Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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We have seen it often: people come to the Lord and willingly receive the free blessings and benefits of the Spirit, the instruction of the faith, and the closeness and joy of the saints in light, but then, when Jesus asks them to suffer a little for him, to deny themselves and their own will, they wither as if they are shocked that such a thing could be.
Jesus doesn’t ask much of us, and he gives us so much in return for just a little bit of obedience. Can’t we bear a little persecution for all the blessings he gives? Can’t we stand firm in the faith when people misunderstand and abuse us? What is a little suffering here in comparison to the love and joy and blessings and gifts he gives, not to mention the promise of eternal life and peace? Paul wrote, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18).
Wake up and get ready to live! Be prepared. Do not be surprised by what will happen when you cease from sin. The world will not like you any more. Your own family may show you contempt. But if you dare to cease from sin, you will certainly suffer in the flesh. Be prepared to stand fast. Peter said that suffering is one proof that we have ceased from sin (1Pet. 4:1). And Paul plainly told us that “all who live righteous in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2Tim. 3:12). If you love God, the world will hate you. But wouldn’t you rather endure the minuscule hatred of men so that you may escape the fierce wrath of God?
Jesus warned the repentant Saul of Tarsus, right from the start, that he would suffer if he obeyed the true and living God (Acts 9:16). And Jesus also warned his disciples while he was still with them that “if the world hate you, know that it has first hated me. If you were of the world, the world would be friendly to its own, but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the statement I made to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master. If they hated me, they will also hate you; if they have obeyed my word, they will also obey yours.’ But all these things they will do unto you because of my name” (Jn. 15:18-20).
Be wise. We all must suffer with Christ if we are to reign with him. Suffering in some form is the inescapable result of committing sin, and “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” But because of Jesus, God has mercifully given us a precious opportunity. We can obey God and suffer now at the hands of foolish men, or we can refuse to obey and suffer later, at the hand of the Almighty.