Lesson 34—A Different Crowd
Scripture: 1 Peter 4:4-6
Lesson Goal: To understand that relationship and fellowship with Jesus Christ bring separation from the world.
In today’s scripture, Peter writes about something that many of you have already experienced in your walk with Jesus. When you accepted Jesus Christ and surrendered your life to Him, many of your friends responded with shock, surprise and amazement. Often their initial reactions gave way to ignoring, harassing, and even ridiculing. As you began to grow in your faith, you were excluded from some of their activities. Your name was removed from many guest lists. Some of you have even heard these remarks as listed by Charles Swindoll:
“What do you mean, you don’t do that anymore?”
“So now you think you’re some kind of saint?”
“What’s wrong, can’t you just have a little fun?”
“So now that you’re going to church you think you’re better than us?”
Unbelievers often react in such a fashion because they cannot understand the transformation that Jesus Christ brings about in the life of the true believer.
(Verse 4) Again, Peter contrasts the old way and the new way, the past and the present, the old life without Christ and the new life with Christ. He gives a reminder “in regard to these.” In verse three, Peter specifically mentioned many of the sins of the old life. Some had been so much a part of their lives that when they trusted in Christ and abandoned these sins, many of their fellow sinners, still without Christ, became offensive and resentful. Many times the former friends (unbelievers) would speak evil of them. Often this manifested in outright persecution of the believers.
➢ Has there ever been a time in your life when following Jesus cost you a friendship?
➢ In honesty, as you learned to follow Jesus, what are some things you had to put aside in your life?
Please remember that following Jesus Christ is a journey in which we (believers) grow and mature in the faith, and the Holy Spirit works to grow us in maturity. Then as we mature, we find ourselves putting off more of the old way. This does not happen overnight; it is literally a lifelong journey.
➢ As you (a believer) grow and mature in your faith, can you list some things from the old life that God is still working on you to put aside?
➢ The world thinks believers are strange, or at least they should. Does the world think you a bit strange?
“strange”—Greek word xenos
Read Acts 17:16-33. Paul ran into this at a place called Mars Hill. They called Paul a babbler and said he teaches “strange gods.” What seemed strange to the unbelievers was that Paul taught Jesus and the resurrection.
➢ Can the world see the difference Christ has made in your life? Can they see the difference Christ is making in your life?
(Verse 5) The truth of verse five is that the world (unbelievers) may judge us falsely, but one day they will stand before God the Just Judge.
“they will give an account to Him”
“they” (the unbelievers)—the account refers to the Great White Throne Judgment (read Revelation 20:11-15). The word “they” does not refer to believers. Believers will not face the Great White Throne Judgment, but will give account at the judgment seat of Christ (read Romans 14:10 and 2 Corinthians 5:10).
Peter wants them to understand that even though unbelievers live as if there will be no judgment, judgment is coming. In fact, according to Peter in verse five: “They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” Judgment day awaits.
(Verse 6) As we look at this verse, we must again remember the readers of Peter’s day. We must remember their suffering and the persecution, and we must understand that many had already given their lives for their faith in Jesus Christ, and many soon would. Verse six speaks of the reality of those believers. Many of them were the readers’ family members who had given their lives for the gospel. Peter is referring to those who had heard and accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ, but were judged (literally) “according to men” in the flesh; that is, declared guilty by human and worldly reason and put to death. Similarly, Christ had been put to death “in the flesh” as a result of human judgment (1 Peter 3:18 and 4:1). Yet He also was made alive “in the spirit” and resurrected to new life (1 Peter 3:21-22). In the same way, believers who are persecuted and put to death, like the Lord himself, will be raised. Those who have been judged guilty by evil men and put to death at the hands of evil men will be judged not guilty by His grace. They will stand before God clothed in the righteousness of Jesus.
A Closing Thought
Throughout the centuries, those who have believed and accepted the good news of the gospel and have been transformed by the power of Jesus Christ have activated the meanness and madness of evil forces at work in evil men. It was real, and it was happening in Peter’s day.
Questions for Life Focus
One question for careful and prayerful consideration:
Is it real and is it happening in our day?