“But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”(I Peter 4:15-18).
Peter says that there are four attitudes believers must have when experiencing trials. First, Christians should not be surprised when trials come into their lives (I Peter 4:12). Second, we are to rejoice in our trials (I Peter 4:13). Thirdly, Christians are to evaluate their trials (I Peter 4:15-18).
If judgement and a proper evaluation of the church’s sins is necessary, how much more so for the unbeliever? The Apostle Peter now adds that God providentially brings persecutions in order to discipline and to purify the church. If the church needs such purifying judgment, how much more for those who are disobedient to the gospel and face eternal judgment.
Peter quotes from Proverbs 11:31 to support his contention. Trials are never easy. However, the believer in Christ evaluates his trials to examine whether they are because of his sin, realizing that God’s judgment of the Christian is temporary while they remain on this earth, while God’s judgment of the unsaved is eternal.
The Puritan pastor and theologian Matthew Henry writes, “What shall the end be of those who obey not the gospel of God?” First, the best of God’s servants, his own household, have so much amiss in them as renders it fit and necessary that God should sometimes correct and punish them with his judgments: Judgment begins at the house of God. Secondly, those who are the family of God have their worst things in this life. Their worst condition is tolerable, and will soon be over. Thirdly, such persons or societies of men as disobey the gospel of God are not of his church and household, though possibly they may make the loudest pretensions. The apostle distinguishes the disobedient from the house of God. Fourthly, the sufferings of good people in this life are demonstrations of the unspeakable torments that are coming upon the disobedient and unbelieving: What shall the end be of those that obey not the gospel? Who can express or say how dreadful their end will be?
Are you evaluating the reasons for your trials? Did you do something wrong? If so, repent and ask forgiveness and prepare to face the consequences. However, if you suffer unjustly when someone else has violated God’s law, you are not permitted to also violate God’s law as payback to those who have hurt you. On the contrary, we are to glorify God by obeying His commandments.
Make it a priority of your prayers that you will ask God to help you obey the commandments found in this text from I Peter. It may not be easy at first to not be taken by surprise or to rejoice, or to glorify God when trials eventually come, but continue to ask, seek and knock (Luke 11:5-13) for God’s strength to be faithful to His Word. Do so boldly and shamelessly. God will answer your persistent prayer.
Soli deo Gloria!