1 Peterby David Burge
Having explained in 1 Peter 3:18-22 that Jesus himself suffered unjustly while being obedient to God, even to death, Peter now exhorts Christians to arm themselves with that same resolve, so that they, too, might live victoriously. In doing this, he gives three motivations to resist sin and follow Christ's way. The motivations follow the words ″therefore″ (4:1), ″for″ (v. 3), and ″but″ (v. 5).
First, Peter urges, ″therefore . . . arm yourselves also with the same attitude″ (v. 1). Christ suffered in the flesh and died, therefore we view our lives differently. We count our old life to sin over; the old life, which was dominated by human desires, gives way to the new, courageous life which lives for the will of God (v. 2).
Second, Peter states, ″for you have spent enough time″ in ″wild living″ (vv. 3-4). We live according to a new way now, ″for″ why would a Christian want to live any longer in his old, shameful, lustful, and regrettable ways (v. 3)?
The pagans (meaning unbelieving Gentiles) live this way. Peter lists six of their old ways (v. 3), which are still often celebrated in our world today. They had been living in: first, debauchery, which is unrestrained, shameful living; second, lust, the following of ungodly passions and desires; third, drunkenness, the drinking of large quantities of wine; fourth, orgies, which are wild and immoral parties; fifth, carousing, which again refers to binge-drinking gatherings; and sixth, detestable idolatry, the chief sin of Scripture which leads to countless other sins (see Romans 1:20-23).
Christians are those who have said, ″Enough!″ to such ways (1 Peter 4:3). Sometimes, when Christians refrain from evil or refuse to endorse what the world says is good, the world will abuse Christians for their restraint (v. 4).
Third, Peter uses the word ″but″ (v. 5) to bring us back to the truth. Some people live in unrestrained ways, ″but″ all who ignore or oppose God their Judge will have to answer to Him (v. 6).
Verse 6 is a difficult verse, but it seems to be saying that though the people of God were judged and even killed according to the flesh (e.g., the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7:54-60), yet to God they are now and forever alive. The gospel brought them to eternal life, and now they are not dead to God, but in His presence-they ″live according to God in regard to the spirit″ (v. 6).
People might judge you unfairly for what they dislike about you now, but God will rescue you, just as He rescued those who have gone before us to be with Him. Hold on!
Are there practical ways you could regularly remind yourself that your new life leaves no place for old sinful ways?
Are you prepared to suffer for doing right? How might you and your church better ″arm yourselves with the same attitude″ as Christ (1 Peter 4:1) and live ″for the will of God″ (v. 2)?