|Posted on April 23, 2014 at 5:00 PM|
Studying the spiritual warfare presented in our Sunday series on the Revelation of Jesus Christ has been not only enlightening for me personally, but extremely encouraging as well. While the battles we fight in this present world are sometimes very intense and emotionally draining, the comfort we receive from the indwelling Spirit of God is amazing! It certainly takes the "edge" off our pain now, but more importantly, it allows us to continue to love others despite our current situation. Knowing that we are "more than conquerors" in Christ we have nothing to fear and absolutely nothing to lose. Truly we can say with the apostle John, "Greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world".
The iron-clad guarantee that we cannot lose is the basis for our hope in this life. Because of all that God has made us to be in Christ we can be sure that no amount of suffering shall be able to separate us from the love of God. This "blessed assurance" or sense of personal security is what gives us the freedom to be Christ to others regardless of our circumstances. It is what gave Jesus the joy he needed to endure the cross. It's what gave James the ability to "count it all joy" in the midst of trials and Paul the ability to sing praises to God from prison at midnight. Our faith in the promise of ultimate victory produces within us the "joy unspeakable" Peter says is the result of the fiery trials. Believing we cannot lose no matter what it looks like generates the hope needed to fulfill our high calling of God in Christ Jesus to love others like he does.
Because we Christians still live in a sin-cursed body and in a sin-cursed world we must learn to expect suffering as both our bodies and our world falls apart. This doesn't mean that we are pessimistic in our thinking always expecting the worst, but rather we are not shocked when bad things do happen to us. Unfortunately many Christians (especially in the American church) have fallen prey to the "prosperity heresy" that says if we have enough faith we will not have financial, personal, physical, or relational problems. They even go so far as to make a deal with God that says, "I will behave myself and try as hard as I can to be a good Christian, and you, God, don't let anything bad happen to me or my family!" When they experience even the least amount of suffering they are shocked by it and either condemn themselves or are angry with God. This kind of infantile thinking must change. It's time for Christians to grow up and realize that it is given unto us not only to believe on the name of Jesus, but also to suffer for his sake. Since God has left us here for the same reason he sent his son into this world, our suffering is for his sake.
As we are told in the last book of the Bible, Satan is angry because he has been cast out of heaven and has only a short time remaining and continually persecutes the children of God. The spiritual war we are fighting takes place in the battleground of the mind. The gospel of grace is constantly challenged by Satan and his underlings especially in times of suffering. What is at stake is our faith in the truth of the gospel concerning who God has made us to be and our own worth as persons. Just as he did with Jesus in the wilderness temptation Satan points to our performance, the opinion of others, and our circumstances in life to accuse us in our own minds. "If you are the Son of God..." was the question he used to doubt Jesus true identity and he uses that same question on us during times of suffering. "If you were really loved of God bad things wouldn't happen to you or your loved ones." Jesus won the battle by using the Word of God and we also will win when we chose to believe the scriptures that promise we cannot lose. The Bible makes it clear that we are brand new persons created in Christ Jesus who are more than conquerors. It further promises that all things, even our suffering, God works together for our good so that we will never lose! This allows us to see the end of our suffering at the beginning of it so that we have an eternal view of suffering. Our faith in the Word of God is the victory!
John C Glenn