Here we are drawing close to the end of another book. In this chapter, Peter continues his thoughts on suffering. If you recall, in the last chapter he told us that we are to suffer with Christ and now he explains more what that looks like. Let’s get right to it!
1 Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, equip yourselves also with the same resolve—because the one who suffered in the flesh has finished with sin— 2 in order to live the remaining time in the flesh, no longer for human desires, but for God’s will. 3 For there has already been enough time spent in doing what the pagans choose to do: carrying on in unrestrained behavior, evil desires, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and lawless idolatry. 4 So they are surprised that you don’t plunge with them into the same flood of wild living—and they slander you. 5 They will give an account to the One who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this reason the gospel was also preached to those who are now dead, so that, although they might be judged by men in the fleshly realm, they might live by God in the spiritual realm.
Peter tells us that we are to suffer in the flesh because Jesus has suffered in the flesh. We must have the same resolve and choose to suffer in the flesh rather than give in to fleshly desires. Thus we put sin to death and instead of seeking fleshly desire, we seek God’s desire. He reminds us that we have already wasted enough time of vain and lustful pleasure and that we must focus on God. The world is surprised by this. The world has no hope for the future, or else they believe what is done here does not truly matter, and so the only logical thing to do is whatever makes you feel good. They get drunk, they have sex outside of marriage, and they do drugs. Now obviously not all unbelievers participate in all of these, some may even abstain all together, but that is not the point Peter is making. He is not literally saying all unbelievers do all these things all the time, he is giving it as a general statement. His point is the world in general does these things, and they are surprised when believers do not. As believers, we are not to live wildly, not to be drunk, not fulfill evil desires, not to cause damage and mayhem, and not to participate in the unrestrained sexual experiences outside of marriage. If we keep from these activities, and others not listed here, then we will be slandered by others. I am sure some of your reading this have experienced that. They sayings things like, oh holier than though, or prude. However, what they say or think does not matter. God Himself will judge all that is done and He is by far more important. Remember that in all we do, the goal is to please God. That is why the gospel is given, so that man can be restored to God and seek His desires.
7 Now the end of all things is near; therefore, be serious and disciplined for prayer. 8 Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without complaining. 10 Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.
Here is a point many people get confused. 2 Peter 3:3-9 tells us that many will mock us, asking when the end times will come, but we must remember that God does not look at time the way we do, and that God is allowing more time so that more people may be reached. With that said the end really could come at any moment and as the Bible warns we must be ready. Peter tells us in light of the end we must be serious and alert. We are also called to be disciplined in prayer! How many of us suffer in this area? It is so easy to get distracted or busy, but Peter is highlighting its importance. God is coming back and He wants us to be in prayer. He also calls us to love each other, which means living in forgiveness. As Peter says, it covers a multitude of sins. We are also called to be hospitable to each other without complaining. Lastly, Peter talks about the various gifts we all have. Whatever our gift, we are to use it to serve God and others. It is not just limited to Peter’s list; any gift should be used for God. However, Peter gives a small correction to all of us that think it is by our strength, and reminds us that any service we preform is to be done by God’s strength as He is the one who accomplishes it. Since that is the case, we are also told we must glorify God for His strength. All glory and power belong to Him.
12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. 13 Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory. 14 If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 None of you, however, should suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or a meddler. 16 But if anyone suffers as a “Christian,” he should not be ashamed but should glorify God in having that name. 17 For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household, and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God? 18 And if a righteous person is saved with difficulty, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner? 19 So those who suffer according to God’s will should, while doing what is good, entrust themselves to a faithful Creator.
Now we go back to the topic of suffering. Peter tells us not to be surprised when ordeals come and we are to suffer. After all, as he already told us we are called to suffer with Jesus. What is even harder, we are called to rejoice in our suffering, something I confess I find difficult. What is even stranger is that being ridiculed for our faith is in fact a sign that God is with us. However, if we suffer because of our sin or wrongs that we have committed, then it is not a sign of blessing, but necessary discipline that we may come back to God. But, if we do suffer with a clear conscience, then we should not be ashamed. We instead are to glorify God for the name He has given us, because of which we suffer. Another point of interest is that judgement is first brought on the followers of God. We are judged by our love and obedience to Jesus before anyone else. It mirrors the operation of the church, being responsible for judging and remove those who are members, but not those outside of it who do not know God. However, Peter points out that in this judgement by God, judgement will come to the unbeliever. After all, that is God’s responsibility and not ours. Those who do not obey the gospel will find judgment, and since the righteous are saved with difficulty, what will happen to the unsaved sinner? Believers are called to entrust themselves to God and endure suffering.
So What Do I Do With This Now?
All the information is great, but what do I do with it now?
1 We are called to live out God’s desires and not to live wildly, get drunk, fulfill evil desires, cause damage and mayhem, or to participate in the unrestrained sexual experiences outside of marriage.
2 We are also called to be disciplined in prayer! Take time daily to talk to God in prayer. Lay your burdens on Him and tell Him your requests.
3 He also calls us to love each other, which means forgiving. Do not live in anger.
4 We are also called to be hospitable to each other without complaining. Invite a believer over and have fellowship.
5 Use your gift for God. Think through the talents and skills you have been blessed with and ask if they can be used at your local church, the answer is likely yes.
6 Depend on God, remembering His is the strength behind all we do, and as such praise and glorify Him for all of it.
7 When we suffer we are to rejoice, knowing God uses it to build our faith in Him.
8 Do not be ashamed of bearing God’s name, and be careful to obey the gospel.