“Live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” (1 Peter 4:2-5 ESV)
Christians are called out from the unbelieving world to a new way of life. The grace of God has freed us from slavery to sinful desires and enabled us to follow Christ. We may have a past when we once lived as unbelievers lived. But now we are told to live for the will of God.
To live for God in the midst of a sin-loving world takes a steely resolve. Peter tells us that we should expect a negative response when we choose not to participate in the sinful things the world wants to do. This response is twofold.
First, unbelievers are surprised by our non-participation: “With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery.” Unbelievers think it strange when Christians do not participate in what they think are normal social activities. They may ask, “Why don’t you want to have a good time?” This surprise is even more apparent when people who once participated in certain sinful activities no longer do so because they came to Christ. But this is no surprise to us. We live distinctively now as sojourners and exiles who no longer fit into certain parts of the world’s social fabric. And the world will take note.
Secondly, unbelievers scorn our non-participation: “They malign you.” This is where the steady resolve to live for Christ really comes into play because you will be mocked for not joining in the world’s sin. You are now an outsider in some respects. You may be criticized or ostracized. You may even face some soft discrimination in the workplace or elsewhere because you refuse to join in with certain activities or social gatherings.
As Christians we now march to the beat of a different drummer. It is a beat the world does not recognize. When we no longer march lockstep to the beat of their debauchery, the world will ridicule us as odd, prudish, old-fashioned, puritanical, no-fun, holier-than-thou bible-thumpers.
Despite this, let us remain firm in our resolve to live for God. It matters not to us that the world judges us with surprise and scorn. What really matters is the judgment of God. The world will give account to Him when He judges the living and the dead. And on that Day our steely resolve to live for Him will be vindicated.