Wednesday in the Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

1 Peter 4:1-5

Arm Yourselves

1 Peter 4 is one of the most difficult passages in all the Bible.  We might say that here the Apostle pulls no punches but tells us in a forthright manner what it means to follow Christ—and he should know.  He always remembered that look of his Lord the night he betrayed him (Luke 22:61-62).  But Christ forgave him and on the day of Pentecost, Peter found new strength through the filling of the Holy Spirit.  He would never deny his Lord again.  He would live a crucified life and would eventually, tradition tells us, be martyred crucified upside down.  But such determination meant suffering; it meant enduring what he was so afraid to endure that horrible night long ago.  And Peter did endure it like so many of those early Christians and, no doubt, some to whom he wrote this very letter. 

But Peter writes as one who encourages his readers to suffer: “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking.”  People who follow Christ suffer in some way or other, and, of course, in varying degrees.  Perhaps in America, our way of suffering is to put away the sin which so easily besets us, to deny ourselves, to learn to fast, to go without while giving more of our resources to others—not just discretionary income but vital as well, and perhaps learn to pray on our knees again even if it hurts to do so.  Let’s face it: What people are more flabby than Americans?  What people use more excuses due to bodily ailments for skipping church, much less the heavy lifting which spiritual discipline calls for?  And Peter hits us between the eyes when he says, “For whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,” the reversal of which being that those who do not suffer in the flesh continue in sin.  And those who have suffered in the flesh cease from sin, “so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.”

The Apostle goes on to list some of those sins which believers should have sloughed off with their first regenerated breath.  Unbelievers will not understand why we do not join them and malign us as hateful.  This is happening as I write.  Perhaps this is the beginning of suffering in our nation.  But we must arm ourselves now by learning self-denial and sacrificial love.  People who think and act this way are not thinking and giving themselves to sin.  Suffering kills sin when done so for the cause of Christ, for the joy of our heavenly home.  Begin today by saying, “No more” to the sin that so easily besets you and to the empty pleasures you allow yourself.  And arm yourself for the day that may soon come.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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