Suffering in the Flesh

1 Peter 4:1  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 7
The will of the flesh is the practical principle of all sin. Will is not obedience to God and hence is sin in its very principle, but, being the will of the flesh, shows itself in the flesh's lusts. It does not turn towards God, but the contrary, and does turn towards what the flesh desires. It is the acting of the nature at enmity with God's. Suffering in the flesh is the opposite of this will, or acting of the nature. This is applied both to Christ and to us; but in the case of Christ it is applied to His death. (See chap. 3:18) Rather than be disobedient in anything, and perfect in obedience, from the divine surrender of all will in Psa. 40 to take the place of obedience, He goes on to death, as man's weakness, Satan's power, God's wrath, and was obedient through all these, and in the former passed through both the latter rather than not obey. He was perfect in obedience, not sparing the flesh in anything, and died to sin once; that is, He went on to death in its fullest forms, rather than withdraw from doing God's, or have one of His own. His nature died rather than He would have a will or aught but God's will. Thus sin found no inlet or place. An apple served to lead Adam into sin; nothing could lead Christ into it. Not only He had never any sin, but He went through everything that could induce will, and all failed to lead Him into it. He suffered in the flesh; sin was baffled forever, and totally—the whole proof gone through, and nothing served to introduce it; all possible trial is over, for He has gone through it in weakness, as to His human nature. He has thus rested from all further question of sin, has a divine and eternal Sabbath as to it. How blessed! On the earth He had not. He had always victory over it—never let anything but obedience in His heart—proved he had a nature contrary to it, on purpose to obey and nothing else. This was perfection, and the rather because He was tempted; but it was not a sabbath or rest. Between Him and His Father, in the exercise of love in obeying, He had joy, but till He died, οὐ πέπαυται, He had no rest from it. This has, as a great principle, its application to us. “He that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin” is an abstract principle. When the will of my flesh works, I have not ceased from sin; but when, by the power of the Holy Ghost, I act entirely and feel entirely in the new nature, and the flesh has no will allowed, nor a thought belonging to it has entrance, because I am full of what the Spirit gives me, and obey in the delight of obedience, though suffering as regards man, in that I have ceased from sin. As sin is in the flesh, it may be in us a question of degree. It is partial, temporary, perhaps, in its realization; but the principle remains ever true, and suffering, that is as far as suffering in the flesh, sin has no place in me, my thoughts, mind, and moral being. The flesh is not changed, but if I only suffer in it, it in me then has no operation as to will.
It is important that scripture truth—perfect moral truth—should be given us unmodified in its own truth and nature; because then we can see what it is, and judge the comparative degree of attainment. Besides, the spirit is refreshed by the thing itself. We have the same thing in John's epistle, who never introduces the modifications resulting from the adverse action of the flesh or any hindrance. The difficulty of the passage in Peter is its abstract nature. The point important to hold clear is that it is Christ's death that is spoken of in His case, though, of course, all His life was consistent with it.