In the past twenty-five years, nearly twenty million have been martyred for their loyalty to Jesus Christ. In 1 Peter 4:1, Peter is calling the churches to “urgently decide to arm” themselves—that is, to “furnish themselves with arms” or metaphorically “to take on the same mind-set” with a positive attitude toward dying for our Lord.
In the early church, many eagerly anticipated when it would be their turn to die for Christ, considering it their highest honor. Jesus spoke about this attitude: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).
We like to spiritualize the “cross” to mean anything from physical hardships to difficulties. However, Jesus was serious when He said, “He who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life [guarding it for himself] will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it” (Matt 10:38–39).
Before leaving to go overseas, many missionaries prepare themselves for the realistic possibility that they will not survive on earth their service for Christ. This minimizes their fear and empowers a freedom to stand boldly in the face of persecution and threats.
The willingness to suffer results in one who “has finished with sin.” This is a perfect tense verb, meaning a completed action that has present effects. As a result of this mental preparation, fleshly sins or clinging to this life now have no attraction or meaning.
Jesus came to earth intentionally to die for others by bearing their sins; we can’t do this, but we can arm ourselves with His attitude: “for the joy that was set before Him [, He] endured the cross” (Heb 12:2). The worst that can happen to us as believers is that we suffer death, which is truly the best thing that could happen because it means that our battle with sin is finally over.
Most believers die from accidents or diseases, but the glorious possibility of dying for Christ gives these verses richer meaning and deeper encouragement: “But when this…this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’” (1 Cor 15:54–56). Can you meditate on these concepts until death, especially if for Christ’s testimony, is welcomed?
“Lord, help me to prize the negative reactions of those who make fun of Your name. The honor to be identified with You is worth more than popularity.”
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