1) then, therefore, accordingly, consequently, these things being so
Anytime you see the word 'therefore' in the New Testament, it should really perk up your attention. The greek word is 'Oun' is just full of meaning. The flow of most NT letters is doctrine that results in powerful transformation and action.
I Peter 4 Since therefore zChrist suffered in the flesh,1 aarm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for bwhoever has suffered in the flesh chas ceased from sin, 2 dso as to live for ethe rest of the time in the flesh fno longer for human passions but gfor the will of God. 3 For the time that is past hsuffices ifor doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. 4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of jdebauchery, and kthey malign you; 5 but they will give account to him who is ready lto judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is why mthe gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.
7 nThe end of all things is at hand; therefore obe self-controlled and sober-minded pfor the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since qlove covers a multitude of sins. 9 rShow hospitality to one another without grumbling.10 sAs each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, tas good stewards of God's varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks uoracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves vby the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything wGod may be glorified through Jesus Christ. xTo him belong glory and ydominion forever and ever. Amen.
Because this and this and this is true...THEREFORE... do-be-act like this.
If you just packaged all the 'Therefore' verses in the NT- you would have some powerful statements.
And most of these are admonitions toward Holy living.
These words are like computer ICONS on a screen- you double click on the word and it opens many ideas and 'folders' of information.
For several verses, Peter has been highlighting the suffering Christ.
He saw it.
If you want to see just a shadow of what he saw- take your Bible and read Isaiah 53. Watch 'The Passion of the Christ'- read the gospel accounts.
But don't miss the idea here- Christ suffered for us, but we don't suffer for HIM! Any inclination to live a godly life does require some restraint and discipline- and this is quite opposite of where we live.
I am a creature of comfort and leisure. If I am tired... I sleep. If I am hungry... I eat. If I want something... I am accustomed to getting it. And if I don't get what I want... I get grumpy.
But walking with Christ is OFTEN counter to our natural desires. Peter says...Because Christ suffered, we need to 'suffer' as well- fighting against sensuality, drunkenness, sexual immorality, and no boundaries idolatry (which I take as consumerism, get what you want and never say NO).
CAN THIS BE TAKEN TOO FAR?
Of course. Some early church fathers practiced 'mortification' - a strict asceticism where they would put the body in extreme conditions to 'prove' devotion and a passion for holiness. They would whip themselves to the point of bloodshed- pierce themselves, extreme fasting, all kind of vows. But the monastic movement did prove one thing... sin still resides in the ones that want to do good.
John Calvin commented on this practice of mortification:
There are some good and holy men who when they saw constant overindulgence wanted to curb and correct it, but thought there was no other way than to allow men only the bare necessities. This is godly advice but unnecessarily severe, because it binds our consciences in closer fetters than they are bound by God’s Word. Necessity, according to them, meant abstinence from anything desirable, so that bread and water was the rule.
The NT seems to indicate a balance- yes, we are to be disciplined and 'put to death' the deeds of the old man- but the key is 're-dedication' more than 'mortification'.
I wrote about this in a commentary on Romans 6 in May, 2009 (click here to review)
but the idea is found specifically in Romans 6:20-23
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.THIS DOES REQUIRE (GOD POWERED) EFFORT ON OUR PART!
Hebrews 12:3-4 supports this idea:
3 dConsider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or efainthearted.4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
THIS WORK DOES NOT MERIT SALVATION, BUT IT IS EVIDENCE OF SALVATION
Look again at what Peter is saying:
We should be willing to think (arm ourselves) about pursuing holiness- Christ suffered... and we can suffer:
1) By discipling our lives to live more holy
2) Which will bring mockery and ridicule and pressure to give in
3) But self control and 'living on purpose' produces great fruit and glory to God
DISCIPLINE WITH LOVE AND GENEROSITY:
Some disciplined people get real cold. Sometimes it is a hidden pride where we look down on people who don't get it or don't seem to be able to do what we do.
Peter says the opposite- let your increased success produce love and hospitality. Be positive and hopeful- don't be 'MR Perfection who stays grouchy at all of the imperfection around him'.
Humility and love still trump morality. When Peter says 'love covers a multitude of sin' it is almost like he says- Go read Paul's letter to Corinthians Ch 13- a tender heart of love can do more than good than 10,000 days of disciplined living.
And the final beautiful image: A GOOD STEWARD OF GOD'S VARIED GRACE.
As I have received God's grace, I continue to realize that any good I do is from Him. Even if I did become very moral, I'm still a desperate sinner at the cross. I see Christ's love and suffering and realize that I am nothing compared to Him. So I am free to love and serve and free to pursue a more Holy lifestyle in response to all He has done for me.
So read it again:
Therefore...... are you willing to push a little harder, dig a little deeper, practice more self control, resist a little more as a result of the gospel?
And can you do that while maintaining a beautiful spirit of love and grace?
It allows me to make great decisions- moment by moment- and fast and feast with prudence.
Let's keep inspiring one another to do it better even today!