Friday, October 28, 2022
I love the word therefore. It perks up my mind to make a connection between what has previously been said and what is about to be said. It is the one word which more than any other helps me to keep things in context. It is the one word that helps me fulfill my insatiable need to understand cause and effect.
Cause and effect is the relationship between two things when one thing makes something else happen. For example, if we eat too much food and do not exercise, we gain weight. Eating food without exercising is the “cause;” weight gain is the “effect.” I just wish that my understanding of that would start to change me. Which brings up another cause and effect – my choice to ignore the eventual effect for the immediate enjoyment of the food is the real problem.
It is that same attitude of choosing the immediate enjoyment of sin regardless of the long-term effect that is being addressed by Peter as he begins chapter four.
1 Peter 4:1 “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.”
He starts with the word therefore, so he is connecting an effect with a previous cause. The previous cause is that Jesus Christ suffered in the flesh and was raised in the Spirit in victory over the flesh. The effect is to be that we can experience the same thing and endure suffering while experiencing victory over sin.
The question that comes to my mind is this – “If I can be done with sin, then why do I still sin? Other questions also arise. “If victory over sin is the result of suffering, then why have I not suffered enough to have victory over sin? What kind of suffering is he referring to?” These are all legitimate questions, and they can be answered, with one contingency – that we understand that our personal choice is the real issue. None of what I’m about to teach will be of any value to anyone who hasn’t already or is willing now to take responsibility for their own choices. It is not anyone else’s fault for the effects of sin you are experiencing. Your choices are the cause.
Let’s look at some facts we already know. Unlike Paul, when Peter talks about sin it is never in the abstract, but always in reference to concrete, identifiable actions of sin. Peter knows that the power and penalty of sin have been removed from the Christian’s life at the moment of his salvation, but he is talking about the presence of sin in our lives in specific forms.
We also know that Peter is not talking in his letter about martyrdom as the only means of deliverance from the presence of sin. The suffering to which he refers is social in nature, not legal.
As a result of His victory over sin on the cross, confirmed by God in Christ’s resurrection, He is done with sin forever. That same resurrection power that was exerted in Christ to conquer death now lives in us to conquer sin as well. What is missing in our lives is our willingness and choice to suffer for Christ so that we might experience the victory of Christ.
The law of cause and effect is at play here. According to God, whatever a man sows is what he reaps. Plant corn; harvest corn. Scatter seeds of selfishness; harvest loneliness. Choose sin; harvest discipline, correction, and judgment. But the flip side of the cause and effect coin is also true. Choose suffering for Christ; harvest victory over sin. God’s law of cause and effect for the Christian is this – choose to set aside all immediate gratification of the flesh and suffer the loss of the pleasures of this world, and He will give you victory over all sin.
Peter Davids writes, “if Christ is really the one they are following, their great example, then suffering will separate them more and more from sinful acts, making them increasingly invested in heaven, until they come to that point when they die like Christ, and, like him, are totally finished with sin and all its effects in this world.”
“We may in fact still be sinning because we have not chosen to suffer and thereby are not done with sin. Perhaps when we come to the point of choice, we choose compromise and then wonder why we cannot overcome temptation.”
The choice is yours. Do you believe that the resurrected life of Jesus lives in you, and that the power of His resurrection to conquer sin is yours today? Or have you become convinced in your mind that we must suffer with sin in this life until we are finally taken to glory? I do not proclaim sinless perfection in this life. We will still sin. But why are we satisfied with that? It’s because we have chosen to enjoy the pleasures of sin, claiming that the grace of God will cover us. What a cheap grace that is! The grace of God brings us the life of Christ in all His glorious victory. Let us not cheapen what He has done by choosing to gratify the desires of the flesh while claiming the victory He offers.