Throughout this letter, Peter has been encouraging his readers to follow the example of Christ in suffering. To not be afraid of people, but to instead set apart Christ as Lord in their lives.
One thing that struck me as I read this is that one of our goals in living for Christ, even to the point of suffering for him, is that others may live. That others may find the life we ourselves have found in Jesus.
That’s why Peter tells us to always be prepared to give a reason for the hope that we have. Because when people see us being willing to even suffer for the sake of Christ, they will ask why, and that opens up a door for God to work in their lives. (3:15)
So Peter encourages us, “If it’s God’s will, then be willing to suffer for doing good, because by doing so, others may find their way into God’s kingdom too.”
He then shows how Jesus was the ultimate example of this in verse 18. He says,
For Christ died for sins, once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. (3:18)
Peter’s saying here, “Don’t you see? It was through Christ’s suffering that the door was opened for you to come into God’s kingdom. So be willing to do the same for others.”
Then after reminding us of our ultimate victory through suffering (we’ll get into this tomorrow), he tells us,
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in the body is done with sin. (4:1)
In short, since Christ was willing to suffer in order that you may be saved, take on that same attitude. Be done with sin in your lives. Stop living for yourselves and your own comfort and start living for God. (4:2)
Peter presses on, saying, “You’ve wasted enough of your life living for yourself, indulging in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and idolatry. And all your non-Christian friends think you’re strange because your priorities have changed so much and you don’t want to join in with them any longer.” (4:3)
Not only that, but again, we may face mocking and persecution because we refuse to do so. But Peter reminds us,
But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. (4:5)
Judgment day is coming. People will be judged for rejecting Christ. And so Peter again reminds us of our mission while we are here.
For this reason, the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit. (4:6)
This is a little difficult to interpret, but I strongly doubt it’s saying that people get another chance after they die. Other scriptures argue against it (Hebrews 9:27, Luke 16:26). What it seems to be saying is that there are people who now dead who had the gospel preached to them. And the reason the gospel was preached to them is that though they might die physically as all do because of Adam’s sin, nevertheless, they will find life with God forever.
And that’s what we need to keep in mind. A day of judgment is coming. We may be saved, but others aren’t. What are we doing about them? Are we reaching out to them with the love of Christ? Can they even see a difference in us which makes them question why?
Or are we simply living for ourselves, not caring that many are going to hell each day.
God cared. He cared enough to send his Son for us.
The question is, do we?