Called to Suffer

In what ways have you been called to suffer in this life? What difference did that suffering make in your life? Did it make you bitter or better? Did it produce in you life or death, or both? Did you run to God or away from God? Did it teach you to love or to hate? Did it humble you or harden you?

The Lord Jesus led me to read 1 Peter 4 (Select vv. ESV).

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. Vv. 1-2

In what ways did Jesus suffer in the flesh? He suffered temptation to sin, yet he was without sin. He never gave in. He suffered physically the types of things we suffer. He suffered rejection, misunderstandings, false accusations, persecutions, mocking, spitting, beatings and death on a cross, which was an excruciatingly painful way to die. He suffered betrayal at the hand of one of his disciples, the denial of another, and the abandonment of all when he was arrested on false charges and put on trial.

But, the greatest suffering of all, I believe, is when he, who knew no sin, took on the sins of the entire world, and he actually became sin for us on that cross, that we might become the righteousness of God. My own sins alone, from over my lifetime, would be more than enough punishment, let alone him taking on himself the sins of the entire world, that he might put our sins to death, so that we can be free. And, included in this was that Jesus felt the abandonment of God the Father when he became that sin for us, too. Thus, he asked of the Father why he had forsaken him.

So, how can we arm ourselves with that same way of thinking? What does suffering in the flesh have to do with us being done with sin? Certainly, just because we suffer in this flesh of ours, it does not automatically translate into us having the mindset that we are done with sin, does it?

If we look at the context here, I believe this is primarily referring to Jesus’ death on a cross for our sins, for that is the suffering that brought about our death to sin, and his resurrection is what brought about our new life in the Spirit, that we might live to righteousness.

If we truly believe in Jesus Christ, with God-given faith, which prefers what God prefers, because it has been divinely persuaded of God as to God’s righteousness and holiness, and of his will and purpose for our lives, then we, of the Spirit, are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. The old has gone. The new has come.

So, when we believe in Christ, how does that change our thinking about sin? And, does it mean we will never sin again?

As long as we live in these flesh bodies, we will still have the propensity to sin, and we will be still tempted to sin, but sin should no longer have mastery over our lives to where we are ruled by it. We should be done with sin in the sense that we live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. Amen! For, this is why Jesus died, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. We should now walk (conduct our lives) according to the Spirit, and no longer according to the flesh (our worldly and lustful passions). And, if we do sin, we repent, and we continue walking according to the Spirit, and empowered by the Spirit.

For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. Vv. 3-5

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. Vv. 12-14

So, now that we have died with Christ to sin, and we live with Christ to righteousness, are we done with suffering?

As long as we live on this earth, and we live in human bodies, we will never be done with suffering. Not only does faith in Jesus Christ mean death to sin and living to righteousness, but daily we must put sin to death, by the Spirit, and daily we must take up that armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s evil schemes against us, and daily we must surrender to Christ to do his will.

Also, now that we are walking according to the Spirit, and no longer according to the flesh, and we are standing on the Word of Truth, and we are living separate (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being made into the likeness of Christ, we can expect to be persecuted just like Jesus was. We can anticipate that not everyone is going to like us, because we don’t blend in with the world, and we can figure that we will be treated as Jesus was treated. And, we should expect to be mocked, criticized, ridiculed, called “crazy,” and insulted in all sorts of ways because we no longer live our lives for human lusts but for the will of God.

As well, we should not be surprised if some of this mistreatment comes from within the church and from church leadership. After all, who were Jesus’ greatest opponents and persecutors? They were the religious leaders within the temple of God, who knew better, but who were living double lives. And, it should not surprise us, too, if some of this comes from our closest companions or family members, for Jesus’ family members persecuted him, too, and his closest companions betrayed, denied and abandoned him.

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Vv. 7-11

In all of this, though, no matter how badly or unfairly we are treated, we are to return hate with love, cursing with blessing, abuse with kindness, cutting remarks with truth and with love, and unjust treatment with mercy and grace. For, this is how Jesus treated and treats us who are so undeserving of his compassion and his forgiveness. If our Lord went through all of that suffering for us so we can be free, then who are we to do less than that so that others can be set free from their prisons to sin.

My Prayer
An Original Work / May 30, 2011

“Fill me with Your Spirit;
help me to love others;
Let me know Your power;
be an overcomer.
Show me how to follow
Jesus Christ, my Savior;
Be His faithful servant
to obey Him always.

“Lead me with Your presence;
help me know the right way;
Teach me love and kindness,
generous compassion.
Give me grace and courage
to be Jesus’ witness,
Teaching His salvation
to a world who needs Him.”

Won’t you come and follow
Jesus Christ, your Savior?
He died so you’d be
free of control of your sin;
Free to follow His ways
in complete surrender;
Living sacrifices –
let His grace transform you.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018, 3:49 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for this teaching from your word. May it work its way into our hearts and lives, and into our daily practices, and may we always trust you and not fear.

2 thoughts on “Called to Suffer

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