The Gospel Observer
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to
observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to
the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
February 27, 2011
1) 1 Peter 4:3 (Tom Edwards)
2) A Few Good Men (Steve Klein)
3) News & News
1 Peter 4:3
by Tom Edwards
After citing the Lord, who "suffered in the flesh" (literally died), to
encourage the Christian to cease from sin (figuratively die to sin),
but live to God, Peter then says in 1 Peter 4:3, "For the time already
past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the
Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness,
carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries."
Peter is certainly not indicating by this that there ever was a time in
which it was all right for people to "sow their wild oats" by engaging
in these sinful activities. For that would never be
right. But, rather, he is speaking ironically. For since
all accountable people have sinned and come short of the glory of God,
we should learn from our past transgressions that that is not the way
to live. In other words, we had time for all that in the past --
and it proved to be fruitless, a waste of time, an abuse of life
itself, and a path that was leading to an eternal separation from the
We can liken this to Romans 6:21, in which Paul is writing to the
Gentiles and referring back to when they were "slaves to sin." He
states, "Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things
of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is
death." So, in other words, they had been through all that then
-- and what did it accomplish? Only shame and death!
Though we normally think of the term "Gentile" in referring to anyone
who would be a non-Jew, Peter is using the phrase, "the desire of the
Gentiles," to describe the one who would give himself over to the
sinful ways of the world, rather than to the way of Christ. For
Peter is writing this epistle to primarily Gentiles, but they were now
Christians who were striving to live a righteous life with new, godly
desires. But this phrase would, no doubt, evoke their remembrance
of those former days and the culture they had been brought up in, prior
to their conversion, when they had given themselves over to the immoral
and corrupt ways of the world.
Notice how Paul describes that time prior to the Ephesians' conversion:
"And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly
walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince
of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons
of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the
lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind,
and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest" (Eph.
In Romans 1:21-32, Paul becomes even more graphic in describing those
who drifted farther and farther from God, where they are depicted as
giving themselves over to idolatry and various lusts and corruptions,
which include lesbianism, homosexuality, greed, envy, murder, strife,
deceit, malice, gossip, slander, insolence, arrogance, bragging,
disobedience to parents, untrustworthiness, being unloving, being
unmerciful, and giving hearty approval to those who practice such
The Greek word for "sensuality" (aselgeia) in 1 Peter 4:3 is defined as
"licentiousness, filthy, lasciviousness, wantonness" (Strong). It
is listed among the deeds of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21 that will
keep one out of the kingdom of God. Thayer defines it as
"unbridled lust, excess, licentiousness, lasciviousness, wantonness,
outrageousness, shamelessness, insolence." It is also rendered
(in 1 Peter 4:3) in some other Bible translations as: "unrestrained
behavior," "habitual licence," "lasciviousness," "riotousness,"
"licentiousness," "debauchery," and "lewdness."
The Greek word for "lusts" (epithumia) in 1 Peter 4:3 is defined as
"desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust"
(Thayer). One source said that this term "is used exclusively of
sinful desire"; but that is not always the case. Though this term
is used in the Scriptures to more often refer to the wrong kind of
desires, here are a few examples where it is not used that way:
In Luke 22:15, Jesus states, "I have EARNESTLY (epithumia)
DESIRED (epithumeo) to eat this Passover with you before I
suffer." In Philippians 1:23, Paul had a "DESIRE to depart and be
with Christ, for that is very much better." And in writing to the
Thessalonians, Paul speaks of how he and some others were "all the more
eager with great DESIRE to see your face" (1 Thess. 2:17).
In differentiating "lusts" (epithumia) from "sensuality" (aselgeia),
Guy N. Woods shows that whereas "sensuality" refers to "outward actions
and overt deeds," "lusts are inwardly entertained."
Peter had warned the brethren about this kind of lust earlier, that
they would abstain from it -- for it will "wage war against the soul"
(1 Pet. 2:11) and can become a cruel "master": "Therefore do not let
sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts" (Rom.
6:12). "For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient,
deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in
malice and envy, hateful, hating one another" (Titus 3:3). "Know
this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their
mocking, following after their own lusts" (2 Pet. 3:3). These
mockers would probably feel like they were heading exactly where they
wanted to go; but would it not be that it was their own lust that was
not only leading them there, but also deceiving them in the process?
Another sin, Peter points out is "drunkenness" (oinophlugia) in 1 Peter
4:3. This Greek word is actually a compound word. It comes
from the Greek words "oinos" (for wine) and "phluo" (which means "to
bubble up, to overflow").
The harmfulness, foolishness, and sinfulness of drunkenness is clearly
seen in the Bible. See, for instance, Proverbs 23:29-35.
Solomon shows (in v. 21) that the remedy for this is to never begin:
"Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the
cup...." If you never get even that far, you can then go no
further with it. (See also Prov. 20:1 and Isa. 5:11,12.)
According to 1 Corinthians 6:10, no drunkard will inherit the kingdom
of God. And such had been the case of some of the Corinthians,
prior to their conversion; but now they had changed. They
had been "washed," "sanctified," and "justified in the name of the Lord
Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God" (v. 11).
Drunkenness is one of the ruins of America. According to the U.S.
Department of Transportation and the New Hampshire Department of
Safety, more than a quarter of a million people in the United
States have died in the last ten years due to alcohol related
accidents. That's about 500 people each week, 71 people each day,
about 3 people each hour or 1 person every 20 minutes. In that
same period of time, more than 7 million people were injured in those
10 years, 708,000 in one year, almost 2,000 each day, and about 80
people each minute -- so at least 1 person each second. 50%
of all fatal highway crashes involving two or more cars are alcohol
related. 65% of all fatal highway crashes involving just one car
are alcohol related. According to a study by Allstate Insurance,
alcohol-impaired drivers are costing American taxpayers about $21 to
$24 billion per year. Of course, there are other ways, too, in
which people under the influence of alcohol can cost others -- even
when not in a vehicle. National Geographic, for instance, has put
the cost to American society, due to alcohol abuse, at $136 billion
annually, and 65,000 lives. Also, 40% of all suicide attempts,
54% of all violent crimes, 60% of all emergency room admissions, and
80% of all domestic disputes are said to be alcohol
related. So, clearly, drunkenness or alcoholism is a major
problem in our nation.
Next week, we will consider a couple other terms in 1 Peter 4:3 that
pertain to the drinking of alcohol -- and one, in particular, that does
not even necessitate the point of intoxication in order to be wrong.
In today's lesson, we have considered three things that the
Christian is to put off: sensuality, lusts, and drunkenness. Not
only do we please the Lord by abstaining from these things, but in
doing so, it also enables us to live a better life -- free from these
snares of sin.
A Few Good Men
by Steve Klein
The United States Marines are always looking for "a few good
men." That recruiting slogan actually dates all the way back to
1779 when it was used by Marine Captain William Jones who was seeking a
crew to man a 28 gun marine frigate, the Providence. The word
"few" implied that not everyone could be a Marine. To this day,
the reality is that relatively few men have the physical and mental
toughness to become Marines. And fewer still possess the "always
faithful" spirit of dedication to serve what can be long tours of duty
away from home in hostile environments.
The Lord is also looking for a few good men with the extraordinary
spiritual toughness and the dedication of heart needed to serve
Him. The duty Paul gives to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:3 is the duty
of every Christian: "You therefore must endure hardship as a good
soldier of Jesus Christ."
The hardships that we face as Christians are also described in the
Bible as the "fiery darts of the wicked one" (Ephesians 6:16).
Christians are constantly under fire from Satan. He tempts us and
tries us, inflicts us with illness and afflicts us with pain. As
he did with Job in the Old Testament, Satan may also shoot at us by
taking our family, our possessions and our health; he may even succeed
at getting close friends and loved ones to betray us!
Serving in the Lord's army requires faithfully fighting this
warfare. By His grace, the Lord provides us with the strength to
meet our challenges and the necessary armor to protect us from Satan's
onslaught (Ephesians 6:11-18). But He has also provided us with
something else -- each other!
Twice in the New Testament Paul refers to brethren in the Lord as
"fellow soldiers" (Philippians 2:25; Philemon 2). As we battle
Satan, it is crucial that we are not only always faithful to our cause,
but also faithful to one another. We are in this war together. We
are to "stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for
the faith of the gospel" (Philippians 1:27).
Faithfulness to the Lord, to His cause and to one another will lead us
to victory! The Lord guarantees it. "Do not fear any of
those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about
to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will
have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you
the crown of life" (Revelation 2:10).
The words penned long ago by Isaac Watts seem to catch well the spirit
of someone who would be one of the few good men:
Am I a soldier of the cross, a follower
of the Lamb, and shall I fear to own his cause, or blush to speak his
Must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease, while others
fought to win the prize, and sailed through bloody seas?
Are there no foes for me to face? Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace, to help me on to God?
Sure I must fight, if I would reign; increase my courage, Lord.
I'll bear the toil, endure the pain, supported by thy word.
-- Via The Bulletin of the Church of Christ at New Georgia, November
News & Notes
The neck surgery for Pam MacDonald
last Wednesday went well, and also the knee surgery for Cheryl Anderson on the following
day. Let those of us who are Christians be praying that these
ladies will soon be completely healed.
Let us also be praying for Virginia
Fontenot who has come down with a serious case of the flu, which
is causing even her breathing to be difficult. Her daughter (Linda Blevins) took her to the
walk-in clinic, where they put her on tamiflu and told her to take it
easy for a while. They were also told that even those who had
already had their flu shot for this year have been showing up at the
clinic with the flu.
The gospel meeting in Athens,
Alabama, went well. It was good to
see the brethren there again, since it had been at least the seventh
time I had been a guest speaker for them, but about 12 years since the
previous time. It was also good to meet Jeff May, their preacher, along with
the others who had been new to me -- and some of the previously young
ones who also seemed new because they were now so grown up, and some of
them married. The singing from service to service was truly
there really sing out and know well and blend well the bass, tenor,
alto, and soprano parts. They love doing that, and also have
monthly singings in which Christians from numerous other congregations
come and participate, which has been so well attended that the Oakland
congregation had to expand their parking lot to accommodate
everyone. I also appreciate their hospitality, as I was in
different people's homes (Eugene and
Janice Persell, Lynn and Vickie Persell, Mark and Beth Ham, Wayne and
Caleb and Bethany White, Jeff and Kay Peek, Huston and Shirley Ball,
and Alice Miller) from day to day for dinner and to spend some
time together. One of the families (Jeff and Kay Peek) even gave me
their fairly new, resort home, along the Tennessee River, to have for
my own during the week I was there, from which I had a good view of the
river and found to be a great area for my morning walks, where little
traffic was -- maybe just about a dozen cars, a couple golf carts, and
a bicyclist or two were the only ones that passed me during the several
times I walked and jogged through that peaceful community. The
brethren at Oakland were very encouraging to me, and I appreciate that
also. In addition, it was good to see Chuck Bartlett again, who was in
Athens to preach elsewhere a Friday-through-Sunday meeting, which began
the last night of the one we had at the Oakland church of Christ.
So Chuck and I got together
that Saturday morning, before I headed back for Louisiana. The
last time we had actually seen each other face to face was probably
around 1982. For the last few years, Chuck has been preaching in
Newburgh, Indiana (near Evansville), where he continues to do a great
work for the Lord.
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel,
for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the
deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins
(Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ
(Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water
for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4;
Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith;
CHURCH OF CHRIST
9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA 70817
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
http://home.onemain.com/~tedwards/go (Gospel Observer website)
http://home.onemain.com/~tedwards/audioser.html (audio sermons)