Exhortation for the Weary Christian Compilation
It is normal for those who walk by faith and live righteously before God to encounter pains and/or perplexity and/or other hardships as a result of going the right way. It is one thing to know this in theory, but when it hits in truth, there is a natural tendency to seek to get out of it and not go forward with the truth one has been following in order to get out of the suffering. In other words, there is a great temptation then to regret doing right. And thinking straight and having the right attitude in such moments is necessary to resist this temptation.
What was the key to the mighty acts God did through Moses in relation to delivering the children of Israel from Egypt? People think of those when they think of Moses. Thinking a bit more, you might think of his regard for the children of Israel in their slavery; and his delivering an oppressed, endangered Israelite from an abusive Egyptian oppressor (which some falsely label as murder, though it was righteously standing up for one in need). Yet there was a necessary ingredient to Moses’ righteous life which is especially easy to overlook. And that is the fact that he sought God wholeheartedly and kept His ways for his initial forty year tour in the wilderness, the forty years after he fled Egypt (not the forty years afterwards when he had delivered the Israelites from Egypt). It would have been easier then for him to have basically said “I was blessed and I was happy as a Prince in Egypt. Then I care about the afflicted and needy; and really seek to help them. I knew that was right, but I only saved one life. The Egyptians turned against me and even the Israelites don’t appreciate me. And now I am a poor shepherd living in discomfort and obscurity. What is the point?” Moses must have battled those thoughts constantly. Ten years go by, then twenty, then thirty- it seems like it will really never end until he dies. But this is said of Moses in Hebrews 11; and this matters more than all the miracles and great acts which were eventually done through him. God would have never appeared to him through the burning bush, and commissioned him to deliver the Israelites from Egypt at the end of that first forty year tour in the wilderness, without this.
Hebrews 11:24-26: “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.”
And that is why he didn’t regret doing right- even when it was hurting him for a long time. And that is the foundational thing for everyone who pleased God in the Bible and endured in a living faith that worked righteousness before Him unto the salvation of their soul. And that is true of everyone who ever has, and ever will, do the same. Christ’s narrow way, the way of obedient faith in Him, is the only road that saves from eternal damnation and delivers one to a blessed eternity in His kingdom. When that way is rough and troublesome, it is insane to abandon it or to stall. No, the thing to do is to stay on it and keep going forward! The very road that results in tribulation will in time lead those who stay the course out to the place they really had to get to eventually anyways. Don’t faint in pursuing this way.
Reading from Luke 17:1-10: “Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offenses will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you. But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow (i.e. think) not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.”
Jesus gives a command here which could potentially be extremely difficult to follow. This causes His disciples to ask Him to increase their faith. It was basically like they were saying, “How can we possibly do this?” And in verse 6 of Luke chapter 17 Jesus basically tells them that they don’t need some unattainable type of faith to do anything God commands. In verses 7 to 10 He gives them an illustration to help them have the faith that they actually need to do what He says. And it boils down to the fact that God can rightfully claim us as His servants. And we should indeed see ourselves, and reckon ourselves, as His servants in truth. This implies that His satisfaction supersedes our own wants and desires. We have needs, we have wants, but the Master’s satisfaction is more important. Some people say that to be a Christian you must give up your rights- but this is not altogether true. A Christian has rights which often he can, and sometimes must, exercise. Yet what is true is that we must view any right which we might have in its proper place. The servant has a right to eat; but not when the Master is hungry. Even if the servant has worked much for the Master in the field, when he comes in and the Master tells him to prepare dinner, he has to prepare it and serve the Master before he eats his own dinner. And this is nothing extraordinary. The Master isn’t being too harsh and the servant isn’t being generous in obeying Him to the point where he is doing his Master some favor. And Jesus is basically saying that if you find a commandment of God hard, believe and take to heart this illustration. When we see God in His proper place and ourselves in our proper place, that eliminates any room to think that what God commands us is too hard or to think that we have any rightful cause to grumble that His commandment is unreasonable. We can even say that no one is going to be in heaven who didn’t give God glory on earth, and so put themselves in their proper place on earth, when there was temptation to go contrary to God’s commandments and their constraints.
The need to abide/remain/continue (they are all interchangeable words) in Christ is an essential Christian concept. This abiding is not automatic nor guaranteed after a person has been born again in Jesus Christ. It is no wonder that the devil would seek to oppose and/or vilify this concept. The need to be born again through faith in Christ is also an essential truth of Christianity. Yet spiritual death can happen to a person after they’ve undergone a genuine new birth in Christ (and as previous studies have emphasized, the new birth in Christ has many shallow counterfeits). Yet the born-again Christian’s need to be diligent to remain attached to Christ, and to so continue in the Christian faith from the depths of their being, in order to grow in Christ, and continue to live in Him, is a truth which Jesus and the Apostles (supported by foundational truths in the Old Testament) emphasized powerfully and frequently.
Colossians 1:21-23: “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.”
2 Peter 3:10-14: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation (conduct) and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.”
It’s only logical then, and the testimony of Scripture as a whole bears witness to this, that Jesus in running His race to accomplish what He was sent by the Father to accomplish, would have had no advantages over Adam in the Garden of Eden in terms of help in overcoming temptation.
1 Corinthians 15:21 says: “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.”
Jesus actually had it much harder than Adam due to the much more difficult and complicated circumstances He had to overcome in the midst of in order to be faithful. There was obviously a great price to pay, and it was a tremendously great thing overall (to say the least), to reverse the curse brought on by Adam’s sin (which Adam committed in ideal circumstances).
Jesus did not always resist sin because He was above temptation. He rather never sinned because His perfect character caused Him to choose righteousness at all times, despite much real temptation to do otherwise and much actual suffering involved in His righteous choices. And this not only is in itself as great a wonder as anything on earth can be, it also ultimately means, when understood in its proper light, that we each have as great a help to walk righteously before God as we can ever hope to have- as well as no good excuse to ever succumb to sin.
The Book of Hebrews is a book of Scripture which especially emphasizes these things.
Hebrews 1:1-9: “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high: Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the first-begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity (i.e. lawlessness- for sin is the transgression of the law- 1 John 3:4); therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”
Jesus really had to demonstrate, as a man, His utter love of righteousness and utter hatred of sin, in order to redeem us from our sins and be the captain of our salvation. Jesus said in John 6:38 “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” (And by the way, this is a great rebuke also to the Oneness people who deny the Trinity, saying that Jesus and the Father are one and the same person. One person cannot have two different wills).
And then we see another heresy rebuked in the verses that we’re about to look at, sometimes called Docetism, even though many who believe this don’t call themselves Docetists. Docetism is the concept that Jesus didn’t have an actual physical body, but that His sufferings were only apparent. And we see that concept refuted in Hebrews chapter 2:14-18.
Hebrews 2:14-18: “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved (i.e. it was appropriate and fitting for) him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour (come to the aid of) them that are tempted.”
So, how then do people say that Christ wasn’t tempted? Or, how do some say that temptation was easy for Him to overcome because He was God? His character was always perfect, and His willingness to suffer for righteousness absolute, yet He still had to suffer to do righteousness. He still had to overcome temptation as a man. When He was tempted in the wilderness by the devil, that is said because it was truly temptation. Anyone who has been brought to extremes when it comes to hunger, pain, or loneliness; or possibly in being deprived of other things which an individual particularly values, knows that there is a natural tendency to be willing to do just about anything to get out of such distress. Similarly, when anyone is given an unlawful opportunity to get out of a duty which they see as particularly unpleasant, it is very difficult not to take such an opportunity.
History is filled with stories of insane things people have done in such moments of extremity, including Bible history. Unless someone in such moments loves the right choice to the point that they are willing to suffer immensely to make it, then doing lawlessness (i.e. committing sin) is inevitable. Those who deny that Jesus was indeed tempted in all points as we are, and needed to overcome sin as a man, rob Him of the glory He is due for His sufferings! And they also rob the Christian, or the potential Christian, of the greatest help and encouragement at their disposal to run their own race faithfully in doing the will of God.
We are then told along the same lines in Hebrews 3:1-6: “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honor than the house. For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God. And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.”
Christ is not only our greatest example of faithfulness to God and overcoming temptation, but He is the One whom all things are for and whom we should ultimately live to. And He also lives now to help those who come to Him on His terms overcome sin and live acceptably to God. We read not too long afterwards in Hebrews 4:14-16: “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession (our Christian profession- this was spoken to those who had a Christian profession in truth, as we also saw earlier in Hebrews 3:1). For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
There are however aspects to Christ’s own suffering to overcome temptation which we cannot fully comprehend or appreciate. Resisting temptation faithfully can bring advanced temptations that are more nuanced and trickier to overcome. None of us have ever known (nor will ever know) this on the scale which Christ did as a man. Like John 21:25 describes Christ’s great accomplishment of righteousness as a man in a succinct way without going into detail, it is much the same with His suffering associated with His doing righteousness in the various situations He overcame in. That is especially so regarding His suffering in making the atonement for our sins on the cross. The Bible could go into great detail to express how horrible it was- but there are certain things which words cannot come close to fully expressing. We do know that physical sufferings alone could not make atonement for sin. Christ, in His humanity, had to be cut off from His Father in His soul in order to be an adequate offering for sin; and for the blood that He shed to have the necessary significance in the context of redemption- an entire life poured out to God.
Leviticus 17:11: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.”
Isaiah 53:10: “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.”
Pain of the body can be unbearable. Crucifixion would have to be a candidate for the greatest way to inflict pain upon a person and cause them a slow, conscious, torturous death. And pain of the soul can be a lot worse than physical pain. And the nature of Christ’s pain in this way must have been particularly and uniquely excruciating. And then combine the pain of His body on the cross, the cruelty of His enemies, and the pain of His soul related to the Father turning away from Him there (think of Abraham taking his son Isaac to the altar with the fire and the knife to slay him, which obviously was a type of what the Father’s relationship to the Son would be when He was dying on the cross as a sin offering). No words can fully describe this suffering.
Yet perhaps the best hint we’re given about how awful what Christ suffered on the cross was, as well as insight into His zeal to do His Father’s will, is in His conflict and agony about going to the cross when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane (very shortly before His arrest). And maybe the best descriptions of what Christ experienced as He was dying on the cross are seen in Psalm 88 and Psalm 22. A lot of insights about His life are seen in Old Testament prophecies, especially the Psalms. And the following which was said by the writer of Hebrews is appropriate to mention here.
Hebrews 5:7-9: “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect (obeying to the end and going to the cross ot be made an offering for our sins), he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”
So the bottom line is, if you’re a Christian who truly loves God and keeps His Word with your whole heart, don’t be discouraged and don’t be dismayed when life is going bad for you. And I mean that especially when any ministry you might have or have had, and your hopes in serving God, get set back and maybe even seem to be shattered. That is simply not the case if you will be obedient to His Word going forward and not let setbacks prevent you from continuing to trust and love God.
Joshua 1:7-9: “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”
Isaiah 41:10: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
noun: dismay: consternation and distress, typically that caused by something unexpected.
noun: consternation: feelings of anxiety or dismay, typically at something unexpected.
noun: distress: anxiety, sorrow, or pain.
Even not being afraid nor dismayed in adversity is a command for God’s people. And as hard as that may be, we can cry like the man in the Gospels “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” In 1 Samuel chapter 30 David and his men suddenly found the village they were staying in called Ziklag burned and plundered while they had gone out to a battle. All of their families and possessions were gone. Dismay, consternation, and distress were things which tempted David and might have destroyed him had he not adhered to the principle that God commands His servants to trust Him and not be dismayed when things like calamity and other setbacks hit. That is how David encouraged himself in the Lord his God; and then went forward in faith to obtain a quick recovery and victory. Recovery and victory for us may be a slower process. Yet God is still faithful. This principle still applies when calamities and other setbacks get prolonged and drag out for a long time.
Even life at its best is still in a very real way a highway to death; and even life at its worst is a process of redemption from sin for those who have entered into God’s covenant in Jesus Christ. For these, what would have otherwise been the highway to eternal death instead prepares them for resurrection and everlasting life and glory. The Christian who commits his or her soul to God in well-doing, through a faith which works righteousness in His eyes, has every reason to hope and not despair due to the exceedingly great and precious promises of God!
2 Timothy 1:7-12: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” Psalm 31:5: “Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.”
James 5:10-11: “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. 11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”
The Great Light remains behind the clouds for those who will carefully and honestly heed the light of God’s Word in this dark world. As with the wise men, their suffering, their labor, and their exertion in seeking the King’s face will not be in vain. When the King comes again, every eye will see Him, but only those who have forsaken walking in darkness, turned to walk in the light of His Word, and continued therein will behold Him in righteousness and be able to stand before Him (i.e. be justified then and inherit His kingdom). God knows who is doing this. May this encourage these ones to not lose heart on their way and to not go back on it. May all else take warning to flee from the wrath to come!
1 John 2:28: “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.”
Revelation 6:15-17: “And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”
Psalm 97: “The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof. Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne. A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about. His lightnings enlightened the world: the earth saw, and trembled. The hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory. Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods (and like in Psalm 82, this is a reference to mighty ones in terms of earthly power). Zion heard, and was glad; and the daughters of Judah rejoiced because of thy judgments, O Lord. For thou, Lord, art high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods. Ye that love the Lord, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked. Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.”
Aaron’s email is: [email protected]