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God is with you - Part 29

1 Peter 4v3-7

Clear-minded and self-controlled

17th November 2017

Peter has been urging us to adopt the same attitude as Christ. He then says:

1 Peter 4v3
For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do — living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.

This passage is one of the parts of the letter that shows that Peter was writing mostly writing to Gentiles, because most Jews didn't live like that, but for many of the Gentiles in the Roman empire, this is what it was like. This is what they lived for. They lived to have enough money to do these things.

May of my Christian friends can't really relate to this. They haven't done much of that stuff. But if we've done none of this, we've still done enough. And some of us have been involved in some of these things. Some of us are rather ashamed of our past before we knew Jesus.

Although many of us can't cross off all the things on that list, what about detestable idolatry? What about the idolization of my family, or my career, or my bank balance, or my church, or my dreams, or my ambition, or even the idolatry of me?

Jesus deliberately hung on the cross, utterly alone and in tremendous pain, and died for us. He died naked. And Peter says we should have the same attitude. Let it all go, as He did. Let it all go.

I know this isn't an easy message, but it's what the text says.

1 Peter 4v4
They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.

Some of us, and particularly many of our young people, are verbally bullied for not being promiscuous, for not getting drunk, for not taking drugs, for not reading unhealthy literature or watching unhealthy stuff on the internet. "Why not? What's wrong with you? Why don't you want dissipation?" It's tough when people around you laugh at you for not wanting to sin.

And some of our older people, too, may have friends who just don't understand. "Why would you want to be nice? Why don't you want to be horrible like me?" It seems strange to us, but it's true. They don't understand the joy and peace of God. They don't understand that we don't need that stuff, because we're happy without it.

If I cast my mind back many years, I can remember what it's like to want to get drunk, or do drugs, or do other things that are not helpful, because I didn't like reality. Now, by the grace of God, I love reality, because God's in it. I don't want sin; I want Him. But it really is a choice isn't it? Die to all that. We don't need that, we just need Jesus. We don't need the idolatry we still indulge in, we just need Jesus. Check that he is your leader in all the decisions you take.

1 Peter 4v5-6
But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

Peter wrote this letter around the middle of the first century. It seems that some Christians at that time thought that the kingdom of God in all its fullness was going to come very soon (amazingly, some Christians still do). And since they were expecting the second coming of Jesus Christ at any minute, they were confused that God had allowed some of their brothers and sisters in Christ to die. They wondered what had happened to those dead Christians.

Peter's answer is that they too are waiting for judgement. The gospel will be preached to us to us every year until Christ comes back, and then we all will have to give an account. There is going to be a day of judgement, when God will judge the actions and the thoughts of everybody - both Christians and non-Christians. The Christians will be counted as sheep, not as goats, but we will be judged.

We Christians will be judged according to men in regard to body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit. Some of us will be martyred, beaten up, imprisoned, ostracised or laughed at because we're Christians. But we will live according to God. The Holy Spirit makes us alive and we will live in His presence for ever and ever.

1 Peter 4v7
The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.

Peter wrote this 2,000 years ago, so what did he mean by "The end of all things is near"? Well, the end of all things is near for me. It won't be long before I stand before my creator, and He asks, "Well Phil, what did you do with your live, matey? Why did you hold that resentment all those years? Why did you never forgive that person? Why did you always deny that truth? Why didn't you ever really love that person? Why did you cause that trouble? Why didn't you pray more?"

As George Muller once wrote, "Nobody ever lies on his death bed thinking, 'I wish I'd served God less'".

Peter says be clear-minded and self controlled. How are you doing with this? Are you clear-minded? Are you self-controlled? Are you focussed on the things that matter? Are you focussed on Jesus, and the kingdom of God, and the propagation of the Gospel, and the church of Christ?

Do you rein in your temper? Do you choose to forgive? Do you live at peace with all people, so far as it depends on you? Do you love everybody? Do you die to self every day and take up your cross again?

May I ask you this? If your prayer life isn't very good at the moment, might that be because you're not self-controlled and clear-minded? Might it because you're distracted by things of secondary or even tertiary importance? Might it be because there's sin in your heart or on your lips?

Let's seek to be clear-minded and self-controlled so we can pray, and let's pray so we can be clear-minded and self-controlled, because this glorifies God. The more we pray the more we change, and the more we change the more we glorify Jesus.