1 Peter 4:1-2- Done With Sin

In this passage, Peter tells believers what they are to do in response to what Christ has done for them, which is found in chapter 3, verses 17-18. Here we are told that it is better to suffer for doing good rather than for doing evil. This is what Jesus did, for we learn in verse 18 that “Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God”. Jesus endured suffering in order to bring about God’s will, enduring the most profound evil ever perpetrated by the human race in order to save the human race. The primary theme of the passage at hand is thus found here, for we are told in 1 Peter 4:1 to “arm yourselves also with the same attitude”. Jesus endured suffering Himself for the good of others, and believers here are called to do exactly the same thing. We will look more closely at this passage to examine exactly what this means. We begin by noting that we are first commanded to (imperative mood) “arm ourselves”, which is the Greek word hoplizo- to equip, to take up as a weapon, hence the NIV translation as “arm”. We are in a battle, and we find here that our primary weapon is a bit of a surprise. for we are told to arm ourselves with an attitude, with a mindset, a way of thinking. This may initially seem a bit surprising, but is not so when we find out just who the enemy is whom we must arm ourselves against. Peter tells us precisely who (not what) our enemy is, and our enemy is “sin”. Peter here agrees with Paul that our primary enemy as believers is not other people, for “our struggle is not against flesh and blood but… against spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Our primary weapon in our struggle against sin is an attitude, for the battle with sin takes place mainly inside of us, not outside of us, for the “suffering” takes place “in the body”. Peter tells us here that “he who has suffered in his body is done with sin”, this is how he describes the attitude we are to have. This is precisely the same attitude which Jesus had and is described by Paul in Philippians 2:8, in which we are told that Jesus “humbled himself and became obedient to death- even death on a cross”. Jesus was willing to endure suffering in the body in order to do the will of God, and His followers here are called to exactly the same thing, and the reason for this is given here, for “he who has suffered in his body is done with sin”. Just what does Peter mean here by “done with sin”, is this type of believer permanently “sin-free”? The word translated “done with” here is pauo, and means to “pause, desist, refrain”, and the word “sin” is hamartia- to miss the mark, here in the form of a noun. Sin is personified here (just as Paul does in his letters), sin here is portrayed as someone, and this someone will work in us to cause us to have the wrong “attitude”, to have a mindset and viewpoint unlike Jesus, to be unwilling to suffer in our body for our eternal good and the good of others. Peter also tells us here exactly how this enemy called sin works, he works through our “evil human desires” (verse 2), which are contrasted here with the will of God. The phrase translated “evil human desires” is literally “human lusts”, with lusts being the Greek epithumia. The word evil is added by the NIV because not all human desires are evil, not all human desires are described as lusts. Human desires are given to us by God and are part of being human. All human beings have desires for things such as food, sex, shelter, acceptance, love, friendship, etc. These come from God and are meant to be satisfied, but satisfied in godly ways. So when does a desire become lust? The critical idea here is one of control. It is merely a desire when we control it, but becomes lust when it controls us, and sin works through these “lusts” to control us. This is why Peter says that he who is willing to suffer in his body is done with sin. What he means is that when our attitude is at the place where we are able to control our human desires and fulfill them God’s way, sin no longer has anything to work with, can no longer make us live according to our own desires (which are normally focused on “self”) but for the will of God (which is usually focused on others), sin no longer is able to control us the way in which it used to. The Bible consistently teaches that we as human are not in control but under control, and the primary question is: whose control are we under? Peter tells us here that those who live controlled by basic human needs, by lusts, and strive to fulfill them any way possible will be controlled by sin, while those who submit those needs to God and fulfill them His way will be controlled by the Spirit just as Jesus was. They will have the same attitude He did, and be “done with sin”. Our next post will continue on in this passage to see how this all plays out in our lives day by day.

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