He who suffers in the flesh has ceased from sin. (1 Peter 4:1)
It often happens in the Christian life, that people want the easy way out when dealing with their sin. We want to be instantly delivered from our cravings and appetites, or as Paul the apostle called them, “the passions of our flesh” (Eph. 2:3; Gal. 5:24). However, there is no easy solution to overcome sin in our lives. We will have to suffer. Even Jesus, though he never sinned, was not exempt from this truth. The Bible tells us that Jesus learned obedience through what he suffered (Hebrews 5:8). There are no shortcuts here to overcoming passions; we will have to pick up our cross and follow Jesus.
I love the redemptive power of the cross; Jesus became a propitiation for our sins and set us free indeed. Yet the cross is not propitiation only; it is also an example. Jesus conformed his human will to God’s will by choosing to suffer. This is evident in Gethsemane when he sweat drops of blood as he yielded his human will to the task at hand, “let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Mt. 26:39). Amazingly believers are called to arm ourselves with the same way of thinking as Christ.
Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin. (1 Pet. 4:1)
We must be ready and equipped for suffering by realizing that this aspect of the Christian walk is inevitable. Although it doesn’t sound pleasant, it is necessary for us to suffer to overcome sin in our lives and to reach the world with the gospel.
If we have a specific area of sin that we are struggling with, we must ask ourselves if we are truly willing to suffer the pain of denying our flesh in order to be free. It is in the moment of temptation that it is the most difficult to say no. There is no magic wand or easy solution to walking in freedom from sin. It only comes through the cross, which is the saving blood of Christ and the sanctifying power of putting our flesh to the death (Rom. 8:13). Suffering, though, is not the end. Remember, “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Ps. 30:5).