Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg

with Tom Fuller


Arm Yourselves!

1Peter 4:1-19

All that Peter has been telling us so far leads up to this point ? our position in Christ, the purpose of suffering ? the purification ? the new character of love ? our behavior towards others and living the Christian life fully and completely with our behavior as much as our words - it all leads to verse 1 of chapter 4:\r
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1 Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. \r
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We need an attitude adjustment ? we?re so caught up in our own thing and our own world ? but we who name the name of Jesus have changed jobs, we?ve changed careers, and we need to change our attitude for what we?re about now.\r
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My recent job change ? over to the ?dark side? ? I represent a different contingency now. We represent the Lord, so we need to act that way.\r
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What was Christ?s attitude?\r
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? I?m not here on my own authority\r
? My job is to spread God?s live by suffering and dieing \r
? I?m not going to let anything stand in my way\r
? Truth is more important than comfort\r
? Don?t beat around the bush but get right to the point ? get right with God\r
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?Arm? means to equip with weapons. We have weapons to use in this arms race of equipping ourselves with Christ?s attitude about life and suffering. We have the Word, we have worship, we have support from our brothers and sisters. We have the goal ahead of us. It?s a job, it?s a commission, it?s a duty.\r
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What does this have to do with Peter?s basic theme of bearing up under suffering and persecution? Read verse 2:\r
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2 As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God\r
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There is something about suffering that gives us a new attitude about sin:\r
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? It clarifies our priorities (the building pulled everyone together)\r
? It purifies our actions when we see the real battle and the real price Jesus paid\r
? It boils away the bad, leaving us freer to serve (boot camp)\r
? Sin loses power when we suffer\r
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This purification has an effect on those who knew you in your BC days ? and those who you live and work with but who don?t share your job description. \r
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3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do-living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 4 They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you. 5 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit. \r
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As your life changes, people will first be in awe, then they?ll get angry. You?ll receive a lot of pressure to conform and run with them ? if you don?t they?ll heap abuse on you. That?s because right living reminds people that there is a judgment coming. As long we keep our blinders and ear muffs on then we don?t have to take responsibility before God for what we do. But we must! God judges the body, but saves the spirit and will transform our bodies one day very soon.\r
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The attitude then is: judgment?s coming ? sin has a price to pay, and we?ve got a job to do, live a righteous life fully for Christ, adopting his attitude and fortitude as we share the gospel.\r
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This new attitude effects our thinking and our speaking.\r
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Verses 7 ? 11\r
Clear Your Mind ? Fill Your Life and Mouth\r
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7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.\r
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We need to not fall asleep ? but stay awake and realize the Lord?s coming back soon ? it?s an attitude that should shape our prayers. \r
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? Think like a redeemed person\r
? Act like a redeemed person\r
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Suffering does something else for us ? it creates tenderness. (floods ? people helping, village in Alaska helping stranded passengers)\r
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8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.\r
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Remember what I shared last week? Live lightly, love deeply, give freely. Let suffering not harden your heart but soften it. Realize your priorities. Don?t look to get, but look to what God has given you ? gifts of hospitality or comfort or administration ? don?t let suffering cow you into holding back, but instead, give out all the more.\r
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11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. \r
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Two things here ? when we talk with others we need to share the Word of God ? don?t just make it up as you go along ? that?s why it?s important to study the Word, come Sundays, listen to tapes, study on your own. And two ? all this giving out can not be on our own strength ? that way He gets the credit, not us.\r
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Verses 12 ? 19\r
Take Trials in Stride\r
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Now in verse 12 and 13 comes probably the best advice yet for our attitude in trials.\r
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12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.\r
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? Take trials in stride ? don?t let them break your step\r
? Be a little happy about it now ? be very happy about it later\r
? God gets credit for what He does ? you?ll get blessings later ? not now\r
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14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.\r
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Want more of God?s Spirit? Let someone insult you for Christ. If you live life fully for Christ ? and walk in the gifts He?s given you ? you will run into opposition. It?s okay. People will say mean things to you and about you.\r
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Now that doesn?t mean that every time you get in trouble it means you are blessed.\r
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15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.\r
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Peter puts this here because we can?t just take on the role of a martyr every time we get ourselves into trouble. And Peter even gives us a range of trouble ? murder of course everyone would agree would not merit God?s blessing ? nor anyone who steals ? in fact, if we break the law and suffer for it we shouldn?t expect brownie points. Speeding on the way to a Bible study doesn?t count as an excuse you can give to the officer who stops you.\r
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But isn?t it interesting that Peter also includes ?meddling? in the list? The word comes from two Greek words: ?belonging to another person? and ?an overseer?. It was a legal term used when charging Christians with trying to force Christian standards on a hostile gentile world.\r
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You see a big mistake we make as Christians is to impose the external results of righteousness on people who have not been redeemed internally. You can?t force a person to abstain from impurity. First they must have a relationship with Jesus Christ, be forgiven, and belong to Him ? THEN begins the process of sanctification.\r
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Remember? This harkens back to what we?ve been studying all along ? the process of becoming like the Lord. Our job is to share the good news of what Jesus did for ALL of us ? not force everyone to act like Jesus without becoming like Him through the Holy Spirit.\r
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On the other hand ? as you live your life fully and openly for Christ if you suffer for that ? someone yells at you or discriminates against you or even hurts you ? don?t fight back and react like a wordling ? but praise God that you bear the name of Jesus, who suffered without reproach for you.\r
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And keep this in mind:\r
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17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And, \r
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"If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, \r
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?" \r
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God?s judgment serves two purposes: for those who are saved it is purging, for those who are not it is reminder of the eternal judgment to come, and hopefully a motivation to come to Christ.\r
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Conclusion\r
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So how does Peter conclude?\r
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19 So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. \r
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1- Commit ? it?s a banking term ? putting on deposit. We commit the protection of our money into the bank?s hands when we put our money in a savings account. We need to put our lives into God?s hands when we suffer ? relying on Him to be faithful. \r
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2- Do good ? We actually bring that commitment about by doing good, by not letting the world and it?s abuse of us get us down, but instead turn around and give blessing for cursing.\r
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We need:\r
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? A new attitude (vs 1)\r
? A new outlook (vs 2)\r
? A new way of thinking (vs 7)\r
? A new way of acting (vs 8-9)\r
? A new way of speaking (vs 11)\r
? A new way of living (vs 12)\r
? A new way of suffering (vs 15)\r
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Did you know it?s God?s will for you to suffer? Not so He can hurt you, but so He can heal you and transform you.\r
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Live lightly, love deeply, give freely ? suffer faithfully