Arm Yourselves (1 Peter 4:1-6)

Arm Yourselves (1 Peter 4:1-6)


  • Now, I’ll admit I’m a fan of the 2nd Amendment, but this sermon is not about that.
  • Peter has put forward Christ as an example of suffering for doing good. The suffering of Christ brings us to God and the victory of Christ secures us in God.
  • The victory of Christ provides assurance, but it has further implications for how we live now.

Read 1 Peter 4:1-6

  • How do we prepare to suffer?
  • Peter is contrasting the temptation for believers to follow the will of man versus the will of God.
  • The spiritual battlefield is in our minds. How we think determines how we live. Therefore, we must think rightly about suffering.
  • Arm yourselves with a way of thinking that places greater value on what is eternal, rather than what is temporal.
    1. Choose Suffering Over Sin (1-2)
    2. Choose Persecution Over Coalition (3-4)
    3. Choose Life Over Death (5-6)

Choose Suffering Over Sin (1-2)

  • v.1 Like Christ, “arm” your minds with a willingness to suffer for doing good (3:17). This proves you have triumphed over sin.
  • Christ suffered in the flesh (3:18 realm of earthly life). Suffering was not the goal, but his reward was the joy that followed (Heb. 12:2; 3:22).
  • v.2 The believer’s purpose has shifted from doing their will (“human passions”) to “the will of God”.

Karen Jobes The pleasures from which Christians of the first century typically abstained were the popular forms of Roman entertainment: the theater with its risqué performances, the chariot races, and the gladiatorial fights with their blood and gore.

  • Thomas Chalmers The best method of overcoming sin is to replace that sinful desire with a superior desire.
  • How can suffering become a desire that is superior to a desire for Roman forms of entertainment?

Chalmers Tell a man to be holy and how can he compass such a performance, when his alone fellowship with holiness is a fellowship of despair? It is the atonement of the cross reconciling the holiness of the lawgiver with – the safety of the offender, that hath opened the way for a sanctifying influence into the sinner’s heart; and he can take a kindred impression from the character of God now brought nigh, and now at peace with him. – Separate the demand from the doctrine; and you have either a system of righteousness that is impracticable, or a barren orthodoxy. Bring the demand and the doctrine together – and the true disciple of Christ is able to do the one, through the other strengthening him.

  • The goal is not to find suffering more desirable than worldly pleasures, but to find the love of God – displayed in the gospel – more satisfying than the fleeting pleasures of sin.

In addition to a willingness to choose suffering over sin, the believer is also willing to…

Choose Persecution Over Coalition (3-4)

  • v.3 In the past, the Gentile culture in which they lived had been a temptation to which they succumbed (1:14-15). Let that period be sufficient for your sinful indulgence.
  • Peter provides examples of the Gentile’s (unbeliever) lack of moral and spiritual restraint.
  • Idolatry is only a concept in the Judeo-Christian worldview.
  • v.4 Now, they are willing to be maligned for their obedience to God.
  • Not severe persecution (i.e. martyrdom), but persecution nonetheless.
  • “Chariots of Fire” depicts the decision of British sprinter, Eric Liddell, to pull out of the 100 meter dash, where he was favored, because the heats were planned for a Sunday. (Not in the movie was his decision to pull out of the 4×400 relay as well.)
  • The press and parliament criticized his decision.
  • Had he not gone on to win the 400 with a new WR, his legacy would have been a joke.
  • Have you made a clean break from your former pattern of sinful indulgence?
  • How do you respond when the surprise of your friends turns into maligning your character?
  • Do your friends tend to build up your faith or tear it down? You don’t have to unfriend everyone in your life, but you may need to clarify what kind of behavior you are no longer willing to engage in.

Peter saves the most powerful contrast for the end…

Choose Life Over Death (5-6)

  • Purgatory? 6 not w/ 3:19, but 5.
  • Peter anticipates an objection that believers experience physical death just like unbelievers. Refraining from sin doesn’t seem to make any real difference.
  • So he brings up the concept of God’s eternal judgment, which will have a universal impact (v.5). No one will escape God’s judgment.
  • Yes, believers still experience physical death, but if they received the gospel, they will have eternal life.
  • It isn’t easy to choose something based upon a reality you cannot see. When we look at the options before us, choosing our own human desires which align with worldly entertainment looks a lot more like life.
  • The Prodigal Son chose to take his inheritance early to live an indulgent lifestyle. He envisioned the parties, not the consequences.
  • Had he been able to see himself craving pig slop for sustenance, he would have chosen better.
  • Arm yourselves with a way of thinking that places greater value on what is eternal, rather than what is temporal.

Jim Elliot He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.

  • The consequences of this way of thinking are not trite. It leads to suffering and persecution. For Jim Elliot, it led to his death on the mission field.

But he was no fool to live for an eternal reward!


  • Just one year after becoming an olympic hero, still in the prime of his athletic career, Eric Liddell chose to return to China as a missionary. He was born there where his father had been a missionary, and he would die there.
  • Worldly pleasures are fleeting. For the believer, nothing is more satisfying than knowing the love of God. And that love is found in Christ alone!
  • It is because of what Christ suffered on our behalf that we too can endure suffering of any depth and length in order to win the prize of the upward call of God in Christ!