God is with you - Part 28
1 Peter 4v1-2
The same attitude as Christ
10th November 2017
1 Peter Chapter 3 includes these words:
1 Peter 3v18
1 Peter 3v21-22
In the light of these words, Peter now says:
1 Peter 4v1-2
Jesus died for you. Willingly, sacrificially, He laid down his life for you. And by the power of the Holy Spirit He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, and is now in authority over absolutely everything, seen and unseen, in the universe. And therefore we should have the same attitude.
I find this a bit challenging. How can we have the same attitude as Jesus? Isn't that asking a lot? Of course Jesus is our example, our leader, not only our Saviour but our Lord. Of course we should walk in His footsteps, and if He is willing to die for the church, for righteousness and for the kingdom of God, then we should be willing to die for the church, for righteousness and for the kingdom of God. And we have many brothers and sisters in many countries who are doing exactly that. Through the centuries, thousands and thousands of Christians have laid down their lives, preferring death to betraying their brothers and sisters, preferring death to unrighteousness and sin, and willing to die for the kingdom of God. As the second-century theologian Tertullian said, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.
To have the same attitude as Christ is to be willing to go to the cross for Christ's sake, for your brother's sake, for righteousness's sake, for the kingdom of God.
And Peter writes, have the same attitude because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.
Jesus never sinned. He didn't die for His own sin; He died for your sins and for mine. He died to make us holy people. He died so that through faith in His precious blood, and by the work of His Holy Spirit, we would gradually become sinless people, too. He died to make us people fit for heaven. He died to put an end to sin. And He decided that, since the only way to put an end to my sin was His death, then so be it.
And our attitude should be that righteousness, and the church, and the kingdom of God, are more important than our lives. And anyway, our lives are eternal. For a Christian, death is merely time off for good behaviour.
As well as teaching us that we should not cling to our life, Peter is also teaching us another spiritual principle, the principle than when we came to Christ we died anyway. As Paul said:
So if you're a Christian, then you are already dead.
John Wimber used to tell the story of a young man who was considering giving his life to Christ, and weighing up the pros and cons. He told John Wimber that he was concerned that he might lose all his friends. And John Wimber said "A dead man hasn't got any friends". As Paul said in Galatians 2v20, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me."
We should have the same attitude, that righteousness is important, that the church and its mission to bring new life to others is important, that the kingdom of God matters more than my desire to commit sin.
We are dead to who we were, but alive to Christ, we're different people now. Who I was is dead. But we have to take up our cross every day. Every day, we're dying to something. Every day God is saying, "Phil, stop doing this, stop thinking that, stop wanting this, yield that to me."
We've all got possessions, ambitions, dreams, habits, thought patterns, unhealthy relationships to some extent, unhealthy attitude to our brothers and sister to some extent. And God call us to die to those things. At any moment, God is saying to some part of your heart, "I want that part to die".
Whatever we're clinging to, God says, "Let it go. Lose your life. Let everything that you care about in a self-centric way go. Let everything you want, except Christ, go." If you lose your life for Christ's sake you will find it. If you cling on to your life you will lose it.
Have you ever seen the picture of a money with his hand stuck in a jar? There's a nut in the jar, and the monkey has grabbed it, and now his fist is so big he can't get it out the jar. If he'd let go of the nut, he could take his hand out the jar, and the nut would fall out, but he won't let it go. We're like that with all kinds of relationships, preferences, ways of passing the time, desires and even doctrines. We're full of ideas and wants. Like the nut in the jar, we won't let it go, and therefore we'll never own it.
We'll never have what we want, because we won't let it go. We'll never have life in all its fullness, because we won't let it go.
Jesus rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and is now seated at the right hand of God, in all authority in the entire universe, because He died.
There is no resurrection without death. If we want to live the resurrected life, we have to die the death, in all sorts of ways.
There are things in my heart that are dying right now, because I want real life. I don't want to cling to what I've got; I want whatever God wants me to have.
May God give us the faith to believe that if we let go of what we have and what we want, God will give us something better.