Hasty Words #1106

Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (Proverbs 29:20, NKJV)

Do you know someone who seems to be an “expert” on just about every subject that comes up? Give him an opening, and he will be sure you know it! He will tell you the best car to buy, the best food to eat, the best place to live, the best…everything! And, the alternatives are always inferior – because he knows what is best! Except for the occasional renaissance man and woman, it is much wiser to be deliberate in choosing our words before we speak. People will soon tune out from listening to the person if they believe that person’s high opinion of himself drives most everything he says. Carefully choose your words, for it will be words “fitly spoken” that convey value and wisdom (Prov. 25:11). The fool is rash and rapid with his words, causing disruption and disturbance in his wake. By contrast, inspiration instructs us to “let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Col. 4:6).

“Live according to God in the spirit” #1105

5 They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. (1 Peter 4:5–6, NKJV)

God’s assured judgment of sinners, including those practicing the immoral excesses named in this context (1 Peter 4:3), is the very reason the gospel is preached to the world. God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). The world is dead in sin. The gospel of God gives the sinner life out of spiritual death (Rom. 1:16-17; 6:23). Sinners who believe the gospel will obey it by repenting and being baptized (Acts 2:37-41; 1 Pet. 3:21). The result of this is salvation – life “according to God in the spirit.” This new life necessarily compels the saved to “cease from sin” (1 Pet. 4:1). Although the saved sinner will be judged harshly by those who continue to practice sin (see 1 Pet. 4:4), God’s assured forgiveness and promised eternal life confirms our heart and lives in Him. Being reviled for good conduct is but one way we are willing to “suffer in the flesh” because we have “ceased from sin” (1 Pet. 4:1).

“They think it strange” #1104

In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. (1 Peter 4:4–5, NKJV)

When you choose to no longer practice the excesses of immorality, those who live in lustful indulgence often respond negatively. They may mock you as an entertaining oddity – the odd ball who doesn’t want to “have fun.” They may speak evil of you – disgusted that you will not join them in their outpouring of selfish, sensual sins. We do not expect the faithless to encourage us to be faithful to the Lord; it is foolish to think they would (1 Cor. 15:33-34). Sinners hated Jesus because He exposed their sins (Jno. 3:19-20; 7:7). In the same way, when you choose to do the will of God, you will be laughed at and scorned – or worse. Those who treat you this way will answer to God for reviling what is good. And, answering to God for one’s evil conduct is nowhere you want to be. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31). So, take heart, keep faith, and do not be discouraged. God will right every wrong you endure for His name’s sake.

Self-control, not sinful abandon #1103

For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. (1 Peter 4:3, NKJV)

Look carefully at this Scripture’s description of the “past lifetime” spent in “doing the will of the Gentiles,” instead of doing “the will of God” (1 Pet. 4:2). One thing all these sins have in common is the absence of self-control. From the sinful indulgence of lewd words and actions, to all manner of evil cravings, to drunkenness, carousing and the drinking parties that lead to excess, to the abominations of idolatry formed by unbelief – self-control is forfeited when these sins are practiced. Purity of heart protects us against lascivious, lustful conduct. Sober-mindedness refuses even the first drink of mind-numbing alcohol which, left unrestrained, invariably progresses to debauchery and drunkenness. Those who have armed themselves with the mind of Christ do not adopt the ways of unbelievers, much less defend those ways (1 Pet. 4:1-2). It grieves us when Christians defend the occasional consumption of alcohol, for it indicates a mind that is still “doing the will of the Gentiles,” instead of the will of God. Today’s tip: Put away all the sins of the past, exercise self-control, and live for the will of God today and every day.

Suffer for the will of God #1102

Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. (1 Peter 4:1–2, NKJV)

Christ suffered for us; “the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet. 3:18). His suffering in the flesh compels Christians to equip ourselves with His mind or attitude; the decision to do good and, if need be, “to suffer for doing good” (1 Pet. 3:17; 4:1). Contrary to the “health and wealth gospel” taught by false teachers, being a Christian does not free one from suffering. The devoted Christian accepts a life of suffering for doing the will of God. In verse two, Peter says such suffering includes no longer living to fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Our devotion is to the will of God. Even when your former companions in sin think you are odd, and speak evil of you for no longer joining them in sin, remember that you have “ceased from sin” and cannot continue to practice it (1 Pet. 4:3-4, 1). Peer pressure is powerful, but we must see it for what it is; the attempt of sinful people to draw us into sinning along with them. Resist. Suffer (when it comes to that). Live for the will of God. Do not live for the lusts of men.

Faith in Jesus is not Islamophobic #1101

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18, NKJV)

During the confirmation hearing of Russell Vought, President Trump’s nominee for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, Senator Bernie Sanders charged Vought with being “hateful,” “Islamophobic,” and “insulting” a billion Muslims because his Christian faith informs his belief that those who do not believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, are condemned (see today’s verse). Article VI of the U.S. Constitution plainly says that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” (Senator Sanders should know this.) Mr. Vought should not be expected to abandon his faith in order to hold a job in the government. Nor should he be so falsely accused because of his faith. Yet, this outrageous example reminds us that believers will continue to be falsely accused. Jesus said His disciples are blessed when we remain faithful in the face of faithless persecutors (Matt. 5:10-12). “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed” (1 Peter 3:15-16).

Guided by Integrity #1100

The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them. (Proverbs 11:3, NKJV)

The contrast in this verse is between being blameless and being devious in attitude and action toward others. It is the difference between honesty and dishonesty. Every day, we face split-second decisions that reveal whether or not we are guided by integrity. For example, do you give back the extra ten dollars of change the cashier mistakenly gave you? (If not, why not? It is not yours.) Do you protest and pay the full amount that is due when that same cashier undercharges you? (If not, why not? Honesty demands you pay what you owe.) Do you lie to close a business transaction? (Are you okay with someone lying to you in a business deal?) Do you give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay? (Or, do you slack off when the boss is not around?) You see, straightforwardness and honesty must guide our values and our treatment of others. Integrity produces reliability, dependability, and trustworthiness. These qualities bring success to one’s life. But, the deceitful will be caught in their own net and destroyed (Psa. 35:7-8). When a person loses his sense of truth, fairness and justice, his integrity is ruined. Left unchanged, eternal ruin awaits (Rev. 21:8).