They Think It Strange

The Christian life is different from the life of one in the world. Paul told the Christians in Rome: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). While Paul was giving his defense before Agrippa, he used that opportunity to try and “persuade” the king “to become a Christian” (Acts 26:28). The statement by Agrippa showed that he realized that Paul was trying to convince him to become a Christian. The very fact that he had to be persuaded to become a Christian shows that living as a Christian requires one to be different from the world. In writing to Christians, Peter said that the ones who knew them before they were Christians would “think it strange” that they do not live in the same manner that they lived before (1 Peter 4:4). Why would they think it strange? What is it about the Christian life that is different from the world? We will notice a few points from the context surrounding 1 Peter 4:4.

A Christian Follows the Example of Christ

Peter wrote that Jesus left an example for us to follow (1 Peter 2:21). A little bit later he wrote: “Arm yourselves also with the same purpose” (1 Peter 4:1). Typically people tend to look up to those who are famous, possess some unique talent, or have acquired a good amount of wealth through various means. But when we look to Christ, we see one who took on “the form of a servant” and was “obedient to death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:7-8). He was one who willingly laid down His life in order to help those who were His enemies (John 10:17-18; Romans 5:8, 10). Jesus left us an example of selflessness and humility. The mindset of the world is to exalt and help oneself. A Christian who follows Christ’s example will exalt God and provide help to others.

A Christian Desires to Do God’s Will

Peter taught that the purpose of our life on this earth is not to carry out “the lusts of men,” but to do “the will of God” (1 Peter 4:2). The mindset of one living in the world is to do whatever he wants to do – if it feels good, do it. But the Christian is not living to satisfy his own desires. He recognizes that his whole duty is to “fear God and keep His commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Peter then said that “the time already past” – the time before they were Christians – was “sufficient…to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles” (1 Peter 4:3). Everyone who has become a Christian has done things in the past that were wrong. After becoming a Christian they are not to go back to those things. Peter listed a few sins that those in the world engage in that Christians are to avoid.

Sensuality” or “lasciviousness” (KJV) has to do with “conduct and character that is unbecoming, indecent, unrestrainedly shameless” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia). Included in this would be immodest dress, illicit movements of the body, and filthy language. “Lusts” goes along with this as it refers to the desire for evil things – the things of the world rather than things of God. “Drunkenness, carousing, [and] drinking parties” all refer to alcohol consumption. They cover the whole spectrum of unlawful alcohol use from complete intoxication (drunkenness) to social drinking (drinking parties). Christians were not to participate in activities that included the use of alcohol. The “abominable idolatries” in context referred to the pagan religious practices that many Christians left in order to come to Christ. The point for us today is that we have no business engaging in the religious practices of man. What we do in service to God must be what He has directed in His word. Peter was telling the Christians to whom he was writing that they had sufficient time to engage in these sinful practices. As Christians, they were to fulfill the will of God, not to go back to their old ways of life.

A Christian Suffers Persecution for His Faith

Peter said that those who “think it strange” that these Christians no longer live as the world will turn around and “malign” them (1 Peter 4:4). In other words, they spoke evil of them and ridiculed them. Later in the chapter, Peter spoke of suffering “as a Christian” (1 Peter 4:16). Paul wrote to Timothy and said, “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). The degree of persecution will vary from time to time and from place to place. Some Christians were thrown in prison (Acts 4:1-3; 16:22-24). Some were put to death (Acts 7:54-60). We may never have to face prison or death; but Christians will endure persecution for their faith. Those in the world “think it strange” that one would willingly endure hardships for his faith. Many suffer for various reasons because they have no way to escape. Christians can usually escape religious persecution. All they have to do is compromise their faith and deny their Lord. The mindset of the world would do this rather than endure physical difficulty. But a Christian will boldly stand in the face of whatever adversity may challenge them because of their faith and their willingly endure the persecution.

A Christian Patterns His Life after God’s Word

Finally, Peter stated that the purpose for the gospel being preached was that those who hear it “may live in the spirit according to the will of God” (1 Peter 4:6). The gospel reveals the will of God. This is how the preaching of the gospel can lead people to live according to the will of God. Many people speculate as to what God’s will is. Some look for uncertain signs to lead them in the path God wants them to go. However, we cannot know God’s will unless He reveals it to us (1 Corinthians 2:11-16). Paul indicated that God’s will was made known through the preaching of the gospel (1 Corinthians 1:21-24; 2:1-5; 7-10). Christians follow the pattern and commands revealed in the gospel. Those in the world think that is strange. No one wants to be told what to do. Everyone wants to do his own thing and certainly does not want to live according to the teachings in the Bible. But that is exactly what a Christian does. He uses God’s word as his standard of faith and practice and conforms his life to it.

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