1 Peter 4:1-19
You Can Live For God's Glory
Click here to read 1 Peter 4:1-19 NIV

This chapter, like most of Peter's first letter, is written to Believers. There is a warning in the latter part of the chapter to the unsaved, but Peter was writing mainly to Believers. Peter is telling us if we are to claim salvation and stand for Christ in this world, we will be persecuted just as Christ was.

We need to prepare ourselves for this persecution, for it will surely come in one form or another. The world persecuted Him far more severely than they will us, in most cases, but we will experience it to one degree or another.

VERSE 1. "Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.

It says "arm yourselves with the same attitude" that Christ had. We're to view the nature and consequences of sin as He did. If we do, we'll understand that when we stand against the world we will suffer as He did. The Lord said to His disciples, "Because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you... If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you" (John 15:19-20). That is a "red alert" for Believers even today.

Then Peter wrote, "he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” The believer who stands for righteousness and against sin has already made the choice. He is no longer controlled by sin, and in fact, is dead to sin in the eyes of God.

Daniel was a man who wouldn't compromise, even when he knew his enemies wanted to throw him to the lions if he continued to pray to God. He went right home, opened his window toward Jerusalem as he always did, and prayed to God in front of his enemies.

VERSE 2. "As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God."

We see something else about the Believer. The Believer doesn't have to live a worldly life as was the custom before he got saved. When your mind and lives are focused on the Lord, the human desires that tempt us most can be controlled. You can't have your mind on bad things and on the Lord at the same time.

God gave us some good advice in Phillippians 4:8 "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."

Keep your eternal destination in view. Don't be controlled by your fleshly desires. Accept the will of God, no matter what the consequences, and you will reap eternal rewards. This will bring joy and contentment into our everyday lives.

VERSE 3. "For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do--living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry."

We're warned not to forget our un-saved past. Many times a Christian thinks he is safe from sin when he gets saved, but then falls back into his old habits. Peter lists six sins which characterized the time he wrote this and they are alive and well today. [If not worse.] Sex, alcohol and false religion, impurity, drunkenness, and false gods. These show up the minute the Bible is abandoned. A case in point is the situation in our public schools since God has been legislated out of them.

VERSES 4-5. "They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you. 5. But they will have to give account to God who is ready to judge the living and the dead."

If you have friends who haven't yet gotten saved, and they did these things with you before you got saved, they are going to think it strange that you don't want to do those things anymore.

They will try to get you to join them again. It will probably be hard to break with them, but they really don't have your best interests in mind. They will drag you down into sin with them. Satan will see to it.

You'll find that your unsaved friends can't understand the change that came to you through Christ. They are surprised that the new Christians won’t "join them in the fun" anymore. They probably will make fun of you and try to shame you into joining them again.

Some of the media in our day do the same thing in maligning evangelicals who refuse to endorse homosexuality, free sex, New Age meditation in schools, and similar practices. Jesus spoke about those who “love darkness rather than light,” “For everyone who practices evil hates the light” (John 3:20).

Nonbelievers who persecute God’s people cannot escape judgment and punishment. “They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (v.5). Death does not stop or even delay the judgment. They are accountable to God in the final analysis.

VERSE 6. "For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit."

Some of the persecuted early Christians had already died. They had heard the gospel and accepted it and may even have been killed for it as many were. They were judged by evil men in this life, just as Christ was, but now in death they live "according to God in regard to the Spirit." This doesn't mean that a good life will get them to heaven, it means that they had accepted Christ as Savior and were now in heaven.

Life in the realm of the flesh is transient. Believers in heaven have entered life in the realm of the spirit which is forever. There's great encouragement in knowing a glorious future is in store.

VERSES 7-11 "The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. 8. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. 11. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen"

The “end” that Peter refers to in verse 7 is the goal of God’s purpose in salvation, beginning with the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter is thinking in terms of the history of salvation rather than the history of nations and people. He tells them that God’s plan of salvation is unfolding rapidly. The last act in the drama of redemption is about to begin.

The New Testament teaches that the coming of Christ should be in the minds of all God’s people. We are to be ready and waiting for the coming of Christ. Are you ready for His coming? The fact that nearly two thousand years have passed does not invalidate it. God’s desire to see as many saved as possible is what is holding back the return of Christ. God has established a time for the return of Christ and when that time comes He will return to take the Believer's home.

In verses 8 through 11 he encourages the Believer to live as Jesus asked us to.

Peter mentions several things that should be evident in our lives. Prayer is number one. God wants constant communication with us in prayer. Then acts of the emotions and physical acts come after prayer. In verse 8, love for the Believers is "above all things.” A loving, forgiving attitude for the mistakes of others, comes right after prayer.

Hospitality, in verse 9, is the expression of Christian love through physical acts, helping others.

Now, in verses 10 and 11, we are urged to use the talents God has given us to the betterment of other people. These gifts cover a variety of things such as encouraging those in trouble, helping some financially if you are able, comforting words to the sick or bereaved, ministry through music, preaching the gospel to the un-saved. Believers have many gifts to share.

Genuine love for our fellow man, like the love demonstrated to us by Jesus, is to be used to show others the love He gives us. That is the mark of a true Christian.

Where love is genuine, the failings and weaknesses of others are overlooked and forgiven. Love looks for the best in every situation. Without love every act and word is open to the worst interpretation because of suspicion and misunderstanding.

Freely given hospitality is a physical expression of Christian love. Christian hospitality is a needed emphasis in the modern age. Hospitality to others is kindness to the Lord Himself (Matthew 25:40).

To summarize verses 8-11, in verse 8 we are commanded to love one another. In verse 9 to be hospitable to one another. In verse 10 it is to serve one another. Note that each of us has received one or more gifts. The gifts may be spiritual gifts given by the Spirit, or they may be natural gifts used as directed by the Spirit. Both kinds of gifts are to be employed in serving others, not ourselves. And verse 11 tells us that this is all to contribute to the glory of God.

VERSES 12. "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you."

In these verses, Peter again tells us to expect persecution. He simply tells us to rejoice that we are considered by God to be worthy to experience some of the same sufferings inflicted on our Savior by un-believing men when He was here on earth. If we suffer and don't complain, it shows the world a little of the glory of Christ. It's further proof of our faith that the best is yet to come for the Believer.

VERSE 13: "But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed."

We should not expect to be treated better than the Lord was if we boldly stand up for Him. The world still hates the Lord Jesus Christ and will persecute those who are fully committed to Him. But when we share His sufferings in this way we can rejoice, realizing that it is a privilege and an honor. It is a privilege now, and when His glory is ultimately revealed, it will be an honor.

VERSES 14-16. "If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name."

If you suffer insults because you are a Believer, you are blessed. Those who insult you recognize that you have something they don't have.

If you suffer because you are a Christian, don't be ashamed. But, don't do something wrong that causes you to suffer. A Christian who does wrong is an embarrassment to God.

Suffering for the name of Christ is more blessing than hardship. The blessing is that the “Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (v.14). Believers who suffer for His name will be blessed in a special way with the Holy Spirit's fullness and presence in their lives.

If a believer is guilty of sin and suffers for it, there is no glory to God in that. The Holy Spirit of God dwells in the Believer, and no matter where you go or what you do, you take the Spirit of God along with you.

VERSES 17-18. "For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18. And, If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?"

The time referred to here is the dispensation of the church age, from Pentecost to the Rapture, and that is the present time.

If God allows judgment on His own children, how much more will He judge those who have disobeyed Him and have followed Satan?

Peter contrasts the suffering of God's people in this life with the sufferings of the un-saved in eternity. Believers are experiencing their sufferings now, just as Christ did when He was on earth. The un-saved will suffer in hell for eternity, however, the Believer will spend eternity in heaven.

In verse 18, the righteous referred to are those who are already saved. You can't be righteous first and then be saved. God has said, "There is none righteous, no not one" Romans 3:10. Salvation makes you righteous in God's eyes.

Most of us had ample opportunity to die and go to hell before we were convicted of our sins and got saved. "It was hard for those who have become righteous to get that way." It took the death of Jesus on the cross to provide a way, and that was hard. Then it takes our admission that we are sinners and need redemption, and it's hard to admit we are sinners.

For some it's so hard that they never will admit it. "What will become of the ungodly?" Those who refuse God's offer will suffer the torments of hell for eternity, no exceptions.

VERSE 19. "So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good."

People who have really suffered know what it is to commit themselves to God. The apostle Paul suffered much for his commitment to God. He spoke of this when he wrote "I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day." 2 Timothy 1:12.

God had committed the gospel to Paul and I think Paul is saying "I have committed everything that was mine on this earth and everything I am to God and the furtherance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Everything I looked on as gain I have given to the Lord and my loss of that I now count as gain."

Philippians 3: 7-8 "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things."

Suffering according to God’s will includes sufferings that result from faithful witnessing and Christian living. It does not include unwise acts or the “martyr complex.” Believers who are suffering are to turn themselves over to the care of God. This puts our temporary suffering in this life into proper perspective.

In this chapter we have seen three wonderful keys to help us in times of suffering for Christ. They are (1) God’s will, (2) God’s glory, and (3) God’s purpose.

Have you ever made a commitment of your soul to God? Are you saved and are you sure of it? You can know you are saved. God has made it very plain, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved." Acts 16:31.