Calling Yourself a Christian When You live Like Hell is Ridiculous!
By: Rev. Joe Kramer
Too many born-again Christians are choosing to live in the slavery of sin. Folks we are called to be out of this world, not live in it and conform to it. This ought not to be! Our article today will focus on what Christ did for us, how we are to live and reminds us that even Christians won’t escape all kinds of judgment. Christians will be judged by their actions and lose rewards.
Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. 4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. 5 They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
-1 Peter 4:1-6 (NKJV)
In verse one Peter draws our attention to Christ and the suffering that He went through in the flesh. He is God become man. Like a hand fills a glove so God filled the flesh. In doing this He died in our place. We are deserving of death because of our wrongdoing, but Christ took that punishment for us that we might be made right with God (called Justification). Knowing this Peter says to arm ourselves. This is an interesting phrase, because this would bring forth images of the military of their time, the Roman soldier. Why does he state this? He is not asking people to take up a sword but to prepare for spiritual and mental battle. He says to arm your mind and life with this knowledge. The whole of Christianity is predicated on the reality of what Jesus did for us and must be guarded in our minds and lives. With this analogy of the military Peter reminds us that if Christ suffered, so will Christians (Peter has already showed this earlier in this letter). Peter says that the one who suffers in the flesh has ceased from sinning. This part of the verse is highly debated by Christians, but I believe that this refers to being dead to sin and alive to Christ. This means that we should reckon ourselves as dead to sin. Why? He says this because dead people can’t sin. Dead people can’t do anything. So Peter reminds us that as Christians we have a choice to sin or not to sin. Sin is no longer our master, thanks to what Christ has done for us.
Verses two through four continue this thought. The reason to not live in sin is quite clear. As Christians we want to live the will of God, which sin has no part. What sins tend to trip up Christians? Lying, gossip, pride, jealousy (these are just a few). Notice that these aren’t the ones most people think about when they think of sin. They think about illicit sex, homosexuality and abortion. Those are sins, but these are the ones that are like cancer to Christian’s souls and to churches. These will destroy lives and destroy Christian fellowships. God calls these readers to look at their past lives of sin and wants them to have nothing to do with that old way of living. This makes the minds of his reader’s ask why they would want to continue in that kind of fruitless and empty life. Besides that, those who live in sin aren’t usually genuine. They tend to look out for only themselves. There are two kinds of people in this world those who look good by working hard and those that look good by making you look bad. More often than not the people who live sinful lives talk terrible about one another behind their backs. Peter reminds us through this verse to not be like those who speak evil behind other people’s backs; too often though we find many Christians who practice this same kind of evil and shameful behavior. Have you done this? Will you continue to do this in light of scripture?
Verse five reminds us that all people will be judged by their actions. Christians, however, will be judged by what they have done with the gift of salvation brought to us by the sacrifice of Jesus, but that isn’t the end for Christians. Christians will be judged by their actions and service to God. This judgment won’t decide if they get into heaven but will decide what rewards, if any, they will receive. Heaven is an underserved gift given to those who ask for the gift. One can’t get to heaven by actions, but only by accepting the salvation by faith in grace. The unbeliever, however, will be judged by their denial of Christ and by their actions. They stand condemned already. We are reminded that all will be judged, not just the dead but those who are alive right now will be judged as well.
Verse six reminds us that all have sinned and all are guilty and for this reason all need to be shown the way of the cross for salvation. Some scholars will disagree, but this keeps in standing with the scripture that we are dealing with. Remember context is always the key to understanding; it keeps us from making applications that really aren’t there. Sin has entered into the world, even the Christian will physically die but the Christian is spiritually alive to God. For this reason we need to share the good news of God (Salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ) to everyone we can. We need to have an answer for those who are asking questions, so they can avoid judgment with the end result of Hell.
How are you today? Are you living in such a way that you are bringing dishonor to God? Remember what we said. Lying, gossiping etc. is all sin and can hurt the cause of Christ more than the “biggies,” and often do hurt the cause and local churches. Are you contributing to these shameful and evil practices? If so then you need to stop (repent) ask God for forgiveness today and ask Him to change you through His power and start living right before Him. The choice is yours.