Gear Up for Battle! (1 Pet 4:1-3)

Sunday, March 20th, 2011
Sermon Series: 1 Peter

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Gear Up For Battle

1 Peter 4:1-3

When US Marines go into battle, they are armed with anywhere from 97 to 135 lbs. of combat gear, including protective gear, weapons, ammunition, food, water, and communication gear.  They wear ballistic vests, combat helmets, sometimes chemical, biological, or nuclear defense gear.  These guys are armed to the teeth for just about any situation they may find themselves in.  These Marines are armed to protect themselves so that they might fulfill the mission they’ve been given.  And as Christians, Peter now teaches us we should be armed with a Christ-like Gospel mindset that we might fulfill our purpose–to willingly suffer for Christ because Christ suffered for us.

Open your Bibles to 1 Peter chapter 4:1 to 3 as Peter calls us to be armed with the right mentality and ready to suffer in order to win.  “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, 2 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. 3 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, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries.”

In these verses and the three that follow, Peter calls you believers to be willing to face persecution for being a Christ-follower, and to be willing to face martyrdom for Christ if called upon.  Which raises the most expensive question of all–are you willing to suffer for Christ?  How about to die for Christ–because God is calling us in these first three verses to be strong, resolved and unwavering like a soldier must be when facing battle.  Peter wants you armed and ready for battle–a battle that might lead to your death.  Peter wants you to have a “be ready to lay down your life” mentality for Christ.

No preacher or church has the right to make the Bible say what they want it to say.  We are called by God to work hard to determine what the author intended to say to the original audience.  With that in mind, the Greek language tells us Peter is emphasizing one key verb in verses 1 to 6, and it is found in verse 1–can you guess what it is?  Sure, “arm yourselves”.  It is a command–the only command in verses 1 to 6, and literally means to arm yourself with weapons, or to put on armor, which is why I titled this passage, “gear up for battle.”  God is commanding His followers to prepare for a serious war.

Peter just finished telling his readers that Christ was willing to suffer and even die to accomplish God’s will, and now Peter says, “You believers, gear up for the same.”  Remember in the previous verses, Peter just described believers as being immersed, or baptized, in Christ–Spirit baptized (dry baptism, in union with Christ–in His death for sin, burial, proclamation, resurrection to new life, ascension, subjugation of all enemies and complete glorification).  Since Jesus defeated death and sin, we who are now immersed in Him have also defeated death and sin, and are risen to a totally new life with Christ now and forever in glory.  So since Christ was victorious over sin and death, Peter now commands His readers in chapter 4 verse 1 to . . .

#1  Gear Up–adopt the same frame of mind as Christ

Reading verse 1, Peter says, “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.”  Peter starts with “therefore”–pointing back to verses 18 to 22 where Christ died, the just for the unjust.  Christ was victorious over sin, its condemning power, over the forces of hell and over the power of death.  The cross is proof that you can suffer and die but be blessed and experience joy.  Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”  Gain is a banking term, it’s in the bank.

So Peter reminds us in verse 1 with this next phrase, “since Christ has suffered in the flesh.”  When Christ suffered in the flesh, He died.  Christ is 100% God and 100% Man in one person, without confusion.  As perfect man, His death paid the wages of sin and He experienced the hell of separation and torment you deserved for your sins.  Jesus took all of God’s wrath for your sin upon Himself.  It was so horrible that in anticipation, Christ actually sweat drops of blood.

Yet as perfect God, Christ’s substitutionary death was acceptable to the Father and now Christ becomes the only door to heaven–the only path to pleasing God, the only way to be forgiven and the only person to trust for salvation.  We deserved to be cursed by God for our sin, but God cursed His own Son on our behalf.  Galatians 3:13 says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.’”

I used to clean bathrooms at the largest Christian camp in California–Hume Lake, an amazingly wonderful place.  It was a season in my life where I learned to serve when it wasn’t pleasant, and to give to others when you were resisted.  It was also a season when I experienced some very gross things.  It was the first time I determined to clean those restrooms as if Jesus Christ Himself were going to use them, and every day I would clean them, but then always go beyond the expectations of my authorities and polish them, shine them, wipe them down in places no one but Christ would know about.  This did make a difference with a lot of students–they actually noticed, even said complimentary things to me and others.  But there were times when it was so gross I would gag.  I was dealing with human waste and people’s sickness, even walking in it.  Most of the details are inappropriate here, and even though I have a strong stomach, I have to tell you that if I linger too long over my memories, I start to feel sick as I did back then.

The reason I share that with you is pointed.  Have you ever felt the evil and ugliness of sin, where your sin or a sin against you made you sick?  Maybe what you said to someone you love, like a spouse or child or parent or friend, or what you did when no one was around, or how you thought about someone else?  Then you were grossed out because you saw just how ugly and sick sin really is–like being covered in human waste.

Christ felt the full force of sin’s evil upon Himself.  Perfect holiness wore your sinful ugliness.  Perfect righteousness was made to taste the sickness of your sin.  The completely Just One died for the grossly unjust.  He did that for you, but in doing so He gained salvation for His children and for Himself–Christ gained everlasting honor and the praise of all who will live in heaven.

Christ suffered for the evil of sin, the punishment for sin, bore the weight of sin and took the judgment for sin, experienced God’s hatred for your sin, so that you didn’t have to–Peter says in verse 1, “Christ suffered in the flesh.”  Because of the sacrifice made for you by Christ for your sin, as you live on this sinful planet and face the anger of sinful men, Peter commands you to verse 1, “Arm yourselves also with the same purpose.”  Equip yourself with the right weapons.  Load your clip and put your gun in your holster.  Put a bullet in the breach and shoulder your rifle.  Slip on your combat vest and clip some hand grenades.

Peter uses a command tense (aorist) that communicates resolution and determination, and a voice (middle) that calls you to be responsible for gearing up.  Don’t miss that–resolution, determination and responsibility.  When you get hit for being a Christian, you’re to be focused, alert, no fear–in other words, be ready.  God commands you to buckle up, load your weapon and be determined to use it.  What is your primary weapon?

Verse 1 continues with arm yourselves, also with the same purpose.  Peter says, embrace the same purpose, literally have the same attitude Jesus Christ had when He faced suffering and death.  The word purpose is attitude, thought, principle–the idea is to have the same mind as Christ had concerning suffering and death.  Peter makes it personal in the Greek–see the word also–it is literally you also.  Peter is directing this pointedly to his readers and to us.  You also arm yourselves with this purpose.

Have the same thinking–the Greek word purpose originally meant the act of thinking, but came to describe a realization, an insight and a disposition.  Our primary weapon to put in our holster is a settled disposition, a certain realization that will direct our behavior.  Simply, our weapon to arm ourselves with in suffering, even as we face potential death for our faith is to have a predetermined response.  Peter says put on your game face–you’re going in with a mentality to accomplish a Christ-centered win.

Peter is commanding those believers who are experiencing some suffering and persecution merely for being a Christian to embrace a purpose–the same purpose Christ had.  Get this now–a willingness to die to put an end to sin.  When Christ died, he conquered sin, satisfied the wages of sin, put an end to sin, not for Himself, but for us.  When we are in Christ, then we die to sin’s penalty and power, and when we physically die now being in Christ, we die to sin’s presence.  And Peter says suffer and die for the same purpose.

Being in Christ, you put an end to the penalty of sin.  Being in Christ as you live, you can kill the power of sin in your life.  And being in Christ when you die for your faith–you’ll be forever free from the presence of sin forever.  That is what Peter means by the next phrase in verse 1, “arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.”

Now before you miss the point, as Peter is writing to these persecuted Christians and now us today, he is asking a very pointed question–are you today willing to die for your faith?  Right now, ready this moment–if not, you’d better find out why?

Verse 1 says Christ suffered and died in the flesh to destroy sin–now you arm yourselves with the same purpose, to suffer and die in this body to see sin be defeated in your life and in your death.  Peter would be faithful to the death, and he now tells his readers to do the same.  Being prepared to die for your faith is not radical Christianity, but normal Christianity.  We don’t think about it much since we are not persecuted nor threatened for our faith.

We are not in danger of being killed for our faith, we are in danger of being bored in our faith, falling asleep in our faith, and becoming indifferent in our faith because we are so comfortable and safe in our faith.  We have a different war, but we still need to put on our game face because . . .

First  Commanding Christians to be ready to die for Christ is normal

Asking you to be prepared for martyrdom is not new–Jesus taught in Matthew 10:38 to 39, “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”  Taking up your cross is not a life of living intentional burdens or living a life of super dedication, or walking around carrying a wooden cross and all the other silly ideas floating around.  When Jesus said to His listeners to take up their cross, they knew it meant to confess Christ as Lord no matter what.  Caesar is not God and Caesar is not Lord, only Christ is Lord.  And if that confession meant your death, then arm yourself, be prepared, put on your game face and go forward ready to die.

How do you define “a good Christian”?  I hear funny things . . . “They’re not good Christians cause they drink wine” . . . “Good Christians don’t watch TV or play sports or play games.”  No!  First there is no such thing as a GOOD Christian.  The very fact you are a genuine Christian means you’ve admitted that you are a horrific sinner who deserves hell and received grace.  Then someone who is a genuine Christian is one who lives for Christ daily, and see’s dying for Christ as gain!  Good!  They are willing to die because they have armed themselves with the same purpose Jesus had–to kill sin’s power and do God’s will, no matter what.  The cross precedes the crown–righteous suffering precedes reward.

Second  Christ modeled the ultimate sacrifice for all His children

Jesus is the pace car in this life–who crossed the finish line first over sin and death?  After He died, verse 18, rose from the dead, verse 21, He had a glorified body that was free from the sinful powers, demons and evil men to which he had exposed Himself during His life as the God Man.  Once we are in Christ, then we begin to experience what Christ experienced–if we die we cease to sin, and if we live we die to sin.  In fact, Peter is telling his readers and us . . .

#2  Go For It–live as one who is transformed

Peter makes an interesting statement at the end of verse 1–he says, “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.”  As Peter says this, he is telling us what it is like to live a new life in Christ, to be genuinely transformed.  How are we transformed?  Peter says our new life is different in four unique ways.

First  You no longer serve sin as your master

Peter communicates this truth in the last phrase of verse 1, “because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.”  The reason you are to arm yourselves with the same mind as Christ is this–Jesus suffered and died, and as a result killed sin and death’s power.  So Peter says, you who are in Christ have also seen sin’s power killed now and permanently removed if you die.

God’s Word teaches us Christ never sinned, but He defeated sin through His death.  Christians never stop from sin, but in Christ you find victory over its power through your union with Christ.  Romans 6:5 to 7 says the same thing, “For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin.”

So Peter says in verse 1, “Arm yourself with the same purpose”–accept the mindset that Christ had in being willing to suffer for righteousness and to die to sin.  Pick up the right weapons and carry around the right tools.  My biggest fear in home repair is not having the right tool–not only having to go back to the garage to look for the right tool, but having to drive to Home Depot or Lowe’s.

Peter says be ready, be armed, put on the right tool, which is to be ready to die to sin now or to be ready to die for your faith and be free from sin forever.  Stand firm with the same mind as Christ, who was willing to die in order to kill sin.  And now that we’re in Christ, we have died to sin’s penalty and power.  And if we physically die, we will actually die to sin’s presence.  This is what Peter is trying to say in verse 1, “because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.”  This phrase is not easy to understand, and it’s interpreted differently by good Bible teachers. So let me attempt to help you get what Peter meant.

ONE: In the previous context Spirit baptism is described–Spirit baptism is our dying with Christ and rising to a totally new life.  This baptism is a dry baptism, not with water but with the Spirit, and it results in the dying of our old selves, dying to sin’s penalty and dying to sin’s power in our lives, and rising to a new life.

Romans 6:3 to 4 describes it this way, “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”  Peter’s point is since we are in Christ, and we’ve died with Christ, and risen with Christ–since Christ killed sin’s penalty and power, we too have died to sin’s penalty and power.  The ceasing from sin in verse 1 is a reference to our identification with Christ, who killed sin’s penalty and power.

TWO:  Notice at the beginning of verse 1, Christ has suffered “in the flesh”–then at the end of verse 1, who suffered “in the flesh” has ceased from sin and in verse 2, so as to live the rest of the time “in the flesh”.  The ceasing from sin is talking about life in this flesh, life in this body, here on this hostile planet, in these temporary bodies.  Peter is not addressing heavenly realities but earthly living.

THREE:  Jesus never sinned and Jesus could not sin–Jesus killed sin’s power and penalty, conquered sin, and paid the price for sin.  So “ceased from sin” is not talking about Christ ceasing from sin since Christ never sinned, but is describing our relationship to sin.

FOUR:  The verb ceased (perfect tense) with sin means finished in the past, with present abiding results.  Ceased is a past action which has consequences for today.  That is describing our new spiritual state–believers in Christ died to sin.  Like a spiritual baptism, we died with Him, and in doing so we now are risen free from sin’s power and penalty.

FIVE:  The context clearly tells us what Peter is describing when he says those who have suffered have ceased from sin.  It means we are no longer to live enslaved to sin, no longer defiant in our sin, no longer forced to live like others who normally sin and do what they want over what God wants.  Peter makes that clear in verse 2, “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.”  Peter is not telling us we no longer sin, but He is telling us that we don’t have to, we don’t have to live like we used to–we are no longer enslaved to our strong desires, but we can actually live God’s will, do what God wants, and follow His Word . . . never perfectly, but we can put sin to death and live the truth.

Peter doesn’t at all mean that we don’t sin, but we no longer are dominated by sin.  Our lives are no longer controlled by the power of sin.  One commentator says, “It need not mean that he no longer commits any act of sin, but that his old life, which was dominated by the power of sin, has been terminated.”  Christians have died with Christ and therefore died to sin.  Our lives are not to be dominated by intentional sin.  Christians no longer pursue sin as a way of life.  Christians no longer are slaves of sin.  Christians are no longer under sin’s penalty and power, and our physical death will actually serve to free us from the presence of sin forever.

Okay, some of Peter’s original audience is suffering and a few are dying.  Now consider what that means–the worst that can happen to a believer who is suffering unjustly is death.  But that is actually the best thing that can happen to them, because it means the final and forever end of sin for them.  If you are armed with the goal of being delivered from sin, and that is accomplished through death, then what is there to fear?

Christians who are armed with no fear of death, and their actual physical death now means a deliverance from sin forever can stand against any threat, persecution, torture or death.  Ceased from sin is telling us Christ’s suffering and death has brought about the removal of sin’s penalty and power, and if death occurs, it leads to the removal of sin’s presence forever.  So though Christians may fear the door of death, no true believer fears the place death’s door opens to us–just as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:54 to 57, “But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

We no longer have to serve sin as our master–we are free from its penalty and power.  We died with Christ, so we are dead to sin.  Peter says arm yourself with the truth that if you suffer to the point of death, you are free from sin forever.  Peter adds that our transformed life includes . . .

Second  You don’t have to spend your days overcome by your desires like you once did

Read verse 2, “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.”  How many of you are sick of your sin and one day hope to be free of it forever, never having to sin again?  Every true Christian hopes to cease from sin one day in heaven.  But salvation from sin’s penalty and power also has some strong implications for now, for today, for living.

Christian, since you are headed for absolute holiness in eternity to come—“you now are to live” is a reference to life on earth now in verse 2.  “Live the rest of the time” is describing the remaining time God gives you here on earth–now live in pursuit of the holiness you’ll one day fully enjoy in heaven.  Peter says you don’t have much time on earth–don’t waste it.  Peter says, right now you can enjoy a growing taste of what you will fully eat in eternity–the perfect joy of holiness.

But Peter is more descriptive than that–the phrase in verse 2, “to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer.”  That’s telling you to recall what you used to be as a non-Christian.  God is encouraging you to remember what you used to be like.  Peter is making a contrast with how you used to sin.  Verse 2 is saying, don’t forget you used to be a slave to sin, bound to sin, grossed out in sin, defeated by sin, unable not to sin.  Don’t ever forget what you once were as a non-Christian.

Peter says, you are no longer the same–God wants you not to forget what you once were.  Titus 3:3 says, “For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.”  First Corinthians 6:9 to 11, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

You and I used to be given to sin–we wasted our lives away with sin, we dreamt about sinning, planned to sin, pursued sin and were enslaved to sin.  Do you remember what that was like?  Do not forget it, so you don’t waste another day living that way.  Verse 2 says, “to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer.”  The memory of your past enslavement, the memory of what sin did to you, the memory of the hurt you experienced and the hurt you caused because of your sin is to motivate you–how?

Peter is challenging us to redeem the time.  You used to sin all the time, you had no other choice.  Now, no longer waste your life in selfish rebellion doing what you want and following your feelings.  Some of you in this room wasted ten years, twenty, thirty, forty or more living enslaved to sin, pursuing your desires which were shallow, empty, tragic and useless to anyone.  I wasted eighteen years without Christ.  Peter says do not waste another single moment.  Give yourself to that pursuit no longer.  Do not waste another day living the way you used to when you didn’t have Christ.  Don’t squander another day, desiring what the lost want, or doing what the world says feels right—“no longer for the lusts of men” (verse 2).

Peter says in verse 2, your life as a Christian is no longer enslaved to sin, you’re no longer a slave to your lusts–your strong desires, “no longer for the lusts of men.”  Lust means strong desire, and that is how people live.  Animals live by instinct, people live by feelings and Christians live by truth.  Every genuine Christian in this room used to be a slave to sin, and unable to be free from the control of our desires, our lusts.

But now that we have died with Christ and Christ killed sin’s penalty and power, we have been not only freed from sin’s penalty, but also its power.  We do not have to give in to strong desires.  We do not have to continue in sin.  You don’t have to do what everyone else says to do.  You can say no. You can turn away from lust, adultery, lying, stealing, gossip, and slander.  You can stop runnin’ with a bad crowd, you can turn away from so-called Christians who sin with their tongues.  What are we supposed to do with those strong desires?

Flee and Pursue–2 Timothy 2:22, “Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”  Depend on Christ to run away from strong sinful desires, and depend on Christ to pursue loving others and doing right.

Put on Christ and Make no Provision–Romans 13:14, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”  Depend on God’s Spirit to act like Christ, and depend on God’s Spirit to not give your desires an opportunity–don’t go alone with your boyfriend where it is dark, don’t drive by the donut shop when you’re dieting, don’t hang with the crowd that wants to do bad–don’t give sin an opportunity.  Don’t fuel the fire.  To be armed for victory in this life, you have to hate sin, and . . .

Third You now live for the will of God

Read verse 2 again, “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.”  Peter is making a strong contrast–but for the will of God.  Don’t live by emotions, live by truth.  Don’t live for what you want, but live for what God wants.  Don’t live for your desires, but live for God’s desires.  He is all-knowing and all-wise–He knows better than you.  Live for His will.

All sin is disobedience to the will of God, and in that sense all sin is a personal act of rebellion by believers against God.  True believers don’t live in outward, defiant disobedience as a way of life.  In the end, everyone who does not obey God’s will as a way of life will be condemned, and even those who think they were obedient but were not, will also be condemned–Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.”

Believers, you are to arm yourselves with a commitment to do the will of God and abandon former sins and desires opposed to God’s Word.  To live by the lusts of men is to get up every day and be controlled by various cravings and emotions that characterize all lost people on the planet.  But Peter uses a strong contrast for the next phrase–but for the will of God.

In contrast to how the people of this planet live, those who have suffered and died with Christ will live by God’s law, God’s rule and follow Christ’s example—God’s will, what our heavenly Father wants for His chosen children.  God’s will is God’s Word.  Do you want to know what God’s will is for you?  Just read the Bible.  Follow His Word–that’s His will.  If God’s Word does not directly address the issue you need an answer to, then depend on God’s Spirit and obey God’s written Word in dependent faith and He will lead you to His will.

In verse 2, the word “lusts” is plural, but God’s will is singular.  Trying to please our desires means we will have many masters, but pleasing God means we will have only one master.  People-pleasers have many masters, but God-pleasers have only one master–the choice is clear.  Those who follow God’s will over their own desires or over the desires of others are much happier people.  This is the battle that each of you faces every day.  Will I listen to my own emotions and follow my own desires, or will I obey God’s Word and follow His will?

Tomorrow, will you live by fear or live by faith?  Will you choose to panic or trust?  Will you wallow under being a victim or depend on the victor?  Will you continue to resent or will you choose to forgive?  Go for it–set your heart, arm yourself with the right mentality.  Sin is no longer your master, you are free from your old desires, you can now live for the will of God and finally . . .

Fourth You have closed the book on godless living

Read verse 3, “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, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries.”  Peter says, you have spent enough time already doing those things that oppose God’s will and violate God’s character.  Peter reminds his readers what they used to be to goad them to pursue obedience because they used to pursue disobedience.

The apostle spells out their past sins, stirring up their disdain for how they used to live, to motivate them to continue to turn from sin and pursue Christ, even if it means suffering and death.  The memory of their past conduct serves as a motivation to obey.  Remember how you used to live–how your sin made you sick and filled you with grief and guilt.  Then don’t go there anymore.

Read verse 3a again, “For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles.”  You have had enough time to do really bad, really gross, really painful, really terrible, really demeaning, really hateful things.  You were like the lost people (Gentile pagans) around you who lived for their own desires, to satisfy only self, to defy their Creator who made them, and live in insolent pride–you had enough of that.

You remember the old habits, old practices, old associations, old places of amusement, evil motives and wicked past times.  Peter says, that’s all a part of the past for you believers now.  In fact, Peter is pointing out that the suffering you experienced for following your feelings and sinning in the past was far greater than the suffering you may be experiencing for following the truth and honoring God’s will in the present time.

How did they live?  Verse 3 says, “having pursued a course.”  Literally, every day was a journey to eagerly travel from sin to sin.  Pursuing a course is to take a trip in order to be able to sin.  How did they live?  Peter reminds them of six great sins they were known for–sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries.  Peter is now purposely giving us a dark picture of the pagan world of his day.  It is not intended to be a complete list, but representative of the worst evils of His day–each one is in the plural, meaning there are many different forms of each kind going on then and now.

SENSUALITY–literally excesses, usually in reference to moral impurity to the extreme, any and every act violating public decency:  pornography, sexual movies, acts of immorality and fantasies

LUSTS–depraved cravings, wishes and inner vicious desires of the fallen human nature that drive people to excess; their feelings are never satisfied, so they always long for more

DRUNKENNESS–eating is not a sin but gluttony is, drinking is not a sin but drunkenness is. The word comes from Greek words for wine and overflow, meaning to be soaked in liquor.  Used in false worship, and used to dull the pain of an empty life

CAROUSING–means private, public or even religious gatherings of merrymaking to honor a false god with overeating, overdrinking, then taking to the streets in a Mardi gras degrading excess

DRINKING PARTIES–used only here in the New Testament, Peter is describing drinking that ends up in an orgy of excess

ABOMINABLE IDOLATRIES–are wicked actions that are carried out in the name of a god or a religious festival.  Totally made lawful by the land, but a total violation of God’s character, Christians were not to participate in worship that involved anything opposed to God’s Word.  No temple prostitutes, sex or drunkenness as an act of worship, no parties given to false gods, nor celebrations worshipping Caesar.

Christian, you’re to be armed against such behavior.  God’s will is only found in the Bible.  If the cross of Christ is really embraced, then you and I can gear up and go for it.  You can live differently–it is possible to leave the destructive, sinful living that used to be a part of your lives and now follow God’s will found in God’s Word.

What is so liberating about your relationship to Christ is that He fills the void in your life which you once tried to fill with all that garbage.  With the void filled, the gnawing emptiness that went with it is gone too.  And with the emptiness gone, you no longer crave the things you used to crave.  That is where Christians are different from the world.  That is where we stand out.  That is where the light shines in the darkness.  So how will the lost react to us?  Peter tells us in verses 4 to 6–look there now.  Yet to embrace it’s truths you will have to come back next week.

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ABOUT THIS PREACHER

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.
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