SUFFERINGS AND GLORY
Romans 8:18 KJV: For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
1Peter 4:13 KJV: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
1Peter 5:10 KJV: But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
Philippians 3:10-11 AMP: [For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope] (11) That if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body].
These scriptures show us that we experience the glory of God only after we have been made partakers of Christ’s sufferings.
What then are these sufferings?
The sufferings of Christ are in two groups:
2. Persecutions and afflictions
The sufferings of self-denial are the sufferings of denying one’s self of food (when fasting), sleep and legitimate pleasures so as to give extra time to fasting, prayer and the study of the Word:
Luke 9:23-24 KJV: And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. (24) For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
Taking up your cross daily symbolically speaks of using the power of the Holy Spirit through prayer and the Word to crucify or put to death the lusts of the sin-nature operating in or through the flesh:
Romans 8:13 NIV: For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,
Galatians 5:24 NIV: Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
It is instructive to note that Christ Himself practiced this principle of daily suffering of self-denial to spend quality time in prayer and Word to crucify or overcome the lusts of the flesh that assailed His soul and body daily from the air:
Hebrews 5:7-8 NIV: During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. (8) Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered
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: (3) 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 NIV: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.
Paul also practiced ‘dying’ or suffering daily to crucify the lusts of the flesh and mind that assailed his soul and body:
1Corinthians 15:31 KJV: I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
Now, it is the power you generate and release in prayer through suffering self-denial that is used to overcome the sufferings of persecution and affliction.
Observe that the persecutions and afflictions will certainly come because you are declaring and practicing God’s Word but you are to overcome them by the power of the Spirit released through the sufferings of self-denial:
Mark 4:17 KJV: And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.
John 16:33 KJV: These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Now if you will suffer self-denial to give sufficient time to prayer and the Word, you will release the power of God in sufficient measure (2 Cor. 12:9) to overcome the persecutions and afflictions that will arise:
2Timothy 3:11-12 KJV: Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. (12) Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
Romans 8:35-37 KJV: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (36) As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. (37) Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
The reason why many Christians are overcome by the sufferings of persecutions and afflictions is that they did not partake of enough of the sufferings of self-denial.
In our article next week, we will see why we suffer and how to overcome the persecutions and afflictions when they come.