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Trials From Without - Lesson 17- The Blessed Result Of Affliction

1 Peter 4: 1 - 6

The power of Spiritual Reality

1 Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,

2 to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men but for the will of God.

3 For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.

4 In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you;

5 but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.

No one likes to suffer or endure affliction. Nor does anyone want their leader to suffer. Peter expressed it with intensity the day Jesus reminded the disciples of His impending trip to Calvary. He insisted that these things could not be so and that he for one, wouldn’t have it. Jesus rebuked Peter as speaking for the devil in words of human wisdom. Read the details in Matthew 16:13-28.

By the time Peter wrote this epistle, Jesus had died, resurrected and returned to Heaven. Peter had been through some stuff, witnessing persecution in the Church, and his martyrdom was near. Yet, as the Holy Spirit spoke through him, he presented a very positive outlook on suffering in the human body. There are certain points of view and steps to take in receiving full benefit from difficulties in life. By the way, suffering is any perceived lack in your life.

The first thing in benefiting from suffering is to get prepared. Arm yourself with an attitude of mental strength and emotional balance. “Jesus did it, I’ll do it.” There’s nothing wrong with suffering, even though it may be undesirable. So get hold of yourself and accept the possibilities. And the benefit? Suffering will make you back off from sinning. It will free you from lusts and fulfilling the desires of pagans. Peter said that there has been time enough for sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. It’s time to wake up, sober up, tighten up, and step it up. Suffering will help.

Have you yet experienced that truth? Have you noticed that it is much easier to live a holy and committed Christian life during hard times? When health is perfect, finances bountiful, and relationships working, you can get a little lax in your intensity for God. You coast a little on Bible reading, prayer, witnessing, just about everything.

But, when a blast of lack comes on, you hurry right over to the Cross and deeply repent of everything you can think of. Your prayer life takes a big upswing, and you start craving the Word. Why? It’s just how it is. The trouble weakens your soul, and you are willing to surrender to Jesus and His Spirit.

This will get an immediate reaction from the pagans you had started to hang out with. They will get all in your face, wondering what’s wrong with you and when you’re going to get normal again. Don’t worry, that’s part of the “trials from without” that comprise Peter’s total letter. Remember that these naysayers will have their day before the Great White Throne judgment of God. Share Christ with them if you can. Even if you weren’t strongly living for Him for a while, go ahead and give them the Gospel. Maybe some will come to faith.

Meanwhile, don’t let suffering throw you. It’s common, it’s effective, and it’ll change your life totally for the good. Get ready, hunker down and be faithful to Jesus as He works some things out in your life for His glory and your good.

If you need to whine a little, call me 720.530.0348, I’m a quiet listener, and I’ve been through plenty of these learning experiences.   

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