Posted by: missionventureministries | July 4, 2019

WHAT IS THE OUTCOME OF THOSE WHO DO NOT OBEY GOD? – 1 Peter 4:17-18

It is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (1 Peter 4:17-18) 

As we get familiar with God’s word, we see that judgment is a recurring theme throughout the Bible. God’s plan includes a final judgment on the wicked and all who reject the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as payment for their sins (Hebrews 10:26–27). As we read 1 Peter 4:17 we see that God’s judgment begins at the household of God and that Christians face God’s judgment, too: “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?”

As we look at this verse, Peter is urging the church—the house of God—which was facing persecution, to persevere. The believers were also struggling to separate from the former worldly sins that had once enslaved them:  Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you” (verses 1–4). Peter reminds them that the wicked will face God’s judgment and that they will have to give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead (verse 5) but that believers in Christ must hold themselves to a higher standard than they once did. The “fiery trials” that they were facing were to help refine them like gold (verse 12).

God allows difficulties and suffering in the lives of His people to purify them. When we are persecuted for the cause of Christ, we share in His sufferings as Peter writes in verses 13–14: But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. And when we share His suffering, is because we want to know Him better (Philippians 3:10). Paul also repeats this same theme in Romans 8:17: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.” Part of God’s judgment upon sin is physical suffering. When His children experience such suffering, it is not to harm us, but to make us more like Christ. “Judgment” for the children of God can be considered discipline (Hebrews 12:4–11), and is designed to purge the sin from our life and teach us obedience.

A loving father does not discipline other kids, because they are not his. A father disciplines his own children. Likewise, the discipline of our heavenly Father begins at His own household, with His own children, the church. He is reserving for the wicked an ultimate, final judgment that His children will never experience (Romans 8:1). Scripture makes a distinction between God’s purifying discipline of the church and His ultimate condemnation of the wicked: “Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:32).

In this present age, God allows painful circumstances in the lives of His own household, not to condemn but to mature, convict, and bring repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10). Through suffering we learn patience (James 1:2–4). This kind of judgment is to encourage us to abandon selfishness and draw nearer to Him (James 4:8). The ultimate, final judgment for unbelievers will be eternal separation from God, from life, and from all that is good and pure (Matthew 8:11–12; Revelation 21:8).

The judgment that begins at the household of God also includes church discipline. Church discipline is not for unbelievers but for believers: “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?” (1 Corinthians 5:12). Believers are commanded to take responsibility for other followers of Christ who may be wavering and headed toward sin (James 5:20). And many pastors and church leaders need to also be disciplined.

First Corinthians 5:11–13 commands us to avoid fellowship with anyone claiming to be a brother or sister in Christ but who insists on maintaining a sinful lifestyle. Jesus lays out the process for church discipline in Matthew 18:15–17. Someone who has been confronted multiple times and warned that the choices he is making are in opposition to God needs to repent. If he refuses to listen to the church, we are to turn away from him in the hope that this drastic action will bring about repentance. As believers, we are to pursue holiness and encourage each other to pursue it, too (1 Peter 1:15–16).

In verse 18, Peter seems to be quoting from Proverbs 11:31 – If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner! And reinforces the point that if the justified sinner is saved only with great difficulty, suffering, pain and loss what will be the end of the ungodly?

The shallow professing, so-called Christian thinks how much sin can I get by with and not be judged? While a true born again Christian longs to honor Jesus in everything that they say and do and they want Jesus to be the center of attention, every moment that they live.

As we see, God’s desire is that His people learn to walk in holiness and fellowship with Him (Romans 8:29). As any loving parent would do, God will bring unpleasant consequences upon His children for rebellion. He expects the ones He has redeemed by the blood of His Son to set the example for the rest of the world. If the church is not in pursuit of holiness, the world sees no need to change their life style; therefore, judgment begins in the household of God, with His own children, as He teaches us to live like Christ.

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