…whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin… 1 Peter 4:1
As I read through 1 Peter and came to this phrase it caused me to lift an eyebrow. What does that mean?
The ESV study note offers 3 considerations of which I will focus on the third today because I believe it is supported by other Scripture and we should never take a verse in isolation to the rest of the book or the whole counsel of God (Acts 2:27)
The commentator writes, “More likely, Peter’s point is that when believers are willing to suffer, the nerve center of sin is severed in their lives. Although believers will never be totally free from sin in this life …, when believers endure suffering for the sake of Christ they show that their purpose in life is not to live for their own pleasure but according to the will of God and for his glory.” (I)
When I hear the word suffer I think of consequences: whether my suffering is a consequence of my own sin or a consequence of another’s sin or simply because we live in a fallen world as in cases of sickness and disease.
The idea of being willing to suffer, as the commentator indicates, well that’s a different story. By nature don’t we flee suffering? When we are in it we are seeking to get out of it. Tis true, but the suffering Peter is speaking of is a not a consequence of sin but rather of obedience.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24
By denying ourselves we “suffer” the loss of having our own way.
In choosing to abide in Christ and to follow Him in obedience we will “suffer” in the flesh to live according to the Spirit.
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. Gal 5:17 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:13 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Gal 5:24 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. Hebrews 12:4
These Scriptures shed light on 1 Peter 4:1—to choose obedience to God we must choose death to our flesh. Only as we suffer in our flesh will we cease from sin and have victory in obedience.
Praise God there is hope in the Person of Christ and power of the Gospel.
After serving 16 years full-time on the staff of America’s Keswick, Diane Hunt and her husband moved to North Carolina where she continues to serve part-time as a contributing writer and Partner Care Consultant. She is also a biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at email@example.com.
i ESV Study Bible footnote to 1 Peter 4:1-2 page 2411