Daniel 2:1-23; 1 Peter 4:1-6; Psalms 119:59-64; Proverbs 25:25-27
NT: “Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same understanding — because the one who suffers in the flesh is finished with sin — in order to live the remaining time in the flesh no longer for human desires, but for God’s will. For there has already been enough time spent in doing what the Gentiles choose to do: carrying on in unrestrained behavior, evil desires, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and lawless idolatry. They are surprised that you don’t join them in the same flood of wild living — and they slander you. They will give an account to the one who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. For this reason the gospel was also preached to those who are now dead, so that, although they might be judged in the flesh according to human standards, they might live in the spirit according to God’s standards.” (1 Peter 4:1-6 CSB)
The ‘therefore’ at the beginning of chapter 4 refers to what Peter wrote at the end of Chapter 3 – that “Christ suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring you to God.” Christ was put to death in the flesh, but was made alive by the Spirit. If Christ suffered because of sin, and we understand that, why would we be willing to keep on sinning with the time that we have left on earth? If walking in righteousness causes us to suffer in the flesh, we should not reject righteousness and embrace sin in order to avoid suffering. Suffering for righteousness sake actually refines, strengthens, matures and perfects you. Rejecting righteousness and embracing sin may allow you to avoid suffering in the flesh for now, you won’t avoid the spiritual suffering that lasts for eternity.
Unbelievers spend much of their time alive pursuing human desires. They spend time participating in behaviors and activities that bring momentary pleasure to their flesh. Redeemed believers’ commitment to righteousness and the pursuit of God’s purposes threatens the unbelievers’ pursuit of pleasure. They can’t understand why committed followers of Jesus don’t celebrate their pursuits and participate in their pleasures. As a result, many Christ-followers are “slandered” – and that causes suffering. Faced with that suffering, many believers placate the demands of unbelievers by compromising convictions and accepting their sinful behavior as normal and right.
Which is worse? Coming under the judgement of sinful humanity now, or coming under the judgement of God later? Many redeemed people over the millennia have suffered, died or been martyred for the sake of Christ and His righteousness. Though they were judged in the flesh according to human standards, they now are alive in the spirit according to God’s standards. With that said, how should we spend the time that we have remaining on earth? Should we spend it pursuing comfort and compromising with sin, or should we spend it pursuing God’s kingdom and His righteousness?
Psalms: “The Lord is my portion; I have promised to keep your words. I have sought your favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise. I thought about my ways and turned my steps back to your decrees. I hurried, not hesitating to keep your commands. Though the ropes of the wicked were wrapped around me, I did not forget your instruction. I rise at midnight to thank you for your righteous judgments. I am a friend to all who fear you, to those who keep your precepts. Lord, the earth is filled with your faithful love; teach me your statutes.” (Psalms 119:57-64 CSB)
Based on this passage from Psalm 119, it appears that the psalmist evaluated how he was spending his time and what he was pursuing with the days that were given to him. He wrote, “I thought about my ways and turned my steps back to Your decrees… in fact, I hurried, not hesitating to keep Your commands.” Even when the “ropes of the wicked” were wrapped around him, he was not willing to forget God’s instruction and walk in God’s ways. Instead of being a friend to the world, he chose to spend his time walking with and partnering with those who also kept the Lord’s precepts. That does not mean that we do not engage with the world. It means that our partners… our comrades… our close friends should be people that have the same kingdom-minded priorities and are committed to the word, will and ways of God.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You that You were willing to suffer and die for my sins, that You would be able to bring me to God. Help me now to be willing to endure suffering for Your sake. Give me boldness, faithfulness, and steadfastness through Your Spirit. Help me to not become intimated by the threats and pressures of the world, but to spend the rest of my days pursuing and furthering Your kingdom and Your righteousness. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.