Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

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Put on the Attitude of Christ

October 12th, 2008 by Vic

Bible Reference: 1 Peter 4:1-9

This chapter begins with a command to Christians. The Bible says, “Arm yourselves with the attitude of Christ!” Chapter 3 said that Jesus suffered for us to introduce us to God and He is Lord. What kind of attitude does that? Now because of who we are and what Christ has done for us, a new attitude, willingness, intent, and purpose should be spontaneous in all Christians. Arm yourself with the intention of Christ. Arm yourself with the same resolve that Christ had. He said, love one another as I have loved you. He kept entrusting Himself to God (2:23; 4:19). Jesus was willing to suffer for doing good because He knew God could bring good out of it. Arm yourself with the attitude of Christ.

Think about some of your attitudes this week. What is Jesus’ attitude in that kind of situation?

His personal self worth did not come from people’s opinion, cosmetics, clothes, education, or economics. The Romans valued women because of externals. It was common for women to think they only had value because of what they looked like. But Peter says you are who you are in God’s eyes. Jesus knew who He was and has an attitude that we are to put on also.

Our culture says, “stay in school. School drop outs have less value than graduates.”

What about sports or fashion? What is Jesus’ attitude? Could He jump off the top of the temple? Could He walk through walls? Could He walk on water? He said you will do greater works than these. You belong to God and He cares for you. Jesus never performed to show how talented He was.

This command to get dressed with an attitude is based on the example of Christ. Christ did the will of God and suffered. What kind of attitude does that? We do not expect to suffer for doing good, but we may. 3:18 says, Jesus was willing to suffer to bring us to God. You are commanded to have the attitude of Jesus. Be willing to suffer to bring people to God, to help others find salvation, to obey God. An attitude willing to suffer… Americans don’t do that!@#

Peter is drawing a conclusion. Therefore if you believe what Peter has said up to this point then this command is reasonable. What Christ has done and is doing should affect your life.

What is an attitude? How do you put on an attitude?

The imperative verb that is translated “arm yourselves” is a military term for a heavily armed foot soldier. The grammar requires that you do this for yourself. This is not something God does for you. It is a decision and discipline on your part. This is the only place in the NT where this word is used. This is not just light armor as the armor in Ephesians 6, but this is the word for a complete military uniform with weapons. You cannot be better equipped for battle than this. You can get no better defensive protection and no better offensive weapons than you have with this set of armor. You are commanded to have the best offensive equipment to do God’s will and a defensive shield around you so Satan cannot harm you. That is the attitude of Christ. The attitude of Christ is the most advanced, up to date armor you can get. He could call 10,000 angels. You have the family of God. Those who are for us are greater than those against us.

If you arm yourself with this armor, the attitude of Christ, you will be done with sin. You will not have to be defeated by sin. You can be finished with sin. The phrase, “through with sin” suggests that suffering can purify a persons life. The phrase probably means that Christ suffered for sins and is through with sin. He has finished dealing with sin. He has overcome sin and put that matter behind him, and so should we. The desire of every Christian is to put sin behind them.

This last week at the memorial service, a tribute was read about Eugene Heath. He decided smoking was not good for him so he quit. He decided that drinking was not good for him and he quit. He did not use a patch or some plan. He just quit. He put some bad habits behind him. That is not easy without Christ. You can arm yourself with the armies of God.

Jesus did not have any bad habits, but He was misunderstood by His friends. He was falsely accused. He suffered. Suffering does not produce the attitude of Christ. Suffering itself is not good. There is no merit in suffering, but there is merit in being willing to suffer for doing good. We do not arm ourselves with suffering, but with the attitude of Christ. We do not have to go out and find ways to suffer for Jesus. We do not have to seek martyrdom to be done with sin. Suffering is not the purpose of this command. But an attitude willing to suffer is required. An attitude of complete trust in God is required. A resolve to be done with sin is required. Just quit. Just do it.

We are willing to suffer for doing good only when we believe God is in control. We will repeat this thought in verse 19. Christians who suffer for doing good have complete trust in God. They believe that God can work all things together for good with those who love God. The attitude of Christ involves a lifestyle of continual entrusting oneself to God. Your trust in God is shown by doing good even when it is not convenient or expected. Love one another as I have loved you.

To have the attitude of Jesus means that I will no longer have a desire to sin. Some people will not understand and they will think that I am strange and they will criticize. 4:3-6 tell us about these people.

Christ came to deal with the sin problem once and for all. He died to break the power of sin. The power of sin stopped with Jesus. By faith in Him we too can be finished with sin. Christ wants us to be finished with sin. Do we want to please Him? This attitude that has power over sin and does not sin can also face suffering unjustly and still not sin. Temptation loses its appeal and power in the attitude of Christ. The things of this earth grow strangely dim in God’s presence. The attitude of Christ becomes ours as we habitually come to Him. (2:4)

It’s the power of love. It’s the power of relationship. It’s the power of friendship.

When we know someone well, we know what pleases them. We know what choices they will probably make. We can see the consequences of what they are doing. So it is with getting to know Jesus.

The word for sin means missing the goal that is conformable to the will of God. Romans 3:23 says all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. There are 7 different Greek words translated ‘sin’ in the KJV. This word was used of a soldier who threw a spear at a target and missed. The picture we have is a fully armed soldier that is skilled at using his armor. He no longer misses the mark when he throws a spear. He desires to do the will of God and is equipped to do the will of God. He has practiced doing the will of God and now habitually does the will of God. He has the attitude of Jesus, the perfect armor, the perfect training. The invisible force shield around him that makes Satan’s darts bounce back is love. He has an armor that repels temptation.

I’m trying to tell you about a truth that I don’t understand. It’s like Jesus trying to teach His disciples a big truth in Luke 9:44. Jesus predicts His death. They thought it was a metaphor.

Luke 9:45-46 They did not understand and they started arguing among themselves who would be greatest. Arguments in a church are a sure sign that some big Truths of God have been forgotten, misunderstood, or neglected. This is a big truth we are considering. When there is fighting in the church, what does Jesus do?

Luke 9:47 He brings a child to teach us or remind us we need to become as a child. Unless we become as a little child, we cannot enter heaven. A child is a learner. A disciple is also defined as a learner. A child assumes all truth is for him. A child deserves nothing and expects everything. A child would not say, “I wish Frank had heard that sermon.” A child wouldn’t read the Scripture and think it was talking to someone else. The child accepts that truth with no desire to find a deeper meaning. A child believes his father.

Putting on the attitude of Christ is necessary for all Christians, but I seem to fall so far short. Why do I get a bad attitude? Is my attitude unChristlike because I have tried to avoid problems rather than letting God’s testing refine me? Is my attitude unChristlike because I refuse to admit that I have a problem?

What does this attitude of Christ look like in my life? Putting on the attitude of Christ will mark the beginning of the rest of our life. Our past life is contrasted to the rest of our life when we have the attitude of Jesus.

God’s will is the same for everyone. He wants all to live holy lives. This is only possible as you arm yourself with the attitude of Christ.

Again, what is the attitude of Christ? It obviously involves many things. But one thing is a willingness to suffer for doing good. It is totally entrusting myself to God. It is a total determination to overcome evil with good. In a way the attitude of Christ is what the whole Bible is trying to describe for us. It is perfect love for God and our neighbor. This is a big truth. The only weapon that Jesus used to destroy sin was an overwhelming love for the Father and us. The focus is on living our life in obedience to God.

I am always challenged by the phrases in the NT which include the words “just as”. Some of these are said by Jesus. He wants us to follow His example and have His attitude. Jesus said just as the Father sent me, so send I you. How was Jesus sent by the Father? (in weakness) Why was Jesus sent by the Father? (to be done with sin) What resources did Jesus have when He was sent? (love) How did Jesus know when He was finished with His assignment? (God took Him) As the Father hath sent me, so send I you.

In His model prayer Jesus prayed that God would forgive our debts just as we forgive our debtors. When Peter asked how many times we have to forgive repeat offenders (Matt 18:21), Jesus replied, don’t keep a ledger, just keep forgiving because that is what God’s love does. 1 Corinthians 13:5 tells us that love keeps no record of wrongs. If you are a Christian, you have God’s love in your heart and you just keep on forgiving. If you have the attitude of Jesus, you will forgive and forget all wrongs done to you.

In Galatians 2:20 Paul says, “I am crucified with Christ; I live and yet it is not I, but Christ lives in me…” Jesus said He and the Father were one and He said that was a pattern for our lives. (John 17:21)

How does your mercy, love, forgiveness, servantness, daily walk, etc. compare to Jesus. Is it “just as” He did? Jesus set us an example to follow in His steps.

It is impossible for us to be like Jesus in our own strength, but it is possible for Jesus to live in us. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. On our own we cannot please God, but with the attitude of Christ we do all to the glory of God. When men see your good works they will praise God.

In I Thessalonians 5, Paul gives us a list of impossible commands to be Christlike. Then he concluded the chapter by promising us the “the one who calls us is faithful to strengthen us and He will do these things through us.” As Peter concludes this letter, in 1 Peter 5:10 Peter also promises us God’s strength.

READ 4:1-9 Verses 3-6 talk about your critics or your past sins.

4:7. Here is the reason that Peter was so intense about us putting our armor on. The end is at hand. The end has come near with Jesus. Prepare to meet your God. Jesus can come again any time now. Nothing else has to happen. You will be judged by your attitude, not your status, possessions, goals, or rightness on the issues.

It is the nearness of the end and the urgency of the impending crisis that supremely demand unity and cohesion among the people of God. Arming ourselves with the attitude of Christ will protect us against Satan’s forces and against those who do evil. The problems in our world also require a continual relationship with God and other Christians.

4:7 suggests that our relationship with God is improved when we pray and our prayers are improved by thinking clearly and being free from intoxicants. Having an altered state of consciousness does not improve our prayers or our relationship with God. Speaking in ecstatic utterances does not improve my prayer.

4:8-11 These verses are the “one another” section in Peter. Mutuality is the emphasis. Mutual responsibility governs the commands to love, forgive, practice hospitality, speak, and serve.

Above all remain constant in your love for one another for love covers many sins. The context here suggests that Peter is talking about some social sins. James says the one who knows to do good and does not do it is sinning the sin of not doing. So how does love cover sin?

Stop and think. When your son throws a rock through the neighbor’s window and a strange boy throws a rock through the neighbor’s window, how will the stories vary? When someone you love is caught drinking and driving how will you handle that as compared to hearing that someone you do not like very well was caught? When a pastor you like is voted out of a church, how do you react?

Do you see how love covers? It does not reveal. It does not announce. It does not exaggerate and elaborate on the story. Love covers a multitude of sins. Love can say, “the sin stops here.” Love makes sin disappear. Love chooses to say nothing but good. What you choose to say, the words you choose and the sequence in which you say them is a reflection of your heart.

If I get offended by something you say or do, I get a bad attitude and my armor comes off. It is an indication of my lack of love for God and you as His creation. When you sense my coldness toward you, you may begin to think back and remember what you said and you may need to ask forgiveness. But love covers all that. If we love one another, that sin never occurs. I am not offended because I love you. I think sometime I have failed to get offended because I was not smart enough to realize someone was trying to offend me.

In the church, God may have already forgiven someone for their sin, but a lack of love will keep that sin in view. An immature or selfish person remembers wrongs. Love keeps no record of wrongs. This love forgives and does not remember what it forgave. This love is not an emotional flash in the pan with a big show. This is an intense love that is stretched out and consistent (1:22). This word that modifies love is also used of a runner giving his best effort at the finish line. The end is near. Love with your very best effort. You are in the last stretch. Love one another intensely. Work at it. Give it your best.

Show hospitality to one another. Some will take advantage of you, but do not murmur or complain with grumbling too low to hear. Just keep doing good. The end is near.

This week I took a pickup load of groceries from the Nazarene church to a mission in Portland. They reluctantly helped me unload the pickup. They never said thanks. But I had not done for their thanks.

Do you have more armor to put on? Do you have some bad attitudes? Bad attitudes suggest chinks in your armor. They expose your Achilles heel. Chinks are the very spot where you will be hit with Satan’s arrows of temptation. Do you need to confess some bad attitudes so you can be well armed? Do you need to ask forgiveness or make restitution so Satan can be defeated in your life? 1 Peter 2:1 commanded us to take off the bad attitudes so we can now put on the attitude of Jesus.

To have the attitude of Christ means you keep entrusting yourself to God. You know God is in control. You know God made some funny people. You know God can work all things together for good. You know you are His child and He cares for you. You only need to keep trusting.

I find is so easy to think I can make myself more acceptable to God by doing something spiritual. External works of piety, Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, etc. make me feel like I am earning God’s acceptance. But He wants me to jump up in His lap. Just show up and shut up. Meditate on the majesty of His love. Let His love compel you to good works. Learn to trust Him more.

Parents (and God) live in hope for the day when their child will realize how much they have tried to demonstrate their love.

Noble Christian activities can distance us from God, just as noble workaholic fathers can distance themselves from their family. I can study God’s word and distance myself from God. Just show up and shut up. Let yourself be loved by God. Prayer is an act of love, just showing up. Two people who love each other are comfortable with silence.

The new commandment that Jesus gave was to love one another as He loved us. Arm yourself with the attitude of Christ. Draw close to Him and He will draw close to you. God really loves you.

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