In November of 1990, Japan’s Emperor Akihito, in the role of a Shinto chief priest, performed a controversial religious rite, sparking protests across the country. Dignitaries waited in darkness as the Emperor, hidden from view, offered sacred rice to ancestral gods in an all-night communion ritual thought by some to render him immortal. The government funded ceremony caused many to decry the violation of the separation of church and state. The ceremony was held in the emperor’s Tokyo palace while being guarded by 30,000 police officers. Perhaps their greatest fear was that he may begin to live and rule as if he expected to outlive everyone else. He must have believed in the ceremony, otherwise why would he have spent so much time, effort, money and energy in it.
One may wonder, if Christians had this much faith in their own doctrines, how much could they accomplish? With all the education and training, as much God as we know and are exposed to, if we can’t make a difference, are we wasting God’s time? We displease God by putting our career, money, or people before him. We must live in this life believing that Jesus has died for our sins and that he rose from the dead on the third day. We should make a difference in this world because of Christ. Therefore, we need to be armed with the intent that we will endure.
1 Peter 4:1
Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same understanding — because the one who suffers in the flesh is finished with sin —
To arm oneself is a military metaphor. It means to prepare yourself for the battle. We prepare in three ways:
- Mentally – Understand that a battle awaits and that it must be endured until the end. Do not think that this will be a skirmish that will be over in a few days. Be mentally prepared to take hits, to suffer, to struggle and to endure. Half of the battle is won in understanding that there will be a battle. Do not be surprised by resistance. Be mentally aware and focused.Know your enemy and the tricks of the enemy. The devil is crafty and deceitful. He is strong and has great endurance. Be mentally prepared to deal with him.
- Physically, or in the case of Spiritual battle, Spiritually – Be strong to endure the war. With little or no endurance, even the most sincere and faithful soldier will not last. You must be in shape to wage war. This means that you must exercise the muscles used in the war before the first volley is thrown. Spiritually, this means that you need to pray, study the Word, worship, fellowship, and witness to build your strength. It is too late if you wait for the battle, you must prepare now.
- Weaponry – Only a fool would want to enter a battle in which they did not have sufficient weaponry to win the war. The weaponry of this war, that Peter mentions is your understanding. Arm yourself with the right understanding. This is the proper approach to life, the proper frame of mind.Peter highlights endurance and perseverance through trials. This is not a “Woe is me” approach to life, but the opposite. Endurance means that you joyfully follow Christ through all difficulties, knowing that he will sustain you now and deliver you one day.
We also need to understand the will of God. You need to know the will of God.
When I was in college it was the most widely attended conference at any of the student conventions I went to. Everyone wanted to know God’s will and we would have preferred to meet with someone one on one who would write it all out for us very clearly. Many of you have the same questions. What is God’s will for my life? Well I have discovered the answer to that question for you.
God’s will is for you to love Him with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind. His will is for you to love your neighbor as you love yourself. His will is for you to worship Him. His will is for you to spend time with Him. His will is for you to follow His commands set forth clearly in His word. If you will do that, then He will let you know about anything else you may be wondering about. You see, many of us do not follow the will of God we already know, so we have no need to discover the rest of it.
His will is for you to live this life as if you really do believe that Jesus died for your sins and that He rose from the dead on the third day. That is God’s will and purpose for you life. In doing so, you will endure through it all.