1 Peter 4 : 1 - 2, 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. NKJV
Throughout the New Testament, we're taught by both Jesus and the Apostles that those who live godly will suffer persecution. We're also instructed by the Lord and the Apostles of the faith to endure the sufferings of this world through our faith in Christ. Paul tells us in Romans 8 that if our desire is to reign with Christ, then we must choose to suffer with Him as well. Why do you suppose suffering has such a significant role in our faith walk with Christ?
Jesus tells us in the gospels that if we become followers of His teachings, the world will hate us and will persecute us. In Matthew 24, Jesus also teaches that there will be a time when they will kill us. Here is something that might be hard to embrace, but it remains true, nonetheless. If we have true faith in Christ, then we will choose to suffer with Him rather than to escape suffering and deny Him.
People who have faith will choose to suffer for the sake of Christ, but people who live in unbelief won't suffer. Let's look at the blindness that is caused by unbelief. Jesus taught on the subject of hell. Further, in John 8, He told the Jews that they would perish in their sins because they chose to reject Him as their Christ. Though Jesus told them what would await them after death, unbelief hardened their hearts, and they chose not to suffer being named a follower of Christ. Unbelief prevents people from suffering for "a moment" and will cause them to spend all of eternity in torment because they refused to accept the suffering for faith in Christ.
Luke 23 : 39 - 43, Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us." But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong." Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." NKJV
Jesus is hung between two thieves. One of them, acting in unbelief, mocked Jesus and demanded Him to save Himself (and them) from having to suffer on the cross. All this thief wanted Jesus to do for him was to save him from suffering on the cross even though he was guilty of the crime. The other thief had a humble heart of faith toward Jesus and asked Jesus to save him from his sin and not the cross. Here's the sad part of this story. In a matter of a few hours, all three men were dead. Jesus and the humble thief were in paradise and out of pain. The other thief who only wanted to be saved from the pain of the cross was now in complete and eternal torment with no hope of ever getting free.
I wanted to share this word with you today as my brother or sister in Christ to encourage you if you're suffering wrongfully. Paul tells us that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us. Be strong and courageous in the Lord. Know that the Lord is with you, and He will deliver you from all your afflictions.
Standing in Faith,