"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."
Persecution is all around us.
The Body that resides in the middle east and the far east is facing
open, obvious persecution. But the Body in the west is suffering
equally, but in a much more deceptive and tricky way. We are led away
and enticed by the bribes of the Evil One and are assaulted with doubt
about our circumstances and the nature of God. It is the same tactic
that Satan used against Jesus when He was fasting in the desert and Adam
and Eve in the garden.
"For our struggle is not against
flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,
against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces
of evil in the heavenly realms."
Though evil will reside
in people if they give way to it, it is not the only way it operates.
One of Satan's greatest tactics is not to out-rightly oppose us. An
enemy in the open is easy to take a stand against. An faceless enemy is a
far harder adversary, as the American military has found through the
last fifty years all the way from Vietnam to Iraq. He darts in and out
and draws fire on innocent civilians. This tactic causes the advancing
force to either become heartless and cruel and slaughter the innocent
with the enemy or to become disheartened and surrender the fight
altogether. Satan has lodged such an attack on the free church of the
We know that the scriptures says,
"I have been
young and now I am old, Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken Or
his descendants begging bread." and yet Christians are starving all over
"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will
give him a stone?" and "You may ask me for anything in my name, and I
will do it." and yet, we pray and we pray for healing, provision, and
direction and are not given it.
We are allowing Satan to
interpret the scriptures for us. If God promises and does not fulfill, He
is a liar. How can the scripture speak one thing and reality show us
something altogether different? It is because we have forgotten what a
good father is. Jesus calls us to come out from among them. He means
this in many ways; spiritually, socially, physically, and intellectually. As
Americans we desperately need to separate ourselves from the spiritual
powers that manipulate our country in social and intellectual ways. We
have been indoctrinated with the evil concepts of self-righteousness and
worldly goodness. The courts tell us that we are not allowed to
physically discipline our children or teach them intolerance of what the
world calls good but the Lord calls evil. We have applied these
principals to God and have negated what we know to be true of His
character and the lengthy history of His interaction with His people,
the Old Testament.
Something must be understood. The Law
was given to restrict man, not God. The law is the definition of what
God is. Satan's sin in Heaven was that he wanted to be God's equal,
which is impossible as, "A servant is not greater than his master." When
Adam and Eve broke God's command in the garden they were falling for
the same delusion that possessed Satan. The Law was given to show that
man could never equal God and that wasn't what He wanted for us to begin
with. And so once the truth of our inequality had been firmly
established through thousands of years of history of man under the Law,
Christ came and fulfilled that covenant so that He could join with His
people in the way He meant to originally; through submission and trust,
God was not and never will be restricted by the
Law as He is the Law. And He, "is the same yesterday and today and
forever." Do you not know that, " the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." God never stopped loving
Israel. Not through their rebellion, Jesus' crucifixion, or even today.
The Old Testament is just that, a testament to how God loves His people
despite their faults and how He disciplines those He calls His children
so that they can be brought out of evil and into purity and righteousness. Jesus death on
the cross atoned for the penalty of sin and relieved us of the legal
requirement of perfection and completeness. But it did not change Jesus'
desire for us to live in purity, consecration, and sanctification.
did not discipline Israel in the Old Testament to save them from their
sin, He already had a plan for that. He constantly and consistently
disciplined them because like all good fathers He wanted them to have
goodness and to know truth. Only, He is the perfect Father and knows the
ends and consequences of all decisions and actions. What may seem
inconsequential to us is of the utmost importance to Him because he
knows what results from it. What father would not give his child bread if he was hungry? What if the young child was having surgery later that day and was not allowed to eat for 24 hours so that he wouldn't vomit on the operating table and so asphyxiate himself and die. The father cannot possible explain what the doctors are about to do. It would only scare him and put undue stress on him. But the surgery is necessary to his life. And so even though his son is begging at his feet for bread the father says, "No son. I know you are truly hungry, but you don't know what is coming. You have to suffer for a little while so that I can save you life."
God still disciplines His
children today. As Paul said, "For anyone who eats and drinks without
recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.
That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have
fallen asleep.". This is also demonstrated in God's judgement on Ananias
and Sapphira for their lying to the Holy Spirit.
are many reasons "bad" things happen in this life. Jesus told His
disciples, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but
this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." Or consider the story of Job. God said this about Job, "Have you
considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is
blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." Then Satan
says that Job only loves God because God gives him good things and a nice
life. And to prove Satan wrong he unleashes Satan on him, but tells him
not to harm him personally. And then later unleashes Satan on Job
himself, but tells Satan to not take his life. And what was Job's
response to all of this? "Shall we accept good from God, and not
trouble?" and "The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name
of the LORD be praised." Sometimes it is the natural consequences of
physical life that happen to us, i.e. car accidents, natural disasters,
Yes, God could save us from all these things. I
whole-heartedly believe that I will not live past the day that I am
meant to, nor will die before it. But what happens in between will all
be goodness from the Lord's hand. The point of life isn't living. Why is
everyone trying to beat disease and danger? The Lord can save us from
these things. He has done it many times through out history. But if He
doesn't what do we get? The reward! Death is the prize not the
punishment. But during this life there will be discipline and
punishment. Goodness is defined by spiritual health and spiritual
reward. If you find yourself in trying circumstances don't be so quick
to beg God for relief. It may be discipline from the Lord. We should
continually examine ourselves to see if we are allowing any impurity to
live in us. God may be trying to save us from the consequences of our
actions. Or God may mean for us to live a life time of suffering as the
man that was born blind had so that at the proper time God's glory may
be shown. Or God may be giving us opportunity to build up spiritual
treasure in Heaven as I believe Job was for his faith and patient
endurance. Or we may be given the greatest gift and a disease may lead
to our death, Halleluiah! But if we tell people that God only means good
for us in the way that carnal people interpret goodness we will set
up new, weak believers to fail and make God out to be a liar in the eyes
of the world. "May God be true and every man a liar!"
Feel free to comment or ask questions!