Summary: It seems that in the first half of chapter four Peter is talking about the attitudes the believer should have in the midst of those occasional times of suffering.
Attitudes in Times of Suffering (Part 2)
Preached by Pastor Tony Miano
at Lake Hills Community Church
Introduction: Last week we looked at some of the attitudes we should have in times of suffering, specifically, on those occasions when we suffer for doing good. We looked at the possibility that some of our hardships, which we might consider times of suffering, might actually be times of testing allowed by God to produce endurance in our faith. The way we look at suffering was challenged when Peter wrote that suffering in the life of the believer who is doing the right thing for Christ is only a possibility. It is not inevitable.
This morning we’re going to continue to look at our attitudes in times of suffering. Turn with me to 1 Peter 4 and let’s read verses 1-11. Let’s pray.
Hopefully some of you were encouraged last week when you heard that suffering is not inevitable if you make a stand for Christ. But what if you are being persecuted for your faith?
It appears that the attitudes, which Peter talked about in the second half of chapter three, dealt primarily with those which helped the believer prepare for times of suffering. It seems that in the first half of chapter four Peter is talking about the attitudes the believer should have in the midst of those occasional times of suffering. So let’s dig in.
Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, (v. 1a).
The word “therefore” connects what Peter is saying with verse eighteen of chapter three. Let’s look at the two verses together (read verses). Peter is about to explain the main lesson he wants his readers to learn. It is the fact that Christ suffered for us. “Suffered in the flesh” can literally be translated “suffered death.”
Since Christ suffered for us, just as He suffered for those persecuted Christians to whom Peter wrote this letter, there are certain things we should do and certain attitudes we should have if we are faced with suffering. The wording of this first phrase tells us that Peter chose words that would cause his readers to be moved to action.
arm yourselves also with the same purpose, (v. 1b).
The first course of action Peter commands the reader to take is to arm himself. The verb used here for “arm” is used nowhere else in the New Testament. It comes from the Greek word hoplon. The word was first used for any implement or instrument used to prepare something. It later came to be used in the plural, “arms,” for weapons of warfare (Vine, p. 67). The verb form means “make ready or equip” (Abbott-Smith, p. 320).
Peter called the readers to equip themselves “with the same purpose.” Some have looked at this phrase and made the assumption that Peter was calling his readers to suffer martyrdom for Christ. But that’s not what Peter is saying here.
The NIV is closer to the original text in this phrase, with the word “attitude.” Peter is calling believers to have the same attitude as Christ when He suffered death on the cross. They were to have the same attitude as Christ in thought, principle, and resolve. Just as Jesus was “willing to suffer for righteousness in doing God’s will” (Hiebert, p. 256), so too should the believer be willing to suffer.
Last week we talked about how we can wait for the other shoe to drop because we fear the inevitability of suffering if we do what is good for Christ. What I want you to understand today is that not only should we take courage by not considering suffering to be inevitable, we should be as Christ and welcome those rare opportunities to suffer in His name.
Peter is calling his readers, in a very personal way, to be ready to carry on the mission of making disciples of every tribe and nation. Why?
because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, (v. 1c).
Once again, we are going to see how important context is in our study God’s Word. Look at the last phrase of verse one (read phrase). Now if we read verse one in its entirety, we might be led to think that Christ, who suffered in the flesh, also ceased from sin.
There are huge implications for interpreting this verse that way. This would mean that Jesus had sinned at some point. If that were the case, then Jesus was just a man after all. He was just a good teacher or prophet, as so many religions would ask us to believe.
However, Jesus was the spotless Lamb of God. He was without sin. He could not cease from doing something He never did. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, could not defile His perfect nature with the stain of sin.