Journal 1 Pet 4 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation and notes are mine)
Scripture: For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God.
And if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the Gospel of God? And,
“If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (1 Pet 4:18 referenced by Peter from Proverbs 11:31)
Observation: If I read carefully—shucks, if I read carelessly but I read to the Face in the Mirror—Peter is playing hardball with the churches and specifically believers he is writing to.
This is not a chapter of condolence, but it is a call to personal integrity before the Judge of all things—specifically to the ones who call on the Name of Christ.
Application: “Please, can I have more sprinkles?”
Sometimes that is what I ask for in my Christianity. I don’t want the hard call, I want the easy joy, to bask in forgiveness, to know I am forgiven, etc. A guy named Bonhoffer back in the middle of the last century alluded to a concept of “greasy grace”—a grace received without costing anything and allowing my actions to go on without change—all I have to do is have “faith” and I will enjoy the benefits of being a Christian.
Peter writes earlier in 1 Pet 4, “Since therefore, Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking…so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.” (1 Pet 4:1-2)
Paul wrote it this way to the church at Ephesus, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called…” (Eph 4:1)
And to the church at Colossae, “…we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will (in all spiritual wisdom and understanding) so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord—fully pleasing to him—bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (Col 1:9b-10)
The scripture is consistent. The primary expectation of a Christian is to “Conduct myself in a manner worthy of God.”
Possible? Probably not completely because Sin still has hold on me. All I have to do is take note of what comes out of my mouth, because what comes out of my mouth is indicative of what is in my heart. Jesus said that,
“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart…” (Matt 15:18)
However, it was laid out for man by God, way back when, “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil…continually.(my emphasis of Gen 6:5)
It is a very good thing that I am set free from the dominion of Sin because of the Atonement—it does not absolve me from making an effort to fight sin in MY LIFE—not in other’s life, my life.
“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.” (Ro 6:12-13)
What got me on my soapbox this morning is the thought, “Follow me, as I follow Christ,” as applied to a parallel thought, “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” Do I evangelize, neglecting my own pursuit of God; or do I pursue godliness until I reach a point of confidence to say, “Follow me, as I follow Christ?”
I conclude from Scripture it is a two-sided coin; I must do both with all the fervor I can muster and not leave either side slacking. I do wrong by pursuing holiness and not being ready to present the Gospel. I also do wrong by presenting the Gospel and not pursuing godliness, saying, “Don’t look at my life; look to Jesus alone” and finding that sufficient and honorable—it is not.
Prayer: Father, you had my wife to remind me not to get on a high horse of self-righteousness. If I did that, please convict my heart—I only try to follow where the scriptures lead by the Holy Spirit, and I am not trying to excuse myself with that statement.
Help me, O God…
Ricky Two Shoes