The apostle Peter knew about sin. In fact, his name is synonymous with a number of things, but one of those is his worst failure on the Lord’s darkest night.
So when he says that there is a way to cease from sin, you have to sit up and take notice. No one will be sinless in this life, but is there a way to sin less?
Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God (1 Peter 4:1-2 NASB).
Look to the Sinless One
The best thing to do in any situation is look to Jesus. A gaze back at Him reminds us that He did not sin, and He was willing to suffer for that to be accomplished. A gaze forward to Him reminds us how incredibly rewarding this choice was.
But suffer is the operative word. We must look to Him and understand the “why” of His choices to suffer.
Arm Yourself with the Same Purpose
Why do you live? What are you interested in accomplishing during this brief life?
If you are a follower of Jesus, you want to glorify Him. You want to show the world there is a better, more glorious way to live, made possible through Jesus Christ. You want to lead the people you love into this life.
One of the paths to this purpose is to sin less so that we may be set apart, Spirit-filled, and useful for service. As we look at Jesus, we see that He had to make a conscious decision to be willing to suffer in order for that to be accomplished during His earthly life.
Embrace Your Suffering
We all suffer for things we think are valuable. We suffer through our schooling, putting in long hours of study and preparation to gain that which will equip us.
A serious athlete suffers, making daily choices in diet and discipline, going through a rigorous regimen of training, in order to gain the prize. Finishing a marathon, for instance, is more important than binging on junk food or wasting time on a couch in front of a television for the purpose of fleshly gratification.
The craftsman puts in long hours to make something unique and beautiful. There are other things he could be doing, but he is willing to suffer to accomplish what matters and lasts. With his finished product, all his suffering is forgotten.
A mother suffers, carrying and giving birth to the new life in her womb. But her reward is breathtaking.
Giving long hours of unceasing prayer for revival and awakening is not for the faint of heart. But its outcome sanctifies us and can be the path to the explosion of the gospel around the world.
People who are unwilling to suffer (and there are some, and there is some of this in all of us) accomplish little more than self-gratification. And the tragedy is, what they vainly think will gratify them does not.
Cease from Sin
Embrace Christ’s purpose and path. Instead of living for the lower “lusts of men,” live for the higher “will of God.” Let His will, rather than the gratification of your lusts, take precedence. And understand that with that goal comes deliberate denying of the flesh—death to what the world calls comfort and pleasure.
But embrace that denial with the happy thought that there is no greater prize than the progressive release from sin so you can be filled with Him and useful for every good work. Know that it is producing something in you that will release something through you and provide something for you and others that is worth every choice!