1 Peter – Chapter Four IV

by Ed Urzi

“For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles–when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries” (1 Peter 4:3).

When used in this context, the word “walk” is a figure of speech that symbolizes our conduct and behavior. We might substitute the word “lifestyle” to express this concept as well. This reference to “the Gentiles” served as a concise means of identifying those who were outside the family of God. Taken together, the overall message is this: “The amount of time you previously spent leading a life that dishonored God was more than sufficient.”

To emphasize that point, the Apostle Peter then followed with a catalog of behaviors that characterize “…the evil things that godless people enjoy” (NLT). The first among those behaviors was “debauchery” (NET, NIV) or “lewdness” (NKJV).

“Debauchery” is a word that is rarely heard in modern-day conversations. This word was once used to identify unmarried individuals who embraced a promiscuous lifestyle. Today, we might use words like “immoral” or “wanton” to describe such behavior. One characteristic quality of debauchery is a lack of moral restraint, especially in the area of sexual indulgence. One source adds, “This term implies a total lack of self control, a determined violation of social norms…” (1)

The next characteristic is “lusts.” As mentioned earlier, this involves “a longing, especially for something that is forbidden. (2) In a general sense, “lust” is a characteristic that is found among those who seek to exploit others in various ways. It may also entail a desire to possess or control someone (or something) that belongs to someone else.

Whenever we engage is such behaviors, we effectively dehumanize others and objectify them for use in gratifying our needs or desires. Since lust often involves things like exploitation and selfishness (see Colossians 3:5 and 1 Thessalonians 4:4-5), it is incompatible with the God who is love (1 John 4:8, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Therefore, this passage underscores the need to distinguish between human beings who bear God’s divine image and objects for our use.

It is also worth noting that lustful individuals are rarely content with the things they possess. Much like a smoldering ember that grows into a fire that consumes a forest, lust has a tendency to grow into a similarly destructive force. We should thus take heed to this passage to protect ourselves and others from being consumed in such a manner.

(1) Dr. Bob Utley. Free Bible Commentary – 1 Peter 4, Copyright © 2014 Bible Lessons International http://www.freebiblecommentary.org/new_testament_studies/VOL02/VOL02B_04.html

(2) G1939 epithumia Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/g1939/kjv/tr/0-1/