Blessing and Suffering by Association
There is a coming world (1) in which evil will no longer exist.
But in the present world, with the inherent bent towards evil in fallen Man, dealing with the presence of evil is a part of everyday life.
The administration of divine justice, here in the devil’s world (2), can be a tough pill to swallow, in light of all the evil that God allows to take place, while seemingly coming down so hard on His own people.
Divine WRATH is for the purpose of imposing punishment on unbelievers.
Divine DISCIPLINE is for the purpose of getting and or keeping God’s own (3) people, on the straight and narrow way (4).
Take note the divine discipline imposed on some of Scripture's main characters, in spite of their pleas for relief (5).
Adam and Eve, as a result of a one-time event of disobedience, were evicted from the Garden of Eden (6), and received a fallen sin nature that would be passed down (7) to all of the incoming generations of the human race.
As the result of one *moment of weakness (8), when Moses failed to follow precise instructions, he was denied the honor of later leading the godly people of his day out of the wilderness and into the Promised Land (9).
A *moment of spiritual weakness is in view whenever we fail to learn or fail to apply the accurate Bible doctrine we have learned.
The more specific the instructions are that we are given, the greater our accountability. Ignorance of what we should and could have learned and applied, but did not, is no defense in the Court of Heaven.
Moses was instructed to SPEAK to the rock, but he STRUCK the rock twice with his rod instead.
Saul, the first king of Israel, as a result of a single act of disobedience at Gilgal, and later by seeking the guidance by way of a séance (10), set the stage for the eventual loss of his kingship, his life, the lives of many of his soldiers, and the lives of his three sons, all in one day (11).
David, who slew the giant and later became king, as a result of later negative decisions, lost thousands of soldiers, witnessed much violence in his own family, lost the baby that was the product of his adulterous affair that ended up in the murder of the husband of Bathsheba, and lost a beloved adult son in a rebellion.
David was forgiven, but the sword of violence was never to leave David’s royal family (12). The lesson here for us to learn is that forgiveness of sin does not necessarily mean that all of the consequences of the sin are going to go away!
God killed Uzzah when he reached out to steady the load on the cart being used to transport the ark (13). The ark was only to be transported by carrying it on poles.
Paul, to be kept from exalting himself, suffered an ongoing “thorn in the flesh (2Cor. 12: 7 NASB).”
By human standards, such discipline could seem exceedingly harsh.
Persons that are elevated to positions of authority in the spiritual realm are held to a greater level of accountability, and are subject to more discipline than their laymen counterparts.
Those in positions of leadership are also subject to more frequent and more intense satanic attacks in the realm of spiritual warfare.
Never-the-less, all of God’s children are subject to divine discipline. Divine discipline can range in anything from living with a guilty conscience, up to and including physical death.
The most severe form of divine discipline on an individual level is physical death (14). The most severe form of national discipline is the country’s removal from the existing Community of nations, here on Earth (15).
The case of Ananias and his wife Sapphira is perhaps the classic example of maximum divine discipline (physical death) being imposed for an act that some would consider not having been “all that bad.” They conspired to deceive the Church about the percentage of a financial donation they made to the Church (16).
Bad enough, some would say, that Christians have to suffer alongside their unbelieving or worldly-minded counterparts during periods of national discipline, but Christians are called to suffer for doing the right thing, as well. Hence, as Oscar Wilde once stated, no good deed goes unpunished.
Christians are called to suffer (17) by association with Christ, before experiencing the glory that is going to be revealed in them (18).
This suffering is not the adversity that is common to all mankind, nor is it the self-induced suffering that is the result of our own negative decisions.
Such things are often misidentified as being one’s cross to bear.
One’s Luke 9: 23 “cross” to bear is the adversity one faces resulting from his or her participation in the Great Commission.
From human viewpoint, the prosecution and execution of Jesus of Nazareth was the greatest miscarriage of justice in universal history. Not only was the accused totally innocent, but endured the imposed sentence in order to atone for the sin debt of the whole world (19).
As it has been said, we owed a debt we couldn’t pay. He paid a debt He didn’t owe.
Like our Lord, we (Christians) ARE (20) going to suffer persecution and suffer for association with God whenever we choose to take a godly stand in the devil’s (21) world.
. . .
In disobedience to the command (not an option) to do ALL things without grumbling and complaining (22), we often mutter about what we feel God should be doing (or not doing) in response to the prosperity of the wicked (23).
But we would be wise not only to repent of this Phil. 2: 14 sin, but to remind ourselves where we would be, and where we would be headed, if God had not extended the same grace and mercy to us.
In the administration of secular justice, misbehaviors are categorized and punished differently, based on the “seriousness” of the offense that is in view. The “seriousness” and accompanying punishment is often based on the harm or potential harm that the act produced.
In agreement with human viewpoint, some religious traditions of men do the same, categorizing sins as being venial or mortal, with different consequences.
James 2: 10 paints a different picture.
“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of (breaking them) all (James 2: 10 NASB parenthesis mine).”
James 2: 10 and Romans 3: 23 clearly places every one of us in the same, stinking, sinking boat. There is only one life-saving option (24). By the grace of God, it is available to everyone (25).
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
(Romans 3: 23 NASB).”
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through (faith in) Me (John 14: 6 NASB parenthesis mine).”
“for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10: 13 NASB).”
When born again believers come face to face with God, they do so having been totally (26) forgiven.
But while here on Earth, post (after) salvation sin contributes to a diminished quality of one’s post salvation spiritual life, evidenced by the lack of Mark 4: 19 production.
The quality of one’s post salvation spiritual life determines rather or not he or she will receive or be denied 1Cor.3: 14 rewards and Revelation 2 and Revelation 3 privileges, but does not diminish the integrity of the eternal life that he or she already received on Earth, on the day he or she was born-again.
In summary, suffering by association is a principle that applies to everyone during periods of national discipline. Suffering by association is also the result of executing the post salvation spiritual life of discipleship. This type of suffering by association will be a common and ongoing experience for any advancing disciple of Jesus Christ.
Blessing by association is a principle that applies to everyone when national divine blessing is in view. There are temporary Earthly blessings to be experienced here on Earth by believers and unbelievers alike, during periods of divine national blessings.
There is eternal condemnation (27) awaiting those who leave this world as unbelievers, and there are Heavenly reward and privileges (28) awaiting born-again believers who choose to live for Christ while here on Earth.
Human beings have no choice about rather or not they would be born into, and live, in the midst of ongoing national blessing or national discipline, as this was determined by the choices made by the members of their previous generation(s).
Each generation, as a whole, chooses to continue down the same road as the previous generation(s), or to abandon it, and then pursue another road. This sets the stage for future national blessings or discipline.
There are only two roads from which to choose (29).
But individually, every soul of each generation of the Church Age has an individual choice to be made when presented with the unadulterated Gospel Message. If born again, the born-again believer has daily choices to be made that determines rather or not God is glorified in the midst of whatever circumstances he or she finds himself.
(1) Rev. 21 (2) Luke 4: 6 (3) Heb. 12: 6 (4) Matt. 7: 14 (5) Deut 3: 26/2Sam. 12: 22/2Cor. 12: 8 (6) Gen. 3: 24 (7) Psalms 51: 5 (8) Num. 20: 11 (9) Numbers 20: 12 (10) 1Sam. 13: 9/1Chron. 10: 13 (11) 1Sam. 31: 6 (12) 2Sam 9: 10 (13) 2Sam. 6: 7 (14) Acts 5 (15 ) Acts 17: 26 (16) Acts 5 (17) Phil. 1: 29 (18) Rom. 8: 18 (19) 1John 2: 2 (20) 2Tim. 3: 12 (21) Luke 4: 6 (22) Phil. 2: 14 (23) Psalms 73 (24) John 14: 6 (25) Rom. 10: 13 (26) Rom. 8: 1 (27) Re. 20: 15 (28) 1Cor. 3: 14/Rev. 2/Rev. 3 (29) Matt. 7: 13, 14