Three Commands to Christians in the Face of Persecution: 1 Peter 4:1-6

Occasion: Sunday Worship Fall 2014

Illustration: Church history is filled with great men of the faith: One if my favorite characters was the German reformer Martin Luther. He spoke perhaps his most famous words in April 1521, when confronted with the option to recant or face likely execution. Luther said the following: Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures…which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant, because acting against one’s conscience is neither safe nor sound. God help me.

Text: 1 Peter 4:1-6

Purpose: Peter wants believers to look to Jesus as their perfect example so they will faithfully persevere in the Christian life.

Proposition: God wants us to persevere in obedience.

Interrogative: How can we be sure to do this?

Command 1: Have the mind of Christ: 4:1 Since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind…

What is Christ’s mind? Philippians 2

  • Selflessness: 2:3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
  • Concern: 2:4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
  • Humility: 2:7-8 Christ made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant…He humbled Himself…
  • Obedience: 2:8 He became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
  • Love: Christ’s motivation was a love for His Father and the world.

Hebrews 11:1 By faith the elders obtained a good testimony…without faith it is impossible to please Him.

Hebrews 12:1 Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.

Command 2: Remember your time here is temporary: 4:1 He who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin

  • Has suffered: There is no rest till you first have first suffered.
  • Has ceased from sin: The temporary nature of our suffering is meant to encourage us to persevere.

1 Thessalonians 5:8 Let us be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.

Romans 8:18-19 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us…the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.

Illustration: Running in Senior High School. They would inform us of our time at every mile.

Command 3: Do the will of God: 4:2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

What does he mean?

  • Pagans viewed Christians as boring people who did not know how to have fun.
  • Christians would not be involved in many commonly accepted practices in Roman society:
    • The Roman theater
    • Chariot races: violence
    • Gladiator fights
    • Vicious feuds
    • Sex outside of marriage: homosexuality, having a mistress, incest, polygamy, prostitution, festivals
    • Drunkenness
    • Slander
    • Lying
    • Covetousness
    • Theft
    • Burning incense to the gods

Commentator: Pagans in the first century viewed Christians as people who lived without pleasure, because of their attitudes toward Roman customs and morals. Their refusal to burn incense made their neighbors and families see them as traitors to the Roman way of life.

Peter encouraged his readers to continue to stay away from the things that society believed were acceptable, even though he knew that their actions would bring anger from people who were doing these things. Whenever Christians are forced by their faith to oppose cultural values they will suffer.[1]

Illustration: This is happening in the Middle East with groups like ISIS beheading Christians.  It is even happening in the US where pastors are being bullied by public officials.

Conclusion: May God give us the grace to faithfully in obedience to His will.

  • To have the mind of Christ.
  • To remember our time here is temporary.
  • To be committed to doing the will of God.

[1] Karen H. Jobes, 1 Peter, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005), 262.


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