Arm Yourself With the Same Mind
This teaching was given on a Saturday and confirmed the next day at our home church. Surely the Lord is coming soon? 
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 
(1 Peter 4:1-2)
The teaching in this chapter of the Bible must be one of the hardest lumps to swallow for professing Christians. To those reborn children of Abraham 1 who attempt to follow the commands of the Godhead and are familiar with some of the unpleasant experiences that come with the privilege of being a Christian, cheer up, great is your reward in heaven 
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. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets. 
(Luke 6:22-23)
In another of these dissertations 2 it has been shown that our souls, which are our minds, conscience, wills etc. are the real us and our earthly bodies are but temporary repositories for the eternal being. Our bodies are but stopover points in the journey of life, the real life. 

Most of us have heard of the phrase "mind over matter" and we have witnessed or read about the fire walkers of the east, or Houdini performing the seemingly impossible, or people levitating, hypnosis etc. This shows how powerful the mind is. (It also shows of people possessed of evil spirits, but that is another subject.) 
Very few citizens of western civilisation practice these things, such as meditation, yoga or astro travel, so we don't properly understand what Peter was striving to teach us. 
Who was Peter and how did he learn this? 

He was a fisherman on the lake of Galilee, a simple man, brash, outspoken, a natural leader, strong of character and possibly a bit loudmouthed. He it was who out of conviction stated that Jesus was the Messiah, that he would never forsake Jesus. Yet when he heard the cock crow he wept bitter tears for doing just that. 
At the end of the Gospel of John we see that the risen Lord Jesus Christ gave certain commandments to him, "feed my sheep". 
After the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came down upon the waiting disciples in tongues of fire, Peter was a changed man. He was no longer ashamed of being allied to Jesus and in Acts chapters two and three was so outspoken that he became the next target of the established church. This sounds very familiar not so? Think of the prophets of the Old Covenant: none of them were popular, because they urged the people to leave their comfort zones and follow God. 
Peter certainly had some extraordinary spiritual experiences, didn't he? 
Firstly he walked, talked and touched the Messiah for about three years; walked on water; became convicted that Jesus was the Messiah, the promised one; saw Jesus crucified and resurrected; saw Him taken up into the clouds; saw the promise of Pentecost fulfilled and experienced the power of the Holy Spirit and of faith. 
So, Peter was well qualified to write about above-natural things: he had been there. 

Let's read what this man has been saying through the centuries and accept that he speaks with authority. Let's also accept that these words are meant for each of us reborn Christians. 
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 
(1 Peter 4:1-2)
These first two verses are the ones we need to understand and if we have difficulty therein the next nine verses explain what is meant. 

When Peter wrote arm yourself with the same mind he was in effect saying that Christianity was repenting (being sorry for and turning away) from old ways and making yourself strong spiritually. This was done by following the way of Christ, by following the commands of God. It is important to note here that Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah in the flesh, didn't follow God because He was scared of God; he was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross because He was one with God, He was in Covenant with God. 
If we turn to 1 Samuel we shall see an explanation of a human covenant between Jonathan and David: 
And Jonathan said unto David, Come, and let us go out into the field. And they went out both of them into the field. And Jonathan said unto David, O LORD God of Israel, when I have sounded my father about to morrow any time, or the third day, and, behold, if there be good toward David, and I then send not unto thee, and shew it thee; The LORD do so and much more to Jonathan: but if it please my father to do thee evil, then I will shew it thee, and send thee away, that thou mayest go in peace: and the LORD be with thee, as he hath been with my father. And thou shalt not only while yet I live shew me the kindness of the LORD, that I die not: But also thou shalt not cut off thy kindness from my house for ever: no, not when the LORD hath cut off the enemies of David every one from the face of the earth. So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, Let the LORD even require it at the hand of David's enemies. And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him: for he loved him as he loved his own soul. 
(1 Samuel 20:11-17)
This oneness between Jonathan and David is far surpassed by the oneness between two perfect spiritual beings, God the Father and His only begotten Son. 

Jesus the Son "suffered for us in the flesh" in obedience to His Covenant. If we become born again we are in Covenant with God through the blood sacrifice of the life of Jesus Christ. 
What Peter is saying here is that we must be like Christ, we must have the mind of Christ, we must be prepared to do what Jesus Christ did. If we reach this state we have ceased from sin. 
Verse two is the crux of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Is each one of us prepared to live to the will of God while in this temporary body? In other words are we willing to do God's will in our lives? With a rejoicing heart? 
Peter thereupon explains what he means by giving examples:
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 
(1 Peter 4:1-11)

Part Two 
The Fiery Trial
This second half of the chapter of 1 Peter four is nearly as tough to swallow as the first. 
At all times we must realise two things:
  1. This life on earth is just a passing phase, just as a caterpillar is transformed into a pupa, which in turn is transformed into a butterfly, so our souls will leave these wonderfully made, but temporary homes, our bodies. 
  2. Satan is a very powerful, evil spiritual being, who exerts his considerable spiritual and worldly influence to prevent our souls from living in God's presence one day. 
Let's go on:
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. 
(1 Peter 4:12-19)
At first glance it appears strange that God would allow Satan or anyone to hassle us, to make our walk with Him difficult to follow. We see in the last verse that it is God's will to let us suffer. 

If He loves us so much that He asked His only begotten Son to die for us, Why let us suffer? 

Ah, my friend, here is a secret that most of the denominations hide from you; or don't understand. 
In the time of forever, what is the space of seventy years, the average worldly lifetime, worth? A flea bite? 
So, if our bodies are disfigured or we have constant pain or an incurable disease, what does this mean? What does it mean in the time span of never ending? 

God never does anything idly, without a purpose, so He must have a reason for all this. 

Please read the first forty four verses of John chapter eleven, and take note of verses four and forty two. 
Please also read John chapter nine verses one to five. 
My favourite character in the Old Covenant is probably David. He was one of the few that was blessed with the presence of the Holy Spirit, was God's anointed and yet suffered as few others in the Bible. But he remained faithful. His son and heir, Solomon, who was blessed with wisdom, was not tested as much and ended up worshipping idols. 
Look at the experiences of Paul the apostle to the Gentiles:
That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also. For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise. For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face. I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not. In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands. 
(2 Corinthians 11:17-33)
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing. Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. 
2 Corinthians 12:7-12)
See what God says : for my strength is made perfect in weakness.
James, who had the same mother as Jesus, explains the above phrase:
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 
(James 1:1-7)
The answer to all of this is found in the Old Covenant:
Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones. And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God. 
(Zechariah 13:7-9)
The refiner's fire first melts metal such as silver or gold and then allows the dross, the impurities, to be skimmed off the top. What is left is pure. 
Jesus said:
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 
(John 15:1-2)
So the fiery trial is there to purify our thoughts and minds and test our patience so that we will be acceptable and useable to our God. 
It is not easy to be a Christian.
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.  
(James 4:10)
1 See Galatians 3:8-9 

2 See Gird Up the Loins of Your Mind 
The following passages were given on Sunday morning 11 October 1998, as previously mentioned and confirm the above teachings. 
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish. 
(Psalms 1:1-6)
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. 
(Revelation 3:14-22)
We can see that only those professing Christians that overcome will be clothed in white and accepted. 

Does this not perhaps mean that about one third will make it to the New Jerusalem and the other two thirds, those that are taken away, will not? 
From the teaching of the word, it seems to be so. 

Monday morning. 

So, if you feel that that the Lord has a call on your life and you wish to be obedient to Him because it gives you such joy, here's a starter pack to get you on your way: 
The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 
(1 Peter 5:1-11)