In this week’s text, 1 Peter 4:1-6, we see Christians who are suffering because of their faith in Christ. For many of them the temptation of returning to their old way of life is looking pretty good. It is a historical fact that many professing Christians abandon their faith in the face of persecution. Furthermore, many Christians today are surrendering small bits of their faith to keep from being persecuted like these first-century Christians. We have resolved to believe that our personal sin is not as bad as the next person’s. We've bought into the lie that sin is not that big of a deal, and we can stop anytime we want. That would be Satan whispering in our ear and daring us. Now, here is the problem with comparing our sins to the sins of others. We will not give an account for their sins, or made holy by their lack of holiness. Jesus is the benchmark by which all of us will be judged. Only Jesus Christ makes us holy and saves us from the heavenly wrath that sin brings. This means
following Christ is done in a forward motion, not reverse. This is Peter’s point in verses 1-2, “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased 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 good old days were never as good as our flesh, or Satan, would have us to believe. In fact, they are exactly what drove us to our knees and caused us to cry out to Jesus to save us in the first place. Peter is pleading with us to keep our eyes on Jesus, and remember that we have already wasted enough of our lives on things that only lead to destruction, “For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do…” (v3). Remember, the goal here is not temporary happiness, but the eternal joy that is only found in Christ. So when we suffer because of our faith, remember Christ suffered far more for us - to be looking back at the past. So what if the world judges us for not joining in the fun and choosing to follow a different path. One day God’s judgment will be final, “But they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.” (Vv. 5-6) Peter wants us to remember who we were in the past and to rejoice in the fact that Christ saved us from the person we used to be. The joy of living in the Spirit means never longing for the illusions of the past.