Life Choices

March 19, 2023 | Jess Rainer

Passage: 1 Peter 4:1-11

There have been some unique people who have some unique things over the centuries. There was one particular person who said a lot of unique things.  I read the following quotes this week, let’s see if you can figure out who said the following quotes?

  • “You can observe a lot by watching.”
  • “The future ain’t what it used to be.”
  • “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.”
  • “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.”
  • “If you arrive at a fork in the road, take it.”
  • “Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.”
  • “I never said most of the things I said.”
Yogi Berra was the epitome of unique (NY Yankees Catcher) [1]   He was different, but not in a way that wanted people to run away.  He was different in a way that drew people in.  Yogi knew who he was and lived his life that reflected it.  That should be the same with Christians.  We must know who we are and live our lives in a way that reflects that shows our identity.  The choices we make in life, whether we realize it or not, are completely wrapped up in our identity.  So often, we do everything we can to make the “right decision.”  Well, Peter tells us that making good choices in life aren’t as difficult as we make it out to be sometimes.  And that’s exactly what we are going to see Peter write today.  Here’s what we are going to see in God’s Word today:  When you know who you are in Christ, you know how to make good life choices.  We are in our Sermon Series: Hope Fully.  Open up your Bibles to 1 Peter 4.  As you turn, let’s do a recap of 1 Peter up until this point:  Chapter 1 – We have hope of eternal life because of what Jesus did for us;  Chapter 2 – Our identity as a child of God is wrapped up in our hope;  Chapter 3 – Our identity and hope get us through the good days and the bad days.  Read 1 Peter 4:1-11.  Pray.  We all want to make good life choices. Here’s where it starts: Yearn to do the will of God.

[1] Taken from

1) Yearn to do the will of God. (vs. 1-3)   Peter does a great job linking passages together.  He starts off verse 1 connecting back to what we saw last week.  Peter ended chapter 3 with an emphasis on Christ’s death and resurrection.  Because Jesus wins, we can have hope and purpose even on the bad days.  In verse 1, Peter is continuing the emphasis on what Jesus did for us.  It’s no longer about the good days or the bad days, but it’s about the overall approach to life.  What does Peter say in verses 1 through 3?  1So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin.  You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God. You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols.  

This week, I was immediately drawn to verse 2 – it’s one you highlight or underline.  “You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God.”  This is exactly what it means to make good life choices.  You learn to put the will of God before the will of self.  There is a book called The Message that takes the Bible and paraphrases it.  I like how verses 1 and 2 are paraphrased:  “Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want.”  I love the idea of being anxious to do the will of God.  If you have ever experienced anxiousness, it can be all-consuming.  Anxiety has a way of taking one issue and making it the only issue in life.  That’s how we are to be with the will of God.  If you want to make good life choices, be consumed with the will of God.  Much like last week, Peter sandwiches this calling with two ways to accomplish the calling.  In verse 1, we are to “arm yourselves with the same attitude [Jesus] had.”  This echoes 1 Peter 1:13 – “your minds ready for action”.  “Gird up your loins” – do you all remember that?  What attitude?  That Christ suffered in the flesh to conquer sin and death!  So, we should live out our lives in a way that seeks to conquer the sin in our lives.  Which directly connects to verse 3 (the other side of the sandwich).  Look at verse 3:  “You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy…”  When we yearn to do the will of God, we should look at sin and go, “I’ve had enough of that.”  We can’t fully yearn for God’s will until we learn to hate sin.  

Hating sin should be simple, but it gets complex.  We should hate sin because it distorts our identity.  But because sin distorts our identity, it becomes hard to hate sin.  Sin and our identity get connected and it’s hard to separate the two.  Let’s try to separate them.  There are two ways that sin distorts your identity:

1) You know that sin is wrong, so you live in shame and guilt.  

  • If you want to break the bondage of sin, you also have to break the bondage of shame and guilt
  • Sin feeds off shame and guilt
    • You have to remember your identity in Christ
    • You are not your sin!
    • Your sin is not your identity.

Here’s the second way sin distorts your identity…

2) You’ve made your sin acceptable, so you live in bondage

  • We’ve made some drastic leaps in our culture from minimizing sin to celebrating sin
  • Now, from the perspective of a temporary resident – us, as Christians, this shouldn’t be surprising
    • We have to stopped being shocked when someone who doesn’t know Jesus, fully embraces something in life that completely contrary to Scripture
    • We should expect someone to live that way
    • If someone believes this world is all that there is, I would fully expect for someone to live their life trying to grab at whatever they can to find fulfillment. This world, from what they think, is all there is
  • As Christ-followers, if you are bondage to your sin, you’ve got to take some drastic steps
    • Like telling someone who can help you break the bondage

Whether sin has made you live in shame and guilt or in bondage, you have to arm yourself.  You have to arm yourself with the understanding that you are willing to suffer in order to break from the power of sin.  You have to tell your sin that it is better for you to starve yourself of whatever momentary satisfaction you get from that sin than it is to give in to your sin.  Tell your sin that your identity in Christ and nothing else.  Hate your sin and start yearning for God’s will.  That’s where good life choices come from.  I think we could stop there! That’s a lot.  But, oh, God’s Word has so much more for us.  We’ll go through these last two points a bit faster.  If we want to make good life choices, here’s what we see next: Think about eternity.

2) Think about eternity. (vs. 4-7a)  Peter reminds us that when we come to believe in Jesus, it changes how we see the world.  Our perspective change will lead to different behavior and actions.  And that changes the relationships in your life.  Look at verse 4:  Of course, your former friends are surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do. So they slander you.  When you live in the light of Jesus, it will shine on the darkness around you.  And for a lot of people, they want to remain in the dark because it’s comfortable.  The only way for people to keep themselves in the dark is to push away the light.  As people slander, Peter reminds us about the end.  Look at verse 5:  But remember that they will have to face God, who stands ready to judge everyone, both the living and the dead.  You can read this verse and react in one of two ways:

1) “Yeah! That’s right. There’s judgment coming and I’m going to be on the right side and you are going to be on the wrong side!” 

  • That kind of response will do nothing but make other people want to stay away from Jesus
  • If that’s their first taste of a Christian, which happens to a lot of people, then it may push them away from Jesus for good

2) When you read verse 5, it should break your heart

  • Your former friends are destined to be apart from God for all eternity
  • That should drive you to do everything you can to want them to know the hope that you now have
  • They should feel love from you, not condemnation. That’s what verse 6 is all about.  We remember that people will spend eternity with God or apart from God.  That is why the Good News was preached to those who are now dead—so although they were destined to die like all people, they now live forever with God in the Spirit.  

Peter then adds one more brief sentence to add some weight to the issue.  7a The end of the world is coming soon.  Peter has been pointing us to think about eternity – to think about the long-term.  But he adds, “Oh, and don’t forget, the end of the world is coming soon…”  Mental Image: ???Dropping a truth bomb as you walk away???  Was Peter wrong though? He said “coming soon.”  When Jesus died and rose from the dead, He inaugurated the final days.  We are in the last act of the grand narrative of Scripture.  We are living somewhere between Acts 28 and Revelation 4.  So, if you want to make good life choices, you have to yearn to do the will of God – and you do that with eternity in mind.  It changes the way you interact with other people around you.  It changes the way you make decisions.  We have to live in the tension that Jesus might come back tomorrow or He might come back in 10 years.  Here’s how I reconcile that tension:  Plan out your years as if Jesus isn’t coming back tomorrow. Live out your days as if Jesus is coming back tomorrow.  When you have a future plan, it allows you to live out today fully.  You can only charge your phone one more time (ever) and you can’t see the battery life.  You know your phone will die, but you just don’t know when.  For some of you, I just sent panic into your heart because you haven’t upgraded your phone and it won’t hold a charge!  If that’s the case, you are going to change the way you use your phone.  Less Candy Crush – for me, less Solitaire or Yahtzee, less Facebook, and you are definitely not using the flashlight!  More texting with others, letting them know your phone may die soon.  You are going to upload your photos to the cloud.  You are only going to use the things that are absolutely necessary.  Let me make this real for a moment: Our lives are nothing different than a phone that can’t be charged again.  We have one shot, so it should matter how we act – how we spend our time.  One way or another, time is running is out.  Time is short on this side of eternity.  So, we live this life, yearning to do the will of God while thinking about eternity.  

These first two sections of the passage have focused on our identity, our attitude, and our thinking.  Peter wraps up this part of his letter with some very practical application.  If we want to know if we have the right attitude and thinking, then there will be tangible output.  Think of it as if you were checking your vital signs.  Here’s the last part: Check your spiritual vital signs.

3) Check your spiritual vital signs.  (vs. 7b-11)  Illustration: I had my annual health checkup recently.  My doctor was going over my results.  There were red, yellow, and green categories.  The good news is that I’m healthy.  There was one category that was “red” as it relates to my heart.  I knew what was coming next: “lose a few pounds…”  But all the signs let me know I’m alive.  But they also let me know where I’m not making good life choices, like eating too many bowls of cereal at night.  What Peter tells us next is that these are the signs to let us know we are living in Christ.  When these actions are present in our life, there’s a good chance you will make some good life choices.  Peter gives 5 quick spiritual vital signs:

1) Pray

  • 7b Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. 
  • If we want to be in the will of God, we have to communicate with God

2) Love

  • 8Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 
  • As Christians, we must exude love
  • Being hateful typically doesn’t lead to good life choices.  

3) Be Hospitable

  • 9Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.
  • Open up your life with other Christians
    • Mental Image: Maya Angelou
  • Be in community!
    • Don’t wait until to build community when you need community
    • Join a Community Group
      • Lead a CG!

4) Use Your Gift

  • 10God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 
  • 11Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies.
  • There should be a desire to serve
    • Join a Serve Team!

5) Worship

  • 11b Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

Go out this week and be a little different.  Don't be like the world.  Don't be running around looking for your next high...momentary satisfaction.  Be consumed with the will of God. Share the hope of Jesus with someone this week.  

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Series Information

This 13-week series focuses on 1 Peter where we will look at what it means to have hope as sojourners.  This chapter points us towards eternal hope.  The Christian hope is more than mere optimism that says things will “hopefully” work out. It is a sure hope, and so we “hope fully” (1 Peter 1:13) through every trial and test of faith.

Other sermons in the series

January 08, 2023

Hold on to Hope

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January 15, 2023

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January 22, 2023

Hope Grows

1 Peter 1:25 [ESV] 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever." And...

January 29, 2023

Life with Jesus

1 Peter 2:9 [ESV] 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a...

February 05, 2023

Keep Your Identity

1Peter 2:11-12 [ESV] 11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to...

February 12, 2023

Keep Going

1 Peter 2:24 [ESV] 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree...

February 26, 2023

Hope-Filled Marriage

1 Peter 3:1, 7 [ESV] 1 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own...

March 05, 2023

Many Good Days

1 Peter 3:12 [ESV] 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous...

March 26, 2023

Continue to Rejoice

1 Peter 4:19 [ESV] 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God's...