Summary: Just as it was His will for Christ to suffer for doing good, it is sometimes His will for His children to suffer for doing good. We need to be prepared for the suffering that comes into our life so that we might grow in the grace God grants His suffering
1 PETER 4: 1-6 [Renewing Hope Series]
ARMED AGAINST SUFFERING
Peter’s helpful and encouraging teaching on the subject of suffering continues in chapter 4. We have been learning to hope and trust in our Lord, even in unjust suffering. Hope keeps us faithful and growing during suffering. We have the certain hope that ultimate victory lies just ahead so we continue to trust in Jesus Christ our Lord!
Suffering does not take place in a void nor does it take place without purpose in the life of a believer. We have the confidence that all things work together in our lives for good if we are trusting in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:28). And we know that if we trust in the Lord with all of our heart and lean not upon our own understanding, but instead, if we acknowledge the Lord in all our ways, He has promised to direct our steps (Prov. 3:5–6).
Sometimes our Lord allows suffering to come into our lives. Just as it was His will for Christ to suffer for doing good, it is sometimes His will for His children to suffer for doing good also (1 Pet. 3:17). We need to be prepared for and arm against the suffering that comes into our life so that we might grow in the grace God grants His suffering children (CIT).
The third chapter concluded by sharing some benefits which come to us as we suffer for doing good. In the opening verses of chapter 4 some additional benefits of suffering for Christ are identified. [Cedar, Paul. The Preacher's Commentary Series, Vol. 34 : James / 1 & 2 Peter / Jude. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. 1984, S. 172]
I. ADDITIONAL BENEFITS OF SUFFERING, 1-3.
II. SO GREAT A SALVATION, 4-6.
Suffering for Christ brings transformation. We find in verse 1 the first benefit of suffering which is that it helps us turn away from sin. “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,”
The Greek word [aor mid imper of hoplizô, only NT use] translated “arm yourself” was used for a soldier putting on his armor and taking his weapon. Christians are to arm themselves with the strength that Christ gives so that we can withstand the attacks by the enemy of our soul. With the same determination and care with which a soldier puts on his armor, Christians are to adopt Christ’s courageous purpose or mind-set (ennoian, lit. “thought” Heb. 4:12), an unswerving resolve to do God’s will, even if it should lead to suffering.
For if we suffer with Christ, we will find that we have been blessed with Christ. The cross always precedes the crown. [“The greater the suffering the greater the reward” MacArthur, John. New Testament Commentary. 2004. Moody Press. p. 225.] The person who has suffered in this way is done with sin, for such painful identification with Christ breaks the hold of a sinful life. Because of Christ’s death, “we should no longer be slaves to sin, because anyone who has died has been freed from sin” (Rom. 6:6-7).
[Walvoord, John & Zuck, Roy. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL : Victor Books, 1983, S. 852]
Before Christ entered our lives, we had no power to overcome our fallen nature. When temptation came along, we yielded. We were unable to do otherwise. When the weakness of the flesh appeared, we fell into its trap. Though we may have looked strong on the outside, we had no inner stability. But when Christ took up residence in our lives, He gave us strength so that we could cease serving sin as a master. Because Christ now lives within us, we have been released from sin's control. We are no longer enslaved to sin. We've been freed! [Swindoll, Charles. Hope Again. 1996. Thomas Nelson. Nashville, TN. p. 169.]
[We all have a tendency to feel sorry for ourselves when trouble comes our way and everything seems to be going wrong. One cure for these feelings can be found in remembering what other believers have endured in their service for Christ.
Consider American missionary David Brainerd (1718-1747). He wrote, "My diet consists mostly of hasty-pudding, boiled com, and bread baked in ashes, and sometimes a little meat and butter. My lodging is a little heap of straw, laid upon some boards. . . . My work is exceedingly hard and difficult. . . . These and many other uncomfortable circumstances attend me; and yet' my spiritual conflicts and distresses so far exceed all these that I scarce think of them, but feel as if I were entertained in the most sumptuous manner."
It's helpful to consider what people like David Brainerd have endured, but it's even more helpful to r our Lord Jesus went through for us. The most effective cure for self-pity is to recall the suffering of our Savior on the cross and to think of the great joy we will experience when He returns in His glory (1 Peter 4:1,13). When you think no one has problems like yours, remember what Jesus endured.]