Arm Yourself Against Lusts

Text: I Peter 4:1-6

Study Questions:

  1. For what purpose are we to arm ourselves?
  2. What is the will (or desire) of the Gentiles?
  3. What is it about Christians that the world finds strange?
  4. Why was the gospel preached?
  5. How can the gospel be preached to the dead?

Live for the will of God (I Peter 4:1-2)

Peter returns to his point made in I Peter 3:18. Because Jesus suffered in the flesh to put sin to death (Romans 6:1-7), we who have been baptized into Christ’s death must take up the same purpose. Armor is used for defensive and offensive purposes. We are in a battle against sin (Ephesians 6:10-12). Our old self – our man of sin – has been put to death (Galatians 5:24; Colossians 2:20; 3:1-3). Only then can we be freed from sin (Romans 6:7-11).

We are not free to do as we please. We have always belonged to God (Ezekiel 18:4) and particularly as Christians, our lives belong to the Lord (Romans 14:7-8). As Solomon noted, the whole duty of man is to serve God (Ecclesiastes 12:13). We become Christians to leave sin and serve the Lord for the remainder of the time we have here on earth (II Corinthians 5:14-15).

While we are not called to die on a cross as our Lord, we have suffered for doing what is right (I Peter 2:19-20; 3:17). If we have gone through suffering then we should be motivated to stop our sins.

Class Discussion:

  1. What is the purpose we are to arm ourselves with?
  2. Some say that “suffered in the flesh” means to die. What do you think?

Past time to carry out the desires of the Gentiles (I Peter 4:3)

Christians have come out of the world so returning to its practices does not make sense. Yet, there is often a longing for what was once familiar while forgetting the problems (Numbers 11:4-6). Peter gives a sample list of worldliness that we should have left. He states “sufficient for us” and thus includes himself. It is similar to one that Paul gave (Colossians 3:5-10). Peter is not saying he is guilty of these sins but that all Christians were at one time a part of the world, lived like the world lived, and they must leave it behind.


Aselgeia refers to shameless behavior, particularly in regard to sex. It is behavior that is involved in pure self-enjoyment or behavior characteristic of an animal (Ephesians 4:19; Romans 13:13-14).


Epithumia is a noun referring to strong desires or cravings, particularly for things that are not lawful. "This lust is characterized by a longing for what is forbidden, a deep burning, a covetous desire, and sometimes can be irregular or even violent" [Dr. Gary M. Gulan, Lust: A Desire For Fulfillment].


Oinophlugia is a word only found in I Peter 4:3. It is a compound word of "wine" (oinos) and "bubble up" (phluo). It refers to someone who is overflowing in wine; in other words, a person who is a rolling-in-the-gutter drunk. “It should not be inferred here from the English translation, ‘excess of wine,’ that wine is improper only when used to excess, or that the moderate use of wine is proper. Whatever may be true on that point, nothing can be determined in regard to it from the use of this word” [Barnes’ Notes].


Komos is found three times in the New Testament (Romans 13:13; Galatians 5:21; and I Peter 4:3). In classical Greek, it referred to the festivals dedicated to Bacchus, the god of wine, and related pagan deities. Since heavy drinking occurred at these feasts, komos is always connected with drunkenness, but where oinophlugia refers to a person who is usually drunk (i.e. an alcoholic), komos is reserved for those who are occasionally drunk as a result of excessive partying. The college fraternity parties come to mind when one reads of komos.

Drinking Parties

Potos is again only found in I Peter 4:3. In classical Greek, it referred to drinking in a social setting, such as at a party. “Chiefly applied to social drinking at the banquet” [Appian, B. C. I. p. 700]. Some Greek dictionaries associate it with excessive drinking or sexual parties (orgies), not because the word is defined as such but because of the other terms associated with it in I Peter 4:3. In other words, these authors can't see anything wrong with social drinking, so they assume that Peter's use of the word includes something worse to cause him to condemn it. Of interest is how potos was used in the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible. It was used in Genesis 19:3 regarding the feast Lot served the angels, again in Genesis 40:20 to describe the birthday party of Pharaoh, the feast given to celebrate Esther becoming queen in Esther 2:18, and God's warning to Jeremiah not to go to a house of feasting to eat and drink in Jeremiah 16:8. The latter is interesting because Jeremiah is a priest (Jeremiah 1:1). Priests were not allowed to use strong drinks and not allowed to get drunk. If houses of feasting were places of drunkenness, then God's warning is simply redundant. However, if houses of feasting were where casual drinking took place (like our restaurants, inns, or bars of today), then the warning makes sense. Similarly, I have a hard time associating the celebration of Esther becoming queen with a drunken orgy. The Hebrew word in these verses is mishteh which means "drinking" but is often extended to a feast or a festive meal. It is usually used in reference to a meal where drinks are served (i.e. social drinking). For example, in Daniel 1:5, 8, 10, 16 mishteh is behind the word "drank" when Daniel and his friends refused the wine from the king's table. This was the beverage the king drank with his everyday meals. It doesn't imply that Nebuchadnezzar was a daily drunker. There are cases where a feast (mishteh) does include someone getting drunk, such as I Samuel 25:36, but the breath of the word shows that it was not limited to drunken situations. In each example, the Hebrew word mishteh is translated into Greek in the Septuagint with the word potos, indicating that potos has a similar breadth of meaning.

Abominable Idolatries

Literally, Peter said, “unlawful idolatries.” Idolatry is always against God’s law. This was a particular problem in the Gentile societies.

Class Discussion:

  1. Why the “desires of the Gentiles”? Didn’t the Jews have problems with these sins?

The worldly are surprised at your behavior (I Peter 4:4-5)

It doesn’t matter what the rest of the world thinks of our lack of participation with them. Concerns about what others might think of us prevent us from changing. This is true even of our family. Too often we have to go contrary to what our own loved ones think (Matthew 10:34-38).

What is accepted and praised in the world isn’t always what is best for people. As a result, the world doesn’t understand (I Corinthians 2:14).

Knowing that worldly people won’t understand, we have a tendency to stay silent since we know whatever we say isn’t going to go over well. They are going to hate you for standing for righteousness (Psalms 69:4). Instead of listening to reason, they’re going to mock you. They are going to chew you up and spit you out (Psalms 35:15-17). You’ll become a target. People will watch your every move, just waiting for you to slip up so they can pounce (Jeremiah 20:10).

So how do you react to personal attacks? Do you avoid conflict? Do you shrink away and cower in a corner? Remember that we have been chosen out of the world (John 15:19).

“When we take a stand for morals and principles, it is inevitable that there will be a clash of interests when Christians and non-Christians come together in a social atmosphere. Alcohol is often served at company gatherings and social events and celebrations. A college football game will throw together a variety of people, many of which think that alcohol is the natural drink, and if you do not drink, they think you are not natural. No, the fact is that those who drink are doing something to their brain and body that is not natural. Drinking purified water is natural. Drinking an alcohol-based drink is an invasion into the body's normal and right functioning.

It is amazing how that if you do not drink, "they think you are strange." A straight guy in a homosexual bar is "strange." He is out of his normal environment and has nothing in common with his new setting of associates. In a setting where drinking is the normal and expected, then the Christian will be thought strange for not drinking. The Christian is not "strange" in that he is just "weird" and possesses little judgment ability. He is "strange" to an environment that thinks drunkenness and revelry, lusts, and drinking parties are normal and good. The Christian is "strange" to certain people who have no moral compass and have never tried to gauge their actions by the holy standard of the Creator.

They will think it strange if you think you must "assemble" with the saints (Hebrews10:25) at every opportunity. They will think it strange if you think that 10% of your income should go toward helping the Lord's church and the encouragement and spread of the gospel. The fact of the matter is that "sin" is strange to God. It is not His environment. Sin is the foreign and strange invader. Those who choose sin over God are really the "strange" ones. They are strangers to God and what holy standards He has commanded. They were earlier described as having been living from "aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers". Don't you think it is "strange" to God that people would just move with the flow of human tradition rather than try to find out about the Creator and His will for us?” [Terry Benton]

What worldly people don’t recognize is that one day they will appear before God to give an account of their behavior (II Corinthians 5:10-11). We do not need to seek vengeance on those who mistreat us because God will take care of the matter.

Class Discussion:

  1. Why “run with them” instead of “walk with them”?

The gospel is preached to change the worldly (I Peter 4:6)

The gospel is taught to a lost and dying world – even to those we know will reject the message. Everyone deserves a chance to change to become a follower of Christ. It means that they will feel judged for their misbehavior because sins must be pointed out, but it is necessary to help lead sinners to Christ. Salvation requires repentance from sin and that, in turn, requires recognition that you are in sin. To live spiritually requires the condemnation of fleshly sin.

Class Discussion:

  1. A common argument is that “dead” in I Peter 4:5 is physically dead so, therefore, it must be the physically dead in I Peter 4:6. How would you respond?
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