From time to time in the history of biblical interpretation it has been thought that Peter and Paul were somewhat at odds in their theological positions. That such was never the case is clear when one compares 1 Peter 4:1-2 with Romans 6:-11. Both encourage believers to regard sin as belonging to the past and having no place in their new life in Christ. For the moment let’s look at what the apostle Peter has to say.
In verse 2 he points out two different ways of living. The first is not really an option although the marginal believer may consider it so. It is to be, as the NJB puts it, “ruled . . . by human passions” (the NLT puts it, “chasing your own desires,” not quite as interpretive as the NIV’s “evil human desires.”) Both Peter and Paul teach that being in Christ, that is, being identified with him in his death and resurrection, is to have been separated from sin. Living under the control of the old nature is not an option for those who share life with the resurrected Christ. That is the mindset that is to control the life and outlook of the believer.
The other, and only, way of living for the believer is to be “controlled by God’s will” (TEV). Simply put, it boils down to this: the one who stands with the Lord against the world with its opposition to all that is good and holy, is to no longer have anything to do with those desires that controlled his pre-conversion life but to commit himself without reserve to the will of God. It seems strange to have to make this point. How could anyone who has tasted the goodness of God have any appetite for what he once was experiencing!
We have heard it said, “Try it, you’ll like it.” Perhaps that’s the answer to our conundrum. Have we ever really tried absolute surrender to the will of God? It has also been noted that all too often the average believer has just enough worldliness to take the pleasure out of his religion, and just enough religion to spoil the fun of his worldliness. You remember, I’m sure, the words of Christ to the church at Laodicea, that it would be better for them to be either hot or cold than to be, as they are, lukewarm (Rev 3:15-16). Scripture has a way of telling it as it is. Would it not be better to give God’s way a serious try rather than excuse ourselves on the basis that it demands too much?