Suffer For Holiness
1 Peter 4:1-2 (ESV) – Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.
There are two kinds of suffering in the world. The first is involuntary suffering. This comes by way of the fallout from sin and brokenness in the world. Just today as I’m writing this, a family in our church got news that a family member died in a motorcycle accident. These bitter providences happen in a world not yet fully restored and awaiting Christ’s return. Sickness, relationship strife, earthquakes, and death are just a few kinds of involuntary suffering we endure in this life. The second is voluntary suffering. This is the kind we purposefully embrace.
This is the topic of our devotion today. We read in Peter’s letter to believers scattered throughout the ancient world an exhortation from an apostle on how to live as Christians. He writes, “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.”
Notice a few things. First, Peter mentions that Christ suffered in the flesh. Interestingly, Jesus suffered in the flesh in the two ways we just mentioned above. He knew the involuntary suffering that comes with life on earth. He probably had stomach aches, muscle pain, and sorrow from losing a friend. He knew that kind of suffering like we do. But notice He also endured the second kind of suffering we mentioned. He chose to suffer. He willingly came to earth to die. He allowed Himself to be betrayed. More examples could be given of Christ’s voluntary suffering.
Then Peter exhorts believers to suffer voluntarily too. He says that whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin. What does this mean? He is referring to those who put to death the flesh within them. We have to deny ourselves as believers if we want to live holy lives. We must say no to overindulgence of fleshly appetites and passions. The person who learns to deny himself and suffers voluntarily concerning these struggles will find victory over sin and temptation. This kind of suffering pleases God.
Suffer for holiness, friends. It is costly. And it can be hard. But the reward is the joy of nearness to Christ and the holiness that pleases God.
Reflection & Journal:
- What are the two kinds of suffering? Describe them.
- What kind of voluntary suffering are Christians called to?
- How does this passage challenge you to personally pursue holiness?
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