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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Respite


“He who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin” (1 Peter 4:1)

I think of the weariness of those who have struggled with sin their entire lives, rising only to fall again. Is there no respite?

Peter assures us that those who have “suffered in the flesh” have “ceased from sin” (1 Peter 4:1). Here, it seems to me, Peter is using the phrase “suffered in the flesh” to mean, physical death (as he does in 3:18). Accordingly, he is declaring that it is death that puts a final end to our struggle against the world, the flesh and the devil. Then, our Father will deliver us from sin and its pollution.

To battle sin within and without, with no hope of deliverance, is demoralizing, but a day is coming when we will be “finished” with sin. (Peter’s verb tense suggests a completed action). We will be taken beyond sin’s seduction, gathered in and wholly sanctified. We shall see Jesus and be like him!

That prospect of certain, final victory encourages us to live, as Peter puts it, “the rest of the time in the flesh not for human passions, but for the will of God” (1 Peter 4:2). In other words, we can be strong and battle bravely against our sins, for, though we may lose an occasional skirmish, final victory is assured. The good work that our Lord has begun will be completed. Sin will be finished with us and we will be finished with sin.

English poet, George Herbert, has written a poem entitled “The Pilgrimage,” in which he describes his struggle with sin as a series of grueling ascents, assaulting and overcoming one mountain peak only to face another. “Can both the way and the end be tears?” he asks. Then he sees a final hill—one steep gradient and then eternal relief and consolation. “After so foul a journey,” he sighs, “death is fair, and but a chair.”

So, press on. “There is a rest for weary pilgrims, a calm for those who weep” (Herbert).


DHR 

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