Today’s reading was 1 Peter 4:1-5
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. 2 As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. 3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 4 They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. 5 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.
The part that stood out to me was this concept of being “done with sin.” I wish!
The preface to this is interesting: “since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude.” What’s the connection?
To arm yourself suggests that sin is an enemy that we need to protect against, and this is borne out both by Scripture and by experience:
If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7)
But what is this suffering that is spoken of? I think it’s not the suffering on the cross, but rather the suffering Christ underwent in resisting temptation. Hebrews tells us that it was a struggle, that Jesus didn’t just play his “Son of God – Get Out of Jail Free” card and sin slipped off him as though he were Teflon. No, it was a fight:
17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:17-18)
and again in Hebrews 4:
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
I find it tremendously comforting that Jesus experienced temptation and had to struggle against it, that he knows what it is like to be pulled in the direction of evil, and yet he had the strength to pull back.
Peter says, “For you have spent enough time in the past…” doing the sinful things, and that’s the key isn’t it? That we should shut the door firmly on these things, and label them “in the past,” as in, “I used to do that, but no longer.”
My concern is that too much of my sin is present sin, not past sin, and my prayer this morning, for you and for me, is that we will be done with deliberate sin, that we will indeed shut the door, and leave that stuff in the past where it belongs. What do you need to leave behind?
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.