1 Peter 4:1-11 End-Time Ethics
We have been sharing during this series on 1 Peter qualities that each Christian should have. We have come to the point where we will talk about how we should behave since we know that Jesus is soon returning. Of course, Peter expected for Jesus to return soon. However, we know clearly that Jesus is returning soon. We can see the signs all around.
Since we know this, there are two main focuses in this part of 1 Peter: growth and action. As Christians, growing doesn’t end. Since we have been redeemed, saved, and Jesus has done the “Act” which saves us, we are now in the time of action. We have to act in faith. These end-time ethics are divided into two parts: (1) growing and (2) acting.
WHAT IT TAKES TO GROW
The first skill it takes to grow is thinking.
“Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, equip yourselves also with the same resolve —because the one who suffered in the flesh has finished with sin —” (1 Peter 4:1, HCSB)
J. Vernon McGee recalls this illustration:
In recent years there was a very popular book, When God Died, as well as a popular theology which said, “God is dead.” Well, God never died and He is not dead today. Christ died in His human body. He knew what it was to suffer. He knew what it was to bleed. He knew what it was to shed tears. He knew what it was to be brokenhearted. He was perfectly human, and He died in that human body. Christ did not die in sin, nor did He die under sin, but He died to sin. He took my place, He took your place, and He paid the penalty for our sin. From that point on, Christ will not come back to die for sin.1
Thinking is all about our “attitude.” The word means “to be armed for spiritual warfare.”2 As we yield ourselves to God, and have the same attitude toward sin that Jesus had, we can overcome the old life and manifest the new life.3
We need to be thinking. It taking thinking to grow. It is a spiritual growth of having the right attitude on a daily basis.
The second skill it takes to grow is enjoying.
“in order to live the remaining time in the flesh, no longer for human desires, but for God’s will.” (1 Peter 4:2, HCSB)
We need to be enjoying God’s will. We have to turn from the human desires and start to enjoy God’s desires. The problem of course is that the human desires are strongly enjoyable. And these human desires can keep us from growing. If I am going to grow to be a better Christian, I need to be enjoying God.
This leads to the third skill: choosing. This helps me to enjoy God.
I have to remind myself of the things which prevent me from growing and I have to choose to not do them. I make choices everyday: to do sin’s will or to do God’s will. If I am going to do “God’s will” in 4:2, I need to choose to not do sin’s will in 4:3.
THINGS WHICH CAN PREVENT ME FROM GROWING
“For there has already been enough time spent in doing what the pagans choose to do: carrying on in unrestrained behavior, evil desires, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and lawless idolatry.” (1 Peter 4:3, HCSB)
Unrestrained behavior (lasciviousness)
Evil desires (lusts)
Sexual lust orgies
Carousing (drinking parties)
Peter lists six manifestations of the desire of the Gentiles. (1) Lasciviousness, which refers to excesses in all kinds of evil and a lack of self-restraint, including all kinds of moral impurity. (2) Lusts of various kinds; depraved cravings. (3) Winebibbings, drunkenness that is habitual. Peter uses a Greek word unique to this passage that means “to bubble” or “to overflow.” It refers to one who is soaked to overflowing with wine. While drinking wine in moderation is not forbidden in Scripture, drinking wine in excess is clearly forbidden. (4) Revellings, which is a word referring to riots and festive gatherings that lead to drunkenness and result in wicked acts. (5) Carousings, which is a word unique to this passage. It refers to drinking parties. (6) Abominable idolatries. The Greek word for abominable, used by Peter in both this verse and Acts 10:28, includes all kinds of idolatrous acts. This was the past aspect—a time when the Jewish believers desired to live according to the conduct of the Gentiles.4
Just as the Jews have to turn from the acts of Gentiles, Christians today have to turn from the acts of the world. It is a delicate thing to be “in the world, not of it.” We have to be in the world enough to be real to the people to whom we need to share the Gospel, but not so in the world that it ruins our witness.
This leads me to the next skill of Christian growth: sharing
The best indicator of my growth as a Christian is how often I share the Gospel.
Dr. Nik Ripken says in his book The Insanity of God: The greatest enemy of the Christian faith is not communism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Atheism, or even Islam. Our greatest enemy is lostness. We need to be sharing the Gospel. If you are not sharing the Gospel, you are not growing.
“So they are surprised that you don’t plunge with them into the same flood of wild living—and they slander you. They will give an account to the One who stands ready to judge the living and the dead.” (1 Peter 4:4-5, HCSB)
People who have spent their live in idolatry will give an account. It doesn’t say that we will give an account for how we have lived in this passage. However, we will receive a reward ceremony. The fact that there is a judgment for lost people should both us deeply.
Peter warned that these people must one day face the One who is willing to judge. No one will escape this final judgment of the words and works of his earthly life, when Christ will judge both the living and the dead (Acts 10:42; Rom. 14:9; 1 Thes. 4:15; 2 Tim. 4:1).5
“For this reason the gospel was also preached to those who are now dead, so that, although they might be judged by men in the fleshly realm, they might live by God in the spiritual realm.” (1 Peter 4:6, HCSB)
Some cults use this verse to say, “When a person dies, they’ll have a second opportunity to accept the gospel.” However, taken in context, it’s clear Peter is talking about those who suffered to the point of death and are now living in heaven.6 The dead are those who are now dead but who were preached to while still alive.7
HOW TO ACT BEFORE JESUS RETURNS
Today is Father’s Day. We have taken time today to celebrate our fathers. Many of you know that kids know when Dad is gone. Dad goes on a trip and the kids know it. So they begin to act differently. I’ll be gone and I get a phone call or a text that one of my kids are misbehaving. So I have to talk to them when I get on the phone. Of the course the dreaded words come: “Wait until you father comes home.”
We are living in the time when Jesus is gone. It is the same way with Him. How are we to act before Jesus returns? Pater gives us a few hints about changing our behavior before Jesus comes back. We are in the business of doing “good works.” We also need to remember that how we act with others also influences how we witness. If we are not acting in these ways, it will hurt our witness. When we look at these four ways to act before Jesus returns, these acts to help us when we share in our growth. How should we behave before He returns?
“Now the end of all things is near; therefore, be serious and disciplined for prayer.” (1 Peter 4:7, HCSB)
We need to be praying for others and for the lost. Notice that these prayers need to be disciplined and serious. Disciplined meaning that it should be a habit. Serious because lost people matter to God and we should care about these people we pray for.
“Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8, HCSB)
Peter says that love covers a multitude of sins. It covers your sins. If I love someone, they are willing to overlook my sins. If I love others, I am also willing to overlook their sins. As I start to love someone, I will overlook their sins.
The problem we have today is that everyone wants to point out everyone’s sin. We need to spend more time loving others and less time pointing out sins.
“Be hospitable to one another without complaining.” (1 Peter 4:9, HCSB)
If I am praying and loving, it should lead to helping. If I care about someone, I should start to help them. The opposite of this is complaining. If I am complaining, I am not helping. If I am not praying and loving, I am more likely to complain and less likely to help.
“Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:10–11, HCSB)
Peter notes that everyone has a gift. The gift I have is not to keep it within myself, but to give it. Here, we have action gifts: speaking and serving. Peter tells us that we need to act by serving one another. When you look at the parable in Matthew 25, what is the question which Jesus ends when He talks about the end of time and how we should be acting. He sums it up with a question and an answer about the faithful and sensible slave – that’s us:
““Who then is a faithful and sensible slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give them food at the proper time? That slave whose master finds him working when he comes will be rewarded. I assure you: He will put him in charge of all his possessions.” (Matthew 24:45–47, HCSB)
1 J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary: The Epistles (1 Peter), vol. 54, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991), 78–79.
2 Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Messianic Jewish Epistles: Hebrews, James, First Peter, Second Peter, Jude, 1st ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2005), 366.
3 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 420.
4 Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Messianic Jewish Epistles: Hebrews, James, First Peter, Second Peter, Jude, 1st ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2005), 367.
5 Roger M. Raymer, “1 Peter,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 853.
6 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 1570.
7 Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Messianic Jewish Epistles: Hebrews, James, First Peter, Second Peter, Jude, 1st ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2005), 368.