Your New Mates - 1 Peter 4 — A Christian Growth Message - Hope 103.2

Your New Mates – 1 Peter 4 — A Christian Growth Message

This week Simon Manchester helps us reflect on the 'newness' God call us into when we become Christians. A new road and a new role.

By Simon ManchesterSunday 18 Sep 2022Christian Growth with Simon ManchesterFaithReading Time: 1 minute

A journey through the New Testament book of 1 Peter, by Simon Manchester of Hope 103.2’s Christian Growth podcast and pastor at All Saints in Woollahra, Sydney.

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Good morning, everybody. Let’s pray together. Please keep the Scriptures open and we’ll ask the Lord’s help Father as we consider these verses for these few minutes, we pray that you would rescue us from missing the word from being like the hard path on which nothing penetrates. But we pray that you would help us like the good soil, to receive your Word and to bring forth fruit, which is helpful for us and pleasing to you. We commit this time now to you in Jesus name, amen.

Our friends are We’re in a journey through the letter of Peter. And this is the same Peter. You remember who argued with Jesus and said to Jesus, you shouldn’t get crucified, It’s unnecessary, will save you. And of course, now Peter can see that the crucifixion of Jesus is what brings life eternal life to the believer.

And Peter is writing to people who have got new life and the new life. The Christian life is a very wonderful thing because it begins today and it lasts forever. But you do become a strange fish in the world when you become a Christian. I don’t know if you’ve noticed that you suddenly find that you’ve got new views, new priorities, etcetera, and Peter writes to comfort Christians who are feeling their strangeness.

Remember in the 19 seventies, I was invited to a party once, and the dress code was that people would come in their pyjamas. This was the seventies where people did stupid things, and then the organisers changed their mind. But I didn’t get the note, and so I was the one person in pyjamas at the party and feeling extremely awkward about it.

Peter says in Chapter two, Verse 11, that the Christian is a foreigner in the world or an alien. But we are brand new people. When we come to Christ, we’ve got a new master. We’ve got new life in our hearts. We’ve got new values. We’ve got new priorities. We’ve got a new direction. We’ve got a new destination and we’ve got a new eternity. Some of you may have heard of St. Augustine in the fourth century.

Saint Augustine famously prayed to God give me chastity, but not yet. When he did become a Christian and Augustine went to visit his hometown, he walked in the gates of the town and one of his old girlfriend said to him, Hey, Augustine, it’s me and Augustine said to her, But it’s not me because he’d become a new person with a whole new set of priorities.

Now, if you’ve got one Peter, Chapter four versus 1 to 11 in front of you, I want to look with you at these verses under two headings this morning – choosing a new road and choosing a new role.

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Choosing a new road

First of all, choosing a new road chapter 4:1-6 Chapter four, Verse one, Peter says, since Christ suffered.

We know, of course, that when Christ suffered, it was a unique suffering. He was separated from God at the cross, and he experienced the judgement of God at the cross. He drank the Cup of Judgement, and we know that his suffering was also successful. We say in the prayer book it was a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world and covered the cost of salvation.

Now, Peter says in verse, one Christ suffered uniquely for your salvation, but you were to suffer as a disciple, so you should walk the road of discipleship, walking the road of discipleship brings its own suffering. In fact, when you become a Christian, you get more trouble because you not only get the normal troubles of life, but you also get the troubles for being obedient or being faithful or standing out.

And then comes this strange phrase in Chapter four verse one that if you do walk the road of discipleship, you’ve done with sin, and it looks as if he’s saying You’re finished with sin and you’ve stopped sinning. And you may be the sort of person who comes to church every now and again, and you think everybody else is very wonderful and pious. Or maybe you’ve been in church long enough to know that’s not the case. But it does look odd, doesn’t it that Peter says you’ve done with sin and we know. Of course, it would be untrue to say that the believer has done with sin. Paul himself wrestled with sin.

John says, If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. Now what does Peter mean when he says you’ve done with sin? He means you’ve chosen a new road. You’ve decided to be a disciple if I could give you an illustration imagine somebody gets a job at last, and their mother says he’s now stopped wasting time.

Of course, he’s still capable of wasting time, but what she means is that he’s not on the same road that he was on. Imagine that somebody gets married at last, and the mother says he’s stopped being independent. Well, of course, he’s still capable of being independent. But he’s not on the road that he was on. Peter says that if the Christian sets themselves to walk the road of discipleship, they’re obviously not walking the road of sin.

Can they drift? Of course they can drift. But his appeal, you see, is to choose the new road because you’ve been made a new person. And if you choose to follow Jesus, he says in verse two, you will choose the will of God.

You won’t be choosing your own will. It is one of the great prayers in the Bible, isn’t it? When Jesus was in the garden and he simply said, not my will, but yours be done. And I do think that that is one of the great prayers for the Christian to pray, not my will, but yours be done, and we find that, of course, in The Lord’s Prayer.

Well, then, Peter says in verse three, not only will you have done with sin because you’ve turned your back on it and you’re walking in the direction of Christ. But he also says in verse three, You’ve actually done enough sin. And as we look back on our life, many of us will say, Well, we have actually done plenty. We’ve done enough and he list six examples of sin in verse three. The sins of drink, sex and what we might call Wild Living. Verse three sounds very like the party animal and makes us realise that Peter’s readers were obviously often from a pagan background. Not just a Jewish background, he says in Verse four. You were involved in reckless, wild living.

Now, my friends, when we become a Christian, things do change. Our language changes. I think one of the first things I always notice with a new believer is that blasphemy goes, Don’t find the real believer anymore, saying, Oh God, oh Christ or something like that. Whenever I do hear those phrases from people who hang around churches, I always wonder whether there’s a real conversion at all. Language changes and swearing disappears. I mean, there’s so much of it around us. It’s so easy to inhale. But in the end, we’re meant to be people who watch our language. And we become less reckless and less careless about our lives because God has put a healthy fear into us, and he’s caused us to want to be a good signpost and help to others.

You may look at the list in verse three, and you may say, Well, I was never that person. I never did any of those things, but I hope you know that if you become a Christian, Volume one of your life, the old life is over and Volume two has begun. See what Peter is saying? He’s saying, Choose the road of following Christ and choose the road of following his word.

Don’t choose the road of following self and then trim the scriptures to suit your purposes. Jesus himself did not tiptoe around this issue did, he said, You would be better to lose your hand your eye than to lose your soul. Paul said that there are sins, certain sins, especially sex and greed. He said, which can keep you if you’re committed to them from the Kingdom of God. And Peter here is using what we might almost call deathbed wisdom. You know that feeling when you’re on your deathbed and you think about what you did and what you didn’t do, and you might say to yourself, I wish I had done more and I wish I had done less. And Peter is basically saying When you get to the end of your life, you’re not going to be looking back saying, I wish I had been more greedy. I wish I had been more reckless. I wish I’d been more stupid. And so he wants to help his readers avoid the trap.

Now we will still, of course, feel the tug of the old life. But we have been given a new life, and that’s why, Peter says, keep choosing the road of following Christ. As one British writer has said in her book “Confronting Christianity”, God may not judge us for our attractions, but he will judge us for our actions, and that’s what Peter goes on within Verse five, he says. Don’t forget that the person who is reckless and wild and seems to get away with everything. And you know those people. Verse five will give an account to Christ the judge because everybody, everybody, everybody is going to end up in his courtroom.

So whatever, says Peter, your fellow citizens are saying about you, whatever they’re doing, whatever they’re getting away with, whatever they make of you, whatever they do to you, they are going to end up in front of Christ because he’s been raised.

Is this a comfort to us? It is a comfort if you’re being persecuted, and it is a comfort if you wonder whether evil really matters, because you remind yourself that justice will be done.

It doesn’t mean that we stop caring about the person who is against us, the enemy who hurts us. We could still care for them. And you remember Peter has talked about non-retaliation and about being a signpost and giving a word in season where possible.

When the believer meets Jesus Christ one day, the believer is going to hear that very wonderful word. Welcome. Come. Take your inheritance. Christ has paid for all your sins. You disqualified yourself. He qualified you. What a wonderful day that will be. And there will be millions of people who will hear the welcome because a Christian loved them and lived out the new life in front of them.

I’m not sure if you know the name Ian Wilson. Ian Wilson is a very prolific writer in the UK, and if I could read you this little bit of his testimony, he says this. For much of my life, I’ve been one of those who didn’t believe I began to rail against Christianity, and I wrote a book “Entitled Jesus” which endeavoured to establish that he’d been no more than a Messianic prophet who had well and truly failed and died. Like most educated people in Britain,” says Ian Wilson, “I have grown up in a culture that’s overwhelmingly secular and anti religious. The universities, the broadcasters and the media generally are not merely non-religious. They’re positively anti. It felt so uncool to be religious. And so, with the mentality of a child in the playground, I felt at some visceral level that being religious was unsexy, like having spots or wearing specs. The vast majority of media pundits and intelligentsia in Britain are unbelievers. Many of them are quite fervent in their hatred of religion itself. My belief,” he says, “has come about in large measure because of the lives and examples of the people I’ve known friends and relations that have lived and face death in the light of the resurrection or in the quiet acceptance that they have a future. The Easter story answers their questions about the spiritual aspects of humanity. It changes lives. That is why I now believe the resurrection is the ultimate key to who we are. But an even stronger argument is the way that Christian faith transforms individual lives.

And so Ian Wilson is saying exactly what Peter is saying here, seek to live amongst the unbelievers.

Now I want to tell you what I think Verse six means, because it’s a very tricky verse. This is what Peter says, for this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirits. Quite tricky verse, isn’t it? What is Peter meaning?

He means the gospel changes everything and because it was preached, says Peter. To people who became believers and who have now died. Whatever people thought of those believers, whatever people said of them and whatever people did to them, it’s a minor issue. The major issue is that God considered them his people and gave them a new status and a new life that lasts forever. And therefore Peter is saying to his readers, Take heart because whatever people say about you, whatever people say against you, whatever people do to you, God’s word has made you new. That’s the road Choosing the road. Secondly, and more briefly, choosing a new role.

Choosing a new role

I’ve always loved legion in the Gospel of Mark Remember Legion? He was the man who was possessed by many, many demons. And I’ve always loved the fact that when he met Jesus, he went from being a complete drain on the community, a nuisance to being a fountain of new life and truth and grace. He wanted to follow Jesus, but Jesus told him to stay in his town and be an example and a messenger to his village. And when Peter turns to Chapter four, Verse seven, he moves away from the people who are a drain in the world and calls on God’s people to be a fountain in the world, he says:

First of all, stay alert to pray. You might expect Peter to say Time is short. Therefore, be busy, but prayer is business. Taking a few minutes to pray is the most practical thing you can do. We used to say, back in the seventies, prayer is not meant to be your spare wheel that comes out in the emergency. It’s meant to be your steering wheel. And of course, a lot of trouble would be saved if we prayed first rather than last.

Remember also that when we pray for our link missionaries Michael and Ronnie that we’re not just praying and they are working, but that when we pray we joined the work, we work with them by praying.

And then Peter says in Verse eight, Love the other Christians seems a very predictable thing to say, doesn’t it? But if you live in a world of trouble, to come to a loving fellowship can be a great comfort you might spend Monday to Friday being ignored, even injured by people through the week. But to come to the fellowship, where there is love, patience, kindness, acceptance is a very wonderful thing. And a church a fellowship can be an oasis in a desert of nastiness.

Back in the nineties, we started a fellowship in the middle of North Sydney, a little lunch with a little bit of biblical message, and I remember going around with some flyers to all the buildings in North Sydney. And basically, the flyer says, Is your building on a good foundation? Well, nobody cared two hoots, whether they’re building was on a good foundation. So we scrapped those flyers and we produced a new one, which said that there is an oasis in North Sydney, a place of kindness, a place of welcome, a place of warmth, the place of truth. And that’s what people wanted. That’s what they wanted, a little oasis in the business and the difficulty of the week.

And then says Peter Love, this love covers verse eight, a multitude of sins. This doesn’t mean that we are careless about sin, or we become irresponsible about things that matter not at all, but it means that we can overlook the things that don’t matter. Everybody has got certain irritable qualities about them. The wonderful thing about the Christian is that we can keep moving and not get bogged down with. Those things were not to keep grudges in the fellowship of a God who doesn’t keep grudges. So in relation to God, he says, Remember to pray in relation to the believers. Remember to love and in relation to strangers.

Verse nine. Be welcoming. Be a good receiver of the outsider. Perhaps you’ll use your home, but look out for the newcomer, he says. Verse nine. And in verse 10, he reminds his readers that every Christian has a gift to use in the family of God and my friends. Whatever your gift is, it’s normally what you’re good at. That’s the way God has wired you. It’s what you love to do. Perhaps you love helping people that your gift, or perhaps you’ve got administrative gifts or you’ve got it gifts or music, gifts or graphics, gifts or teaching gifts or property gifts. The gifts that God gives to his people bless the church. And so, he says in verse 10 be a steward of the grace that God has given you. He’s given you Grace. He’s given you a gift, so use it for other people.

When Paul discusses the gifts, of course, he has long lists of gifts in Romans and one Corinthians and Ephesians. But Peter reduces them to to, he says. They’re either speaking or serving. If you’re speaking, he says, it’s with the word of God. If you’re serving, it’s with the strength of God. Verse 11. The speaker in the family of God shouldn’t be inventing clever things. I hope you don’t think you come on Sundays to hear me think things up.

I hope you know that I couldn’t keep you going if I wanted to, that we’ve got the Scriptures to say What God says and the servant in God’s family is not to create strength and change, but to serve in the strength that God provides well. At the end of the process, he says, Verse 11, that God is to be praised to God be the glory. Now, why is it important that God be glorified? Not too long ago, I sent an email from somebody who said they found this whole thing irritating, they said. Why is it that Christians have to keep praising God? And the email said anybody who needs to be praised like this is not worthy of being praised? Well, it’s a good challenge, isn’t it?

But actually, friends, we do consider it right to credit people where credit is due. We want people to receive the appropriate recognition. We want to honour the soldiers who fought for our peace. We want to honour the doctors and nurses who help us in a crisis. In fact, we have in this country, especially a great concern for the unsung hero. And there is no unsung hero like God. A tiny percentage of the world credit him with who He is and what He’s done, and even those who credit him. I have no idea how great He is and how much He’s done.

So when we do begin to thank Him for our life and our breath and our supplies and our security, and especially when we begin to consider the generosity, the cost, the pain of giving his son for our eternal welfare, rescuing the unworthy as he did, providing the unbelievable to us, we find our praise rising. It’ll never be done properly in this world until we see him face to face until we have sinless hearts. Even our best singing in the best crowd on the best Sunday is only going to be a small, small ant hill of praise compared with the mountain that we will one day gift to him.

And so Peter simply says, Christian friends, if Christ has made you new, keep walking the road and keep serving your role because those things are exactly what God has made you for and he will be honoured. Many will be blessed, and you yourself will be encouraged and grateful.

Let’s pray together.

Our gracious God. We thank you again for the new life which Christ came to bring, and we pray that you would help us to live it, walking the road of discipleship, thankful for our Saviour and also exercising the role that you’ve given us to play. We ask that you would help us to live lives to your praise, your worthy praise in Jesus’ name, amen.