God's Purpose, my way: Devotional Commentary for August 14-20
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us Wisdom and Insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
1Therefore, 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,
2so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.
So far, Peter helped us understand Christian suffering in the context of Christ's suffering. Christ took our sins and nailed it to His Cross with His Body and imputed His Righteousness to our credit. That is, He credited us with His Righteousness. He gave us His Righteousness and made us righteous before God. He Who knew no sin was subjected to the full fury of God's judgment upon sin so that we might receive redemption by Grace through faith. But the world rejected and persecuted Jesus because it did not know Him nor did it recognize the darkness in which itself persisted. The world persecutes Christians because it continues to reject the Spirit of Christ in God's children.
In the passage before us however, Peter introduces us to something greater, new, deeper, and richer: the enduring outcome of Jesus' suffering. Jesus' suffering, that is His persecution and rejection by His own, His Crucifixion, Deth, Burial, and Resurrection, dealt with sin and its eternal consequences once and for all. Christ extinguished sin's power upon the redeemed by settling sin's debt to the Law with His blood once and for the last time: conclusively, decisively, positively, absolutely, definitively, irrevocably, in perpetuity. Christ's suffering rendered sin defunct toward those who are set free from its bondage.
With that in mind, Peter exhorts us to arm ourselves with the purpose of Christ's suffering. Hence, since Christ suffered to destroy sin's power over the redeemed of God, let us also purpose in our redeemed spirits to consciously reject sin's appeal to our natural inclinations. This way, we can do everything in Christ Jesus to resist the indulgences of the flesh so that we might live in God's Will instead of pursuing man's sinful desires.
3For 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.
4In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you;
5but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.
6For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.
Arming our minds with the purpose of Christ's suffering might seem somewhat daunting to us when we consider the sting of death and the power of sin. But Peter tells us that we should no longer answer to the corrupt influences of the ungodly world. We are new in Christ. We are united with Him both in His sufferings and in His victory.
Therefore, being in union with Christ and having been partakers in His suffering and His victory, we have no reason or excuse to indulge in the sinful past of our unregenerate life. The flesh had corrupted itself in the way of the ungodly long enough, pursuing a life of promiscuity, sensuality, carousing, revelry, idolatry and the like. There is no longer any reason to appease or fear the flesh and its ally, the ungodly world.
Certainly, the enemies of Truth continue to harass the redeemed for rejecting the old ways. They wish to preserve the old unwholesome alliance. They want to draw back the redeemed away from God. Because they do not recognize the Power within the new man, they are dumbfounded by the transformation they observe in the life of the child of God.
They regret the newness of Christ reflected in the life of the redeemed. So they attempt to assail the spiritual integrity of the believer. They seek to undermine the faith and confidence of the redeemed in the Savior. They resist the difference the Holy Spirit makes in the life of God's children. But the Christian stands firm on the Rock, leans on the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, and feeds upon the living Word of God, from whence come help and strength.
The child of God should be neither enticed by the fleeting pleasures of sin, nor intimidated by the threats of the agents of evil. As to the ungodly, they will be held accountable by the Gospel they heard and rejected. The Gospel is preached to all saving some and judging the rest. Therefore, as God's redeemed children, we are exhorted to live in the Will of God not merely according to His preferences. Since Christ has voided sin's power by His sacrifice and Resurrection, we disavow sin and keep it devoid of any power over us by restraining ourselves from giving it any favorable attention. We belong to God. We cannot commit God's possession to sin.
Peter's efforts to give us context about Christian suffering turns out to be a great path which leads us to a greater Truth. We have been made new in Christ, behold old things are passed. But there is more truth in that statement than just experiencing change.
We are brought from darkness to light and from death to life. That means, life in darkness is no longer our portion. We are no longer prisoners of sin and death. Simply put, we are dead to sin and alive in Christ's Righteousness.
That is what Christ attained for us on the Cross. His suffering stopped sin cold in its tracks so that we do not have to deal with it anymore. Sin is disobedience. When we disobey God's Law, we offend Him and are, therefore, disciplined or judged. We are condemned guilty because His Law is violated.
Christ satisfied the Law by paying the penalty for sin in full and settled the demands of the Law once and for all. God our Father is satisfied with His Son's finished work. But the crux of the truth is that, once the Law is satisfied, sin lost its power to incriminate. Therefore, sin is dead to those who accepted new life in Christ by Grace through faith.
The question for us is then, if we accepted by faith the salvation He offered, why do we often seem to be noncommittal about Christ's Power over sin and death? Peter says to arm ourselves with the same purpose Christ's suffering had, if we are indeed in union with Him. Since by His sacrifice and resurrection Christ took away sin's power to incriminate, let us purpose in our redeemed minds and hearts to resist sin's empty appeal.
Taking our cue from Paul, we confess that the flesh and the world are dead to us having been crucified on the Cross with Christ. We serve the living God. We should no longer be slaves to the flesh and its desires. We serve the living God. We belong to the living God. We are no longer our own. We have been bought by the precious Blood of the Lamb. We should no longer be slaves to the flesh and its desires. Let us arm ourselves therefore, with the purpose of Christ's sacrifice and Resurrection because Christ did it all.