1Pe 4:3-6 “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: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.”
Peter continues his instruction to the strangers by pointing out to them that there was a time when they were content to live just like everyone around them. Even during this time of behaving like the Gentiles, they were still strangers. This was inherent and not simply a matter of their behavior. Throughout his instruction up to this point, Peter has repeatedly pointed out that coming to terms with being resident foreigners and seeking Christ is going to cause those around you who are not seeking Him to speak evil of you.
Here he tells us they are not going to understand this change in behavior. Neither are they going to love you for it. They are going to accuse you of thinking you are better than they are. You may be accused of a “holier than thou” attitude. The truth is, we know that it is Jesus that makes the difference in our lives. It is Jesus who stands ready to judge the quick (those that are now living for Him) and the dead (those who have not yet been called into gospel service). I believe this is a gospel judgment because the counsel has been, up to this point, about the willfully disobedient being brought to glorify God through His work in us. Keeping this passage in context of what has gone before, a gospel judgment seems appropriate here.
Peter says the gospel was preached to them that are dead that they might be judged in keeping with men’s thinking in the flesh. However, they are to live unto God in the spirit. While we live riotously, men judge that the gospel will take away our joy in life. As long as we are dead to the gospel, man’s judgment seems sound. But when it pleases God to quicken us and give us hearing ears and understanding hearts, we live unto Him in the spirit. The things that once seemed to be death to us are now the source of our greatest joy.
May we live unto God with joy unspeakable!