Human Desires- 1 Peter 4:2-3

In our previous post, we have seen in, 1 Peter 4:1, how our reconciliation with God makes it possible for us to live with a new attitude, how it enables us to think in a new way, to live with the same attitude which Jesus did. Peter then proceeds to provide us with an explanation of how this change in attitude works to result in a change in lifestyle, in a life in which we are no longer led around by our bodily desires, but by the will of God for our lives. He begins, in verse 2, with the Greek eis, translated as “as a result” in the NIV, to inform us that choosing to live according to the attitude described in verse one will produce the change in lifestyle he is about to describe. This is because a change in attitude produces a new way of thinking, produces a new way of living. Peter then, before describing what this new attitude produces, reminds of what this new attitude will deliver us from. The first result which he describes this new attitude as producing is that we “do not live the rest of our earthly lives for evil human desires”. The Greek word translated “rest” here is epiloipos, or “remainder”. What Peter is telling us here is that it is a basic characteristic of human beings apart from Christ to live for “evil human desires”, and that faith in Christ enables us to live in a new way. In the use of the phrase “evil human desires”, Peter is not telling us that all human desires are evil. These human desires come from God, and God intends for us to satisfy those desires in ways which please Him, and that there are evil ways in which to satisfy these desires, as well as godly ways to do so. The desires do not go away, for they are basic to all humanity, but what is to change is the way in which those desires are satisfied. They used to be satisfied “in the flesh” (translated as “earthly life” in NIV), but are now to be satisfied according to the “will of God”. What Peter is telling us here, then, is that the life lived by those apart from Christ is one in which the desires of the body are satisfied in any way possible, that those in the flesh are led around by bodily desires. As we have seen in our previous post, the new attitude which is to characterize believers is, in fact, the exact opposite of the attitude seen here in those who live “in the flesh”, for this attitude is characterized by a willingness to endure bodily hardship, discomfort and difficulty in order to do the will of God, just as seen in the life of Jesus. This new attitude, in fact, is said by Peter to be the primary way in which believers are to be distinguished from the “pagans”, Peter’s way of describing those who do not know Christ as Lord and Savior. It is this very attitude which the pagans will regard as “strange”, Greek xenizo, used here as “strange, odd, weird, alien”. In fact, according to Peter, it is this very attitude which most makes believers stand apart as salt and light in a dark world. It seems rather “strange”, then, that much of the church seems to be teaching a doctrine which either distorts or completely ignores what Peter is teaching us in this passage, teaching a doctrine which sees all bodily discomfort or hardship as the work of the devil to destroy us rather than as the work of God to sanctify us. We have just seen that it is a basic characteristic of the “pagans” to avoid any bodily suffering or hardship, but we have a large portion of the church teaching that this is also to be a basic characteristic of the church as well, that those “blessed” by God are blessed with health, wealth and happiness, with the absence of bodily difficulty or discomfort, and that any of these “evils” are part of the “curse” which Jesus took for us. But what we find in this passage is quite the opposite of what this “biblical” teaching purports, for this passage tells us that bodily discomforts or difficulties are a primary way in which God helps us to be “done with sin”, and are in fact the means through which God works to arm us with the same attitude as Christ, the attitude which differentiates us from the world. So what we have, in effect, is a large portion of the church teaching its followers not how to arm themselves with the same attitude as Christ, but rather to have the same attitude as the pagan world, the attitude that avoids any physical hardship, difficulty or discomfort and seeks a life “in the flesh” of ease, comfort and pleasure; of health, wealth and happiness. It is time for the church to awaken from its slumber and deliver its people from this aberrant teaching, to teach the truth of the Scripture rather than the “deceitful desires of the flesh”(Eph. 4:22), to help its people arm themselves also with the same attitude as Christ, so that they may become light in the darkness, rather than just “brighter” darkness, as if there were such a thing.

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