1 Peter 4 Lesson

Suffering

Chapter 4 begins with a call to arm ourselves with the same purpose as Jesus.

“Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.” – 1 Peter 4:1-2. 

What Peter is talking about here is suffering as part of God’s larger plan. Just as Jesus came to serve others and was willing to endure suffering along the way, Christians too can expect to suffer.

  • “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you.” – 1 Peter 4:12.

  • “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” – 2 Timothy 3:12.

Suffering can come in many different forms. As Christians, we may experience physical suffering, persecution, isolation, or any number of things. What is particularly interesting, is Peter says that when we suffer in the flesh for Christ, we have ceased from sin.

“Because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” – 1 Peter 4:1.

Peter is not saying that those who suffer in the flesh will never sin. That would go against what Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans:

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:23.

What Peter is talking about is a lifestyle change; a fundamental switch from living to satisfy our own desires of the flesh, to becoming servants of the Lord’s.

Peter is imploring us to say, “Enough is enough,” and to make the life-changing decision to put God first in our lives.

  • “For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries.” – 1 Peter 4:3.

God’s word teaches us that only a few are going to be saved and many more will perish:

  • “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.  For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” - Mathew 7:13-14.


This is a call to arms to get our spiritual lives in order before it is too late!

There is a particularly interesting scripture found in Peter’s first epistle that talks about our spiritual gifts and how we are to use them:

“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” – 1 Peter 4:10. 

Peter does not say that some have received a special gift, he says that everyone has. He also says that we are to use our gift to serve others. This brings up two questions:

  1. What special gift has God given you?
  2. How can you use it to serve others?

Later in the chapter Peter returns to the topic of suffering. Verses 12-14 state:

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.  If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” – 1 Peter 4:12-14.

 There are two points to focus on here:

  1. “Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you.” We are all going to suffer. Knowing that this is the case can help prepare us for our time of suffering. 
  2. Peter shares with us that suffering, “Comes upon you for your testing.” How we behave in hard times says a lot about our character and our values. When we shift our focus from ourselves to serving others, we please God.

There is one more point that we will cover in today’s study and then the lesson will be yours.

In verse 8 Peter says:

“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”

Life is going to get hard. There is no way around it. God uses life’s struggles to shape us, to teach us, and to discipline us.

As we navigate through life, it is important for us to have compassion for one another, realizing that we all are struggling in some way. When we have compassion for one another, we allow love to enter the equation, and love is the most important thing to God.

We will conclude today’s lesson with the following scripture that emphasizes the importance of love. Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was. He responded:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.   This is the great and foremost commandment.  The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” – Mathew 22:36-40.

Comments

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How can you apply what you have just learned?

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Dan

I have to remember what Peter said about "test." It's all a test, whether suffering ("tested by fire") or prosperity.

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Virtual Bible Study

How can you apply what you have just learned?

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Pat Dermody
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Throughout our lives there are good times and difficult ones. During these times we must remember to apply our faith . We must trust that God is always with us and this should give us hope, especially in difficult times. Hope helps us see the light at the end of the tunnel...sometimes it may just be a speck of light and other times a bright beacon.

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Mustang

Looking at ourselves to identify the special gifts that God has given us is the first step to being able to put those gifts into service to glorify God.

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Michael
Mustang

Amen Mustang!

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