By John C. Carpenter
Addressing Jewish believers in Christ in the five Roman provinces in Asia Minor, the apostle Peter wrote, Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind [understanding, thought, intent]: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin [acts of sin]; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought [accomplish, perform, behave like] the will [choices, desires] of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness[lacking legal or moral restraints], lusts [longings, desires], excess of wine, revellings [to drink liquor deeply and freely], banquetings[drinking bouts], and abominable [illegal, shameful] idolatries [idol worship]: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer (1 Pet 4:1-7). Peter clarifies in these verses that the Gentiles were, at and after the time of Christ, often walking in lustful, sinful ways that were not consistent with the will of God. Peter also states that believers in Christ are not [or should not be] running in the excess of riot, as the Gentiles were doing two thousand years ago. Peter is also teaching that if believers are not suffering in the flesh, are living according to the lusts of men, rather than fulfilling the will of God, and are walking with a lack of legal or moral restraint, lust, excess of wine, revellings [carousing with others], banquetings, and abominable idolatries [unlawful and forbidden idol worship], those believers are "running in the excess of riot." The word "excess" is the Greek word "anachusis," which means "pouring freely and excessively; expression of unlimited and unrestrained words, feelings, and behaviors." The word "riot" is the Greek word "asotia," which means "unsavedness, gross self-indulgence, extravagant pursuit of pleasure." When Peter speaks of excess of riot, he is basically referring to "unrestrained self-indulgence in pleasure, as characteristic of the unsaved individual." Put another way, the Christian should not be living in the same excessive ways as the unsaved individual.
I once heard a minister preach that it is not God's will for believers in Christ to suffer. Yet the apostle Peter said, Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered[to experience a usually painful sensation or impression, to be agitated or troubled] for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewisewith the same mind [understanding, thought, intent] (1 Pet 4:1). With these words, Peter not only explains that Christ suffered, but that believers in Christ should expect to encounter the same suffering that Christ experienced. To think or teach that Christians should not, or will not, suffer is unscriptural. Sadly, in order to keep church pews and donation plates full, church leaders tend to either minimize the role of suffering in the life of a believer, or ignore it all together. The Holy Scriptures have much to say about the suffering of Christ, as well as believers in Christ. Even before the advent of Jesus Christ, the Old Testament prophet Isaiah prophesied the sufferings of Christ when he wrote, For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed (Isa 53:2-5). Jesus Christ also clearly understood in advance that He was to suffer while on earth. After Jesus charged his disciples that they should tell no man that he was the Christ, Scriptures then tell us that From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer [to experience painful sensations and impressions]many thingsof the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day (Mat 16:20-21). While eating the Passover supper with His disciples, Christ said, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer (Luke 22:15). After rising from the dead, Christ encountered two confused and doubting disciples on the road to Emmaus. When He saw their unbelief, Christ scolded them by saying, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? (Luke 24:25-26). The Lord later said to His disciples, ...These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day (Luke 24:44-46). Confronting unbelieving Jews in a synagogue, the apostle Paul his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ (Acts 17:2-3). After Christ was crucified, had died, and was resurrected, Paul explained,For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he [suffered only once and] appeared [on earth] to put away sin by the [crucifixion, suffering, and] sacrifice of himself(Heb 9:24-26). Paul clearly knew that Christ had suffered in order to accomplish God the Father's will and purposes to put away sin. The apostle Peter also referred to the sufferings of Christ when he said, For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit (1 Pet 3:18). Peter understood that Christ suffered that He might bring [reconcile unjust, unbelieving sinners] to God. The Holy Scriptures teach, however, that suffering is not limited to Christ. True believers will suffer as well. Paul and Timothy instructed saintly believers in Philippi,For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake (Phil 1:29). Paul explained in intimate detail his inner and outer sufferings to those in Corinth: Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily,the care of all the churches (2 Cor 11:24-28). Paul was a great man of God, but Paul also suffered greatly. In reality, we could probably say Paul was a great man of God because he suffered greatly. In addition to Paul, the apostle Peter gave very humbling advice regarding suffering to believers in the five Roman provinces in Asia minor, teaching, Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God (1 Pet 2:17-20). Later, Peter not only spoke of ...suffering for righteousness' sake... (1 Pet 3:14), but explained that believers in Christ may suffer according to the will of God... (1 Pet 4:19). Peter eventually explained the Christian process, and reward, when he said, But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you (1 Pet 5:10). The believers' eternal glory is preceded by the believers' suffering. Attempting to promote Christian empathy and unity, the apostle Paul initially instructed those in Corinth, And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it (1 Cor 12:26). Paul later clarified that Christians will experience suffering as well as comforting when he said, For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation (2 Cor 1:5-6). In our subject verses, the apostle Peter instructed believers to arm themselves with the same understanding that they would suffer, as Christ did.
After talking about suffering, Peter then discussed the excesses stemming from the lust of the flesh. Peter explained that a believer in Christ no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God." It should be understood here that the lust of the flesh is not referring to the normal bodily and fleshly needs necessary for survival and life, such as adequate nutrition, water, rest, love, etc., but to the excessive lusts of the flesh. Holy Scriptures teach that every individual, unbeliever or believer, will be influenced by and suffer temptations involving the lust of the flesh. After coming to Christ, believers are expected to place limits on and subdue this lust. God the Father, in His eternal wisdom, knew the problems that the flesh would cause mankind, and that the flesh would corrupt God's ways. In the very beginning of time, God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth (Gen 6:12). Christ and His disciples also warned of the dangers of the flesh. Just before His crucifixion, Christ instructed His disciples,Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak [without strength, impotent] (Mat 26:41). The apostle Paul recognized the dangers of his own weakly flesh when he said, with the mind I myself serve [to be a slave to, in bondage to] the law of God; but with the flesh [I am in bondage to] the law of sin (Rom 7:25). Teaching those in Galatia, the apostle Paul not only characterized the workings of the flesh, but gave specific symptoms of the operation of the flesh. He said,For the flesh lusteth [sets the heart on, covets] against [contrary to] the Spirit [of God], and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary [lie opposite, adverse to] the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts (Gal 5:17-24). Paul also explained to Ephesian believers the dangers of the flesh. Paul said, hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation [behavior] in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others(Eph 2:1-3). Paul later exhorted to these same believers, I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk [live] worthy[appropriately, as becometh] of the vocation [invitation and calling] wherewith ye are called (Eph 4:1). It is the flesh, and not the Spirit of God, that is operating in individuals who are false prophets. Peter understood this when he said false prophets ...walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you; Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error (2 Pet 2:10-18). Although Peter is talking specifically about the behavior of false prophets, the point remains that these same fleshly temptations are also experienced by true Christians. Excesses of the flesh are so dangerous, and the scriptures warn us all, believers and unbelievers alike, about the end result of lusting in the flesh. Paul sternly warned, For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption [ruin, perish, death]; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting (Gal 6:8), while Peter explained, For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away (1 Pet 1:24). The end result of walking in excessive flesh is ruin and death. Holy Scriptures not only make it clear that the flesh will influence and tempt believers in Christ, but they also provide many instuctions on how believers are to deal with the lust of the flesh. Let us look at some of these instructions. First, believers are to eliminate fleshly immorality from their lives. Paul instructed those in Corinth, Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse [purge, to eliminate] ourselves from all filthiness [immorality] of the flesh and spirit, perfecting [accomplishing, fulfilling, performing]holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor 7:1). Second, believers are to forsake human, fleshly efforts and simply obey Christ. Paul later said, For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) [but are] Casting down imaginations [human thought, reasoning and efforts to understand], and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought [perception, purpose] to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor 10:3-5). Third, believers should expect to suffer in the flesh. As Peter said, Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm [equip] yourselves likewise with the same mind [understanding, thought, intent]. Paul told believers in Colossae, I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church (Col 1:24). If Paul suffered, modern day Christians should expect to suffer as well. Fourth, believers are not to walk or live in fleshly, carnal ways, but to walk according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Paul told those in Rome to Let not sin therefore reign [rule, dominate] in your mortal body, that ye should obey [be subordinate to] it in the lusts thereof (Rom 6:12). He later said, There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [kill, put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live (Rom 8:1-13). Fifth, believers are to subdue and enslave their bodily lusts. Using his own life as an example, Paul told those in Corinth, ...I keep under [buffet, subdue] my body, and bring it into subjection [enslave it]: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway [deemed worthless, and thereby rejected by God] (1 Cor 9:27). Paul also taught this same concept to the Galatians when he instructed them to Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh (Gal 5:16), and they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts (Gal 5:24). The apostle Peter likewise taught that believers should ...abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul (1 Pet 2:11). The flesh is always present, but the committed Christian should subdue the affections and lusts of the flesh. The lusts of the flesh should never be in control of the true Christian.  AMEN.
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