A question for any of you who consider yourselves Christians, followers of Jesus: would you say that Jesus has transformed your life?
It wouldn’t surprise me if Peter has that memory in mind as he continues his teaching in 1 Peter 4:1-6. In verse 3 he builds on what he has already said in verses 1-2. To review, Peter has taught that through suffering you are learning to be done with sin. He says that Christians can choose to no longer live for evil human desires, and thus live for God’s desires, for God’s will.
Now in verse 3, I hear Peter saying: “Frankly, don’t you think you have lived a really sinful life long enough?” In other words he is saying to them, “You have spent enough time in the past following evil human desires. Keep following Jesus.”
Peter wants them to take a step back and review their life. Apparently some of them had really lived it up in the past. What Peter describes here is some risky behavior. There is no self-control in this.
The scholars tell us Peter is referring to “drinking parties involving unrestrained indulgence in alcoholic beverages and accompanying immoral behavior.” (Louw & Nida) This is out of control stuff where you are risking your health on a regular basis. In 2018, it would like getting high on heroine, sleeping around with anyone, getting drunk on a regular basis, and then driving vehicles drunk. It is very selfish, wasteful, and irresponsible.
Maybe you’ve experienced some of that lifestyle yourself. Maybe you know people who have. Maybe your sinful behavior was rebellion in other ways. Maybe there is some rebellion still going on in your life?
In what area of your life are you lacking self-control? Is it your mind, mouth, attitude, money, time spent on TV, social media, video games, food, and you know God would say, “Follow me”?
Peter is saying to these Christians and to us that it is time to be done with that old life.
And that is exactly what happened! Look at verse 4.
Peter reviews their spiritual story. There was a change. The people who were formerly partying it up had made a change. They had started following Christ, and they are living the new way of his Kingdom, or at least they are trying to. The way of Christ is a way of self-control. Think fruit of the Spirit growing in you and flowing through you. Love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control. The new way is exact opposite of the way they used to be. Where there was lust, there is now love. Where there was anger and rage, there is now joy, peace, and gentleness, kindness. Where there was rebellion and fighting, there is now patience and self-control.
Peter is talking to people who actually went through these changes. So why would he need to warn them, if they had already made the change?
It could be that Peter knows how difficult persecution can be. Especially when your friends are involved. And that’s what we we’re going to talk about tomorrow.