"THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PETER"
The Militant Christian (1 Pe 4:1-6)
1. It is quite common today to pick up the newspaper and read about the
violent actions of those referred to as "militant fundamentalists"
a. Sometimes the phrase has reference to extremists of the Islamic
faith, engaged in what they call "Jihad" (holy war, or struggle)
b. But there also times when it is applied to professing Christians,
who resort to physical violence in support of their cause (e.g.,
the radical pro-life movement)
2. As true followers of the "Prince of Peace"...
a. We must remember that the Kingdom is spiritual, and therefore not
expanded through carnal means - cf. Jn 18:36
b. We should keep in mind the words of our Savior: "...for all who
take the sword will perish by the sword." - Mt 26:52
3. But this is not to say we do not have a true struggle, nor weapons
with which to fight...
a. We are engaged in a spiritual struggle, both without and within
- Ep 6:12; 1 Pe 2:12
b. We have in our arsenal weapons that are "mighty in God" - 2 Co 10:3-5
c. Indeed, as we enter the fourth chapter of 1st Peter, we see that
Christians are to "arm" themselves in their service to the Lord
- 1 Pe 4:1
4. So in one sense, there is such a thing as "The Militant Christian";
but it is important that we properly understand in what sense we are
to be militant in our service to the Lord
[Using 1 Pe 4:1-6 as our text, I would first point out that "The
Militant Christian" is to be...]
I. ARMED WITH THE MIND OF CHRIST (1 Pe 4:1)
A. WHICH IS A MIND WILLING TO SUFFER...
1. This is the attitude Peter wants us to have
2. Which was the attitude of Christ Himself -
cf. 1 Pe 2:21-23; 1 Pe 3:18
B. TWO REASONS WE SHOULD BE WILLING TO SUFFER...
1. "...since Christ suffered for us"
a. He died for us, that we might live for righteousness - 1 Pe 2:24
b. Is it asking too much that we might be willing to endure
hardship for His sake?
2. "...he who suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin"
a. One who endures hardship for Christ is not likely to allow
sin to have dominance in his or her life
b. "One who has embraced the mind of Christ, and whose life is
so influenced by him that he suffers persecution is not in
danger of succumbing to the weaker temptations of the
flesh. To such an individual these allurements lose their
appeal. Martyrs, in the hour of persecution and death, do
not toy with temptation or surrender to the seductions of
the world!" - Guy N. Woods
[Armed with the mind of Christ, which includes a willingness to suffer
for doing good, "The Militant Christian" is also to be... ]
II. MILITANT IN HIS STRUGGLE AGAINST SIN (1 Peter Chaps 2 & 3)
A. HERE IS WHERE THE MAJOR BATTLE IS TO BE FOUGHT...
1. A battle between one's soul and fleshly lusts - cf. 1 Pe 2:12
2. Unless we first win the battle for our own soul, we are not
likely to be of much help in winning the souls of others!
a. Therefore we need to remove the plank out of our own eye
first - cf. Mt 7:3-5
b. Only by first being "spiritual" ourselves are we prepared
to help others - cf. Ga 6:1
3. Many immature Christians begin fighting a "spiritual warfare"
with others too soon, and lose the "spiritual warfare" within
themselves in the process!
B. MOTIVATION FOR THIS STRUGGLE AGAINST SIN...
1. We have wasted enough of our lifetimes doing what is called
"the will of the Gentiles"
a. Briefly summarized in verse 3
b. What Paul calls the "works of the flesh" in Ga 5:19-21
2. Now it is time to live out the rest of our lives for "the will
a. Briefly summarized in verses 7-11
b. Which will be considered more carefully in the next lesson
[As we think of ourselves "standing strong for the faith" and "fighting
the good fight", let's not forget that the battle begins within
Unless the Christian is first militant in "crucifying the flesh" and
"putting to death the deeds of the body", he or she is not likely to
have the "spiritual fortitude" necessary to prevent killing one's self
in the "battle for truth" (cf. 2 Ti 2:24-26).
When "The Militant Christian" is living out the rest of his or her life
for the will of God, we need to be prepared for the fact that we
III. LIKELY BE MALIGNED (1 Pe 4:4)
A. OUR FORMER COMPANIONS WILL THINK US "STRANGE"...
1. Because we no longer join with them in their sin
2. Unable to persuade us from our new course, they may resort to
"speaking evil of you"
3. Some young Christians are troubled by this peer pressure
B. BUT WHEN MALIGNED...
1. We have reason to rejoice - cf. Mt 5:11-12; 1 Pe 4:13-14
2. Our response is to be one of love and honorable conduct -
cf. Mt 5:44; 1 Pe 2:12
3. Who knows? Perhaps our conduct will lead one day to their
[Yes, "The Militant Christian" is likely to be thought of by others as
a "fanatic", but it is possible that deep down even those who malign us the
most have respect for our convictions when we hold them with the proper spirit.
Finally, taking a clue from the comments of Peter in verses 5-6,
"The Militant Christian" is one who is...]
IV. WILLING TO LET GOD BE THE JUDGE (Vs 5-6)
A. VERSE 6 IS ANOTHER ONE OF "PETER'S PERPLEXING PASSAGES"...
1. Especially the phrase "the gospel was also preached to those
who are dead"
2. Some think Peter is referring back to his comments in 1 Pe 3:18-20...
a. If so, then the "spirits in prison" would be human spirits,
not angelic spirits
b. If so, then the preaching of the gospel was:
1) Not an offer of salvation (i.e., a second chance)
2) But a proclamation of what Christ has done, explaining
how Christ has redeemed the Old Testament faithful, and why
others remain condemned
3) Note that they were still "judged according to men in
the flesh" (how they lived in the flesh), though they
now "live according to God in the spirit"
3. Others believe Peter is simply referring to the preaching of
a. To people when they were alive
b. But who are now among the dead
B. EITHER WAY, AS "MILITANT CHRISTIANS"...
1. We must remember who is the Judge...
a. God is the judge of those who are "outside" - 1 Co 5:12-13
b. They will have to "give an account to Him who is ready to
judge..." - 1 Pe 4:5
2. We must therefore be willing to let God be the judge...
a. I.e., leave vengeance to God - cf. Ro 12:19
b. God will apply the justice when necessary; until then
we are called upon to offer His mercy...
1) Through the preaching of the gospel
2) Through living lives of kindness and mercy - cf. Rom 12:20-21
1. There is a place, then, for "militancy" in the life of the
2. But it is to be found in the way we arm ourselves with the mind of
a. Fighting the spiritual warfare that wages within
b. Being militant in our efforts to live the godly life, by doing
good and showing mercy
Are you "fighting the good fight of faith"? Are you even in the Lord's
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