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God’s Word for You

1 Peter 4:3-5 Enough of that

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, May 9, 2022

3 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.  4 They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.  5 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. (NIV)

“You have spent enough time… doing what pagans do.” Peter is gentle with these words. Instead of “enough time,” most anyone else, including you and I, would probably have said “too much time” or something like that. Arketos (ἀρκετὸς) is a word Jesus liked to use for something that was full: “Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34), and “It is enough for the student to be like his teacher” (Matthew 10:25). Using a mild word like this makes a stronger point. “Enough time” is of course more than enough; any time at all spent as a sinner is too much.

The six public pagan sins could hardly be worse. Each of them is connected to the words “living in” as a way of life: Living in debauchery, living in lust, living in drunkenness, living in orgies, living in carousing, living in detestable idolatry. These sins are sinful ways of life, all connected to the Fifth and Sixth Commandments; even the last one mentioned. “Detestable idolatry” in many cities in Asia Minor (remember who Peter is writing to) meant visiting a pagan temple in order to have sex with one of the temple prostitutes, whether male or female. Surely we don’t need to do a detailed study of everything these sins involved; too much knowledge here would be an invitation to a weak faith to try out new sins, sins that otherwise might never have entered one’s mind. Peter’s point: Enough of these sins. You belong to Christ now.

Of course your friends who do not know Christ think it’s strange that you don’t join them. “Flood of dissipation” is an “overflowing river of filth” in the EHV. These are sinful excesses without anyone at all pulling back on the reins, as if the conscience has been killed dead.

Tuck away Peter’s warning, “they heap abuse on you,” into the back of your mind. The devil and his children want you to sin the way he does, with the pedal to the floor, the windows rolled down, the headlights turned off, and hooting and cheering as he goes full bore into the darkness. Of course he wants you to join in. And if he coaxes you with gentle words, he’s lying, because he is nothing but a liar and a murderer. He might hint, “Just try it for a second, just do it once,” or any other sweet-sounding invitation, but don’t ever forget that he’s never your friend. He’s not going to let you get away once he’s set the barb of that fish hook in your cheek. He will “heap abuse on you” right away, tossing aside his “liar” cap and putting on his “accuser” hat. Every sweet word he whispered before will become angry “How could you?!” shouts soon enough.

“But,” Peter says in verse 5, “But they” (and “they” includes the devil along with the pagans and every other sinner who rejects Christ), “they will have to give an account.” And with this, the devil’s motive for all his temptations and abuses are dragged out of the dark and laid out in the light for everyone to see. Misery loves company, and the spiteful never have enough of spite. The devil just wants to ruin as much of God’s holy creation that he can, because he is already judged and damned. He can’t get out of it, and so he wants you to stand there with him. But there’s nothing good in his sinful desire. He’s never stopped sinning. He’s only gotten better and better at making us fall into sin with him.

The Judge that the devil will fall down in front of is our Savior Jesus. We have nothing to fear from him because we believe in him and in the salvation he offers. Trust in Jesus, and don’t give yourself over to sins, whether huge public sins or tiny private ones. Put your faith in Jesus, and he will help you carry through with your life no matter what troubles and hatred the devil spits your way.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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