Scriptures tell us that just as Jesus Christ suffered for us in the flesh, we should also have the same mind, for whoever suffers in the flesh ceases to live a life according to the desires of the carnal nature. Those living in the Spirit are living according to the will of God. (1 Peter 4:1,2)
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. Romans 8:14
What does Peter mean by suffering in the flesh?
To suffer, according to the Oxford dictionary, means to experience or be subjected to (something bad or unpleasant).
Peter is referring to suffering in the body or experiencing physical pain.
The body is still in an unredeemed state. It is subject to external discomfort. While some preach that because we are called to suffer in the flesh, we should tolerate sickness and disease. That is not what the scriptures teach!
Peter tells Christians in the next couple of verses (Peter 4: 2-4) that the body must be crucified or put down. In other words, to be under the control of the spiritual person so that the life of Christ in our spirit lives according to the will of God.
Peter is saying that we should not live according to the dictates of the flesh like we did before we were born again. We must live according to God’s will, laid out for us in the Scriptures.
Putting the body or carnal nature down (not allowing it to rule us) is impossible in our own power or ability.
Romans 8:13 tells us that we will die if we live according to the flesh or sinful nature. The flesh wants to sin. It desires all kinds of things that are not good for us.
The flesh likes addictions, entertainment, laziness, and pampering.
The Bible says those living in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:8)
Living for self is harmful. The desires of the flesh and the carnal mind will lead to spiritual dysfunction, physical ailments, and emotional sickness.
God gives us his remedy for putting down the flesh. He tells us that if we mortify or put to death the desires of the flesh by the Spirit of God that dwells in us, then we will live or have an abundant life as promised by Jesus in the gospels.
Let’s look at the suffering of Jesus Christ according to Isaiah 53.
Peter tells us to have this same mind concerning suffering.
According to this prophecy, Jesus Christ was despised.
To be despised means to not be valued. To be seen as worthless. Our flesh wants to be appreciated, praised, and adored, but sometimes we must be despised to do God’s will. Not everyone will like us, and in fact, they may even hate us.
Preaching the gospel for another’s benefit or serving someone who does not like us may actually benefit them.
Our flesh does not like to suffer shame and humiliation, but sometimes it is necessary to accomplish God’s will in certain situations.
Jesus Christ gave his life for his enemies. He loved those who did not love him back. Are we armed with this mindset?
If the world hates you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his Lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. John 15:18-20
Jesus was rejected because his values were not appreciated by some people. We may not be liked, valued, or accepted by those who are not disciples of Jesus Christ. Are we armed with this mindset?
Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Luke 6:22
Jesus was afflicted. He endured pain, abuse, bullying, and scoffing. Are we armed with this mindset?
How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. Jude 1:18
Jesus bore our sorrows, endured shame, took our griefs, and carried our burdens.
Galatians 6: 2 tells us to bear one another’s burdens. This means that when we are armed with the mindset of Jesus Christ, we come alongside another person and help them carry their burden. Whether in prayer, giving, ministering, supporting, or serving. Even if it is not appreciated.
Paul tells us that we are to consider our sufferings in this world unworthy of the glory that will be revealed in us. Jesus suffered for us; as his children, we are to have the same mindset.
Our flesh wants pleasure, not suffering. We want recognition, respect, and rewards for our good deeds, but Jesus tells us to love like he does unconditionally. That means no strings.
Love is patient; love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Jesus bore sorrow, pain, and grief for our sake so that he could bring us healing through his affliction. Jesus was wounded, so we could receive forgiveness, healing, and restoration through his stripes.
Jesus endured the cross and the shame to bring many out of darkness and make them his children. When we are armed with this mindset, we can endure our sufferings for the benefit of others.
Jesus Christ’s suffering brought us not only salvation but righteousness and justification. He suffered in patience and endurance because he knew the outcome. Armed with Jesus Christ’s mindset, we can patiently wait for a good result too.
No suffering in this life is pleasant, scriptures tell us, BUT it is working out for us a far greater work of glory.
Think about that! When we patiently endure and pray, God will walk through our suffering with us. He will help us carry our burdens so that we can bear them.
The outcome of our suffering will come in God’s perfect timing. Just trust him, for faithful is he who has promised.
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you in your weakness to keep your flesh down, so it doesn’t react to injustice. Fasting and prayer are good ways to keep the body under submission to the Holy Spirit. When the flesh is subdued, your spirit will not only hear God’s word but be enabled to put it into practice!
Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. Psalm 34:19
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