“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” 1 Peter 4:1
Christ suffered in the flesh for doing good and for being the Messiah. He had a mindset that went against what was common at the time. Since Christ suffered, Paul tells us to arm ourselves with the same way of thinking, think the same way that Christ thought. As His followers we will suffer in the flesh, since those who think like Christ have ceased from sin. Think like Christ. Do what’s right, even if it leads to suffering.
Since we are in Christ we focus on what’s truly important. Christ focused on the bigger picture. Instead of listening to the mindset of the day, He stuck to His purpose. Because of this, He went through with the plan and now we have forgiveness of sins. The world will tempt us to desert Christ. We don’t join in because we have developed a new mindset. We are reborn and no longer live like the world.
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1-2). Paul’s reasoning is that if we have died to sin, why would we continue to live in it? We say no to the world because we have died to sin. The old life, the way we used to think, the way we used to act, the way we used to talk, is dead. We have a new mindset that is focused on God and eternal life.
Galatians 5:24 says, “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Do you belong to Christ? If the answer is yes, then you no longer own yourself. God owns you and He expects us to have a mindset that mirrors His own. Self control is essential if we are to live Christ-like lives. To do this we must develop a new mindset. A mind that thinks differently from the majority. Making this choice won’t always be easy, but it’s what our Father desires of us as His children.
“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak. Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” Colossians 4:2-6
Speech plays a major role in our influence. Speech and actions are the two primary ways that we influence those around us. If our words differ from our actions, people will see it. Paul died 2000 years ago, and his speech is still influencing Christians today. Our words can have a lasting impact! In 1887 the coffin of Abraham Lincoln was pried open to determine if it contained his body. What makes that act so remarkable is the fact that Lincoln’s body had rested in that coffin for 22 years. Yet, even more amazing is that 14 years later a rumor circulated again that Lincoln’s coffin was actually empty. The rumor so gripped the land that the only way to silence it was to dig up the coffin–again. This was done and the rumor silenced when a handful of witnesses viewed the lifeless body of Abraham Lincoln.
Words have power. We know the harm that can come from them, but also the good.
In fact, we can use words to build up or tear down. To build, or destroy our influence.
Facebook is a king of spreading words. Each one of us has our own unique set of friends that see our posts. And although social media can be used for good, sadly the majority of posts are negative. Christian influence can go a long way on Facebook. But what good are we doing if all we do is argue and tear down others? Colossians 4:5 says, “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.”
A wise person isn’t going to get involved in a fruitless Facebook conversation. A wise person isn’t going to chew out someone else. A wise person doesn’t use his influence to hurt others, but he looks for ways he can be a good influence.
“Conduct yourselves with wisdom towards outsiders, making the most of every opportunity.” You have an opportunity I will never have. You can have an influence on your family that no one else has. So make the most of it. If you’re like me, that sounds extremely hard. But we do it for the souls of our children, our spouses, and our friends. Our influence has the ability to instruct, and to lead our homes to Christ.
If someone paid you 10 cents for every kind word/action you did for others, and you had to pay 5 cents for every bad word/action, would you be rich or poor? Our influence is so important. We must grow it, and pray for it. What has my influence done? Has it brought my family closer to Christ? Has it grown at all? Is my influence better than it was last month? Has it charged me as guilty? What kind of influence is in my book of life? Has it instructed my children? Has my influence been profitable? Let’s be sure to leave a lasting impression while we have the chance.
It is commonly cited that human beings are only born with two fears–the fear of loud sounds and the fear of falling. These are called “innate fears” (Chaoran and Quin, nih.gov). An interesting word is found ten times in the New Testament. The word has a range of meanings, including to fall from some point to another, to be blown off course and run aground, to change from better to worse, or become inadequate for some function (BDAG, 308). The word is used three times in Acts 27 in the nautical sense, describing Paul’s ship running aground. It is used two other times in Acts to speak of something falling off, either Peter’s chains (12:7) or the ship’s ropes (27:32). Two times in the epistles, the word is used of flowers falling off (Jas. 1:11; 1 Pet. 1:24). Once, Paul says that God’s word has not, will not, and cannot become inadequate (Rom. 9:6).
The other two occurrences, Galatians 5:4 and 2 Peter 3:17, speak of a possibility of another type of falling and failing. Paul mentions “falling from grace” and Peter “falling from your own steadfastness.” This is a synonymous idea.
Paul tells the Galatians that they were free (Gal. 5:1). By faith, they had hope (Gal. 5:5) and they were running well (Gal. 5:7). But they were allowing themselves to be enslaved (Gal. 5:1), under obligation (Gal. 5:3), hindered (Gal. 5:7), and the like. In verse four, Paul says, “You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” In their case, the temptation was trying to be saved by something other than the sacrifice of Christ. Such an effort led them to fall from grace.
Peter tells his audience to live holy, godly lives (2 Pet. 3:11) anticipating Christ’s return (2 Pet. 3:12). Christ is coming again and this earth and universe will be burned up (2 Pet. 3:10). We look for new heavens and a new earth (2 Pet. 3:13), seeking to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless (2 Pet. 3:14) and growing in grace and knowledge (2 Pet. 3:18). However, if we are susceptible to those who distort the truth (2 Pet. 3:16), we could be carried away by unprincipled men and “fall from [our] own steadfastness” (2 Pet. 3:17).
In these two passages, these apostles are trying to instill a healthy fear of falling into these Christians. No, they did not want them cowering in fear and ever uncertain about their spiritual condition. They wanted them to reject false ideas and teachings that would lead them to fall from steadfastness and grace to instability and condemnation (cf. 1 Tim. 3:6). They did not want them blown off spiritual course and shipwreck their faith (cf. 1 Tim. 1:19). They did not want them to change from saved to lost (cf. 2 Pet. 2:20). They did not want them disqualified from their spiritual inheritance (cf. 1 Cor. 9:27).
The fear of falling that is so natural to a child should live inside of us to keep us from venturing beyond the bounds of spiritual safety. It should also drive us deeper into the loving arms of divine protection. Jesus makes a beautiful statement that eliminates fear of falling if it keeps us trusting in God’s guiding hand. Jesus wrote, “And I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29). What safer place is there? Let’s stay in His hand and eliminate the fear of falling!
The concept of righteousness is quite similar to holiness; both terms refer to a state of being morally upright and emotionally attuned to God’s will. It comprises all that we term justice, honesty, morality, and affections of the heart; in a nutshell, it is true religion. And while there is this type of righteousness to emulate, there are other types of righteousness to avoid.
The first type of righteousness we need to avoid is that which originates in a person’s mind, which is distinct from the righteousness that originates in God. We identify this type of righteousness as “self-righteousness.” Self-righteousness, often born out of pride, is when a person relies on his or her sense of morality to judge right and wrong.
Another example of false righteousness is John Calvin’s teaching on imputed righteousness. By imputed, Calvin meant that God credited the elect sinner with Christ’s righteousness. As a result, God shifted His attention away from the sinner and toward Jesus, whom He acknowledges to be sinless. Consequently, Calvin believed that a person God has chosen for salvation does not need to worry about living a good life. When God looks at him, he can only see Christ. (As a side note, it is expected that the one chosen by God will seek a life of righteousness. But the truth is that according to the doctrine, it’s possible to be a willful sinner and still have the righteousness of Christ imputed to them.)
There are seven occurrences of the word “impute” in the KJV. None of these verses suggests that a person can appropriate Christ’s righteousness as their own. The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ allows for the transformation of sinners into saints through forgiveness. Entrance to the heavenly kingdom is granted only to those who do God’s will (Matthew 7.21–23). Thus, while imputation suggests that God finds one without guilt and blame, it does not mean that a person can take on the righteousness of Jesus Christ and expect to gain entrance into heaven.
A sinful man becomes righteous through faith in God, not through any meritorious works he can perform. But faith does not exclude human participation. Man must do something. James 2 and Hebrews 11 remind us that faith works the works of God (Ephesians 2.10). A sinner becomes righteous, sanctified, and justified by God’s grace. God gave him his righteousness, and God counts it as his righteousness, not on account of the goodness of Christ or anyone else, living or dead.
Abraham is a great role model for how to achieve righteousness. First, Paul says that Abraham believed in God, which God credited him as righteousness (Romans 4.3–9, 17–22). Second, it is also important to note that Abraham’s righteous status was independent of his being circumcised (Romans 4.10–12). Third, Abraham’s faith was active, working by grace (Galatians 3.6–9; James 2.21–23).
So, it was Abraham’s faith in God rather than Jesus’ own sinless life and obedience that God credited as righteousness. Even though Abraham’s efforts would have been futile without Jesus’ perfect life and obedience, he could not leave everything to be accomplished by God. This truth meant that God gave Abraham the tools he needed, but Abraham was the one who had to use them.
We must do as Abraham did. And just as God will not credit us with Christ’s righteousness, neither will He credit us with the righteousness of anyone else (e.g., a parent or spouse). Our evaluation before God is personal (2 Corinthians 5.10). We must avoid doing as Paul did before his conversion, seeking righteousness contingent on anything other than Christ (Philippians 3.9).
Ephesians 1.3 says, “In Christ, God has given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” What does that mean? We hear “spiritual blessings” and might gloss over it as another Christianese phrase. Here’s a short list of what those spiritual blessings are.
1.4 — God chose us before Christ made the world.
1.4 — He chose us out of love to be his special people.
1.5 — He chose us to be his own children through Jesus Christ.
1.6 — God gives grace liberally.
1.7 — We are free because of Jesus’s sacrifice.
1.7 — We have forgiveness because of God’s grace.
1.8-9 — God told us how we can get that grace. He didn’t set up a system that we would have to look super hard for, he made sure to preserve the information needed to find him.
1.10 — He is bringing the heavens and the earth together through Jesus.
1.12-13 — He made grace available to every country on earth, not just one group.
1.13-14 — He gave us his spirit as a downpayment on our reward.
While we won’t fully appreciate these spiritual blessings until later (Paul says these riches are “too great to fully understand” in 3.8), we’re still extremely grateful that God has done so much to give us hope for eternal life.
It becomes clear from reading the second letter to the Corinthians that Paul feels the need to defend himself and his actions among his readers. He feared that he had been misunderstood in his previous work among them (cf. 1:12-14). In fact, it seems as though this is the purpose of the letter (look also at 5:11-12). If you remember from the first letter, he had some pretty challenging and unpopular things to say about how they were behaving. It’s not far-fetched to think that some of them not only would not appreciate what he said, but would attack him as the messenger for saying it. Sometimes, however lovingly and kindly we share the truth, it will offend the hearer who, instead of repenting, tries to undermine the one who said it. As we read this section, think of Paul as a man, just like his audience, who has feelings, struggles, difficulties, and temptations, too. He also needed them to know that it was because he cared so much about them that he would not “shrink from declaring to [them] anything that was profitable” (cf. Acts 20:20). What drove Paul to minister to the Corinthians? Notice several things he says in 2 Corinthians one.
THE GRACE OF GOD (12)
He would not boast in himself, whether his abilities or knowledge or influence. Those are empty and unsatisfying. His motives were pure and he was helped by a grace he wanted them to appreciate, too. When we understand our need of God’s grace, it will move us to give Him our all in response.
THE JUDGMENT DAY OF GOD (13-14)
Paul wanted them to be able to legitimately boast together and of one another at “the day of the Lord” (cf. 5:10). The word “boast” in modern English has negative connotations–bragging, arrogance, and sinful pride. Paul wanted to have confidence in them as they faced this Day, as confident as he hoped they were of him in view of it. We should share the whole counsel of God to make sure people are ready for the most important day of all.
THE PROMISES OF GOD (20)
He shared the positive and negative, the promises and the warnings, because he knew God meant what He said. He would not equivocate or talk out of both sides of his mouth. He was going to give them “the whole purpose of God” (cf. Acts 20:27). He knew God was the supreme promise-keeper (2 Tim. 4:8; 2 Cor. 5:11-14).
THE GLORY OF GOD (20)
Paul taught them for the glory of God. The Word is God’s. The promises are God’s. The salvation is from God. How silly for the fragile pottery to brag (4:7); the glory belongs to the Potter. Anything worthwhile we accomplish is always because of God.
THE WORKING OF GOD (21-22)
Paul was moved by the knowledge that God is the one who establishes men (21), sets us apart (21), and gives us His Spirit (22). Knowing this, we should share Him with people so that God can accomplish His work in their lives.
THE WITNESS OF GOD (23-24)
Wise teachers and preachers will remember that God is watching their work. He can see where no one else can–our hearts and motives. Knowing He knows me inside and out, I will check myself and do His work to bring the joy and strength of the hearers (23-24).
THE PEOPLE OF GOD (2:1-4)
We should be moved by genuine love and concern for people. Those who share the word should share life with those who receive the word from them. Building relationships, being together in all the ups and downs of life, is what it is all about. It’s hard to imagine staying motivated to share the gospel with people we isolate ourselves from.
Perhaps there are some preachers and teachers who just love beating up on their listeners (or readers). Motivation is individual to each one (Phil. 1:15-17). I have to believe that every faithful proclaimer wants not only to please God but also help as many people as possible go to heaven. There are so many great reasons why Christians should want to share God’s Word with others. Paul gives us a handful of them here.
I’ll be repeating the book of II Peter in present-day terminology. It’s not a true translation of the book, as I am not qualified to do so. It will be based on an exegetical study of the book and will lean heavily on the SBL and UBS Greek New Testaments, as well as comparisons with other translations (ESV, NASB, NIV, ERV, NLT). My goal is to reflect the text accurately, and to highlight the intent of the author using concepts and vocabulary in common use today.
This is not an essentially literal translation, and should be read as something of a commentary.
This is from Simon Peter. I’m a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ and one of his apostles. I’m writing to everyone who has a faith that’s just as valuable as ours. Your faith is just as valuable because it also came from the perfection of our God and rescuer Jesus Christ. My wish for you is that you enjoy grace and peace because you know God and Jesus, our master.
We have everything we need to be alive and live a morally good life thanks to him. His power made that possible! We have everything we need because of our relationship with him. He called us to his family because he is amazing and perfect. He’s made some incredible promises to us. Those promises were designed to give us access to his nature. We have access because we’ve escaped a worldly lifestyle characterized by unhealthy desires. Since we’ve escaped, make sure you back your faith with moral goodness. Once you have moral goodness, expand your knowledge of God. That knowledge should lead to self-control. Self-control should lead to endurance. Endurance should lead to godliness. Godliness should lead to good relationships with each other, which should lead to love. If you are growing in these areas, you can’t be described as useless or unproductive in your relationship with our master, Jesus Christ. If you don’t have these qualities, you’re blind or shortsighted because you’ve forgotten that your record was cleared.
There is a story about a father building his daughter a wheelchair from the ground up after she got paralyzed in a car crash. Her father was willing to do all the research and put all the time in to building a wheelchair for his daughter who he loved so much. I don’t think I would trust my dad to make me a wheelchair, but this father demonstrates the love he has for his daughter and the lengths he would go to to keep her safe. We are told in multiple different ways how deep the Father’s love is. As the song goes, “Why should I gain from His reward I cannot give an answer.” I want to share just three points with you tonight why we gained from his reward.
The first one is that His love is so deep that He created us. Genesis 1:27 says that God created man in His image. Since we are made in God’s image, we are His special creation. In return for Him to love us so much we need to love Him and obey Him.
Then when we messed up God loved us so much that He gave His only Son for our sins (John 3:16). He was willing to do anything for us as His children. I know this is a point that is used a lot. Would you give your son? Not just your son, but your only son. Now I don’t have children but I’m sure that if I did that I would not be willing to do that. If you go on to verse 17 it says that He did it so that we might be saved. If we do what is commanded here on earth we will have an eternal home.
The third point we gained from his reward was because he loved us so much that He wanted us to have an eternal home with Him. Go back to John 3:16. It says that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. Now going back to the example I gave just a moment ago. I don’t think I will ever love anyone enough to give my son. Now let’s back up for a minute and ask ourselves why do we not love each other that much? We are all God’s creation so we should love others like God tells us.
Thinking back to my childhood when my dad would get mad at me I failed to realize that he loved me enough to help me do right. God loves me enough to give me the opportunity to stand up here and give this devo. And God loves everyone of us enough to give His only Son for our foolishness. And now our job is to love Him so much to obey his laws.
How many of you have ever sat at a red light in traffic only to realize when that light turns green there’s still no place to go… and then before you get through the intersection the light turns red again. Frustration at its finest.
Who has ever been seated to eat somewhere and it takes over 15 minutes for a waiter or waitress just to come take your drink order? I can feel my blood pressure rising just thinking about it!
I can’t be the only one who has ever lost my cool with my kids or other family members. Sometimes what seems to be for no apparent reason at all? Hopefully you’ve taken the time to at least realize you reacted poorly and made your apologies.
I’d like to share with you my struggle with being a patient man. How I always need to consciously work on it, what works for me, what doesn’t work for me, and maybe open your eyes to the reality of what true Christian patience looks like.
My wife, Rebecca, always tells me, “Don’t ever ask God for patience, or else He’ll give you something to be patient about.” I can see that. To a certain point, I believe it too. But let’s take a second look at it in James 1:2-8.
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” So let’s look at this. I have faith. My faith can be tested.
This doesn’t mean I’ve lost faith, just that I’m being tested for how strong my faith is.
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” – Here I see my struggle with patience as the wisdom aspect. Maybe I’m not feeling wise. Maybe I’m having trouble figuring out this patience thing you all speak of. Is it wrong of me to at least let God know, hey I’m struggling with this… No! Absolutely not. Philippians 4:6 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Let me be clear, I’m not disagreeing with my wife. I would never do that honey… I’m simply saying that asking God for patience and asking God for grace and understanding while I figure out what I need to change in my life to be more patient, are two completely different things. Verse 6 says,
“But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
So we have some ground rules here. James tells us, “you must ask in faith. You cannot doubt God. For if you have any doubt, any doubt at all you can expect to receive nothing.”
Maybe my best course of action does not stem from asking God for help. What I have done and learned to do lately is called connecting the dots. If I am unhappy, frustrated and struggling to find joy at home, I ask myself why? Where did that come from? There doesn’t seem to be anything that my family is doing wrong. Sure, dishes pile up in the sink,kids room is not picked up, laundry room is overflowing… Those things happen, they’ve happened before and it didn’t bother me that much in the past. Maybe all those little things just seem like big things now because something else is bothering me, but what? What’s changed? Connecting the dots for me almost always leads back to work. A bad run I’ve been on, problems with co-workers, added duties and responsibilities to an already stressful job. I have had to learn to be more aware of my stressors. I’ve had to do a hard reset on what I bring home vs what I leave at work. Most of all I’ve had to remember to lean on Jesus.
“Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my Yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).
Learn to lean on Jesus. Learn to do it early. Learn to do it often. I urge you to join a private Bible study. Find an elder, find a deacon, or find a friend and ask them to study the Bible with you. Studying the word of God is the biggest stress reliever I have ever found. I am so grateful for those that have taken the time to study with me.
If you are not a Christian, you have a choice. Don’t wait. Learning to be a disciple takes time. But making the decision to desire discipleship takes no time at all. Be baptized into Christ Jesus and rest easy knowing your soul is in safe hands.
If you are a Christian, perhaps you’ve let your anxiety, stress or impatience get in the way of being a solid Christian, a rock star husband or wife, a nurturing mother or father, or a fierce friend. We are here to help you, guide you or pray for you. Do not be weary, whatever you may need.