Following Christ’s Example: Suffering In the Flesh

A Christian must follow Christ’s example especially in the midst of suffering.

Make no mistake however. We’re not speaking of your everyday, run-of-the-mill example; but, an example that leads to and requires personal sacrifice.

Scripture

1 Peter 4:1-6 (NASB)
1 Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3 For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. 4 In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.

Opening Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for the privilege of being able to share your Word with people around the globe through the Internet. I pray that the message you have placed on my heart will, through the power of the Holy Spirit, touch the hearts and minds of those receiving this message. I pray the Holy Spirit will bring conviction, and through conviction, transforms our lives for your honor and glory. And may all praise, honor, and glory be yours forever more, for You are worthy of such praise. Amen.

Proposition

A Christian must follow Christ’s example especially in the midst of suffering.

Make no mistake however. We’re not speaking of your everyday, run-of-the-mill example; but, an example that leads to and requires personal sacrifice.

Illustration

Source unknown

On one occasion the great Paderewski came to London for a piano concert. Joseph Parker, a former pastor of City Temple in London, and an accomplished musician himself, went to hear him play. The minister was so moved by what he heard that he did a very strange thing when he returned home. Standing by his piano, he called to his wife, “Bring me an ax! Today I heard great music for the first time. By comparison, what I can do amounts to nothing at all. I feel like chopping my piano to pieces.”

Although Parker did not follow through with this threat, he realized that he could never be a Paderewski by simply following his example. To do so, he would need Paderewski’s hands – yes, the very soul of the great musician.

Illustration

Leadership, v. 4, #3, p. 108

If Christ was meant just as an example, He’s over engineered – i.e., a Porsche sports car engineered to do 150 m.p.h. that can only be driven at 55 m.p.h. A good example would be Mother Teresa. She was within reach. If Christ is an example, no one needs him. If He’s a sacrifice, we all need him.

Probing Question

So, how does a Christian follow Christ’s example in the midst of suffering?

Main Points

1. Arming Oneself with the Same Mind

1 Peter 4:1a (NASB)
1 Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose,…

Christ is our example, our pattern. We’re to have to the same disposition as He had, the same forgiving spirit, with meekness and gentleness.

Illustration

In his book One Hundred Prison Meditations (Middlebury, IN: Living Sacrifice Books, 1982, p. 3), Richard Wurmbrand, who spent 14 years in prison as a Romanian pastor, wrote,

I have accepted this proposal. Christians are meant to have the same vocation as their King, that of cross-bearers. It is this conscience of a high calling and of partnership with Jesus which brings gladness in tribulations, which makes Christians enter prisons for their faith with the joy of a bridegroom entering the bridal room.

2. Ceasing from Sin and No Longer Living in the Flesh

1 Peter 4:1b-2 (NASB)
1 … because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

When we became Christians, we we’re born again, no longer slaves to sin, having instead accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. That rebirth began a process through which we are constantly being conformed to the image of Christ, partaking in His sufferings, not only ceasing from but in fact despising sin and instead seeking the righteous will of God.

Romans 8:28-29 (NASB)
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

Romans 12:1-2 (NASB)
1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Illustration

Our Daily Bread

There’s an old story about a man who tried to save the city of Sodom from destruction by warning the citizens. But the people ignored him. One day someone asked, “Why bother everyone? You can’t change them.”

“Maybe I can’t,” the man replied, “but I still shout and scream to prevent them from changing me!”

Lot was a righteous man (2 Peter 2:7) who should have done some screaming. The record of his life reminds us of how our sense of moral indignation can be dulled by the world. Lot chose to dwell in cities where there was great wickedness (Gen. 13:12,13). When Sodom was invaded by hostile kings, he was captured. Even after Abraham rescued Lot, he was still drawn back to that wicked city (Gen. 19:1). And the last chapter of his story is an account of heartache and shame (Gen. 19). What a contrast – this nephew and his uncle! Abraham trusted God, prayed for the righteous, and lived a moral life. But Lot was “oppressed with the filthy conduct of the wicked” (2 Peter 2:7). Although the sin of his day bothered him, he apparently said little about it.

3. Leaving the Past Behind

1 Peter 4:3 (NASB)
3 For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries.

Before accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior, we were slaves to sin. Our lives were wasted in all manner of evil pursuits. However, having accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, we can now leave that past behind and focus on the future. If we live in the past, we’ll be needlessly distracted by those things which burdened us with a hopeless future. By focusing on the present and God’s will for our lives, we’re able to remain fixed upon the hope we’ve been given through Jesus Christ.

Illustration

Christian Medical Society Journal, Winter, 1978, p. 2

One man said to his friend: “Say, you look depressed. What are you thinking about?”

“My future,” was the quick answer.

“What makes it look so hopeless?”

“My past.”

4. Not Giving in to Intimidation

1 Peter 4:4 (NASB)
4 In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you;

People you associated with prior to your spiritual rebirth (e.g., friends, family, loved ones) who have not yet accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will be confused that you no longer have the same sinful desires you once had. Still slaves to sin themselves, they’ll mock you, intimidate you, and speak evil of you, trying to return you to the person they remember. You must not succumb to this intimidation.

Illustration

Ben Carson, MD, Johns Hopkins University neurosurgeon who grew up on the streets of Detroit

Go down to the fish market and look into the crab barrel. They never have to put a lid on it because if one crab starts to crawl out, the others will grab onto him and pull him back down.

That’s what negative peer pressure does. And that’s what you must fight against.

Conclusion

How does a Christian follow Christ’s example in the midst of suffering? By

  1. Arming oneself with the same mind as Christ
  2. Ceasing from sin and no longer living in the flesh
  3. Leaving the past behind, and
  4. Not giving in to intimidation

1 Peter 4:5-6 (NASB)
5 but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.

All will give account to Jesus Christ for their attitudes and actions, whether for the persecution of the elect or the elect’s response to that persecution. How have you responded to-date? How will you respond from this day forward? He provided the example that we as Christians are to follow; an example that leads to and requires personal sacrifice.

Illustration

Laurence Houseman, “Repayment,” quoted in Anthology of Jesus, ed. Warren Wiersbe

Thou the Cross didst bear: What bear I?

Thou the Thorn didst wear: What wear I?

Thou to death didst dare: What dare I?

Thou for me dost care: What care I?

If you’re a Christian, Jesus’ example is before you. If you’re not a Christian, if you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ in which you intimately know Him as your Lord and Savior, won’t you come to Him today? He endured horrible persecutions, bore your sins and the sins of the rest of the world upon His shoulders, and sacrificed Himself upon the cross for you. Why? Because, He loves you. Won’t you come to Him today?

Closing Prayer

Heavenly Father, almighty God, please hear my prayer. Lord, I pray that You have not allowed any of my shortcomings to be an obstacle in the delivery of your message. You promise your Word will not return void. I pray the Holy Spirit will lead us to meditate upon today’s message and will convict us of those areas in our lives that need attention and correction. Heavenly Father, I pray that we will always set our minds on You and that we will be like-minded in everything we do, especially in the midst of suffering. Lord, please forgive me of my sins and shortcomings. Lead, guide, and direct me I pray in the name of my Lord and Savior. Amen.

Gospel Invitation

Is the Holy Spirit stirring within your heart? Is He convicting you of the need to make changes in your life and/or calling you to take action? The Bible says:

James 4:17 (NASB)
17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

1 John 5:3 (NASB)
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

If the Holy Spirit is urging you to take action, it is important to respond with immediate obedience. Delayed obedience is disobedience. Please read the following sections that apply to your current situation and prayerfully consider the suggested course of actions.

I am lost. I need to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

John 3:16-18 (NASB)
16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Action

  • To learn more about Jesus and His gift of redemption, read God's Plan of Salvation. If you are already familiar with the Plan of Savation, skip forward to section How to Become a Christian.
  • If you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please let us know by participating in our poll located on the top left column of the page and filling out the Contact Form below.

I am saved; but, I have sin in my life that I need to confess and repent.

1 John 1:8-9 (NASB)
8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Acts 3:19 (NASB)
19  "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;

Action

  • Fill out the Contact Form below to confidentially confess the sin in your life and your desire to repent. The information you send will not be shared with anyone else. Your privacy will be protected.

I am saved; but, I need to rededicate my life to the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

Action

  • In your own words, pray a prayer similar to the following:

Heavenly Father, I have fallen short of Your glory and have failed to live up to Your expecttions for me. Please forgive me. Lord, I rededicate my life to You. Not my will; but, Your will be done. Thank You for being a God of second chances. Use me Lord. Shape me and mold me into the person You would have me to be. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. Amen.

  • If you just rededicated your life to the Lord, please let us know by participating in our poll located on the top left column of the page and filling out the Contact Form below.

I benefit from this ministry and want to become a member and/or make a donation.

Praise the Lord. We are glad you find Saved by Grace edifying.

Action

  • If you would like to become a member, please click "Register" in the "Log In" section on the top right column of the page. Members are allowed to comment on posts and other comments and may also provide Feedback.

Malachi 3:10 (NASB)
10  "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.

  • If you benefit from this ministry and would like to support its efforts, projects, and missions, please consider making a tax deductible donation, of any amount. May God bless you for your generosity.




I need to discuss my situation confidentially.

James 5:16 (NASB)
16  Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

Action

  • Fill out the Contact Form below to confidentially discuss the situation in your life that is troubling you. The information you send will not be shared with anyone else. Your privacy will be protected.

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