Monday, July 25, 2016

Suffering in the Flesh!

Readings for the Day
Isaiah 43-45, 1 Peter 4

Verses for the Day
4 Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. 2 As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. 3 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. 4 They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. 5 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

Thoughts for the Day
As we mentioned before, Peter is writing to the new Christian community as it faces persecution. But in this case he says, "whoever suffers in the body is done with sin". While we might think this means literal, physical suffering, the next verses give us the context to interpret the prior verse. Peter is talking about the evil desires that war within our body. Paul calls this our "body of death". Because this is written to the scattered Christians all over Asia Minor, it was written to both Jews and Gentiles. Escaping the lust and debaichery of the flesh gives evidence this passage was written to the Gentiles, who were more prone to going back to their old pagan way of life. In Galatians 5:16 Paul says essential the same thing when he writes,

"So I say let the Spirit guide your lives. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves." (NLT)

Then, Peter gives a purpose to this suffering in the body, the flesh. By not returning to their old way of life, they are witnessing to their friends and neighbors, who were still caught in this lifestyle. Although it would be easy for them to return to this old way of life, by denying themselves, it was strengthening their faith. As further motivation, he mentions that these people will one day give an account for their reckless living.

Let's be honest folks, we all struggle to not return to our old, sinful nature. It might come in a different variety, but it comes from the same source. All habits take a long time to break. I personally don't believe that we will face true freedom, until Jesus takes us home. But just because we battle against this sinful nature, we don't need to let it rule us. But if we can have the same attitude as Christ , we can endure this suffering and have victory. God has given me us His Spirit to rely on, so we don't have to gratify the flesh. The bottom line is we don't have to sin. We can like Jesus have victory over the flesh, and this will give testimony who are still in bondage to the flesh. We have the power to do this, the only question is will we use it!

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