August 31, 2017
“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” 1 Peter 4:17-19.
Peter was a man who understood what it meant to go through trials. During his years with Jesus he was brash and outspoken. In his finer moments he would proclaim “…Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:16b but other times he tried to stop Jesus, whom he proclaimed as the Christ, from going to Jerusalem to fulfill His mission on earth. When Judas led the men to arrest Jesus, it was Peter who drew a sword to defend Him, but it was also Peter who later that night denied knowing Jesus and hid during the crucifixion. Through it all Jesus forgave Peter. After the Resurrection Jesus told His disciples to wait for Him in Galilee and it was there that a humble Peter was restored as a disciple and urged to “feed My sheep”. Peter was changed. He was no longer ashamed to preach the Gospel and he boldly spoke with the power of the Holy Spirit. Because of his boldness many people came to salvation through his witness. Peter faced his trials head on and he ultimately faced his own execution. If anyone understood fiery trials it was Peter and he learned to rejoice because they helped him to draw closer to Jesus. “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4:12-13. The persecution of Christians was beginning and Peter wanted his fellow Christians to be strong. Today it’s important for us to take Peter’s words to heart because we still face persecution and testing of our faith.
When we accept Christ as our Saviour we also need to accept Him as Lord. As Saviour He forgives our sin, but as Lord He rules our life so we make godly choices. This may cause us to face fiery trials and persecution. Many Christians today face imprisonment and torture because they won’t deny Christ, but the everyday trials we face can wear us down if we aren’t diligent in our walk with Christ. When Jesus is Lord of our life, we make decisions based on His example. The Bible is the guide for our attitudes, speech, and choice of lifestyle. Through his own mistakes Peter had learned valuable lessons and could speak with authority about the changes one should make. In this first letter he spoke of suffering persecution for being faithful to Jesus, but he also addressed what we shouldn’t suffer for. “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.” 1 Peter 4:15. Are these characteristics we think of in a Christian? There are consequences to sin and if you plan to murder someone or steal property you pay by going to jail. A Christian should never do these things and therefore shouldn’t suffer for doing them. Evildoers and busybodies aren’t usually sent to jail but Peter includes these things in the same group as murder and theft. Those who do wrong to other people and gossip do suffer, but it comes from having a guilt over treating others wrong and not being likable. If you claim to be a Christian and these things are a part of your life, you need to take an honest look at yourself and repent from these sins and have allow Christ to change you. A Christian should never bring shame to the name of Jesus. On the other hand, if you suffer persecution and ridicule from the people around you because you choose to follow Christ then you have nothing to be ashamed of. Judgment begins at the house of the Lord and Christians who think they have a license to sin all they want will have a rude awakening.
Peter knew what Jesus had suffered to purchase our salvation and encourages us to have the same mind as Christ. “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from 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.” 1 Peter 4:1-2. Jesus had no sin but He faced temptations like we do. Satan tried to tempt Him to fail but Jesus answered every temptation with Scripture. We need to arm ourselves with the word of God so that when temptation comes our way we can recall Scripture to strengthen our resistance. Before we came to Christ we lived by the rules of the world, but for a Christian that should no longer be true. “For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: 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.” 1 Peter 4:3-5. Before becoming a Christian many people lived it up with no rules of right and wrong. Now that you’ve become a Christian you are to turn away from drunkenness, sexual encounters outside of a one man/one woman marriage, and any activity that doesn’t honor God. Will your old friends congratulate you for making a wise choice in choosing not to sin? No. They’ll ridicule you for being a “goody two-shoes” or “holier than thou”. “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12. You are a sinner saved by grace, but your old friends are sinners who need to meet Jesus. If you don’t stand firm for Christ they will influence you to return to worldly ways. Your mission is to influence them by not compromising your faith.
Peter wasn’t the only one who wrote about being persecuted because of faith in Jesus. Paul also wrote about this in his second letter to Timothy. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” 2 Timothy 3:12-13. Paul’s life had been filled with persecution because of his faith in Jesus and Timothy was well aware of what Paul had suffered. This persecution by “evil men and seducers” is still around today and getting worse. The worldly people around us are still doing what they can to cause Christians to fail through persecution and it’s easy to allow ourselves to be influenced by Satan’s minions through movies, music, television, and the internet. As we draw nearer to the end of time this will get much worse. Christians must separate from the things in this world that promote sin…we are called upon to be in the world but not to be a part of the world. Choose entertainment using godly judgment and Christian parents need to homeschool their children. This is a spiritual battle we’re in and Christians need to stand against the enemy.
All of this brings us back to judgment. Judgment will come to everyone. Christians have been forgiven, but our works will be judged. Rewards will be given for things done for Christ, but things done for the lust of the flesh will be burned. Sin never glorifies Jesus. If you claim to be a Christian but are practicing sin repent and begin living for Christ. The Book of Revelation is prophecy which will soon be fulfilled. Jesus dictated letters to John which were addressed to seven congregations. These letters outline a history of the “church age”. From the letter to the congregation in Ephesus right through the final letter written to the Laodiceans we’re given a summary of history in advance (from John’s perspective). Most scholars agree that the “age” we are in today is described in the letter to the Laodiceans. They are apostate and lukewarm in their faith. Jesus will spew them from His mouth and this lukewarm group will be judged. “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” Revelation 3:17-18. In other words, turn away from the world and turn to Jesus for that which only He can provide: salvation. New Age, purpose driven, emergent church, contemplative prayer, and more false doctrines are permeating congregations today. Get back to the basics…study God’s word and apply it to your life.
Jesus gave His life so nobody will have to spend eternity in the lake of fire. Do you claim to be a Christian but still live a lifestyle of sin, lust, and worldly pleasures? “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:19-22. Many congregations today leave Jesus outside but look for the latest gimmick to pacify the congregation. Sinful lifestyles are common in many congregations and Jesus isn’t welcome inside but is knocking in order for someone to hear and invite Him in. Not everyone who claims to be a Christian has truly accepted Christ. If you have then a change should be evident. Accepting Christ means you recognize that you are a sinner and need Jesus Christ for salvation. The temptation to fall back into sin will always be there, but if you allow Jesus to be Lord of your life you will turn from sin. Don’t just give lip service to Him but give your life to Him. It isn’t too late for you to call on Jesus today, but tomorrow may be too late.
“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God…” 1 Peter 4:17a. It must begin at the house of God because who else has been entrusted with His word? Who else should understand how to represent Him? Start living your life for Him today.
God bless you all,
Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.