Why Should We Seek to Do God’s Will?
1 Peter 4:1–6 – Perspective: 1 Peter – April 3, 2022
A reading of 1 Peter 4:1–6.
The harder something is, the more important it is to answer the WHY about it.
Answering this WHY question is really important.
Our WHY today: Why should I keep doing the will of God when it’s so difficult?
In this series called PERSPECTIVE, the apostle Peter is giving us Perspective.
His readers: We get a pretty clear sense of his readers in this passage. These readers aren’t converted Jews. They’re converted pagans who lived like the pagans around them. In this passage their lifestyle is very clear. They were partyers and over-the-top idolaters. Things not said of converted Jews.
But after they get saved their lives get a little difficult. Christianity has brought some suffering. Their new lifestyle doesn’t get them rewards but difficulties.
Sermon: Why keep doing the will of God? (1) The Example of Christ’s Suffering; (2) The Reality of Our Conversion; and (3) The Certainty of God’s Judgment.
Peter is calling us to live out the rest of the time in the flesh for the will of God—not human passions.
His first reason is the example of Christ’s suffering.
1 Peter 2:21 (2:21–24):
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. (1 Pet 2:21)
And then again in 1 Peter 3:18:
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit. (1 Pet 3:18)
When we turn to 1 Peter 4:1–2, you can hear the echoes of these two verses.
From 1 Peter 4:2 it means choosing the “will of God” over “human passions.”
That’s a way to summarize the obedience of Christ—and the obedience we are to live out.
Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” (John 4:34)
It is a continual choice to live according to “the will of God” instead of those “human passions” in us and around us.
Shows us that HOLINESS and OBEDIENCE are relational.
It’s not legalism to believe this.
It’s like any relationship in your life that has real value, real weight.
In any relationship where the other person means a great deal to you, you care what their “will” is. What pleases them. If you don’t care at all what pleases them, it’s questionable whether you care about them at all.
Second reason to live according to “God’s will” and not “human passions” is the fact we’re not what we were.
Read 1 Peter 4:3–4.
He points to THE REALITY OF OUR CONVERSION.
Their lifestyle was characterized by:
His readers were pagans living as pagans, living without any boundaries from God’s Word.
A lifestyle where you violate your God-given, hard-wired conscience so often and so seriously that eventually you don’t even feel bad about it.
That’s what Peter’s readers were saved out of. God reached down and pulled them out of that lifestyle.
Good to remember that we’re not the first generation of Christians to look at the culture around us and think they’ve totally lost their way.
He says “the time that is past suffices” for that kind of sinful lifestyle—don’t need any more of it. Understated but true.
Peter describes the reaction, and it should feel familiar with our own day—V4.
First, “they are surprised” (V4) you don’t join in their sinful ways.
Second, “they malign you” (V4)—the word is blaspheme. They verbally attack you.
This isn’t true everywhere, all the time—Sometimes your new integrity will win you new respect.
But Peter helps with our EXPECTATIONS. Don’t EXPECT that your new Christian faith will be seen as a good thing by the world around you.
Peter could make the same observation in our day. Here is his Verse 4 only slightly modified:
With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in their causes and convictions, and they malign you.
1 Peter 4:4, Daniel’s modern paraphrase
Sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it?
A third reason to live according to God’s will and not human passions is the certainty of God’s judgment.
Read 1 Peter 4:5–6.
5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does. (1 Pet 4:5–6)
Future—but certain!: “They WILL give account.”
Detailed: “Give account.”
Imminent: “To him who is READY to judge the living and the dead.” 1 Peter 4:7, "The end of all things is NEAR."
Universal: All people and all time. “Judge the living and the dead.” Phrase that means “all people throughout all human history.”
“This is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead”!
It’s the reality of death and the reality of judgment that are key reasons why “the gospel is preached.”
Peter makes the curious statement: “preached even to those who are dead.”
But now Peter’s writing in the AD 60s. 30 years after the cross and resurrection of Jesus.
The answer is that physical death is not the end of our story.
Because of the gospel we can “live in the spirit the way God does.”
Because of the gospel we don’t need to fear God’s judgment—Christ the Judge is also Christ our Savior:
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (1 Pet 2:24)
Because of the gospel DEATH doesn’t get the last word—Christ’s victory does!
We must remember that the death of Christians created a problem for the church in the time of the apostles…. The death of Christians seemed to confirm…skepticism. This would surely be heightened if some of the Christians who had died had been martyred. They then would have died under human judgment. Peter gives a strong answer. Christ the Judge was preached to those who are now dead. He was preached, and they believed…. Although they might be judged in the flesh in the eyes of human beings, they live in the spirit in the eyes of God.
Edmund Clowney, The Message of 1 Peter
WHY persevere in doing God’s will—even if it brings suffering?
Application: “Where do I start?”
Application: Think about your death.
The young Jonathan Edwards famously wrote down a list of RESOLUTIONS.
- Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.
Jonathan Edwards, Resolutions
Prayer and closing song, “In Christ Alone.”
 See the 1 Peter commentaries by Thomas Schreiner (NAC, his notes in the ESV Study Bible) and Wayne Grudem (TNTC) for full explanations and the alternative views on this verse.
 Edmund P. Clowney, The Message of 1 Peter, BST (InterVarsity, 1988), 175–176.
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