The apostle Peter said in 1 Peter 4:1 – 2, “Since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.”
These words show how the apostle Peter changed from a man who avoided suffering to one who valued it. In the beginning he did not value the idea of suffering. When Jesus told his disciples that he was going to suffer and die, Peter rebuked Jesus and said there was no need for that (see Matthew 16:21 – 23). Jesus promptly replied, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Jesus taught a profound lesson on the value of suffering: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:24 – 25). Jesus calls his followers to embrace suffering.
And Peter learned this lesson. The same Peter who thought suffering and death should not be included in the plan later said, “Since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin” (1 Peter 4:1, emphasis added).
Peter came to see suffering as armor! He came to see suffering as protection against sin. He came to see that if we go through the suffering we need to go through, then we are “done with sin” (or at least the sin that had to do with that particular growth step).
Sometimes growth means that we have to take some hard, painful steps. But in submitting to that kind of suffering, we reap the benefit in the end. Working out a difficult relationship, for example, is not easy. We might have to suffer the hard steps of opening up, facing conflict, etc. Overcoming an addiction usually requires facing the pain that is driving the behavior. But if we face these kinds of suffering, we move past the issues and are on to a better life. We can get done with whatever is holding us back. Just as an athlete embraces “no pain, no gain,” those who want to grow personally have to sometimes go through some hard steps to get there. But it is worth it.
For more insightful biblical commentary from Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, read the NIV Life Journey Bible, which combines the world’s most accessible Bible translation with exclusive boundaries teaching!