In Our Sufferings

Romans 5:1-2 ESV

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

By faith in Jesus Christ, we have been made right with God, acceptable to him, not because of our own righteousness, but because of what Jesus did for us in taking our place on that cross so that we could die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness. By his grace we are saved. Amen!

But, this is by faith, and this faith is God-given and divinely persuaded, and thus it submits to the Lordship of Jesus Christ over our lives, and it does what he says to do.

And, he says, if we want to come after him, we must deny self, take up our cross daily, and follow (obey) him. For, he says, if we hold on to our old lives, we will lose them. But if we lose our lives for his sake, meaning we die with him to sin, then we have eternal life in him (See: Lu. 9:23-25; cf. Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

And, now we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. But, this peace isn’t just that we have now escaped hell, and that heaven is secured for us. For, it has to do with the fact that, having put our trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we are now no longer living as enemies of the cross of Christ, and now our lives are submitted to God for his service.

For, Jesus bought us back for God with his blood that we might be God’s possession and that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (1 Co. 6:20; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Tit. 2:11-14).

Through faith in Jesus Christ, we have also gained access into his grace in which we stand. But, this grace is not just forgiveness of sins and freedom from damnation in hell. It is deliverance from our bondage (addiction) to sin, and it is empowerment of the Spirit of God to live holy and godly lives, pleasing to God.

For, his grace instructs us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14; Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

Romans 5:3-5 ESV

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

When we stand on the Word of God, which is divine truth, we hold on to that truth, we continue in it, and we persist in following it. And, when we take our stand on God’s grace, we remain in it, we hold fast to it, and we live according to it and to what it instructs us we must do, and in how we must live our lives on this earth for the glory and praise of God.

But, we don’t do this in our own strength. We can only stand on the Word of God because we stand in God’s grace. It is only because of God’s grace that we are able to be made right with God, and that we are able to forsake our sinful lifestyles, and that we are able to walk (in lifestyle) in holiness. And, it is God’s grace, too, which sustains us, which purifies us, and which is conforming us to the likeness of Christ, too.

Yet, when we allow God’s grace to turn us from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that we can receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ, we will suffer for righteousness’ sake. We will suffer with Christ in death to sin, in daily dying to sin and self, and in living for him and to his righteousness. For, this involves daily self-denial and saying “No” to our flesh and “Yes” to God.

But also, when we truly stand on the Word of God and the gospel of our salvation, not just intellectually or just with our words, but in what we practice day in and day out, in how we live, we will suffer in another way. We will suffer much persecution from others, some of whom don’t believe in Jesus Christ, or who are immature in their faith, or who have fallen back into some of their old sinful practices.

But, suffering is not all bad. It is painful, for sure, but if we are trained by it, and if we learn from it, it produces a harvest of righteousness in us. We grow stronger in our walks of faith, we mature spiritually, it develops within us godly character, it produces endurance, and we learn to be hopeful. We learn to not rely on ourselves but on God. It helps us to sympathize with others who are going through trials so we can comfort them. And, through it all the Lord is purifying our hearts and he is making us holy.

[See: Phil. 3:7-11; 1 Pet. 1:6-7; 4:12-17; 1 Thess. 3:1-5; Jas. 1:2-4; Matt. 5:10-12; Lu. 21:12-19; 2 Co. 1:3-11; Heb. 12:3-12; Rev. 3:19]

Romans 5:6-11 ESV

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Again, we can do nothing in our own flesh to earn or to deserve our own salvation. Our own righteousness is like filthy rags in God’s sight. We will never be good enough. Our good deeds will never outweigh our sins. We do not get to heaven on our own merit or by being “good deed doers.”

Jesus didn’t give his life up for us on that cross because we deserved it, or because of our own goodness. No, he died for us while we were still dead in our sins, separate from God, and without hope of salvation.

So, if any of us start to get a big head, thinking we have somehow arrived, or that we are superior to others, or if we hold unforgiveness in our hearts towards those who have wronged us, then we need to look at where we were when God reached out to us and he called us to faith in Jesus Christ.

The Bible says there is no one righteous, no not one, not in our own flesh. We all have gone astray. We have all sinned against God. We are only made righteous in God’s sight by his grace, through God-given faith in him. And, we can only live righteously also by his grace, through faith in him, which is a continuous, ongoing, enduring faith that is proved right by its actions.

But, we need to understand that faith in Jesus Christ dies with Christ to sin, and it lives with Christ to his righteousness, by his grace. For, scripture teaches us that, if we continue to make sin our practice, if it is our lifestyle, that we will die in our sins, not have eternal life with God. For, righteousness by faith in Jesus Christ submits to Christ as Lord, it leaves sin behind, and it follows Jesus Christ in obedience to his commands (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-21; Gal. 6:7-8).

So, if we want to have eternal life with God, and be saved from the wrath of God when Christ returns, we need to walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit of God, and no longer according to our sinful flesh. And, if we teach this to others, we also need to be prepared to be persecuted for it, too.

All Through the Night

An Original Work / December 7, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures

Blessed are you when you’re persecuted
Because of your faith in Jesus Christ.
Blessed are you when people insult you,
And falsely say what leads folks to doubt.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is
Great in the heavens. You’re not alone.

When you are persecuted in one place,
Flee to another. God will be there.
You will be hated by all the nations
Because you testify of God’s grace.
Many will seize you and persecute you,
And put to death the foll’wers of Christ.

Yet, do not fear what humans may do to you,
For I’m with you all through the night.
I tell you, love your enemies with my love,
And forgive as I forgave you.
Pray for those who do evil against you.
Rest in my love and grace from above.

 

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