CENTRAL TRUTH: A Christ-like attitude characterizes the follower of Christ in trial or triumph.
MEMORY VERSE: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. _____ Philippians 4:8.
LESSON TEXT: 1 Peter 4:7-19
1 Peter 4:
7. The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.
8. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
9. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
10. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
11. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.
12. Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
13. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
14. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
15. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.
16. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
17. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
18. And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
19. So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
When a person is born again, he should begin to think about things differently from the way he thought about them before. He should have a new thought life and new attitudes. The people to whom the apostle Peter was writing had once lived very sinful lives. They lived only for themselves, to satisfy the desires of the flesh. They did not know the Word of God and so they could not have a desire to follow it. Paul in writing to the Corinthians told of the many sins that would keep people out of the kingdom of God, and he said, ‘’And such were some of your but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus… (1Corinthians 6:11 KJV).
One reason we should have new attitudes is because we have become new in Christ. This does not mean that we no longer have temptations. The Bible says there is a war between our old nature and our new nature. It is not an easy thing to live a Christian life. It is much easier to be a sinner, for then we follow only our old nature. But we have two voices telling us to do opposite things when we are Christians. The voice of the old nature says, ‘Go ahead, have a good time. You live only once.’’ But the voice of the new nature says, ‘I belong to Christ and Christ lives in me. I live not just for today but for eternity.’’
In this lesson Peter emphasizes that the end of all things is at hand, many years have passed since he wrote those words, and some people say the end has not come yet. What Peter was speaking about was the end, as it has to do with the last chance men will have to be saved by grace.
The end includes all the time that God gives men to repent before Jesus comes back again. It is true it has been many years since Peter wrote these words, but we today are still in that end time, for this is the last time God will provide salvation. He will never send another Saviour. Jesus is the only Saviour.
Many signs today point to the truth that Jesus is coming very soon. When He comes the end will have come. In the light of His coming then, we ought to be more careful now than at any other time to live as the Lord wants us to live. ‘’Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of person ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God…’’(2 Peter 3:11-12 KJV).
One thing that is important is to love one another. Love helps us overlook the faults, and mistakes of others. No one is perfect, but if we love a person, we do not count his mistakes as important. A mother who loves her child can see no fault in that child, although other people may see many faults. A man will protect his brother even when his brother has done wrong. If only we could look at ourselves as brethren in the Lord, the same way we do as brethren in the flesh.
Every Christian has some kind of ministry. Some may not do much but be faithful in attending services at the church; others may have more to do. But in this place of ministry or service, often there is strife and jealousy. A person may try to push himself forward so that he will be seen often. Peter tells us that whatever our ministry is, we should minister as God gives us the ability so that He may be glorified through Jesus Christ. We can always stop and ask ourselves, ‘’Do I want to do this so that God may be glorified or so that I may receive high honour for myself?’’
Verse 7 tells us to watch into prayer. One of the best ways to keep in the will of God, to love others, and to seek to glorify God is to keep praying. As long as we pray, we give God a chance to speak to us. When we do not pray, then we give Satan a chance to speak to us. And as long as we have old nature and the new nature fighting for control, we should not give Satan any chance at all.
Peter warned that a Christian could expect trials. Some of these trials might even be very great. We should not consider it strange if we go through trials. In fact, this should give us a chance to rejoice, because we are sharing in the sufferings of Christ. And if we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him. This is a promise of the Word of God.
Persecution is never pleasant, but it has a purpose. Persecution tests a person’s faith; it makes him exercise faith. We know when we exercise our bodies, we strengthen them. Anyone who is an athlete must practice much to prepare his body for the competition. We do not know why certain things happen, but by faith we believe that God is over all.
Persecution also purifies the Church, for only those who are sincere and are willing to suffer will stand for Christ. Today many people go to church just because it is the acceptable thing to do. But they do not have a personal experience of salvation. When persecution comes, then such people will not stand because they have nothing worthwhile to suffer for.
Peter warns them not all suffering comes because we are Christians. A man who suspended for a terrible are said that he was being persecuted for Christ. No, never. If we do wrong, we will be punished, and we will suffer. But we cannot say that this is to the glory of God. A thief suffers by being put in prison, but he would not suffer if he had not been a thief.
In verse 19 we learn that suffering may be the will of God. This may surprise you. Some may ‘’But I thought if I was a Christian, God would never allow any bad thing to come to me.’’ God often does protect us from evil and danger. But when he needs a person to testify of his faith in Him, He may allow tests, just as He did with Job. So do not complain if you are suffering.
What can the Christian do to keep from becoming bitter as he endures whatever righteousness demands?
Job never found an answer to his suffering when he questioned God ‘’Why?’’ The Lord simply taught him to trust and commit what he did not understand to Him. In following the theme of Christian suffering in his first letter. Peter gives similar advice (1 Peter 4:19). The psalmist Asaph struggled with a temptation to bitterness when viewing his sufferings in comparison to the prosperity of the wicked (Psalm 73). He nearly backslid over it. He saw that evil men often know all they need and more. At one time he wondered if it is worth it to live right. Then he went to the house of God. The lord helped him see that the suffering of the wicked is yet to come. How desolate they will be in judgment. Understanding the end of the wicked, Asaph repented of his attitudes and was restored.
_________________ DAILY BIBLE READING ______________
Monday: Develop an attitude of prayer. (Colossians. 4:2-4).
Tuesday: Commit to a life of holiness. (1 Pet. 4:1-3).
Wednesday: Submit to divine counsel. (Prov. 1:8-9).
Thursday: Appreciate the Lord at all times. (Deut. 8:11-14).
Friday: Walk in the ways of the Lord. (Deut. 10:12-13).
Saturday: Live in harmony with all people. (Rom. 12:16-21).