I. Ceasing From Sin (verses 1-2)
Following through on a decision to obey God, even when it means physical suffering, will have a strengthening effect on us. In that situation, obedience has become more important to us than avoiding discomfort or pain. The instruction to “arm yourselves” has a military connotation. The idea is that both discipline and grit are expected as we strive to have the same mind as Christ with regard to sin. We ought to arm ourselves with the same resolve that Christ Himself had against sin, even when we know it will produce suffering for us. Christ suffered death for sin. He did not suffer so that we might be done with suffering, but that we might be done with sin (1 Peter 2:24). To “cease from sin” is to no longer be mastered by it. Because Christ died, and because we are united to Him, we also died. Because Christ lives, and because we are united to Him, life is now the new master and we are alive to God.
II. Sufficient Career of Sin (verse 3)
Peter details what it looks like to live for “self” by listing some rather notorious sinful categories. Selfish living is characterized by sensuality (no regard for moral restraint), lusts (wicked and evil desires), drunkenness (excessive consumption of alcohol), carousing (riotous rituals of sin-filled actions), drinking parties (celebrating drunkenness), abominable idolatries (idol worship). Peter includes “abominable idolatries” in this list for those who may not have participated in these gross outward sins, but are still guilty of idolatrous hearts. Peter helps us understand the wickedness of our own hearts by choosing obvious outward sins to compare with our inward vileness. It is into the darkness of hearts such as these that God shines the light of the gospel, both solidifying our utter hopelessness in ourselves and showing us Christ Jesus in all of His love, grace, and mercy.
III. Surprised by Lack of Sin (verses 4-5)
Some were disappointed and dismayed that the believers no longer wanted to join them in their “excesses of dissipation.” Even silent non-participation bothered them. As a result, Christians were maligned. They were treated with criticism and hostility, accused of being evil, immoral, unloving, and judgmental. However, those who continue in their excesses of dissipation are rushing headlong to destruction. The language of “giving an account to Him” is courtroom language. God is ready to judge them for their sin, and judgment will certainly come.
IV. Spirit Living (verse 6)
We are all judged every day by others. Sometimes we are judged graciously, and sometimes unfairly. Any judgment made about you in this world does not matter. The only judgment that matters is by Him who “judges the living and the dead.” Even if you die, death does not have the last word—the resurrection awaits you. Until then, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
- How does the death and resurrection of Christ affect the way you “arm yourself” in your fight against sin? In what ways are you currently choosing to be obedient to Christ even when it means some degree of difficulty or suffering? In what ways are currently tempted to desire ease or the absence of suffering over obedience to Christ? Considering that love of Christ is the only thing that will kill your love of sin, in what ways are you seeking to grow in your love for Christ?