Sermon Outline On 1 Peter 4:1-11
Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same intention (for whoever has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin), so as to live for the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires but by the will of God. You have already spent enough time in doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry. They are surprised that you no longer join them in the same excesses of dissipation, and so they blaspheme. But they will have to give an accounting to him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead, so that, though they had been judged in the flesh as everyone is judged, they might live in the spirit as God does. The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.
This scripture lesson is an interesting mixture of those things that are easy to understand and those things that commentators cannot agree upon. This morning I choose to look at those parts of this text that are easier to understand than to live.
The first verse says, “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same intention.” We may not like what it says, but it is rather clear. Which part of “be prepared to suffer as Christ suffered” did you not understand? Some would object to the militaristic sound of “arm yourselves,” but that is what it says. And with what do we arm ourselves? The intention to suffer as Christ suffered!
The fifth and sixth verses refer to judging the living and the dead. There is no doubt about judgement, but judging the living and the dead is not as obvious. Verse seven tells us that the end is near. That verse would make a whole lot more sense if it had not been written 19 centuries ago. Verse eight talks about constantly loving one another. That is plain enough, but what does “love covers a multitude of sins” really mean? That is not so obvious. Whose sins? Whose love? While it might be often quoted, it is not all that straight forward.
“Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” It is clear that we are called to be good stewards. There are two aspects of being a steward that may be considered. (1) For stewards, what we have is actually not ours. Stewards simply care for someone else’s property. All we call “ours” belongs to God. We are only caretakers. (2) We are called to make good, effective use of what has been entrusted to us. The text says, “like GOOD stewards.”
How do we serve one another? Verse 11 says, “with the strength that God supplies.” Seems pretty clear to me that we are called to use that which God has provided in the way of material blessings to serve others. When we do that, God will even provide the strength.
The scripture tells us to live the rest of our earthly lives no longer by human desires but by the will of God. So what is our motivation for such living? Peter says it’s because Christ suffered. Because Christ suffered for us we are called to a willingness to suffer for Christ if that is God’s will. Live no longer by human desires, but by the will of God.
It’s like the story of the pig and the chicken. The pig and the chicken are standing next to each other looking at the new billboard on their farm. It shows a delicious looking breakfast of eggs and ham. The chicken says, “Boy, that sure looks good!” The pig replies to the chicken, “Sure for you it is only a contribution, but for me it is a commitment.”
Peter writes about commitment. To live by the will of God is commitment. To reject our human desires is commitment. To serve others with whatever gifts God has given us is commitment.
But how do we live by God’s will? How do we serve others? How do we live not according to human desires? How? By seeking God’s will and acting on it!
The Scripture says,
“Serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.”
“Be good stewards of the manifold grace of God”
“live for the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires but by the will of God.”
Why? “So that God may be gloried through Jesus Christ.”