Think Like Jesus

1 Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same understanding ​— ​because the one who suffers in the flesh is finished with sin ​— ​
2 in order to live the remaining time in the flesh no longer for human desires, but for God’s will. 3 For there has already been enough time spent in doing what the Gentiles choose to do: carrying on in unrestrained behavior, evil desires, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and lawless idolatry. 4 They are surprised that you don’t join them in the same flood of wild living ​— ​and they slander you. 5 They will give an account to the one who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this reason the gospel was also preached to those who are now dead, so that, although they might be judged in the flesh according to human standards, they might live in the spirit according to God’s standards. — 1 Peter 4:1-6 (CSB)

INTRODUCTION

I have really struggle with this message but both the Amplified Bible and the Message have helped. Basically, Peter is challenging believers to think like Christ when it comes to suffering. Peter says more about suffering than any N.T. writer. He makes six references in I Peter alone: 1:6, 2:20, 3:14, 3:17, 4:15, 4:19. Peter’s basic premise is–We are all going to suffer. We can suffer for doing evil or we can suffer for doing good but everyone is going to suffer. It is the curse of living in a broken world.

Peter said, “Since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same understanding.”

FIRST: SUFFERING IS A CALLING–Be Mentally Prepared

Philippians 1:12….For it has been granted to you on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him.

The word ‘arm’ is a military word. When the soldier arms himself, he get all his equipment ready for battle. For the Roman infantry, that was a long spear, a shield and a short sword. No soldier goes into battle without arming himself.

Note what Jesus says prior to His crucifixion:

Mark 8:31…Then he began to teach them that it was necessary for the Son of Man to suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and rise after three days.

Luke 9:22…“It is necessary that the Son of Man suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day.”

  1. What has Jesus done? He has prepared Himself for suffering. He has accepted His call to suffer and even embraced it. He is ready to suffer!
  2. Why is He telling His disciples? To prepare them; to get them ready for His suffering because when He suffers, they too will suffer.
  3. I know most of you have ridden the subways underneath the Atlanta Airport; they move fast and they stop fast. You grab a handle or you brace yourself, if not, you will going rolling to the end of the car. We need to be braced for suffering. It is surely coming. It is not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’.

Augustine: God had one Son on earth without sin but none without suffering.

SECOND: SUFFERING IS NECESSARY…It has a purpose

Jesus suffered but He suffered for a reason, a cause, a purpose. Jesus suffering was a vicarious atonement for our sins. No person is their right mind wants to suffer but Jesus armed Himself to suffer in our behalf in order to save us from our sins.

Perhaps you are thinking: that is well and good but why do we have to suffer? Why should we arm ourselves?

  1. We suffer justly. A lot of our suffering is related to the fall of man. We are suffering due to our sin and rebellion. Our world is sin cursed and it is full of suffering. In a sense, all suffering is related to our sin and rebellion.
  2. We also suffer redemptively. God uses suffering as a refiners fire to purify us of vain motives and worldly lust. Suffering is a great teacher.
  3. I’ve never had a desire to suffer or to fail and yet I have suffered many failures. All CHRISTIAN VIRTUES come by way of suffering. The most humble, gracious people on the earth are those who have suffering. The most humble man I ever knew was a retired missionary from Africa by the name of Clyde Dotson. Bro. Clyde was in his 80’s by the time I met him. I’ve never been in the presence of a man with deeper convictions or greater compassion. Bro. Clyde would pray at the drop of a hat and he would drop the hat if necessary. I wept every time I heard him share his testimony of children he buried in African soil, along with two wives. Bro. Clyde got so lonesome after his first wife died that he would walk 30 miles searching for a soul he could have true fellowship with. {Ron Dunn, Adrian Rogers, Manley Beasley}

THIRD: SUFFERING IS A FORGE

To forge is to fashion something, shape something by using intense heat. A blacksmith uses a forge. He heats the iron so he can bend it, mold it and make it into something useful.

Paul said in Philippians 3:10, My goal is to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death.

Some of the heat comes from the world…Listen to I Peter 4 via the Message….

Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. 
Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want. 
3 You’ve already put in your time in that God-ignorant way of life, partying night after night, a drunken and profligate life. Now it’s time to be done with it for good. 
4 Of course, your old friends don’t understand why you don’t join in with the old gang anymore. But you don’t have to give an account to them. 
5 They’re the ones who will be called on the carpet – and before God himself. 
6 Listen to the Message. It was preached to those believers who are now dead, and yet even though they died (just as all people must), they will still get in on the life that God has given in Jesus. 

If you follow Christ, you will stand out. If you stand out, you will be persecuted is some shape form or fashion. It may be as simple as rejection. When I surrendered to preach, I not only lost friends, I lost family. I became and odd ball so to speak. I still feel that rejection today as an old man. I would love to say that it doesn’t hurt but it still hurts but that is why we call it suffering. I don’t like rejection, I don’t thrive on it but it is part of being a follower of Christ. The world hates me because it hated Jesus. {Dickie}

Remember: hot metal glows. I’ve seen believes shine in the darkness during time of crisis and suffering. It is an opportunity to be a witness for Christ. Don’t waste your sorrow. [1] God is either showing me something or [2] He is showing someone else something through me.
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Suffering For Righteousness Sake

Scripture: I Peter 3:13-17 {CSB}

13 Who then will harm you if you are devoted to what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be intimidated, 15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 16 Yet do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that when you are accused, those who disparage your good conduct in Christ will be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. — 1 Peter 3:13-17 (CSB)

INTRODUCTION

Peter understands something that a great many do not understand today: we are all going to suffer. When I say that, I mean Christians. Paul said to young Timothy– “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” Our suffering is not an “if” but a “when.” Christians are called to suffer. We are going to suffer one way or the other: we can suffer for doing wrong or we can suffer for doing what is right. In terms of community and civil authority, those who do right suffer the least but in God’s kingdom, those who do right often suffer the most and Jesus is the prime example. Jesus did nothing but good. He never sinned, not even once. No one on this earth could accuse Him of sin and yet He suffered more than anyone. This world rejected and hated Christ because He was good, not because He was bad.

When I came to this part of the country 40 years ago, I had a deacon who worried himself to death about my unpopularity. He liked me and he wanted everyone to like me. Of course, I offended some people right off the bat and I had folks who despised me, almost from day one. I was aware of my approval ratings but I did not give it a lot of consideration. I told him time and again, “Jesus did not die of old age. He was crucified by folks who hated Him.” Somehow, this truth never sunk in.

Folks, we are not in a popularity contest. We do not seek the world’s approval. Yes, you may suffer less by conforming to their standards: Peter tried this himself. He tried following Jesus from a distance; even denying a relationship with HIM and Peter did all of this to protect himself from the vicious scorn that was being poured out of Jesus. The closer to Jesus you walk, the more you will suffer the scorn and contempt the world has for HIM. But when Peter tried this, he was tormented in his conscience and he had no peace. So pick your poison. The point is: you suffer either way you go so why not suffer for the right things and have peace.

TRANSITION: So Peter is giving these persecuted believers a format or guide on HOW TO RESPOND TO MISTREATMENT how to live in a pagan invironment. REMEMBER: Peter is blue colar; he is practical. These are things that will work. To suceed we need…

1. A PASSION FOR DOING GOOD

13 Who then will harm you if you are devoted [passionate] to what is good? 

2. A WILLINGNESS TO SUFFER

14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed.

Jesus said…Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. {Matthew 5:10}

As a matter of fact in the next verse, Jesus says, You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me.

How is it that Peter says we are “Blessed.” Who is the source of our blessings? Who has the ability to bless us most? God, the giver of every good and perfect gift. When He is pleased with our willingness to suffer for righteousness [Christ] and He will bless us for doing the right thing.

Peter is not speaking hypothetically, he knows from experience. God can be trusted on this matter.

3. A FOCUS ON CHRIST…THE LORD

14 Do not fear what they fear or be intimidated, 15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy…

The devil is a playground bully, he loves to threaten and intimidate. This is his game. Anytime we give in to fear or to his empty threats, we are destined to fail. The classic example is Elijah verse Jezebel [devil]. She send him a threatening message and he fled the country which is exactly what she wanted. We cannot panic.

Actually Peter is quoting Isaiah 8:13-14….where king Ahaz is panicing

12 Do not call everything a conspiracy these people say is a conspiracy. Do not fear what they fear; do not be terrified.
13 You are to regard only the Lord of Armies as holy. Only He should be feared; only he should be held in awe.
14 He will be a sanctuarybut for the two houses of Israel, he will be a stone to stumble over and a rock to trip over, — Isaiah 8:12-14 (CSB)

Isaiah’s message to Ahaz is clear: “You are fearing the wrong object, stop being afraid of these people and fear God. Give Him regard as the LORD of the Armies. Only He should be feared or awed. A man fearing spirit will lead to compromise and failure. Don’t give in to intimidation. Folks it is going to happen. People are going to try to manipulate you by using intimidating tactics. I have had at least three people to make a vow, to my face, to ruin me if I did not consent to their desires. I even had one to pronounce a curse on me. We cannot give into threats. If we do, we will be follwing Satan and not Christ.

When I was a child, Christians could live in our culture without fear of persecution but those days are gone. If you are out spoken on the right of the unborn to life or the evil of homosexuality, you will be persecuted.

Isaiah’s point to Ahaz was simple: Look to Yahweh and Him alone. Stop focusing on your enemies [Israel and Syria] or your false friends {Assyria}. Ahaz was doing what men commonly do, He was leaving God out of the equation. He wasn’t giving Jehovah any consideration.

4. A HOPE OF GLORY

Be ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 16 Yet do this with gentleness and respect.

The Greek word for ‘defense’ is ä-po-lo-gē’-ä and you don’t have to be a scholar to recognize this is the root of our word apology and from this word we get ‘apologetics’ which is the defense of our faith. Appolos was probaly not the first but he was the most renown of the time. Paul was also an apoligist. Both he and Apollos could take the O.T. Scripture and prove that Jesus was the Christ. Of course, the greatest of our time is C.S. Lewis. But Peter is not directing this statement to brillant minds like Lewis, he is talking to every day, run of the mill, believers like you and me.

If there is one area where I have really dropped the ball, it is here. I have been attempting to witness for Christ for over 50 years and I’m still {sad to say} not very effective. Other than being lazy and missing opts to share my faith, my biggest problem is to slow down, relax and listen to the person I am sharing with. I entertain no illusion that I have the gift of evangelism and I have failed many times to be gentle or show respect. I have even been known to argue in my earlier days. I had a man tell me some years ago, to get off his property, that he was not interested in anything I had to say. I should have graciously dismissed myself, got in my vehicle and drove away but no, I had to have the last word…“You are not interested in knowing the way to heaven...and then I quoted John 14:6 before he had time to get his gun.” At the time, I thought I was planting seed but it is more likely that I reinforced his bias against Christians.

5. A CLEAR CONSCIENCE

Yet do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that when you are accused, those who disparage your good conduct in Christ will be put to shame.

Paul said to Timothy {I Timothy 1:19} Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.

What a wonderful analogy: the Conscience is the ships hull and faith is the cargo. If you rupture your conscience, your faith will leak out and so will your joy [David]. But there are a couple of other things in the hull of your conscience and they are COURAGE and PEACE. We have to stay up to date on our repentance and confession because we need a good conscience.

The bible does speak of:

  1. Good Conscience {I Tim. 1:5}
  2. A Clear Conscience {I Tim. 3:9}
  3. A Defiled Consicience {Tit. 1:15}
  4. An Evil Conscience {Heb. 10:22}
  5. A Seared Conscience {I Tim. 4:2}

CONCLUSION

Some of you know about my recent post on Facebook that riled the liberals. I made the statement that Doug Jones is stooge. He is bought and paid for by the rich Sadducees in NY. The man did not have the liberty to change his mind no matter how many constituents called. The power brokers of the Democratic Party had already told him what to do: he represents them, not Alabama. He lied to us when he said he would support President Trump. Lying is wrong and so is slander and he has done both. Was I wrong to call him out? According to my liberal friends, I was hating and judging. The man is not my enemy. He is ignorant and misguided but he is not my enemy and God knows I do not hate him. I don’t want anyone else to hate him on account of what he said to me. He like Jones is a dupe. He is being used. Satan is the master mind and he is the real enemy. We have spiritual problem in this country and guns and ammo will not fix it. We need REVIVAL.

  1. If I have a PASSION FOR DOING RIGHT
  2. A WILLINGNESS TO SUFFER
  3. A FOCUS ON CHRIST
  4. A HOPE OF GLORY
  5. A CLEAR CONSCIENCE

…those who disparage {Accuse, speak evil of, slander] your good conduct in Christ will be put to shame….he might be converted. I will not win him by telling him how stupid he is for drinking the government coolaid.