"THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PETER" The Militant Christian (4:1-6) INTRODUCTION 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; 1Pe 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 - 1Pe 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 1Pe 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) 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. 1Pe 2:21-23;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 (2-3) A. HERE IS WHERE THE MAJOR BATTLE IS TO BE FOUGHT... 1. A battle between one's soul and fleshly lusts - cf. 1Pe 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 lifetime 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 life for "the will of God" 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 ourselves. 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. 2Ti 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 will...] III. LIKELY BE MALIGNED (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; 1Pe 4:13-14 2. Our response is to be one of love and honorable conduct - cf. Mt 5:44; 1Pe 2:12 3. Who knows? Perhaps our conduct will lead one day to their glorifying God! [Yes, "The Militant Christian" is likely to be thought of by others as a "fanatic", but I believe that deep down even those who malign us the most have respect for our convictions when held with the proper spirit on our part. Finally, taking a clue from the comments of Peter in verses 5-6, let me suggest that "The Militant Christian" is one who is...] IV. WILLING TO LET GOD BE THE JUDGE (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 1Pe 3:18-20... a. If so, then the "spirits in prison" would be human spirits, not angelic spirits (as I suggested in my earlier lesson) 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 O.T. 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 the gospel... 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" - 1Co 5:12-13 b. They will have to "give an account to Him who is ready to judge..." - 1Pe 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, we are called upon to offer His "mercy" until then... 1) Through the preaching of the gospel 2) Through living lives of kindness and mercy - cf. Ro 12:20-21 CONCLUSION 1. There is a place, then, for "militancy" in the life of the Christian! 2. But it is to be found in the way we "arm" ourselves with the mind of Christ... a. "Fighting" the spiritual warfare that wages within b. "Militant" in our efforts to live the godly life, do going and showing mercy Are you "fighting the good fight of faith"? Are you even in the Lord's army...?