The Expository Files

 

The Judgment Of The Living & The Dead

1 Peter 4:1-8



In our time, some very serious matters are commonly overlooked. In our culture there is a dominating influence of triviality and materialism. We have amazing tools of communication, but generally our tools are used in pursuit of trivial, worldly matters. One man observed – about our society – Much of our time is used to listen to the buzz of the inconsequential. The buzz of the inconsequential is the media’s essence. Much of our time is invested in things that have no eternal value.

“We are swamped by the inconsequential, bombarded by images and sounds that rob us of the opportunity for reflection and contemplation that are necessary to reacquaint ourselves with what is significant.” (T. David Gordan)

Part of this limited focus is we do not reflect on the dreadful seriousness of the coming judgment of God. Here’s a passage that begs us to stop and consider, there is a Judge of the living and the dead, to whom we will give account. It is certain.

1Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. 4In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. 5They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

7But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. 1 Pet. 4:1-7

How many times last week did you think about the judgment day? Did you think about it during TV commercials, while browsing websites or waiting for the cell call to answer? If you thought of death, judgment and eternity on a serious level, what commitments came out of that devotion of thought?

One of our failings is we do not seriously reflect on the reality of the coming judgment of God. We are consumed with things present to the dangerous point; we ignore things eternal.

Read About This

2 Cor. 5:10 –“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

2 Tim. 4:1 – “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom.”

Heb. 9:27 – “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment…”

We need to face the reality of death, judgment and eternity. And we can because of Christ. The effective atonement of the cross means, we do not have to face death, judgment and eternity alone. As recipients of His forgiveness, we can be prepared to stand on the judgment day, John says, “with boldness.” “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world,” (1 Jno. 4:17).

What Can I Do?

Let’s look back into the text, in 1 Peter 4.

Cease From Sin

Verse 1 teaches us to arm ourselves with a mind that is opposed to sin and quit it! I want to stress this is not just personal reform. This is something that can be done fully only by the individual who trusts in Christ. It can be done, because of the victorious work of Christ, in His death, resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God. You do not have to be a slave to sin.

The message of the gospel, based on the death of Christ is, YOU CAN QUIT! You can change. You can identify and expel from your mind – every wrong attitude and replace those with Christ-like attitudes. You can cleanse your use of your tongue, learning to say the right things at the right time and in the right way.

You can reject your obsession with material things and seek those things that are above. You can become a better giver, a better worshipper, a better friend, a better parent, wife and husband. You can become more involved as a team member in the local church. You can do all these things, if you will give your heart to the Savior.

You can face the giants in your life once you make certain of your commitment to Jesus Christ. He died for you so that you can give up sin and live right. If you believe that, you know you can cease from sin.

I tell you, there is something in the past, and something in the future that should become a powerful motivation. In the past – the death of Christ for you; in the future – your presence before God on the Judgment Day. Why is this important? We will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. To be ready for judgment and eternity . . .

Living For The Will of God

Verse 2: “that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.”

Are you living your life “for the will of God.” Does your mind move in that direction? Do you think about this as your purpose? The, do you make choices, plans and changes in keeping with that? Is the will of God central to your life?

Jesus suffered for us in the flesh and His suffering lead to His death, so that we can live for the will of God.

That must be more than just a passing thought while listening to a preacher on Sunday morning, because we will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. “For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise,” (Heb. 10:36).

There Are Things I Cannot Do

3For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. 4In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.

This passage reads like a TV guide, a movie review, a list of websites or You Tube videos. Our society is absorbed and captivated by licentiousness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. This is what people laugh about . . . pay for . . . watch on TV . . . search the internet for . . .

And one of the real tragedies is this is the kind of conduct children see in many adults! This is spring break on South Padre Island. This is what’s happening in stadiums, banquet halls and night clubs. This is what many people – who claim to be Christians – are doing on the week-ends.

Simon Peter is saying, Enough of that. Cease your sin, and live for the will of God, because you will give an account to “Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.”

Christ gave His life to save us from these degrading behaviors. If we know it is wrong and destructive let’s make certain we oppose it and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. There is a dreadful seriously about the coming judgment of God; we cannot take lightly.

Be Serious & Watchful In Prayer

Verse 7b – “…therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.”

What does it mean to be serious? To be serious means to be thoughtful, and to recognize what’s important. It involves the ability to separate trivia from important matters. Not everything that happens in your life and not everything that comes to your attention has the same significance.

A big part of maturity and an essential part of being a child of God is – being serious about matters which are important to God and eternal.

There is – as observed earlier – a dangerous absence of seriousness about the coming judgment of God. Whatever happens about the economy in this country or your personal economy, there are certainties to be reckoned with.

We will die and there will be a judgment day. You have to be serious about that. And what will help you with that spiritual discipline and maturity is prayer: speak to your Father, through Jesus Christ, about your state of mind, about where you need to be in heart and life – concerning death and eternity!

Thomas Kempis said:

You can be certain of this: when the Day of Judgment comes, we shall not be asked what we have read, but what we have done; not how well we have spoken, but how well we have lived.
 

By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 16.7; July 2009

 

 

 

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