Monday, September 12, 2016

The Key to a Joyful Christian Life

1 Peter 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.

The key to a joyful Christian life is suffering, specifically, suffering in the flesh. The word, flesh, which in Greek is sarx refers to several different meanings as follows:

1) human flesh / body
  • e.g. See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have. (Luke 24:39)

2) the nature of human that is subject to temptation and suffering
  • Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:41)

3) human effort which is devoid of God's empowering grace
  • Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (Galatians 3:3)

It is through the first and second senses of the meaning of the flesh that we get to learn about the key to ceasing from sin. And ceasing from sin will inevitably lead to a joyful Christian life, which I will explain in detail later.

In 1 Peter 4:1, Peter instructs us to arm ourselves, i.e. equip ourselves with weapons. With what? This way of thinking. What kind of thinking? Christ suffered in the flesh (This is our weapon), i.e. Jesus on Gethsemane dropped sweats of blood, and later, he was scourged and crucified.

Now, we also have our shares of suffering in this world. God allows these sufferings to be experienced by us. "To suffer" in Greek is pascho which means "to feel heavy emotion, especially suffering."

Jesus suffered the suffering of the cross in the flesh to take away our sins. In the same way, we suffer in the flesh, and the power of sin is severely weakened. The sinful propensity in our hearts feeds on our flesh but when our flesh suffers, it is weakened to that degree.

When we suffer, we remind ourselves of our Lord's suffering. Sin lost its power on the cross. Likewise, when we suffer, sin loses its power to grip us. We cease from sin.

Let us take this weapon of suffering and arm ourselves with it.

The surprising and delightful consequence of suffering in the flesh is joy. We feel closer to God because we partake in the suffering which symbolises Jesus' suffering. Jesus and we are one (Colossians 1:18 Jesus is the head. We are the body.).

Suffering inevitably leads to joy. Jesus' suffering was not in vain. He had someone in mind when he suffered the excruciating pain of the cross.

Hebrews 12:2
  • Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross

Among other things, He was thinking of us being rescued from the power of sin. Just as Jesus had joy during and after his suffering, we will have joy during and after our many episodes and shares of suffering in this life.

Just as Jesus secured joy for us through his suffering, we will get to experience the miracle of having and sharing joy with others through our suffering.

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