6. Living for God - Milo Wilson (1 Peter 4:1-11) Living HOPE

Living HOPE Series
  • When Jesus asked his disciples. "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" Peter responded "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus promised Peter that upon the Rock of that confession He would build His church. The truth of who Jesus is empowers common man to speak the message that opens the doors of heaven to sinners. Join us to learn strong principles for Godly living and reach new heights in our faith as we work our way through Peter's writings which evangelize the lost and instruct the church.
6. Living for God (1 Peter 4:1-11)
  • As believers and followers of Jesus, we are to live our lives on earth fully devoted to God's will, with clarity of mind, and with service to others out of the giftedness each of us has from God. 
Sermon Preparation Guide
  • Importance - What are the central ideas of this text?
    • God calls us to be like Christ, and thus live on earth from His perspective and with His approach. – I Peter 4:1
    • God will judge the lives of everyone based on their response to the gospel of Jesus Christ. – I Peter 4:5 & 6
    • God will bring everything to an end, and He wants us to live for Him in light of that, using all the gifts He has given us to His glory. – I Peter 4:7-11
    1. Implications - What questions should the listener be asking?
      • How can you live like Christ and with the same purpose as He did while on earth?
      • The way of “the flesh” versus the way “of God” are at odds.  How so, and how does having accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord impact one’s life going forward?
      • If the “end is near” then how should you live?  In relation to your fellow believers?  In relation to those non-believers around you?  What are your spiritual gifts and how should you use them?
        Talk it Over Discussion Guide 
        • Interpretation - What is the text telling/showing us?
          • What was Jesus’ purpose in life?  Why are we to arm ourselves with that same purpose?
          • What does it mean to live for the will of God? 
          • How would you describe the focus of the life of one without Jesus?  Where does such a life lead? 
          • Who will judge your life and on what basis?  Where is your hope in the face of such a judgment to come? 
          • Why was the gospel preached to all (verse 6)?  What does it mean to live in the spirit? 
          • When will the end come?  Whenever the end comes, how should knowing that the end is coming lead you to live?
          • What does it mean to love one another fervently?
          • How can you be hospitable?
          • What is a spiritual gift?  Who has spiritual gifts?  How should one use his or her spiritual gift?
            • Implementation - What should the listeners response be?
              • Do you live with God at the center of all you do?  How does living with God at the center of your life affect whether or not you engage in sinful behavior? 
              • Have you put past sinful behaviors aside?  How can you do this?  What about what others think when you no longer hang around with them?
              • What does it mean for you to live in the spirit according to the will of God?    
              • What might some kinds of behaviors you once engaged be seen as either immoral or idolatrous?  Have you ceased to engage in those behaviors?  If you are still working on that matter, how does putting God fully at the center of all you are and do help you?     
              • What do you think of when you read the phrase “the end of all things is near?”  How does the meaning of that phrase cause you to live in the present?  How should it cause you to live in the present?
              • What does it mean to you to say that love covers a multitude of sins?  Does that mean that sins are just to be discounted?
              • In what ways can you be hospitable, and do so without complaint?
              • Verse 11 says that each believer has a spiritual gift or gifts?  Do you believe that?  Do you know what your spiritual gift is or your spiritual gifts are?  Make a list of them.  
              • How are you using your spiritual gift or gifts?  What new ways can you employ those gifts?  What will you do to put into practice the answer you just gave?
                Sermon Teaching Notes (as compiled by Pastor Dick Murphy)
                • Investigation - What's generally going on in this area of scripture?
                Peter has just finished referring to Jesus in the matter of “doing good” (meaning living a righteous life that reflects God’s character) which His followers can do because they have been made new in Him and through His resurrection. So Peter now uses the same picture of Jesus to tell his readers that like Jesus, they are to “live for God.” Jesus came to the earth to serve and give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45), in short, to do God’s will in effecting salvation through His life, death and resurrection.

                Jesus suffered in the flesh, meaning as a human being, because of who He was (the Messiah), but His suffering led to His “vindication” which was that death and sin were defeated on the cross and in the resurrection. Jesus is thus the example of how to live on earth, which is the point Peter is making. Jesus’ followers are to “arm” themselves with “the same way of thinking” as Jesus, which is to live totally sold out to and for accomplishing God’s will and purposes on earth. In so doing, the believer will live out the defeat of sin, no longer under its sway in terms of lifestyle and purpose (I Peter 4:1b, 2). There is to be a break in one’s life, from the old way (the human, self- centered way) to the new way (God’s way).

                The old ways of earth are to be put aside for a God-focus instead, even if to do so generates suffering, mocking and one’s being maligned. (I Peter 4:4). In Peter’s day, these old ways among the pagan Gentiles (and perhaps even some of the Jewish people as well) included constant festivals and dinner parties at people‘s homes, and activities at the local temples, all of which were dedicated to the worship of various gods and included drinking, arousing and immorality. This was normal living for the inhabitants of the area, and the behaviors were the expected norm. Such were the expectations that non- believers were surprised that the Christians didn’t run on the same path, and as a consequence mocked and maligned their Christian neighbors. Peter’s word is that such a lifestyle is past; it is dissipation; it is the focus of human passion, not God’s will.

                Moreover, Peter reminds his readers that God is the ultimate judge of our lives, and all will give account (I Peter 4:5) for how they lived on earth, whether for self or for God. And even if one dies on earth having been judged by men as not meeting human standards, the gospel message is that those who are in Christ and live for Him will live eternally in the spirit (I Peter 4:6). Peter is therefore again saying that believers are to have “the long view” and live now in the light of eternity, an eternity that is guaranteed by God to those who are His children in Christ (I Peter 1:3-5). That is the life of “living hope.” And this life is one which is lived full out for God, totally submitted to His will, looking to Him for the secure future but also reflecting Him in the present with lives that are holy, that shine, that are submissive and that do good, all accomplished in light of who God is. Yes, Peter writes, the end is near, meaning that one day – whether in the near future or in the far future - God will wrap everything up in Christ for His glory; but the knowledge of that certain, even imminent ending must lead one to a present lifestyle that shows forth whose one is and where one’s allegiance lies.

                For the believer, it is to love for God, wisely and with discretion and self-control, thoughtfully and prayerfully (I Peter 4:7). And because we live as part of a community of faith, we are to live for God with earnest, fervent love for one another, because love looks beyond sin and brokenness to the persons God has created us to be in Christ, perfectable, not perfect. The word translated “fervent” or “earnest” comes from a word that means stretching and gives the picture of the constant, sustained and strenuous effort of a dedicated athlete. Such love (Greek = agape) is principally a matter of the will which leads to action, and that action is service to one another which forgives faults and bears with others. This love issues in hospitality (remember that the church met in houses in Peter’s day) without “grumbling” or complaint. But it also requires that each one use the gift or gifts given him or her by the Holy Spirit to serve one another for the good of the entire community of faith as part of God’s grace.

                Note, Peter underscores that each one has such a gift or gifts; they are not the province of a few. These gifts are also from God and we are given them for their use; we are to be “stewards” meaning those who faithfully administer whatever is put in their charge. Doing thus is a manifestation of God‘s grace – in the giving of the gifts, and in their application to the life of the community, remembering that grace is free and asks for nothing in return. Whatever the gift or gifts, they are to be used to minister, whether the gift involves speaking or serving; and the using of the gift is to be with the strength God supplies and as if the application of the gift is from God Himself. Ultimately, all this is that God might receive the glory in Jesus to whom belongs all the glory and power forever. The life of living hope is a life that is lived for God with full devotion, clarity of mind and purpose, understanding of His will, and active service and ministry to others out of one’s giftedness.

                Believers are to be deliberate to consciously embrace God’s call and commit to His cause, which is His glory. In the here and now, that purpose is to drive one a life that is different from that of the surrounding culture; different in terms of focus and different in terms of end. If the pursuit of such a life meets with suffering because of rejection by those of the surrounding culture, that life is yet preferable to a life if sinning because the former is aligned with Jesus and will receive the ultimate blessing in eternity whereas the latter will yield no more than possible momentary pleasure. Again, Peter tells us that our calling is to a living hope, and that is living for God in light of the eternity to come, in service to those around us, and to the glory of His name. As Peter wrote in verse 11 … Amen!