"For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ,
not only to believe in Him,
but also to suffer for His sake," ~Phil 1:29 (NKJV)
So where do we find all this suffering?? One thing that I have learned in my Grace walk with Christ is that the majority of American Christians will suffer in the flesh (see 1Pet. 4:1), primarily as a result of seeking to live a holy life, i.e. righteousness. I have experienced great suffering in my body due to walking a life of sacrifice of the flesh, as opposed to a life of indulgence to the flesh. When I lived as a fornicator (as a Believer), I suffered very little even in ADMITTING I was a fornicator. Yeah there was that twinge of guilt, but nothing more. I even went so far as to admit that I LIKED being a fornicator, and had no plans to change! This was so easy, not because I wasn't a Believer (although some would make that argument. I was a Believer, just not a Christ-Follower, see: 1Pet. 2:21), but because the only person in my life challenging my lifestyle was my pastor during the preached Word of God! Everyone else around me, including my Christian friends, was doing the same thing I was doing!! So of course I had no discomfort in my sinful lifestyle.
Yet, for the most part, fornication is viewed as a "sinner's" sin. Will we suffer in the same manner concerning the "believer's" sins??? Do we indulge in and harbor : unforgiveness, bitterness, gossip, backbiting, strife, complaining, ungratefulness, division, self-righteousness, pride, criticism? These are things that run rampant in the church, and take a great deal of personal flesh suffering in order to overcome. BUT the suffering only starts when we recognize that our lives filled with these attributes are not only a shameful representation of our Savior, but also are a hindrance, hurt, and hypocrisy to every person we meet. Suffering starts when we see our sin as God sees it. The suffering starts when we read God's word as a mirror, and see the full scope of the sin in which we are indulging. The full/true suffering comes when we begin to give up the pleasure received from these sins, and experience instead the pain that comes from not indulging them; refusing to participate.
The effort to reject what is considered "a natural part of life," is enormously painful. The suffering that accompanies that effort, is what the Bible calls suffering for Christ's sake. The result of that suffering is called righteousness. If you are not suffering for Christ and righteousness' sake, GET BUSY and start getting uncomfortable!!! Refuse to participate!
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