1 Peter 4:18
ESV - 18 And "If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?
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The context of 1 Pet 4:12-18 is that Peter is addressing the question of suffering for being a Christian. He explains that it should be no surprise, because it is expected. Why? Because Christ suffered, and as His followers, we should expect no less. Believers are blessed when this happens, through the witness of the Holy Spirit that we are His, and as part of the process of sanctification. Peter continues to state that the time has begun for judgment to begin on sin, and it starts with believers - for believers it involves chastening and cleansing (Heb 12:6), not condemnation (Rom 8:1). He then poses the question (v17) - if judgment begins with believers, what will happen to those who do not obey the gospel? The answer is, there is a final judgment coming and they will be condemned. So we see that the suffering we endure with joy now as believers is infinitely better than what unbelievers will face. Believers have to endure unjust suffering and God-ordained discipline, which is a difficult process, but it is far better than the alternative.
To me, the point that Peter is making is that (as Isaiah said in Isaiah 64:6) even the most "righteous" deeds performed on earth (apart from faith in Christ) are filthy rags in God's sight, because of the contamination of the entire human race by sin, which humans have absolutely no means of remedying through their own efforts. It is solely through total dependence on God's mercy and grace through Christ's atoning death and resurrection that humans can have any hope of escaping everlasting punishment from God for their sin. If this state of affairs applies even to those whose God-given conscience has convicted them of their sin, and of their need for repentance and faith in Christ, then ungodly and unrepentant people are in an even worse position, since they have rejected the only means that God has provided for obtaining forgiveness of their sins and eternal life.
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