1 Peter 4:12-19 Devotional Commentary

Why suffer! Devotional Commentary for August 28-September 3

1 Peter 4:12-19 (NASB)

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.

4:12-16
12Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;
13but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.
14If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
15Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler;
16but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.

Peter continues to address the various aspects of living in union with Christ as good stewards of the Grace we have been given. In the passage before us, he stills our anxious minds by telling us that suffering should never catch us by surprise nor should we feel as if strange things might be happening to us. As Christians indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we should expect persecution from the ungodly forces that persist in resisting the Spirit of Christ in us.

However, even though the world means it for harm, God our sovereign Father uses suffering for two magnificent purposes: for our refinement and for making us partakers of His Son's Glory. Therefore, we rejoice in our suffering even though it is contrary to our natural instinct.

Nevertheless, once we understand that God authorizes suffering to chisel away the old nature out of us, we rejoice in that we are being shaped into the image of His Son. Thus being conformed to His image through refining trials, our perspective on the persecution we share with Christ becomes clearer as well. Therefore, we can actually rejoice in our suffering with Christ because the persecution we share with Christ is also the path to His Glory that He extends to us. Refined and to be glorified then, the Joy of our Lord is made complete in us in spite of passing pain and anguish.

It must be noted however, Peter is not randomly talking about suffering of just any kind. He particularly identifies two types of hardships Christians can experience. One is worthwhile whereas the other is unbecoming of God's redeemed children. Suffering for the right thing, that is persecution for the sake of Christ, and, getting in trouble for wrongdoing.

Actually, Peter is unequivocal in his affirmation that persecution of believers is to be expected. Every time the world senses God's presence in the conducts or actions of His children, the enemies of Truth hold the redeemed in scorn and treat Christians with disdain because of how they feel toward Christ. Such are the trials and persecutions that come upon us because of our association with Christ. These are the trials and tribulations we experience because of our union with Him. Peter says we should not be surprised by the fiery ordeal we face for the sake of Christ. That is normal.

But a Christian should never be caught suffering the consequences of wrongdoing. That should not be a normal Christian experience. The hardships we face due to ungodly practices are not sufferings we share with Christ. Therefore, there is no glory in them. We should stay clear from the ungodly practices of murder, theft, deceit, idolatry, or any form of evildoing or troublous meddling in other people's life or affairs. Such behaviors are offensive to God. If it is our Father's Will that trials should come upon us, then it should be for the sake of Christ or for our discipline. That would be cause for rejoicing because we are in our Father's Will.

4:17-19
17For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
18AND IF IT IS WITH DIFFICULTY THAT THE RIGHTEOUS IS SAVED, WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE GODLESS MAN AND THE SINNER?
19Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.

Peter helps us better understand his exhortations by delineating the truth with a poignant perspective. The life we live on earth has a definite destiny, some go to eternal bliss and others are condemned to eternal damnation. We just don't live and merely expire. We all face our Maker in the end. But the road to our respective destiny is never easy.

Peter underscores the unfathomable way by which we are saved and declared righteous and just by God. He then proceeds to show us how much more unimaginably difficult it would be for the unbelieving world. Peter's comparative consideration of the destiny of the redeemed and the lost respectively, holds believers accountable to God our Father and our Redeemer.

Simply put, Peter earnestly admonishes us to entrust our souls to God, to trust God for what takes place in our lives. If the suffering we experience comes because of our relationship with Christ, then we should simply trust God for His Will in our lives. He is both our Creator and our Redeemer. In His care, we persist. Our Father Who did not spare His Son from His judgment in order to save us, would do no less to bring us to Himself into our rewards which He has already prepared for us in Jesus Christ. But if the hardship we face is earned by our disobedience, we reap the consequences, as a corrective measure by our gracious Father.

Notes/Applications

Peter distinguishes the fiery ordeal God's children face into two types and delineates it from what is set aside for the condemned. The trials Christians experience are both corrective and refining while the torturous misery which descends upon those who rejected Christ is God's consuming wrath set aside to judge the contemptuous. God's purging discipline of disobedient Christians is aimed at restoring the faithful to a healthy fellowship with God, while trials and persecutions refine the children of God into the image of His Son.

Our journey of faith would be much more joyful when we begin to understand the significance of God's purging discipline in our lives. To be sure, we would rejoice even more when we realize that God's hand of discipline is the only means by which we can effectively ward-off the lingering sin-nature. Our attention would be freed from the clutches of the old-nature, giving way to the Voice of the Holy Spirit to captivate our attention.

God's purging discipline feels painful only when our desire to remain attached to the old-nature persists contrary to God's Will. In that case, it is our disobedience which generates pain because we actually draw away from God in our disobedience. There is neither peace nor rest for God's redeemed outside of a vibrant relationship with God our Father. His corrective Grace applies God's restorative discipline so that the Joy of His Son might be complete in His children.

As we are steadily disciplined, restored, and refined, we come to a level of maturity where we begin to have a sense of godly worthiness to suffer for His sake, even as we are taken through the crucible of adversity both for our refinement and for the sake of Christ. It is possible after all, to put Christian suffering in the sacred perspective of Christ's suffering. So brothers and sisters in Christ, do not be afraid of suffering except when we offend our Father with our disobedience. Taking our cue from God's living Word, let us trust God and commit ourselves to His care. His Favor rests upon us. Do not be afraid if you are reviled for the Name of Christ. You are blessed.

Here at Practical Christianity Foundation we believe that God has mercifully extended His Grace toward us and has given us His living and Holy Word to guide us in our journey in this world. We count it privilege to come alongside you and minister to you through prayer and the sharing of God's living and holy Word. Please contact us if you have any questions concerning your faith and journey as a Christian.

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