1 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, 2 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.
1 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,” (Isaiah 61:1–2, NKJV)
Jesus applied these words to Himself as He read from Isaiah in Nazareth’s synagogue (Lk. 4:16-21). God’s Christ was tasked with preaching good news to impoverished souls (Matt. 5:3; 6:20). The Lord God commissioned His Servant to heal hearts that are broken by sin’s sorrow and despair (Matt. 5:4; 11:28-30). Jesus proclaimed liberty from sin’s bondage, and announced the age of divine grace (Jno. 8:34-36; 1:14-17). He came to comfort those who mourn over their sins, as He declared God’s vengeance against His opponents (Jno. 5:22-23, 30; 12:48). Jesus Christ is the great fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, to give blessings to all nations through his Seed (Gen. 12:3; 22:18; Gal. 3:16). With decisive clarity, we are assured that “now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). And so, your opportunity to be saved from your sins is now. Choose the comfort of God’s forgiveness through Christ Jesus, not the vengeance of God’s wrath. Believe and obey the gospel of Jesus Christ – now.
You have given a banner to those who fear You, that it may be displayed because of the truth. (Psalm 60:4, NKJV)
For centuries, armies used banners or flags to identify and distinguish themselves from their enemy on the battlefield. The raised banner was a rally point for combat, giving assurance that the cause was advancing on the field of battle. God has raised the banner of His Christ as the rallying point for salvation from sin, and as our signal to advance against the enemy, the devil (Isa. 11:10; Rom. 15:12). The cause of truth is identified by, and advances under, God’s banner. It does not fly for the sake of “vain parade or ostentation; it was not to be unfolded in an unrighteous or unjust cause” (Barnes on Psa. 60:4). The banner of the cross is unfurled by all who fear God and work righteousness (Acts 10:34-35). The cause of divine truth will be victorious. Christians, who march according to the authority of Jesus Christ, advance to victory (1 John 5:4; Rev. 17:14).
39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. (Hebrews 11:39–40, NKJV)
The writer of Hebrews had just recited a list of Old Testament people whose faith testified of their righteousness: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, and many more unnamed men and women (Heb. 11:3-38). Although they “obtained a good testimony through faith,” they “did not receive the promise” –namely, the promise made to Abraham that in his seed “all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (v. 39; Gen. 22:18). They died in faith, before Christ came (the One to whom the promise was made, and through whom the promise was kept, Gal. 3:16, 19). Now, Christ has come, perfecting or completing their faith (Heb. 11:40). This great cloud of witnesses gathers to compel us to have enduring faith, because we have, in fact, received the promise (Heb. 12:1; Gal. 3:14).These Old Testament examples of faith forcefully influence Christians to remain faithful. They believed God’s promise, endured in their faith, and now are blessed by its fulfillment. Christians, who have the promise in Christ, must not “draw back to perdition,” but have faith “to the saving of the soul.” We must “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb. 10:39; 12:1).
67 Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: 68 “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people,69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David” (Luke 1:67–69, NKJV)
This inspired proclamation by the father of John the baptizer aptly depicts the prophetic concepts of the Messiah which God “spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets” (Lk. 1:70). First, Messiah would visit mankind doing God’s work (v. 68). The work accomplished by Christ Jesus is the work of God Himself (Isa. 61:1-2; Lk. 4:16-21). Second, the coming Messiah was prophetically associated with salvation (v. 69; Isa. 53:11-12). Christ Jesus is the Savior who brings mercy and the remission of sins (v. 71, 72, 77). Third, the coming Messiah would be regal, a king of the house of David (v. 69; Psa. 2:6; Lk. 1:32-33). Christ Jesus is King, and possesses all authority. He subdues His enemies and He is served by His people with reverence, holiness and righteousness (Lk. 1:74-75; Heb. 1:8-9). God’s prophets foretold of the coming Messiah. John announced His arrival (Lk. 1:76; 3:1-6). Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ. He is Immanuel (God with us), who saves and who reigns today. He is our Hope and our Salvation: “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love (Ephesians 3:17, NKJV)
As Paul prays for the saints in Ephesus, his petition turns to their fellowship with Christ. One of the great blessings we have in Christ is His unfailing promise to be with us. The gospel has called us “into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor. 1:9). Our relationship with Christ occurred “through faith.” Faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom. 10:17). Therefore, we conclude that without the word of Christ in our hearts He will not dwell there. Is not this why Paul told the Colossians to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col. 3:16)? Christ will not dwell where His word is not loved and obeyed (see Jno. 14:23). Paul’s prayer, then, is that the Ephesians will have such faith that they will love Christ and keep His word. Through such faith, Christ would dwell in their hearts – and with such faith He will dwell in your heart, too.
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:30, NKJV)
If we seek rest from the heavy burden and bondage of sin, we will find rest in the Savior when we surrender ourselves to His yoke of obedient service. The rule of His authority over us restrains our feet from sin and directs us in paths of righteousness. We gladly learn His word and obey it from the heart (Matt. 11:28-29). Make no mistake, every disciple of Jesus wears a yoke. Christ’s rule over us is gently pleasant (“easy”), without the burdensome grief of sin’s weight (“light”). Christians express their love of God by obeying Jesus: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 Jno. 5:3). The way of the transgressor is hard, filled with pitfalls and dangers. The way of the Savior is easy and light, gently leading us to our heavenly home.