Life-Study of 1 Peterby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In 4:1-6 Peter comes to the matter of the believers arming themselves with the mind of Christ for suffering. Verse 1 says, “Christ, therefore, having suffered in the flesh, you also arm yourselves with the same mind, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” The word “arm” indicates that the Christian life is a life of battle.
One main purpose of this book is to encourage and exhort the believers to follow the footsteps of Christ in their persecution (1:6-7; 2:18-25; 3:8-17; 4:12-19). They should have the same mind Christ had in His suffering (3:18-22). The main function of our mind is to understand and realize. To live a life that follows the footsteps of Christ, we need a renewed mind (Rom. 12:2) to understand and realize the way Christ lived to fulfill God’s purpose.
In our practical daily life, the strongest part of our being is our mind. Whatever we do in our living is directed by our mind. It is not the will but the mind that directs our life. All our activities are under the direction of our mind.
Because the mind directs our living, the preaching of the Word must change a person’s thoughts. One goal of preaching and teaching is to change people’s mind. If we think in a certain way, we shall be directed in that way. But if we change our mind and think in another way, our living will then have a different direction. What we think governs what we do, say, and practice. For this reason, Peter charges the believers in 4:1 to arm themselves with the mind of Christ.
To arm ourselves with the mind of Christ is to be armed with the thought and concept of Christ. This implies that we change our way of thinking. Many Christians think that as long as we love God and do His will, we shall be under His blessing, and we shall not suffer in any way. It is common for Christians to have the concept that those who love the Lord should not expect suffering. But consider the life of Christ. Did He not love God? Did He not do the will of God? Christ loved God to the uttermost, and He did God’s will fully and absolutely. But what happened to Him in His living? It seems that throughout His life on earth there was not any blessing, but only suffering. He was born into a poor family, a family not considered of a high class. Of course, that family was descended from David and so was of royal lineage. But when the Lord Jesus was born, that royal family was very poor economically. Furthermore, this family did not live in Jerusalem, but in the despised town of Nazareth in Galilee. Galilee can be compared to one of the poorer states in the United States, a state that cannot compare with other states that are wealthy and have a large population. The Lord Jesus lived in Nazareth for more than thirty years. At the beginning of His life, He was put into a manger, and at the end of His life, He was put on the cross. Where do we see God’s blessing in the life of the Lord? He endured suffering upon suffering. He did not have a good name, and He did not have a place to lay His head. This is the way the Lord Jesus lived when He was on earth. His life was a life of suffering.
The concept that the Christian life is a life of suffering is versus the natural, religious mentality, especially the natural mentality of many Christians. A great many Christians think that as long as we belong to God, are the people of God, love God, and do God’s will, everything concerning us will be fine. According to this concept, we shall be blessed and may have a good job, a nice house, and an excellent family life. Christians who hold this concept may expect all their children to become well-educated, wealthy professionals. Some Christians who are successful and wealthy may say, “What blessings I have received from the Lord! All that I have and all that I have attained is because I love the Lord Jesus and do the will of God. Look how God has blessed me.”
This concept of a Christian life is altogether contrary to Peter’s teaching in this Epistle. Peter knew that the more we love the Lord, the more we shall be deprived of things. He also knew that the more we do the will of God, the more trouble we may have. We may have trouble with our job, with our finances, and with our family life. When some hear this, they may say, “Brother Lee, don’t say these things. This kind of teaching will frighten Christians away.” This is the reason we all need to pay attention to Peter’s charge to arm ourselves with the mind of Christ.
What kind of mind is the mind of Christ? If we have the mind of Christ, we shall realize that we are living in a rebellious age and in a crooked, perverted generation. Because the age is rebellious and the generation is perverse, the more we love God and do His will, the more we shall suffer. We shall suffer because we cannot go along with the trend of this age. We care to do the will of God, but the will of God is absolutely contrary to the trend or tide of this age. We would love the Lord Jesus, but this is utterly against the trend of this corrupted world. Therefore, if we love the Lord and do God’s will, we are bound to suffer. This will be our outlook if we have the mind of Christ.
We need to arm ourselves, equip ourselves, with the mind of Christ. This indicates that the mind of Christ is a weapon, a part of the armor needed in fighting the battle for God’s kingdom.
If we arm ourselves with the mind of Christ for suffering, we shall be willing to endure suffering. We shall say, “Praise the Lord that my suffering is part of my destiny. God has appointed this for me. Suffering is the portion of God’s children in this age.” In 1 Thessalonians 3 Paul tells the believers that God has appointed us to suffering and persecution. God has not appointed us to material blessing; He has appointed us to suffering. Therefore, knowing that Christ suffered in the flesh, we also need to arm ourselves with the same mind. We should not have the mind to pray for material blessing. That is to have the wrong kind of mind.
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