held the scabbard that would house a knife or small sword required when fighting got close.  It held the breastplate in place so no opening would appear if the breastplate shifted position.  It provided a resting place to support the weight of the shield as arms grew weary. 


And in Paul’s depiction of the soldier’s battle garb, Truth holding everything firmly in place.  The Truth centering us.  And that is what Peter is telling us - gird up the loins of your mind.  Tighten your belt ON Truth so you will be able to live IN truth.  But loose or unbuckled, it serves no purpose.


Again and again we are told we live in a post truth world with its scammers, deep fakes, media spin, and ‘infallible’ internet sources. No wonder truth is questioned. But the post truth generation isn’t called that merely because of questionable sources, it’s called that because increasingly people view truth as something more fluid, more arbitrary than absolute. Truth - more choice than certainty; its relevance determined by how it impacts ‘me’.  With these definitions, the belt hasn’t been loosened, it’s been unbuckled and discarded.  We becoming the determiner of truth, like what Rob Bell said in an interview with Oprah that, he believes the evangelical church is moments away from embracing gay marriage. He continued, I think culture is already there and the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense… Bell’s assertion that his version of truth is far better than anything the God of the Bible may offer. His view more loving, more enlightened.


In a world such as this, is it any wonder Peter brings us back to the imperative to, Gird up the loins of our mind.  Get a hold on God’s Truth. He indicating that the war he is speaking to is first won or lost in the opinions we hold onto, the values that dominate our thoughts.


Based on how Peter expresses this, I don’t think he intends for us to just relegate this to a stronger hold on intellectual belief.  Notice he says, ‘the loins of our mind’. Most often the Bible uses the word loins to identify our sexual organs and it is in the sexual where what we think, consequently how we act, is being shaped and defined by what we feel, what we want, what we deserve.


Where the culture shapes our thoughts. Where desire determines beliefs and actions. Where the truth God tells us is jettisoned as so ‘yesterday’ as we convince ourselves, I’m not sure God said what He said so we can embrace a very different, a very ‘modern’, way to live.  


Is it any wonder why the standard of what is considered normal, what we are encouraged to accept, isn’t far off what Peter lists in :3?, The desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of indecent behaviour, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties, and wanton idolatries. 


That’s why we’re told, They are surprised think it strange that you do not run with them in the same excesses of debauchery and they slander you :4. The point being? it’s normal to get wasted on Friday night.  It’s normal to hook up on Saturday night while seeking a new partner the following night.  It’s normal to seek the high, want the buzz, chase the dragon.  It’s normal to determine my identity by what I feel. Forget any ‘2000 year old letters’ that tells you differently. But what’s not normal?   They think it strange when the Friday night drunk becomes the Friday night sober. They think it strange when people choose love that waits, instead of lust that takes. They think it strange when people stop living as if there is no God to Whom we will give account. They think it strange, actually evil, to hold to truth not based on what I feel.


In short, they think it strange when we don’t sleep around, stumble around, prowl around.  It’s strange, because as 2 Cor 4:4 tells us, The god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ   2 Cor 4:4.


We as Christians called to lived differently but Peter giving reminder - don’t expect accolades for being out of step with what others believe. Out of step like what Mike Delcavo experienced in a 1993 NCAA championship  cross-country race.  3 miles into the race, Delcavo realized most of the 128 runners had made a wrong turn, so he yelled out, You’re going the wrong way but few listened.  When Mike turned in the right direction, he now in the lead, only 4 followed. However, a mile later the 5 reunited with the pack who, despite going the wrong way, actually shaved 1/2 mile off the course, and were now in the lead again. And Mike’s reward for running the right course and going the right distance?  Finishing 103rd because race officials retroactively changed the course route in order to accommodate their error because so many had gone the wrong way. Not changing the result but changing the standard because so many chose a different route. 

  

And so it is with God, His reward often not experienced in the immediate but His promise? Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will received a hundredfold (cien veces) Mtth 19:29 the reward not forgotten only delayed. 


God’s pleasure on those who live to please Him, living with an ‘armed up’ attitude toward sin to prevent the wreckage it brings into our lives. God saying to us as to Cain, Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you but you must subdue it and be its master Gen 4:7  Paul saying, Abhor what is evil, cling to what’s good. Rom 12:9 James writing, Submit yourself to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you Ja 4:7 and Jesus telling us to pray, Deliver us from the evil one Mtt 6:13.


These and countless other verses, tell us as Christians, we are in a spiritual battle - a battle that we need to aggressively engage. As Peter makes clear, It’s battle won by being cinched tightly to God’s Truth, living in the power of His Word, enabled by His Spirit. 


Few places speak as powerfully to this as what we are told in Romans 6, Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.  Rom 6:11-12


Reckoning ourselves dead to sin requires decisiveness. Not decisiveness that we will never sin. We’re told, If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us 1 Jn 1:8 but decisiveness declaring sin is no longer our master, we are no longer under its rule. Now we live to please Christ.  In Him, forgiven, made new, made righteous, purified by Jesus’ blood.  


The ermine is a member of the weasel family known for its snow-white fur.  Its pelts were used to make robes for royalty so hunters were eager to capture them.  Because the ermine has an instinctive drive to protect its coat from being soiled, hunters would smear its home with tar.  Then they’d release their dogs to chase the ermine home but it wouldn’t enter because it didn’t want to soil its fur, even to save its life. The ermine would rather be captured and killed than compromise its virtue.  Purity more important than life itself.








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