Monday, February 22, 2010

Armed with the Attitude of Jesus

Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles — when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. (1Peter 4:1-6)

Jesus the Messiah was put to death in the flesh for our sake, because of our sin. He conquered death through resurrection from the dead by the Holy Spirit and has been exalted by God to the right hand of the Father, where He rules and reigns over all. The dominion of sin has been broken; the dominion of Messiah has begun.

Because Jesus has suffered the cross in our place, He has won for us our freedom. Just as He has been raised from the dead, we also are given new life in Him. Once we were spiritually dead and under the sentence of physical death, but no more. That is what the sign of baptism is about in the previous section. Paul put it very similarly:

Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. (Romans 6:4-7)
We are to “arm” ourselves with the same “mind” Jesus showed. There is a militancy in the word “arm.” It does not speak of passivity but of preparedness, even aggressiveness. The Greek word for “mind” speaks of intent, resolve, attitude. We are to prepare ourselves with the same attitude that Jesus has: He suffered under our sin at the cross, but now He is done with it — He has dominion over it! As Paul put it, “He who has died has been freed from sin.” That is to be our attitude: We are freed from sin. “He who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God,” Peter says. He and Paul track very closely on this.
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you. (Romans 6:11-14)
This is the attitude we are to arm ourselves with: We are to reckon ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in King Jesus the Messiah. No longer living according to the lusts of the flesh, the former way of life we used to know before we were set free. Peter gives a brief description here, and the list is pretty self-explanatory. Paul gives a similar list in Galatians 5:19-21 under the name “works of the flesh.” They are all things that tear down families, destroy communities and break apart the world. There is no life at all to them; they stink of death. The world has seen more than enough of them. It is time for true life and freedom to be revealed, the life and freedom that are found in King Jesus the Messiah and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Opposite the “works of the flesh,” Paul details the “fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22-23: Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Now, ironically, those who are still caught in the “works of the flesh” find this threatening. Old friends with whom we once carried on in the ways of the world may be confused that we no longer behave in those old ways. In Peter’s day, those who believed in Jesus were being persecuted because of their faith and their way of life, and that has remained so even to this day. But those who persist in their unbelief and persecute those who do believe will have to give account to King Jesus when He comes to set things right among the living and the dead. Even those who are physically dead, if they have believed the good news about Jesus the Messiah, will be made alive again by the Spirit of God, and those who have been martyred in the flesh will be vindicated in the Spirit, just as Jesus was.

Keeping the Faith When Things Get Tough
Keeping the Faith When Things Get Tough
Peter’s Letter to Jesus Believers Scattered Everywhere
Bite-Sized Studies Through First Peter
by Jeff Doles

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