Suffering for Righteousness

A Man of Sorrows
Isaiah 53:1-3 ESV

Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

As Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, was treated, so will we who follow him be treated. He was hated, despised, rejected, persecuted, abandoned, betrayed, denied, falsely accused, wrongfully arrested, beaten, mocked and then hung on a cross to die, although he had done no wrong. Why? Because he told people the truth about their sin, because he claimed to be who he was and is, and because he did not conform to the traditions of men.

So, if we truly follow him with our lives, in being his servants and witnesses in taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth, and in living in his righteousness, following his example, then we will also be hated and persecuted.

But, who were Jesus’ fiercest opponents? They were the Jews, who were then God’s people. But they were also the religious leaders within the temple of God. What is the temple of God today? It is the church, but not a physical building or a denomination or an organization, but the people of God, the body of Christ.

So, we should not at all be surprised if our strongest opponents are from within the church, too, and among the leadership, but not necessarily from among those within the body of Christ, but from among those who make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, but who are hypocrites, as were the Pharisees and many of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day.

He Bore our Sins
Isaiah 53:4-6 ESV

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and yet God himself, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – left his throne in heaven, came to earth, took on human flesh, suffered as we suffer, was tempted as we are also tempted, yet without sin, and then was crucified on a cross for our sins.

He who knew no sin became sin for us on that cross so that when he died, our sins died with him, and were buried with him. And, when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, death, hell and Satan on our behalf. So, through faith in him, we can be delivered from slavery to sin and be set free to walk with him in his righteousness and holiness.

We, as his followers, will never be able to take upon ourselves the sins of the world in the same way in which Jesus did, nor is that necessary, for Jesus died once for all, and only he can take away the sins of the world. Nonetheless, many are called upon to suffer and die for the sake of the name of Jesus Christ and for the sake of his gospel of salvation, because they are laying down their lives in order to see others go free.

They are sacrificing their own reputations, and they are putting themselves in harm’s way by the very fact that they are doing what Jesus did in telling people the truth about their sins, and by calling people to repentance, and by not conforming themselves to the ways of this sinful world.

It Was God’s Will
Isaiah 53:10-12 ESV

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Yet, it was the will of God that Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, should have to suffer and die on a cross for our sins. Why? Because when we are born into this world we are born with sin natures, separate from God, without hope, and destined for hell and eternal punishment. We can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation, too, because we can never be good enough.

So, God’s plan for putting our sin to death and for setting us free from the curse of sin was to send his Only Begotten Son to the cross to die for our sins. Jesus Christ was the perfect Lamb sacrifice to take away our sins. His blood shed on the cross for our sins bought us back for God so that we can be reconciled with God, forgiven of our sins, and have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven.

So, when we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, by the Spirit of God we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ in newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. We leave our old lives of sin behind us, and we now walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh.

Yet, it was not only the will of God that Jesus should suffer and die for us so that we could be set free of the curse of sin and our slavery to sin, and it is not only his will that we should die to sin and live to righteousness, but it is also his will that we should suffer by being hated and persecuted for righteousness’ sake. For, through our suffering we are being conformed to the likeness of Christ, we are learning obedience, perseverance, and patience, and we are growing in our walks of faith. And, God is using us in the lives of others to see them also be set free from their slavery to sin.

For Our Nation
An Original Work / September 11, 2012

Bombs are bursting. Night is falling.
Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.
Trust Him with your life today.
Make Him your Lord and your Savior.
Turn from your sin. Follow Jesus.
He will forgive you of your sin;
Cleanse your heart, made new within.

Men betraying: Our trust fraying.
On our knees to God we’re praying,
Seeking God to give us answers
That are only found in Him.
God is sovereign over all things.
Nothing from His mind escaping.
He has all things under His command,
And will work all for good.

Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.

Men deceiving: we’re believing
In our Lord, and interceding
For our nation and its people
To obey their God today.
He is our hope for our future.
For our wounds He offers suture.
He is all we need for this life.
Trust Him with your life today.

Saturday, March 31, 2018, 3:00 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for this teaching from Your Word today. May we find encouragement in these words.

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