PHBC November 22, 1998
Series: First Peter, Ser. #63
THE VAST DIFFERENCE IN THE PAST AND PRESENT OF PILGRIMS
TEXT: 1 Peter 4:3-4 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: 4 Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you.
INTRO: There are at least two ways in which professing Christians look at the past in their life—I speak of the time before their salvation. I said use the term "professing Christians" because I am not at all sure of some of these folks profession.
I have seen professing Christians who seemed to glory in their wicked past. Some of them travel about the country visiting with churches giving their testimony which, for the most part, is a glamorized account of their life before they made a profession of faith. Gullible people think these accounts of a sordid past and a brief account of their "experience" is a ministry given them by God. Pastors and churches who build their churches on sensational and promotional methods rather than on the word of God, use these people because they know the crowds will come to hear the converted wrestler, movie star, professional athlete, or former felon tell of their sleazy past. In fact, and I am not being political, I will not be surprised if our president, once he is out of office, does not go about the country doing the same thing. He has even suggested that what he has done may turn out to be for the good of the country because people can learn from his mistakes and he can help them because of his experiences in the sleaze holes of sin.
The second way that professing Christians may look at their past is with sorrow and gratitude. Sorrow that we so lived and wasted our lives before salvation, especially those who were saved at a more advanced age. Gratitude for the grace of God that reached down into the pit and brought us out.
In our text, Peter speaks of both the past and the present of true Christians. It is good for us to remember our past if it is a cause of humbleness on our part.
I. THE PAST LIFE OF ANY OF CHRISTIAN IS NOT A PRETTY PICTURE AND IN SOME CASES IT IS A SORDID STORY
A. Remember that the kind of past that Peter and others describe is not an unique in the case of even God's elect. 1 Peter 4:3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles.
1. A proper understanding of human depravity is sufficient to explain the former walk of any child of God.
2. Even Jews, God's chosen people as a nation, was a walk in the will of the Gentiles.
B. Consider the past of many pilgrims as detailed by Peter.
1. We walked in lasciviousness. when we walked in lasciviousness or unbridled conduct, wantonness, petulance, and immodesty.
C. We walked in lust, or rather "lusts" as the text says.
1. The word means o turn upon a thing; to have a desire for, long for, to desire; to lust after, covet; of those who seek things forbidden; desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust.
2. Lust is one of the most common sins of men.
a. John, in warning us to not love this world, gives the reason. 1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
b. An example of lust. Numbers 11:4-6 And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? 5 We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick: 6 But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes. Numbers 11:34 And he called the name of that place Kibrothhattaavah: because there they buried the people that lusted.
c. Lust is a very grievous sin against God. Psalm 78:18 And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust.
d. Lust sometimes brings swift judgment upon the one lusting. Psalm 78:30-31 They were not estranged from their lust. But while their meat was yet in their mouths, 31 The wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel.
e. Jesus taught that lust is that actual commission of sin in the heart. Matthew 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
f. We are to avoid anything that amounts to making provision to fulfill the lusts of our fleshly nature. Romans 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
D. Many walked in excess of wine.
1. The expression here refers to drunkenness. Proverbs 23:29-30 Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? 30 They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.
2. Paul warns against this excessive use of wine. Ephesians 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.
E. Many walked in revellings.
1. Strong defines this word as follows. revel, carousal; a nocturnal and riotous procession of half drunken and frolicsome fellows who after supper parade through the streets with torches and music in honour of Bacchus or some other deity, and sing and play before houses of male and female friends; hence used generally of feasts and drinking parties that are protracted till late at night and indulge in revelry.
2. It is obvious that this goes along with the previous sin or excessive use of wine.
F. Many walk in banqueting.
1. This is the third member of a wild and riotous trio—excess of wine, revellings, and banqueting.
2. It may come as a surprise that this word does not have eating in mind as much as the drinking and drunkenness of the banquet. "a drinking, carousing"
3. The feast given by Belshazzar is a good example of what is intended in the mention of these three sins against God and society. Daniel 5:1-4 Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. 2 Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein. 3 Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. 4 They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.
G. The final characteristic of the way the Gentiles walk and the way most walk before salvation is described by Peter as "abominable idolatries."
1. The word translated "abominable" means that which is against the law, that which is lawless, and all lawlessness is an abomination in the sight of God.
2. It is interesting that Strong says, "In the plural," the word refers to "the vices springing from idolatry and peculiar to it."
3. In the context of that meaning, Peter apparently had more in mind than the simple, but exceedingly sinful practice of bowing down to images and other objects of worship.
4. It refers to all the debauchery that goes with idolatry, such debauchery that I will not even try to describe it but simple tell you that this kind of idolatry of which Peter speaks is the source and originating cause of most of the sexual perversions and sexual excesses of men and women.
H. Paul gives similar descriptions of the past life of many Christians.
1. To the Ephesians he wrote of what their lives were before regeneration. Ephesians 2:1-3 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
2. He wrote to the Corinthians, most of whom had come out of great idolatry, and described the past life of some of them. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
3. He wrote to Titus and described the past life of many Christians. Titus 3:3-5 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. 4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.
II. THE PRESENT LIFE OF THE TRUE CHRISTIAN PILGRIM IS VASTLY DIFFERENT FROM THE PAST
A. We have been changed in regeneration and conversion to walk in good works as opposed to what we did in our old state. Ephesians 2:1-10 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
B. We have been washed, sanctified and justified. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
C. God has wrought such a change in our lives that the world doesn't understand and even thinks it is very strange causing them to speak evil of us. 1 Peter 4:4 Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you.
D. Paul describes this change in his epistle to the Romans. Romans 6:17-19 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. 19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
E. Paul also reminded the Ephesians of this marvelous change. Ephesians 5:8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.
CONC: I am thinking of that Hymn called "Since Jesus Came Into My Heart." The first line goes, "What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought, since Jesus came into my heart." It is true that a wonderful change was wrought by the regenerating, converting power of the God. It is hymn #35 in our hymnals and I have asked that we sing it as a closing hymn this morning.
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