1Pe 4:1 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,
1Pe 4:2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.
We live in a fallen world of sin and resulting dangers. Because of this it is necessary to guard ourselves and families against such things as hunger, thirst, poverty, slander, those who would harm us, disease, etc. While all these things can be harmful the Bible is clear that our worst danger is sin both within us and without.
One of the evidences of how sin can destroy us is seen in how we tend to think of physical harm as more dangerous than spiritual dangers. How many parents will work long hours to make sure that their family has enough to eat and wear and adequate shelter but leave themselves and their children completely open to spiritual attack by not having them under the ministry of the Word of God. How much money has been spent on alarm systems or guns or some such things in the effort to protect their physical lives and property but little time was spent teaching them of the Gospel with the hope of saving their souls from eternal damnation? How much effort is spent on encouraging our children that they must go to college and be indoctrinated by the world in order to have a career but not near as much time and energy was spent to indoctrinate them in the Word so that they would be able to defend themselves from the lies of this world?
It is easy for us to live like the most important things are temporal and that all we need is a casual understanding of the Bible, an arm’s distance relationship with the Lord as long as we are “saved”. We assume that is good enough. At the same time we think that no amount of money and energy is enough to keeping our children “safe” from not having everything they want. It is the danger of living in affluence that causes us to see poverty as a worse evil then living a nominal, powerless Christian life.
Peter in the text above tells us to arm ourselves with a new way of thinking found only in the Bible. It is to think as Christ did in which he only cared about doing what pleased the Father and if that brought suffering and death then that was okay. He understood that the worst thing that could happen to him was to not please the Father in everything he did even if it meant he had no place to call his own and lay his head down at night or no bank account, etc.
Peter then says that if we come to think like this we will cease from sin. The idea is that sin will no longer dominate us and we will be able to not fall under its power as easily because we no longer see our temporal life as more important than serving the Lord. We are crucifying ourselves daily, which means we get up in the morning with the understanding that we are here for the Lord, not for ourselves and so we can say no to those things our bodies might want for greater, eternal rewards. It isn’t that we will no longer sin at all but we will never be able to have victory over sin until we start thinking like this.
It is a little like the guy who is going to be executed at daybreak; he isn’t worrying about the kind of car he is going to buy because there are more pressing matters. The father who really cares for his children is by far more concerned for their salvation and relationship with God than he is for their physical wellbeing even though that has its place. The godly father understands that God and his truth are our protection. One controls the battlefield or the circumstances of our lives and the other controls our mind so that we know how to fight the good fight.
I will close with an example of understanding how our relationship with Christ must be given precedent over our physical well-being. John Paton was a missionary to the New Hybrids which was a cannibal infested area in the South Pacific. The first couple of missionaries there were killed and eaten within a few minutes of landing on shore. When a Mr. Dickson warned him that he would be eaten by cannibals if he went there he said, Mr. Dickson, you are advanced in years now, and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms; I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by Cannibals or by worms; and in the Great Day my Resurrection body will rise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer. He understood that nothing he could have in this life could compare to having Christ in the next life! I read where they packed their belongings in ready-made caskets as their suitcases for the trip to the New Hybrids! When told he would die if he went ashore, he said, “We died before we ever left England.” This is arming yourself for great reward. The world says such thinking is foolish but Jesus said what does it profit a man to gain the world but lose his soul in the process.
To work for safety and possessions in this life for yourself and families with little effort for securing the next life is the most irresponsible thing you can do for those you say you love.