The Fellowship of His sufferings 2
In our last article we saw that Christians suffer satanically inspired affliction and persecution. The goal of this affliction and persecution is to discourage and, if possible, through sickness and premature death, stop us from progressing to the fullness of Christ in our Christian race. We also saw however that God intends for us to overcome and be delivered from all afflictions (Ps. 34:19) and persecutions (2 Tim.4:18).
This week we will see why God allows us to suffer.
Why do we suffer?
There are two main reasons for this:
1. To give God a legal basis to eternally punish Satan.
II Thessalonians 1:4-5 (KJV) So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:
II Thessalonians 1:6 (KJV) Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;
To understand this you need to understand that our salvation is based on God’s righteousness and justice. It was the sufferings of the Lord Jesus, on our behalf, that gave God the legal basis to forgive our sins and save us from going to hell, which was the just punishment for our sins.
God is going to send all men who reject the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus to eternal confinement in hell because they rejected the only legal basis God has to forgive and save them.
In the same way when Satan and his horde of principalities, powers and demons persecute and trouble you it gives God a legal basis to eternally condemn them to hell. Their original rebellion warranted only their being sent out of heaven (Rev. 12:7,8), but now their stealing, killing and destroying (John 10:10) of God’s children and their property gives God the legal basis to eternally confine them to hell.
However just like Jesus’ crucifixion inspired by the princes of this world (1Cor. 2:8) was overcome by the resurrection of Christ, Satanically inspired affliction and persecution against you can be overcome by that same resurrection power in you through the agency of the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 8: 11, 26).
2. To break the pride of the residual satanic nature in our hearts and flesh.
We need to understand that when we are born again the divine nature is injected into our spirits but the satanic, sin nature still resides in the soul: mind, will and emotions, and the physical body. We are to use the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit to gradually remove this satanic nature from our souls and flesh.
2 Corinthians 7:1 (KJV) Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Ephesians 5:26 (KJV) That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
However, since this removal is gradual, the residual satanic nature in our souls and flesh opposes the divine nature in our spirits.
Galatians 5:17 (KJV) For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
God uses affliction and tribulation to break the pride of this residual satanic nature, so the humble and meek character Christ will be permanently built or engrafted into our souls and bodies.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (KJV) And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
Leviticus 26:19 (KJV) And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass:
Matthew 11:28-30 (KJV) Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Here the scripture says we should learn of Christ, for He is meek and lowly in heart. So meekness and lowliness is something that must be learnt in our souls. In Heb. 5: 8 the scripture says Jesus learnt obedience by the things He suffered.
Hebrews 5:8 (KJV) Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
Now Jesus had no satanic nature in his soul or flesh, but He did have it buffet Him in the soul and flesh from the surrounding atmosphere. This is why He was also tempted in every way like we are. In it all He was always victorious so we also can be always victorious.
Ephesians 2:2-3 (KJV) Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
Hebrews 4:15 (KJV) For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
So in the middle of tribulations we learn to humble ourselves and trust only the grace of God which then gives us victory over the tribulation and permanently works the character of God into our hearts.
2 Corinthians 1:9-10 (KJV) But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;
James 1:2-4 (KJV) My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. t let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
So learn to use the afflictions and tribulations you encounter as an opportunity to trust more in the grace of God by exercising faith and patience to overcome the afflictions and persecutions, so building humility, which is confidence in the grace of God rather than in self, permanently into our character.
In our next article we will see how to prevail over the sufferings of affliction and persecution we will undoubtedly face as Christians.