Christ Suffered as We Suffer
I Peter 3:18, 21
Each word of verse 18 drips with references to the saving work of Jesus. It also makes clear that believers participate in that salvation. Although all heaven has wrestled and worked toward our salvation Christ has only had to come down a live among us one time. He only had to suffer humiliation and death on account of mankind, one time.
As Christians, we to are told that we too may have to suffer humiliation and suffering because of our faith in Christ, but this suffering brings needed character developments and permits further work by Christ in our lives to bring about perfection, to beter reflect Christ in our lives.
Therefore, as Christ suffered to bring repentant sinner closer to God, so must we rejoice when we suffer for the sake of Christ and by so doing we will bring others closer to Christ.
Christ was put to death, his humanity suffered death as you and I are subject to death that we might be made alive by the spirit. Christ held within himself the power to resurrect himself. It is a power that you and I do not have. However, Christ has made provision for us to receive this life-giving power that he himself possessed and this is done because we are made alive by the Spirit of God.
The manifestation of this life saving power comes to each believer that is lowered down into the water and then resurrected again a new person through the power of the Holy Spirit at our baptism. Baptism is a symbol of the washing away of sins, death of our old selfish self and then we are resurrected as a new person. It is the power of the Holy Spirit to convict us of our need and to then indwell within our hearts upon our acceptance and baptism.
Christ was our example who upon His baptism, He fully gave of himself, and God poured out the Holy Spirit to live within Christ. The power of the Holy Spirit is available to us all. It is the purpose of the Holy Spirit to bring God to sinful man that God might dwell in heart of His faithful believers. God said to Moses, “Let them make me a sanctuary, that I might dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8). He no longer dwells in earthly sanctuaries made by man’s own making, but instead choses to dwell within the hearts of all Christ’s faithful followers.
Within the heart of each one that the Holy Spirit dwells in He imparts certain gifts, gifts that fit us to work together with God, but also with our brothers and sister in Christ to help mankind to work out their salvation. Therefore, we will desire to cease from sin.
Ceased From Sin
I Peter 4:1-11
The Authorized King James version attempts to grab our attention by saying “Forasmuch then . . .” while the New King James and other versions use the word, “Therefore.” Both are an attempt to get us to understand, that our condition has changed. From before we became a Christian to how things, are now since becoming a Christian, and therefore or forasmuch, because Christ suffered for our sins that He might bring us to God and by baptism we are linked to the suffering of Jesus to us through His salvation and through His baptism.
What Peter is trying to say is best described in the context of baptism. Peter’s words, “For he that hath suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin” (I Peter 4:1 KJV; “has finished with sin,” NRSV). So as Christians participate in the suffering and death of Jesus by baptism, they then should “live for the rest of (their) earthly (lives) no longer by human desires, but by the will of God” (verse 2, NRSV; confer with Romans 6:1-11).
I have been amazed through this little study on Peter how closely Peter and Paul tied together on what they write. Paul echoes these words of Peter by saying “Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:11 KJV), gives us the secret of the Christian’s life. In Christ, a Christian is dead to sin. A Christian should then live out that reality. Or as Peter puts it, “Live for the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires, but by the will of God” (I Peter 4:2 NRSV).
Peter continues in verses 3 through 6 of the fourth chapter to describe the type of life style that the gentiles like to do. Peter admonishes us to give these things up for they are not suitable for Christians, especially in the light of God’s final judgment (verse 5).
Many of these revolve around addictions and sexual immorality. But Peter says, we ae not to condone these behaviors, we are at all cost to avoid them, but for those how have suffered under the effects of addition or improper sexual relationships, the Christ is to love them, just as God loved the whole world so much that he was willing to give of his most precious possession, that he might rescue fallen mankind.
For those that have asked for repentance, been baptized by water and the Holy Spirit, power will be given to overcome sin and to love those that struggle with these temptations.
Love, yes love stands at the center and is the very core that should motivate the Christian to continually work toward helping their fallen brothers and sister find hope and restoration in the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who loved us so much, that he was willing to give up all of heaven’s glory and riches that we might someday partake in them.
The prayer on my lips for all of us, is that we might more fully reflect the character of our heavenly father, becoming the witness to others that Christ would want us to be. He did not leave us alone to do it on our own, he sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within us, for all God has ever wanted to do, is to dwell with his earth children.