Summary: If we want to be ready to suffer for Christ, we must arm ourselves with His attitude, choose to abandon our sin, expect abuse, and anticipate God's approval.
Recently, I read about a fictitious manual for Peace Corp volunteers headed for South America. It offers advice on how to handle a chance encounter with an anaconda (a large type of boa constrictor). The advice comes under the heading, “What to Do If Attacked by an Anaconda”:
#1) If you're attacked by an anaconda, do not run; the snake is faster than you are.
#2) Lie flat on the ground.
#3) Put your arms tight at your sides and your legs tight against one another.
#4) The snake will begin to climb over your body.
#5) Do not panic.
#6) The snake will begin to swallow you from the feet end.
#7) Step 6 will take a long time.
#8) After awhile, slowly and with as little movement as possible, reach down, take your knife, and very gently slide it into the snake's mouth. Then suddenly sever the snake's head.
#9) Be sure your knife is sharp.
#10) Be sure you have your knife. (John Ortberg, The Daniel Project—Part 3, November 15, 2009; www.PreachingToday.com)
These instructions are funny, but they remind us of the need to be prepared, to be ready for a crisis before it hits.
The Bible says, “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Jesus Himself said to his followers, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20). In other words, if you choose to follow Christ, you WILL be harassed; you WILL be persecuted; you WILL suffer for it in some way.
The question is: How can we get ready for that kind of suffering? How can we prepare for the harassment that’s coming? How can we arm ourselves for the persecution we will experience as followers of Christ? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to 1 Peter 4, 1 Peter 4, where the Bible addresses a group of people who are beginning to go through such persecution.
1 Peter 4:1 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. (NIV)
This verse pictures a soldier getting ready for battle. He arms himself with the proper equipment and weapons necessary to win the battle. Well, as those involved in a spiritual battle, se need to arm ourselves as well. Only we don’t arm ourselves with guns and swords, no. We arm ourselves with an attitude that says, “I’m ready to die for Christ if that’s what He calls me to do.”
You see, Christ came to this earth in the flesh prepared to die in order to save us from our sins, and we need to come with the same kind of mental preparation. We need to…
ARM OURSELVES WITH CHRIST’S ATTITUDE.
In our minds, we need to be ready to suffer as he did.
When Ronald Reagan gave his first inaugural address, he made reference to the simple white crosses that mark the graves in the Arlington National Cemetery. He said:
“Under one such marker lies a young man, Martin Treptow, who left his job in a small town barber shop in 1917 to go to France with the famed Rainbow Division. There, on the western front, he was killed trying to carry a message between battalions under heavy artillery fire.
“We are told that on his body was found a diary. On the flyleaf under the heading, ‘My Pledge,’ he had written these words: ‘America must win this war. Therefore, I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone.’” (From Ronald Reagan's first inaugural address, January 20, 1981; www.PreachingToday.com)
Martin Treptow had armed himself with the right attitude, so he was ready to give his life for his country. In the same way, if we want to be ready to suffer for Christ, we too must arm ourselves; we too must mentally prepare to suffer like He did, and that starts with a choice.
If we’re going to live for Christ and be prepared to suffer as a result, We need to choose right now to be done with the old way of life. We need to choose right now to forgo an indulgent lifestyle. We need to choose right now to…
ABANDON OUR SIN.
That’s what it means in verse 1 when it says, “He who has suffered in his body is done with sin.” In other words, when you see a believer who is suffering because of his or her commitment to Christ, you know that they have made a choice. They have made a choice to be done with sin. They have made a choice to cease living a sinful lifestyle in order to live according to God’s will.