"THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS" Fornicators And Adulterers God Will Judge (13:4) by Mark Copeland


Fornicators And Adulterers God Will Judge (13:4)


1. In today's society, the honor and sanctity of marriage is under constant attack...
   a. Divorce is acceptable, made easy through "no-fault" laws
   b. Adultery is considered normal, faithfulness to one's spouse as unrealistic
   c. Among religious and political leaders, many say that standards
      against sexual immorality are antiquated

2. Even in the church, sexual immorality is a major problem evidenced by...
   a. The high number of divorces among Christians
   b. The frequent reports of sexual failings among preachers, elders, and other Christians

3. This is not to say there are not those who still hold marriage in high esteem...
   a. Many people still believe sex is for marriage, and marriage is for life
   b. I've been blessed to have:
      1) The example of my wife's grandparents, married 77 years
      2) The example of my grandmother, widowed with six children when
         only 30 years old, remaining single for over fifty years
      3) Parents and in-laws who both were married over 50 years each
      4) Three brothers, who along with myself are still married to our first wives

4. In truth, our culture today is not that much different from the
   society of the first century...
   a. Where divorce and remarriage was rampant (women were known to
      date events by their husbands;  e.g., "Yes, that happened during husband #5.")
   b. Fornication was acceptable, adultery barely frowned upon

5. But Christianity offers a true contrast of standards regarding morality...
   a. Through clear and unequivocal teaching - 1 Co 6:9-10; Ga 5:19-21; Ep 5:3-5
   b. The same sort of teaching is needed today, which is why we need
      to carefully heed the text of today's lesson:

      "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but
      fornicators and adulterers God will judge." (He 13:4)

6. The verb "is" is not in the Greek, leading some to translate the first phrase as:
   a. "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled;" (NASV)
   b. "Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure" (NIV),

[Why should we honor marriage, and keep the "marriage bed" (a euphemism
for marital relations) pure?  Because God will judge those who violate it!

To see how, let's first define the terms used in the last half of this


      1. The Greek word is pornos {por'-nos}, from which we get "pornography"
      2. It is a general word for unlawful and immoral sexual relationships (Barclay)
      3. It includes any kind sex outside of marriage:  pre-marital,
         extra-marital (adultery), homosexual, etc.

      1. The Greek word is moichos {moy-khos'}
      2. It means to have unlawful intercourse with another's wife or husband (Thayer)
         a. This may be while they are still married...
         b. Or even AFTER they are divorced if not for the right reason
            - cf. Mt 5:32; 19:9
      3  So a person can be guilty of adultery either:
         a. By having relations with another's spouse
         b. By marrying someone who either:
            1) Did not put their first spouse away for fornication
            2) Or was put away by their spouse for ANY reason

   C. "GOD"...
      1. The Supreme Being, eternal and holy - Re 4:8
      2. Omniscient and Omnipresent - Ps 139:1-12
      3. Loving, yet just - cf. Jn 3:16; He 10:30-31; 12:29

   D. "WILL JUDGE"...
      1. The Greek word is krino {kree'-no}
      2. "the act of condemning and decreeing (or inflicting) penalty on one" (Thayer)

[Marriage should be held in honor, because the Bible makes it clear
that God will condemn and somehow inflict penalty on those who are
fornicators and adulterers who do not repent!

But why will God judge fornicators and adulterers?]


      1. They destroy marriages
         a. Either their own, by their infidelity (trust is often destroyed)
         b. Or others, by committing adultery with another's spouse
         c. Sexual immorality is a major cause of divorce, which God hates - Mal 2:16
      2. They destroy families
         a. Where divorce occurs, families are shattered
         b. The children usually suffer the most, often with severe
            emotional problems throughout their lives
         c. Jesus warned about despising the needs of children - Mt 18:5-7,10-11,14
      3. They destroy friendships
         a. Read carefully Pro 6:30-35
         b. It is difficult, if not impossible, to restore good
            friendships after one has violated another's spouse

      1. Read carefully Pro 5:1-14
         a. You lose your honor (your reputation is destroyed)
         b. You lose your wealth (ever hear of alimony?)
         c. You lose your health (via STDs, perhaps even AIDS)
      2. Adultery and fornication is indeed a sin against your own body - cf. 1 Co 6:18
         a. There is emotional damage (wracking guilt)
         b. There is social damage (ostracized by others)
         c. There is physical damage (venereal disease)

      1. They have taken members of the body of Christ and made them
         members of a harlot - 1 Co 6:15-16
      2. They have taken their body, a temple of the Holy Spirit, and
         given it to a child of the devil - 1 Co 6:19-20
      3. As Christians, who have been...
         a. Made in the image of God
         b. Redeemed by the blood of Jesus
         c. Made a temple of the Holy Spirit
         ...they have allowed their lusts to bring them as low as animals!

[When God's HIGHEST CREATION, because of purely selfish reasons,
destroys marriages, families, friendship, even their own selves, we can
understand why God WILL JUDGE such, and why Paul wrote what he did to
the Corinthians:

   "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom
   of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters,
   nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor
   covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will
   inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Co 6:9-10)

But HOW will God judge fornicators and adulterers?]


      1. They will not inherit the kingdom of God - 1 Co 6:9-10; Ep 5:5-7
      2. They will suffer eternal torment - Re 21:8

      1. They become God's enemies - cf. Ja 4:4
         a. While this passage likely speaks of spiritual adultery, it
            would apply to literal adultery as well
         b. Adulterers are estranged of God's fellowship, care and love
         c. True peace and joy cannot be theirs
      2. They receive in their own bodies what they rightfully deserve - cf. Ro 1:24-27
         a. Those who engage in such immorality do indeed "receive in
            themselves the penalty of their error" (e.g., syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes, AIDS)
         b. But such is only a FORETASTE of the torment fornicators and
            adulterers will receive, if they do not repent!


1. There are many good reasons to honor marriage and keep the "marriage bed" undefiled...
   a. The bond between a man and a woman whose relationship is built upon trust and love
   b. The joy, peace, and love that children in a strong family enjoy, and deserve
   c. The value of strong families in shaping our communities in which we live

2. But we have focused on God's judgment on those who destroy this
   important fabric of our society, and how it gives new meaning to the
   phrase "be sure your sin will find you out" (Num 32:23)
   a. It is almost impossible to keep immorality secret
      1) Physical infirmities will more than likely bring it to the surface eventually
      2) Or loose lips will!
   b. Even if one succeeds in hiding their immorality in this life, not so in the life to come!

3. To close on a more positive note, let's offer some hope for those
   who have been guilty of adultery and fornication...
   a. You may not be able to escape the physical consequences of your actions
   b. But you can be forgiven, and escape the eternal consequences!

As we consider once again what Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, a
city known for it loose morals...

   "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom
   of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters,
   nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor
   covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will
   inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Co 6:9-10)

We now notice the next verse...

   "And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were
   sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus
   and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Co 6:11)

The gospel of Christ promises wonderful blessings to all sinners who
will come to Jesus in faith and obedience!

Have you been "washed", "sanctified", and "justified" in the name of
the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God? (Ac 2:38; 22:16; Ti 3:5)

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Computer Puts Evolution In “Jeopardy” by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Computer Puts Evolution In “Jeopardy”

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Science fiction writers have been portraying the face-off between computers and humans for years. Ever so often, what once was science fiction becomes a reality. Such is the case with the upcoming television showdown between the two most-winning contestants from the popular game show “Jeopardy” and a new supercomputer named Watson (Fitzgerald and Martin, 2011).

On February 14-16, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter will be challenged by the latest in computing technology. The humans in the contest are certainly no slouches. Jennings won 74 “Jeopardy” games in a row. And he and Rutter combined to amass over 3.3 million dollars in prize money. Their challenger, Watson, an IBM supercomputer named after the founder of the company, can store the equivalent of over 200 million pages of information, is “the size of 10 refrigerators,” and is the “result of four years of work by IBM researchers around the globe.” In a practice round with the human champions, Watson outscored its opponents $4,000 to Jennings’ $3,400 and Rutter’s $1,200.

As enjoyable as contests like these are to watch, they bring to light a very serious truth that needs to be underscored. Would any person who was thinking correctly look at a supercomputer like Watson and conclude it did not have an intelligent designer (or several) behind its construction? To suggest such would be absurd. And yet it challenges brilliant humans, who are much less physically bulky, and who have proved their mental prowess repeatedly on “Jeopardy.” Does it make sense to suggest that Watson was the product of thousands of man-hours of IBM’s most brilliant researchers across the globe, but the human contestants were the products of blind chance and random evolutionary processes that lacked any type of intelligence and had no goal in mind? Certainly not. If Watson is the product of intelligence, then the IBM technicians who built it and the “Jeopardy” champions competing against it must have been designed by an even more impressive Super-intellect. As Hebrews 3:4 says, “For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God.” One could express that sentiment in another way and just as truly state that every computer is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. Supercomputer Watson adds one more piece of evidence that puts the theory of evolution in “Jeopardy!”


Fitzgerald, Jim and David Martin (2011), “Computer Could Make 2 ‘Jeopardy!’ Champs Deep Blue,” http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110114/ap_on_hi_te/us_man_vs_machine/print, January 14.

Comical Contentions on the Ear by Evolutionists by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Comical Contentions on the Ear by Evolutionists

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Humans are proficient masters of self-deception. Many tend to believe what they want to believe, and see what they want to see. Especially when it comes to our own actions, we generally believe and defend those ideas that enable us to behave the way we choose. “I desire to engage in same-sex relations—so homosexuality is genetic;” “I don’t want a child—so a ‘fetus’ is not a human and abortion is okay;” “I want another woman—so God will accept my divorce.”
The essential contention of evolution is that the God of the Bible does not exist and, therefore, the Universe and all life forms came about gradually by blind, non-intelligent, non-purposive, mechanistic forces over millions and billions of years. Hence, all value—including moral value—is merely and strictly the product of subjective human inclination. Right and wrong are purely relative. Such thinking is attractive and convenient to some, since it allows man to think and act as he pleases, without any interference from a higher Power.
Yet, with all their intellectual prowess, academic attainment, and sophisticated scientific jargon, the evolutionists frequently express themselves in such a way that the honest person of average intelligence can see the foolishness of their theory. Indeed, the theory of evolution is downright laughable. Take, for instance, the explanation advanced for the evolution of the human ear. Renowned evolutionist Richard Dawkins is typical of the comical contention of evolutionists that the human ear evolved over millions of years by means of the chance, mindless, naturalistic forces of evolution: “If you think about the evolution of a really complex adaptation like an eye or an ear, then precisely because it cannot have come about as a single chance step it had to have come about as a gradual improvement” (see Brown, 2004, emp. added). It could not have just happened on its own—“a single chance step.” So with what options are we left? An all-powerful, transcendent God? Absolutely not—not even an option! So it just had to have come about gradually by multiple chance steps. A single chance step? Impossible. But multiple chance steps? Certainly! Rational, or comical gobbledygook?
Consider the claim by two evolutionists at Uppsala University in Sweden: “The structure that became the sound-conducting middle ear of land animals began as a tube that permitted ancient shallow-water fish to take an occasional breath of air out of the top of their heads” (Brown, 2006). Sounds reasonable—the nose became the ear. Why not? Given enough time, maybe your nose will do the same.
Then we have an article, appearing in a Turkish newspaper, by evolutionist Veysel Atayman claiming that “[o]ur hearing organ, the ear, emerged as a result of the evolution of the endoderm and exoderm layers, which we call the skin. One proof of this is that we feel low sounds in the skin of our stomachs” (1999, emp. added). The BBC televised a special on “The Human Body” advancing the notion that the common evolutionary ancestry of man and fish is seen in the evolution of the human ear from the bones associated with the gills of fish (“Evolutionary Tell...,” 2002).
And we mustn’t omit the shrewd observation by Michael Benton who holds the Chair in Vertebrate Paleontology at the University of Bristol, England: “At a certain point, in the Late Triassic, the reptilian jaw joint had shifted function. We can still detect the legacy of this astonishing transition: when you chew a hamburger, you can hear your jaw movements deep inside your ears” (2001, emp. added). Did you catch that? You hear yourself chewing because parts of your hearing structure evolved from reptilian jawbones.
Let’s recap: the human ear evolved from a breathing tube. No, it was from skin layers connected to the stomach. No, it was from fish gills. Wait a minute, actually your ear came from a jaw. It all makes perfect sense—if you’ve been educated beyond your intelligence. Observe that evolutionists not only disagree among themselves on such matters as the evolution of the ear, the sheer speculation they advance consists of very specific scenarios in which they describe imaginary events as if they really happened. Even then, often their conjuring is laced with very telling admissions that concede their lack of substantive evidence. For example, consider the admissions that riddle an article titled, “The Evolution of the Human Ear,” by the “Senior House Officer” at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, England: “Much of the story of the evolution of the human ear is controversial” (Bhutta, 2004, 13[5]:50, emp. added); “These early steps are conjecture” (13[5]:50, emp. added); “Evolution is a poor method of design” (13[5]:50, emp. added); “We actually know little of the early amphibian ear” (13[5]:51, emp. added); “Why this change occurred...is a matter of debate” (13[5]:51, emp. added). Observe: the evolution of the ear is controversial, conjecture, and a matter of debate. Yet we are supposed to be assured that it nevertheless happened.
This is self-delusion—not science. The explanation of the Bible is sensible and rational: “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both” (Proverbs 20:12).


Atayman, Veysel (1999), “Maddeci ‘Madde,’ Evrimci Madde” (“Materialist ‘Matter,’ Evolutionist Matter”), Evrensel Newspaper, June 13, [On-line], URL:http://www.darwinismrefuted.com/irreducible_complexity_08.html#359.
Benton, Michael (2001), “Evidence of Evolutionary Transitions,” American Institute of Biological Sciences, [On-line], URL: http://www.actionbioscience.org/evolution/benton2.html.
Bhutta, Mahmood (2004), ENT News, 13[5]:50-52, November/December.
Brown, David (2006), “Evolution of Ear is Noted in Fossil,” Washington Post, A03, Thursday, January 19, [On-line], URL: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/18/ AR2006011802159.html.
Brown, Doug (2004), “Richard Dawkins: The Biologist’s Tale,” Author Interviews, [On-line], URL: http://www.powells.com/authors/dawkins.html.
“Evolutionary Tell Tales from BBC (2)” (2002), September 25, [On-line], URL: http://www.darwinism-watch.com/bbc_evolutionarytales_02.php.

Belief in God is Hard-Wired into Man by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Belief in God is Hard-Wired into Man

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

A.C. Grayling wrote a book titled The God Argument. Those in atheistic circles have lauded it as a profound and insightful representation of atheism. Remarkably, Grayling makes an error that is extremely common within the writings of unbelievers. He contends that mankind has no religious nature and that all belief in God is a product of teaching passed on to children from parents, teachers, or other environmental factors. He wrote:
It would, though, be far better if religious doctrines and systems were not taught to people until they had attained maturity. If this were the case, how many would subscribe to a religion? Without being given a predisposition through childhood indoctrination to think there might be something in one of the many and conflicting religious beliefs on offer, the likely answer would surely be: not very many.1
It seems as though Grayling completely fails to acknowledge the massive amount of research that proves that belief in God comes naturally to mankind and is hard-wired in to the fabric of humanity.2Atheist Richard Dawkins contradicts Grayling and admits that humans have “a lust for gods.”3 He noted that people are “innately predisposed to be creationists” and said that children are “native teleologists, and many never grow out of it.”4 Renowned atheist Sam Harris is forced to concede that “several experiments suggest that children are predisposed to assume design and intention behind natural events—leaving many psychologists and anthropologists to believe that children, left entirely on their own devices, would invent some conception of God.”5
Since atheism cannot explain why people are born to believe in God, many of them simply deny the truth that they are. The logical explanation for this innate belief is the idea that the Creator “put eternity” in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11), so that all people might “seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27).


1 A.C. Grayling (2013), The God Argument: The Case Against Religion and for Humanism  (New York: Bloomsbury), p. 39.
2 See Kyle Butt (2013), “Why is Belief in God Natural to Mankind?” https://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=4655.
3 Richard Dawkins (2006), The God Delusion (New York: Houghton Mifflin), p. 169.
4 Ibid., pp. 180-181.
5 Sam Harris (2010), The Moral Landscape (New York: Free Press), p. 151, emp. added.

What You Are (Part 3) A BRANCH by Ben Fronczek


What You Are (Part 3) A BRANCH

What You Are – Part 3 – A BRANCH
As a boy growing up, I was very fortunate because my grandmother lived right next door. Living out in the country as we did, my grandmother loved to grow all kinds stuff to can, pickle and freeze. She would even bury beets and other things in dirt in her root cellar or canning room. She had an amazing garden where she grew almost every vegetable you could think of. She also raised strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries rhubarb and horseradish. She raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat. And she also had a number of fruit trees.
As a kid, I was totally amazed by her apple trees. Why? Because some of them bore three different kinds of apples on each tree. You would have an early, mid-season and late variety all on one tree.
I am amazed that you can actually take a branch off one apple tree and graph it on to another. What you do is this. In the spring, just a the tree starts to wake up after the winter and the buds just barely start to swell, you take a tender branch or shoot off a tree you want to graph on to another and you whittle the cut end into a little wedge shape. Then on you host tree, you cut off a portion of a branch close to the main trunk that is a similar size to your new branch. Make a split in the remaining portion of the branch attached to the tree. Then you push your new branch wedge into the split branch of the host, you bind it with string, and coat the entire seam with something called Tree Wound Dressing, which is a tar like substance. Eventually the new branch will begin to sprout and you can remove the dressing about 6 weeks, and wa-la, you have a tree that will eventually bear two different kinds of apples. The same can be done with other fruit and citrus trees as well as with grape vines.
In Romans chapter 11, the Apostle Paul refers to the fact that the Jews, because of their unbelief and unfaithfulness, have like branches, have figuratively been broken off from the kingdom of God. And we Gentiles who believe and accept Jesus have figuratively been grafted in.
In John 15, the Apostle John records an interesting discourse of Jesus which I would like to read. Read John 15:1-14  am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command.” (NIV)
So here in this text, Jesus refers to us as branches. As I have mentioned in the last two lessons, in this series of lessons I have want to share with you some of the different ways Jesus and the Bible refers to us, or what we are called figuratively as Christians.
In doing so I would hope that you would not only see how important you are, I also hope that these references will open your eyes to some roles and responsibilities we have as we live out our life as a Christians.
Here in John 15, figuratively speaking, Jesus said, “I am the true vine.” We are the branches, and Father God is the Gardener.
Now what’s the significance of all this: Well Jesus said…
.. that if we remain in Him (that is attached Him) and He remains in us (that is if we have an ongoing interactive relationship with Him) He said that we will bear MUCH fruit.
In verse 4 He said that no branch can bear fruit by itself, it must remain in the vine. Likewise, we cannot bear His fruit (or spiritual fruit) unless we remain in Him.
Now what kind of fruit is He referring to? That’s the mystery that many of us would like revealed. But here I believe the text reveals that mystery.
Just as nutritious fluid, or sap flows from the vine to the branches, Jesus reveals something here to us, He said “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command.”
Just as God poured out His Spirit on Jesus, Jesus also poured out His Holy Spirit on us to help develop and nurture us just like sap gives life to it’s branches. I believe the fruit He is referring to is, God like Love and all expressions of that love so that others may enjoy and benefit from that fruit.
He wants us to bear the fruit of Love. This fruit of love is the fruit that will bring glory to the Father.
But He also goes on to say that apart from Him we can’t do anymore than any branch that has been detached or broken off. Branches that separate themselves and try to be self serving will eventually wither and die, and will be cast into the fire.
So if we remain in Him we…….
–       #1… Will continue to grow
–       #2 You will begin to bear fruit that is important to Him and beneficial to others.
–       #3. Vs. 2 says that even if you bear a little fruit He said the Father will help you and prune you so that you can bear even more fruit.
–       #4. And by bearing fruit you will bring Glory to the master Gardener, to Father God. (How productive a farm is, is a reflection on the farmer. Others commend and admire a good productive farm. How much we love and how fruitful we are by the good works we do, will likewise put God and the Christian name in a good light in the eyes of those living in this world.
–       #5. And one last benefit of remaining in Him and bearing the fruit that He would have us bear; In verse 11 Jesus tell usI have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
You always feel good or better when you bear the fruit you are meant to bear, when you do what you are meant to do.
An envious, jealous, unforgiving, selfish, mean, or nasty life or attitude is not the fruit we are meant to bear; and doing so will never give you this kind of joy. Whereas being generous, gracious, forgiving, showing mercy, being helpful, and gentle, encouraging, and expressing love like this to others will not only bring you joy and make you feel complete, it will also benefit others and bring Glory and Honor to your Father in Heaven.
So my continued encouragement is to remain in Him no matter what.
Let the master Gardener nurture and prune you. Let Him cut away those things that you should not be doing or that are not beneficial for your life.
Continue to nurture a relationship with Him now that you have been grafted into His family. (Some graphs don’t take. Some dry up and fall off.)
Learn His word and obey His commands for they are of the Spirit and give life not only to you but also to others who enjoy your fruit.
For more lessons click on the following link: http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?page_id=566
All comments can be emailed to: bfronzek@gmail.com

Why do I Suffer? by Joe Andrasik


Why do I Suffer?

This is a question that is as ancient as man himself. First we must understand that GOD did not desire that we suffer. Suffering came into being because man chose to sin. There was no suffering in the Garden of Eden until man sinned, and Adam and Eve were driven out of Eden. Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned--. Romans 5:12. Man brought suffering into the world by sinning. Much suffering continues in the world caused by men who sin. Sin has long-lasting concequences.
GOD cares very much for us and does not want anyone to suffer. Psalm 116:3-5; The pains of death surrounded me, and the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the LORD: O LORD, I implore You, deliver my soul! Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yes, our God is merciful.
Man's disobedience caused the loss of GOD's blessings. Our bodies are no longer immortal as Adam and Eve were in the garden before they sinned . Therefore we suffer from disease, sickness and physical death. All are the result of sin. Death literally means separation from GOD. Without being in a right (correct) relationship with GOD, we are no longer deserving of GOD's blessings. All that remains for us is to suffer at the hands of the devil. All suffering is inflicted on us by our enemy the devil.
Without being in a right (correct) relationship with GOD we have no hope at all of restoring GOD's blessings to our lives. When a person becomes a Christian that person can then begin to trust that GOD will answer his prayer. Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8. The Christian who is in a right (correct) relationship with GOD can trust that GOD will return many of the blessings he lost before he became a Christian. This includes hope of eternal life.
Just because we become Christians does not mean all suffering ceases. It does means that we can begin to rely on GOD who will help us with our burdens. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28. GOD begins to ease our suffering and helps us by carrying our most difficult burdens.
GOD lives in Heaven away from sin and suffering. He wants us to be with Him. He wants us to look beyond this world to Heaven. If there were no suffering in this world, there would be very little desire to go to Heaven and be with GOD. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:3-4.
Suffering therefore helps to remind us that we do not belong on this earth. We belong with GOD our Father. Jesus is preparing a place for every Christian who is willing to obey Him. Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:1-3.
Sometime we suffer because of our sin and GOD disciplines us. This occurs not because GOD desires to inflict pain on us but because He wants us to change our mind and return to Him. He does not want anyone to be lost. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? Hebrews 12:5-7.
Let us study the life of a very special man in the Old Testament. There was a man named Job who is described in the Book of Job. Then the LORD said to Satan, Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? Job 1:8. Job was a very righteous man. For most of Job's life he received many countless blessings from GOD. He was about to learn that even the righteous experience suffering. So Satan answered the LORD and said, Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face! Job 1:9-11. GOD allowed Job to suffer at the hand's of the devil. Job's suffering was brought on by the devil, not GOD. GOD allowed it to happen but only to achieve a far greater purpose in GOD's plan. We may not fully understand but GOD is able to use our circumstances of suffering and turn them into blessings for us later in our life, as we shall learn from Job's experience. GOD also knew that the outcome of Job's suffering would far outweigh the limited amount of suffering that Job would experience. This is not to minimize the suffering that Job experienced. He lost his entire family except for his wife and was in great pain for months. The book of Job would become an ageless example of the suffering of the righteous, and a source of encouragement for us.
First we must understand that we are not alone in our suffering. GOD experienced the agony of suffering himself in the person of his Son. Jesus came to live and die as the Son of GOD that we might have hope. He experienced hunger in the wilderness for forty days. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread. But He answered and said, It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Matthew 4:2-4. He certainly knew what it was to be cold or to experience the heat of summer. He lived as a carpenter's son for over thirty years. He knew what it was like to go without sleep. He was even tempted by sin and had to resist without sinning, to accomplish GOD's greatest sacrifice for us. Hebrew 4:15;For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Jesus, the Son of GOD, experienced what each of us experience every day to help us with our own suffering.
Perhaps the greatest suffering man will face is the fear of death. Jesus went before us to take away this fear by overcoming death with the hope of a resurrection to eternal life with GOD. Who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,.. Hebrews 5:7-9.
Jesus feared death as we do, but He especially feared death on the cross. He understood what kind of death He would suffer, as He knelt down in the Garden. Then He said to them, My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me. He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will. Matthew 26:38-39. Jesus prayed three times to his Heavenly Father to be spared the death on the cross. This is the death that would satisfy GOD's justice for our sins. We deserved to be on that cross in His place, each of us dying for our own sins. He did not deserve it. Jesus thus became the perfect sacrifice in our place. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,Hebrew 2:9-11.
When we share in suffering as a Christian, GOD sees us as part of His family. We become part of the family of GOD by sharing in Jesus' suffering. This is especially true when we suffer because of our attempts to be like Christ. Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 1 Peter 4:1-2.
Remember! We previously considered the suffering of Job. Job overcame his suffering at the hands of the devil. Let us see the final outcome of Job's faithfulness to GOD. Now the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters. Job 42:12-13. Christians can have an even better hope today.
Joe Andrasik
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Published in The Old Paths Archive