Second Sunday After Easter 2019: Christ Suffered For Us, Leaving You An Example
I Peter 2:21-25
21 For unto this are you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example that you should follow his steps.
22Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.
23 Who, when he was reviled, did not revile: when he suffered, he threatened not: but committed himself to him that judgeth justly and righteously.
24 Who his own self bore our sins in his body upon the tree: that we, being dead to sins, should live to justice and righteousness: by whose stripes you were healed.
25 For you were as sheep going astray; but you are now returned to the shepherd and bishop of your souls.
In todays Epistle we read that "Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example that you should FOLLOW IN HIS STEPS. WHO DID KNOW SIN (1 Pet.2:21-22) ......... And in I Peter 4:1 we read: "Christ therefore having suffered in the flesh, be you also armed with the same thought: for he that hath suffered in the flesh, HATH CEASED FROM SIN:". Here we are clearly told to follow the example of Christ Who suffered, so that we might not sin at any time.
Peter reminds us that "Christ therefore having suffered in the flesh, (That we should be also) armed with the same thought: for he that hath suffered in the flesh, hath ceased from sins: That now he may live the rest of his time in the flesh, not after the desires and lust of men, but according to the will of God." (1 Peter 4:1-2). I do not personally believe the phrase to "suffer in the flesh" includes Jesus becoming sick in the body. Fulton Sheen thoughts on this subject was that "We have no reason to believe that Our Blessed Lord was ever physically sick...”.
I also do not think that “suffering in the flesh” specifically meant being beaten and bruised for Christ's sake either, for no-one has stopped sinning that way. As an example, Jesus says in Matthew 5:29:
“And if thy right eye scandalize thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee. For it is expedient for thee that one of thy members should perish, rather than that thy whole body be cast into hell.” It is understood that He is employing a figure of speech known as hyperbole. Hyperbole is an obvious exaggeration or an intentional overstatement. Examples of hyperbole in modern speech would include statements like “This bag of groceries weighs a ton. What Jesus is saying is that, whatever is causing you to sin, take drastic measures to get that thing out of your life. “For it is expedient for thee that one of thy members should perish, rather than that thy whole body be cast into hell.” Nothing is worth missing heaven for. Nothing is worth going to hell for. Nothing.
So Saint Peter does not mean that we beat and bruise our body so as to stop sinning. “Suffering in the flesh” refers rather to denying the desires of Self, which are in opposition to the will of God. Sin brings a certain pleasure. To suffer is the opposite of enjoying that pleasure. If we are willing to suffer in each and every situation, then we can cease from sin. God will help us if we are willing. In fact, He even works in us to make us willing.
"Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but much more now in my absence,) with fear and trembling work out your salvation. For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will." (Philippians 2:12-13). We are to work out what God is working in us. But so often we resist His workings. That is why we remain defeated.
Christ suffered in the flesh, and we are to arm ourselves with the same mind.
Jesus walked this way of self-denial all His life. He came to earth in the flesh and never did His own will but always the will of His Father, no matter how much suffering that may have involved. He said in John 6:38: "I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me." Thus He never sinned. Now, we also have the opportunity to "FOLLOW IN HIS STEPS. WHO DID KNOW SIN" (1 Peter 2:21-22).
Now God has not promised to make us sinlessly perfect on this earth. There is nobody on earth who has walked in sinless perfection other than Jesus Christ and Mary his mother, who was was preserved by God's grace from conception without original sin or its corrupt nature that original sin brings. No one else has walked in sinless perfection. Not Paul, nobody. But the Scriptures say we are to “go on to things more perfect.” Meaning mentally or morally complete. Jesus came without sin and, therefore, He lived a sinless life. But in us, there is so much of unconscious sin; corruption in our flesh. That is because we have lived in sin so much. Throughout our lifetime on earth we will never be sinless but we can live morally and mentally complete.
In fact, John says, "If anyone says he has no sin in him, he is deceiving himself, he's telling a lie." But we can press on to perfection, like it says in Hebrews 6:1, and become more and more perfect more complete in holiness.
True holiness is to have no idols at all in our life. Holiness is to have God filling our whole heart.
Growth in holiness will always be accompanied by an increasing consciousness of one's own sinfulness in the sight of God. The closer Paul walked with God, the more he was conscious of the corruption and wickedness of his own heart. He recognized that no good thing could be found in his flesh. He says in Romans 7:18: For I know that there in me in (that is to say, in my flesh,) dwelleth not that which is good. For to will, is present with me; but to accomplish that which is good, I find not.
We must come to the place where we desire total holiness more than we desire total health. Just like we want to be totally free of all sickness in our bodies, we must want to be totally free of all sin that defiles us.
And how do we do that? By following the example of Christ Who suffered in the flesh. And what is meant by suffering in the flesh? It refers to denying the desires of Self. And what is the purpose of denying the desires of Self? So that we might not sin at any time.
I Peter 2:21-22 says:
For unto this are you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example that you should follow his steps. Who did no sin