Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.

1 Peter 4: 1, 2


Peter is not talking about personal effort here; he knew that bearing down and producing the sweat of effort were not enough when it came to the power of his flesh to disappoint Christ. He is not suggesting that we should injure ourselves for the sake of purity, either. Peter understood the futility of his own capacity to serve Christ and to do this without encountering the very real risks that this world can heap upon people who proclaim Christ and who live out that proclamation. From experience he also grasped too well that special futility that comes from attempting to live out this witness from within his own strength and capacity.


After a long struggle with his own flesh and even with Christ’s calling for his life, Peter surrendered all to the Lord and entered into a life wherein sin no longer ruled his days. If we could talk with Peter he would certainly not say that he achieved a point in his life on earth where he was literally free from sin. He could attest to the fact that there came a day when his flesh was no longer in control. Peter surrendered himself in total to Christ, and that is the day when he started to truly follow the Lord in all matters and along the path that Christ selected for him. In this process of departure from a life in the flesh, Peter’s will was broken by Christ’s grace and mercy, and His great human strength of character and of will were replaced by his absolute reliance upon Christ’s strength and wisdom.


Christ seeks nothing less from each of us than He did from Peter. Through mercy He brings us to the end of ourselves so that we can surrender our own capacity and leave our wills behind us and enter into a life that is committed fully to Christ and to His will for that life. This is not a promise of some earthly glory in which we no longer depart from God’s standard of righteousness. However, following Christ fully, with all of self surrendered and yielded to Him, does radically change the power that sin can hold on life. When we follow Christ in this manner, His life of suffering for the sake of the Gospel is always before us by way of example and as a promise of the way in which God goes with His people in all that we think, say, and do. So, surrendering fully to Christ promises to take us into the center of His suffering, but it also moves us onto the Lord’s path of righteous glory.