1 Peter – Chapter Four X

by Ed Urzi

“With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you” (1 Peter 4:4 ESV).

The choices and decisions that stem from a Christian’s relationship with Jesus may puzzle those who don’t follow Christ. However, there are others who may respond in a far more aggressive fashion: “…they criticize and abuse and ridicule you and make fun of your values” (AMP). That type of response contains elements that are easy to understand, yet difficult to comprehend.

The easy part relates to the preferences of those who are disinterested in Christianity. When we distance ourselves from activities and behaviors that dishonor God, there are sure to be some who take offense. Those individuals might respond in the following manner:

  • Co-workers and acquaintances might say, “What’s wrong with us?
  • Friends may ask, “Do you think you are better than we are?
  • Family members might respond, “Isn’t our religion good enough?

Some may be hurt by a decision to no longer run with them in their “wild and reckless living” (GNT). Others might be indignant. However, a percentage of those same individuals are likely to experience a sense of conviction regarding their choices. A God-honoring lifestyle may serve as an affront to those with other priorities- and some are likely to take it personally.

Thus, we can reasonably expect such individuals to malign us. One commentary helps explain that response…

“People whose lives change radically at conversion may experience contempt from old friends. They may be scorned not only because they refuse to participate in certain activities but also because their priorities have changed and they are now heading in the opposite direction. Their lives incriminate their friends’ sinful activities.” (1)

Another commentator adds, “No one is any more unpopular at a drinking party than a teetotaler; and the same is true of all abstainers from popular sins.” (2)

Nevertheless, that response is also difficult to comprehend, especially with regard to those whose lives once followed a path of self-destruction prior to salvation. One source elaborates on the strange dichotomy that may develop when Christ transforms those who once pursued “…the same flood of unrestrained wickedness” (CEB)

“Unsaved people do not understand the radical change that their friends experience when they trust Christ and become children of God. They do not think it strange when people wreck their bodies, destroy their homes, and ruin their lives by running from one sin to another! But let a drunkard become sober, or an immoral person pure, and the family thinks he has lost his mind!” (3)

(1) Life Application Study Bible NKJV [1 Peter 4:3-4] Copyright © 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1996, 2004 by Tyndale House Publishers Inc., all rights reserved.

(2) Coffman, James Burton. “Commentary on 1 Peter 4”. “Coffman’s Commentaries on the Bible”. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bcc/1-peter-4.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas,

(3) Wiersbe, Warren W. The Bible Exposition Commentary. 2 vols. Wheaton: Scripture Press Publications, Victor Books, 1989. [2:420] Quoted in Notes on 1 Peter 2023 Edition, [4:4] Dr. Thomas L. Constable https://www.planobiblechapel.org/tcon/notes/html/nt/1peter/1peter.htm