Category Archives: Bible Study

What a difficult dilemma in modern society! Christians are surrounded by a very secular world, full of things To Judge or Not To Judge: A Bible Studythat they don’t approve of or agree with. At the same time, Christians have to balance seemly contradicting Biblical advice: “Judge not, lest ye be judged” and Jesus’ parable in Matthew 7 where he says: “For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?” It’s a tricky situation. For some advice, and a way to share that advice in a Bible study you’re planning on teaching, check out the Bible study below and you can visit Port Richey Church for more insights on your Bible innovations:

Bible Study on Judging or Not Judging

Main ideas:

The Bible is more complex than we give it credit for in the conservative church sometimes.

Contradictions in the Bible are often, maybe usually, there deliberately to make you think. What do you think Jesus is trying to get us to think here?

There are two kinds of judging; one is the kind that we have to apply in everyday life, that is wrong or this is right, the other is the kind that sets us up in God’s place; this person is evil or not, this person is to be forgiven, or not. Someday we’ll be allowed that kind of judgment, but not for today; we simply don’t have all the information we will at that time.

We are to judge, in fact, called to and competent to in almost any matter, other than whether or not someone is a Christian. (raca is danger of hell) (judging that builds up is ”you sinned against me” or “this person is not a positive influence”, but judging that tears down is different somehow.) (only thing is, Christ very clearly is talking here of the rebuking sort of judgment, and telling us to be darn careful with it.)

So there are two mistakes we make with this verse: one, we tune out righteous rebuke that we so desperately need, and two, we fail to offer the correction our friends need to grow.

And what about those other places where Jesus tells us to rebuke our brothers and treat them like tax collectors? (note this is neighbor not brother)

I think it comes down to, there’s a time to judge and a time not to. When someone is doing something grossly outrageous that’s hurting the faith or hurting you directly, then it’s time to judge. If someone is being a fool, and being around them is going to harm you and they’re not the type to listen to instruction, then it’s time to disengage. To tell someone they’re sinning means to some degree we’re judging, but we’re commanded to do it.

If I had to simplify, then I’d say we’re to judge those inside the covenant community (we’re working under God’s rules) but only over the serious stuff, not the stuff we think is serious, but the stuff that the Bible does; eg, you’re green and your brother drives a hummer, let that one slide, but if you’re green and he mocks you for believing in global warming (or vice versa), then that should be pointed out to him for his health and yours. So what, he drives a hummer, to his own master he stands or falls. But if he sins against you, rebuke him. Those outside the community, I’m not sure we should judge at all.

Intro:

You guys ever watch Montell Williams? Come on, you’re in a safe place, you can tell us. I’ve rarely seen shows like that except on parodies or in excepts, but one phrase I’ve seen in such shows is, “Don’t you judge me!” And I know you guys are familiar with “do not judge, lest ye be judged.” I’m sure that there are at least a few of us who have been tempted to quote that one in a similar fashion at one point or another in our lives.

Let’s look at the Bible verse underlying all of this stuff, Matt 7:1:

NRS Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.

What do you guys think about that? Are the folks on Montell right?

Does this say that if you want never to be judged for anything you do, that it’s possible so long as you never judge anyone else? (If so, that’s great news for sinners apart from Jesus’ death on the cross)

Is it saying that if you do judge, that your own judgment will be unavoidable? (but what about verses that say judgment is unavoidable?)

What is the context of this verse?

Matthew 7:2-6 2 For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3 Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye. 6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.

Q: What kind of judging is Jesus talking about here? (specks, nitpicky stuff)

Q: What’s up with verse 6? Is this part of the next segment? What do you think it means? Why does Jesus put this here? So we’re not supposed to judge, but calling people dogs and swine is ok?

Many contradictions are in the Bible on purpose

The easiest (and here most relevant) example is Proverbs

Proverbs 26:4 4 Do not answer fools according to their folly, or you will be a fool yourself.

Proverbs 26:5 5 Answer fools according to their folly, or they will be wise in their own eyes.

Q: do you think the author of these proverbs made a mistake? Do you think he wasn’t paying attention? Then what was his goal, do you think, in putting two contradictory statements so close together? (get you to think)

(side note; this shows 2 things; one that proverbs are not the iron clad spiritual laws of the universe that some would have us believe, but rather serve the purpose of making one wise, and two that modernists make one of two errors, liberalism or fundamentalism, missing the complexities entirely in their intra-cultural war)

Q: What do you think the purpose of this contradiction is? When is it OK or even necessary to judge, and when is it not? (covenant community it’s required to some degree, and it’s usually not appropriate to judge the world (job of HS, and different than warning)?)

Let’s look at what else the Bible has to say about judging others:

Matthew 18:15 15 “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.

Q: Can you tell someone else they’re sinning without judging?

James 4:11-12 11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers and sisters. Whoever speaks evil against another or judges another, speaks evil against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. So who, then, are you to judge your neighbor?

Q: What does this say about judging? What sort of judging is James talking about as “bad” here?

Romans 2:1-3 NRS Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. 2 You say, “We know that God’s judgment on those who do such things is in accordance with truth.” 3 Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God?

Q: Why is judging bad? Does this mean you should keep your trap shut about certain things, even if you’re sinned against yourself?

Luke 17:3 3 Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive.

Q: Is recognizing sin the same thing as judging? What’s the difference? (subjectively, being told you’re sinning feels a lot like being judged, doesn’t it?)

Romans 14:4 4 Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

Q: What reason does this verse give for us to control our urge to judge? What if you had this attitude every time someone tried to rebuke you?

1 Corinthians 5:12-13 12 For what have I to do with judging those outside? Is it not those who are inside that you are to judge? 13 God will judge those outside. “Drive out the wicked person from among you.”

Q: Does this verse seem to contradict the above verses about not judging others? What is the context, what’s going on?

Romans 14:10-13 10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” 12 So then, each of us will be accountable to God. 13 Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another.

Q: Does this verse contradict the above verse? Why not? What is “passing judgment” in this context? Is there a difference between passing judgment and rebuking?

1 Corinthians 6:1-4 When any of you has a grievance against another, do you dare to take it to court before the unrighteous, instead of taking it before the saints? 2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels— to say nothing of ordinary matters? 4 If you have ordinary cases, then, do you appoint as judges those who have no standing in the church?

Q: What does this passage say about judging?

1 Corinthians 4:3-5 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. 4 I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God.

Q:

This isn’t the only place this is taught, but it is the only place I know of in the NT that this is taught explicitly. You can see some of this when Jesus says to judge a tree by it’s fruit; he’s telling us to judge our teachers (this happens again in Rev with one of the churches, and in Phil with “those who falsely call themselves apostles” I think…), and again where he tells us to confront those who sin against us. You can’t confront someone without making some form of judgment, which is how the misunderstanding of this verse goes. But telling someone they’ve sinned against you or others or God is far different from pronouncing sentence; you have done X, so I’m going to treat you in Y fashion. Then you have “judged” and given a sentence, which I really God’s domain. The worst thing I know of in this fashion (find the verse) is saying that someone is not a Christian because of their actions; this may in fact be true, but if it’s false, you risk being judged yourself “for doing the same things”.

I know I grew up watching Disney’s Pinocchio and remember seeing Jiminy Cricket talk about how he was Pinocchio’s conscience. If only life was so simple and we all had a little cricket telling us what we should or shouldn’t do. It still didn’t work out very well for Pinocchio in the movie of course, as even Jiminy Cricket couldn’t keep him out of trouble. Likewise, for people today, trying to listen to your conscience isn’t going to keep you out of trouble and help you to only make the right decisions. Instead, this Bible study suggests that we all need to fix our conscious and follow the Holy Spirit to make the best decisions. The Bible Study below will help you teach these ideas in your next study.

Bible Study on Conscience is a Poor Guide

We’re often led by conscience in our culture. I’ve got the money, why shouldn’t I buy it? It’s not hurting anybody else, why shouldn’t I do this? So long as we’re ok with something, it’s not illegal, and it doesn’t hurt anyone else, the standards we’ve got from our culture say “go for it.”

Now, we know conscience is a poor guide, but we use it anyway. We know that just because we feel ok about hitting back when we ought to turn the other cheek, that doesn’t make it ok. On the other side of things, we also know that just because someone laid a guilt trip on us that doesn’t mean that the right thing to do is spend time doing whatever they want us to rather than spend time at church or with our families. Or guilt trips about the environment.

The Bible talks a lot about keeping a clear conscience. But does that mean that I am ok to do whatever I like so long as I’ve got a clear conscience? Or does that mean that if something is bothering my conscience it’s definitely the right thing to do? Give some examples.

We need to repair our consciences first, retrain them and refocus them, and then we can rely on them as guides. Heb 10:22.

The conscience is going to OK whatever it’s focused on. The Germans were focused on reclaiming their pride after the Treaty of Versailles, and so a lot of things that were obviously wrong to the rest of the world, like taking part of Chech, seemed right and good to them. So if you’re focused on having that nice car and that nice house, your conscious is probably going to OK you working longer hours than you should (ahem) or if you’re focused on keeping the approval of others, your conscience is not going to bother you like it should when someone asks you to do something you know you probably shouldn’t (as simple as hanging out with the boys when you haven’t seen your wife all week). So change what you’re focused on and that’s the first step to fixing your conscience.

This raises the question, however, how do we do this? By what means are our evil, guilty consciences cleansed and made into the good guides God intended them to be? By refocusing our hearts on God, and by retraining them through the Bible and the Holy Spirit (HS).

There’s a difference between conscience and the leading of the HS, however. You can do some awful things and just feel great about them. It happens all the time. Watch a movie sometime and you’ll see it; heck, watch the right kind of movie and you’ll experience it!

Your conscience is valuable, but it’s not God.

Some people say, it’s nice that you have this ability to hear the HS pastor, that’s what we pay you for, but I don’t think that’s for us rank and file Christians. Nothing could be further from the truth! Present this as a question: Many prophets and disciples heard the voice of the HS and acted in ways that weren’t in accord with their consciences (Peter, Paul, Jeremiah, etc).

Others say, God told me what you should do. Beware! Test such a one!

Intro: (above)

1: Let Conscience be Your Guide:

1 Timothy 3:8-9 8 Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.

Q: How important is keeping a clear conscience here? Does this mean that if your conscience is leading you, you should follow? Does that mean that if something is bothering my conscience it’s definitely the right thing to do?

1 Peter 3:15-16 15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

Q: What does a clear conscience here indicate? (good behavior) But does that mean that I am ok to do whatever I like so long as I’ve got a clear conscience?

So the Bible says to keep a clear conscience. Big surprise. How do we normally do this? Does that always work out for the best? Ever done anything your conscience was fine with but was really dumb? Or ever been guilt tripped into doing something that wasn’t the best thing you could have been doing by trying to keep a clear conscience? For most of us, conscience is actually a crappy guide. (for all of these verses there’s an assumption, I believe, that these are people whose consciences are renewed, not broken.)

2: Conscience is broken; how do we fix it?

Q: Why is conscience such a bad guide?

Solution 1: refocus (more Hebrews?)

Hebrews 10:22 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

Q: What does this verse say about our conscience? How do we fix it?

1 John 3:18-20 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 19 This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence 20 whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

Q: what does this tell you about a good conscience? How do you get one? (2 ways, do what’s right and rely on God, who is greater than our hearts) (do what’s right and let that act as proof to your heart that you’re redeemed)

Solution 2: retrain using the Bible; 2 Tim 3:16

1 Corinthians 10:25-27 25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” 27 If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience.

Q: What does this tell you about conscience? If your heart tells you something different than the Bible, what should you do?

2 Timothy 3:15-17 15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Q: What does this say about how to be guided?

Solution 3: retrain using the HS

Isaiah 48:17 17 This is what the LORD says– your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.

John 10:4 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

Abraham, Paul, Moses each went in a way their consciences wouldn’t have led them because God sent them that way. Mt. Moriah, the road to Damascus (where Paul thought he was doing God a favor), back to Egypt after decades, each of these was a good decision that wouldn’t have been reached by following conscience. You can’t figure this out, but you have to be given it then train it.

; establish this is for all God’s children, show the difference between this and conscience (and the superiority) and offer 1 next step (start doing what you hear).

Doing what God tells you to, and letting that be your internal judge, seems good to me. I’ll be honest, this is new material for me and it’s difficult.

Hebrews 5:13 – 6:1 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

What do we mean when we say “let your conscious be your guide?” What do we mean by “conscious”? What is that? (it’s a little voice inside your head that tells you if what you’re doing is right or wrong, or at least that’s our cultural conception)

So conscious is that little voice inside you that guides you. Sound familiar? This gets us to being led by the Holy Spirit, and to what extent this is a good idea.

I should probably mention (though don’t have to) that we sometimes use this leading by the HS as a cop out of the hard work of making a difficult decision, baptizing our laziness or our fear. We also sometimes are deceived (2 Cor 11) into making really dumb choices. There’s a time to follow your feelings as encouragement from God and a time to reject them as evil. Knowing when is the rub (or knowing how to connect with them).

What’s the controversy? The one I see is the argument about feelings and to what extent we should listen to them. I assume that others want to say, listen to the Bible. .

I think there’s a controversy in the church about feelings and being guided by our feelings. This is just another term for conscious. Some would say your feelings are not at all trustworthy, and some would say that God primarily speaks to us through our feelings (after all, God told Abraham something contradictory to the scriptures, assuming he knew of what came before him in Gen 9)

Feelings are a great guide if your heart is 100% focused on God, otherwise they’re a great guide to whatever your heart is focused on.

What does the Bible say about this? There’s all of the led by the voice of God passages, I think there are a few places where it talks about our consciouses being seared, which to me means scarred so that they’re unfeeling, and then I could wrap it up on the “so long as it doesn’t contradict the Bible” bit, although I don’t actually believe that, given the example of Abraham.

Possible bible verses:

That one in Paul: I don’t know of anything aginst myself but am not thereby cleared.

1 Cor 8 (similar to Rom 14) – basically conscience is a poor guide because there’s no need for one, lol. A “weak” conscience is one that sees sin where none exists.

Wounding another’s conscience is considered a sin

1 Cor 10:25ff, don’t listen to your conscience in matters where you know what the Bible says. If the Bible says it’s ok, it’s ok. Is the opposite also true? Probably: if you know that the Bible says it’s wrong, it’s still wrong no matter what your conscience says.

1 Timothy 1:19 19 holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.

This says that keeping a good conscience is paramount to keeping the faith. I think what this means is basically not muscling ahead when you feel that what you’re doing is wrong, even if your head says it’s ok.

What clears the conscience?

Hebrews 9:9 9 This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper.

Jesus does.

God leading us:

Psalm 143:10 10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.

Isaiah 48:17 17 This is what the LORD says– your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.

Galatians 5:18 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law (what does that mean?)

Ephesians 4:30 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Romans 14:23 23 But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

sufferingSome Bible studies are pretty easy to come up with. A study on Christmas, for example, isn’t too hard. It’s a happy subject, it’s a happy time of year, and its something that most people are at least somewhat familiar with the content. However, some studies are much more challenging. Developing a study on suffering is a particularly tricky one. Despite its difficultly, it’s a topic that many people have questions about and want to learn more about. Hopefully the study below will help you lead your own study on suffering.

A Valley Means I Made a Wrong Turn: Why Not All Trouble is Your Fault.

Are tough times my fault? What does the story of the man blind from birth (Jn. 9: 1) tell us about this?

Why doesn’t skill / ability /wisdom guarantee a good outcome? What does Jesus’ life show us about difficulties and closeness to God? What does God want us to learn in the valleys? (psalm 23)

God is punishing me. Why is this concept false? Heb 4ish. Explain why guilt is false (Heb 10:22?)

Just because you don’t have to feel guilty for it doesn’t mean that you can ignore it. What trouble is your fault and what isn’t? Prov, Deut, etc about not doing what you should and suffering??? I can point out that this is refining (but so is suffering that isn’t your fault… still, with Israel, I think it was more often due to a need that they suffered). The point here is to get us to the next point, which is “what about suffering you don’t cause, but you’re still going under?”

Some Christians (and I think all Muslims) would contend that a truly obedient and righteous person doesn’t suffer or get sick or want for anything, but I think this group knows better; not because we think ourselves perfect, but because we know that suffering isn’t always connected to something stupid we did. It’s as often from something stupid someone else did, and we were just in the way at the time. Why is that first thought false? (Christ lived a perfect life but was a “man of sorrows”)¬

What is the true function of difficulties that come for no reason? Refining, holiness, obedience. Part of it is simply the fact that we live in a fallen world. Is it fair to blame ourselves for these (there is a bit of an American thought; you’re the master of your destiny, poor people could have avoided being poor if they’d made better choices, etc)? Bible verse. Is it fair to blame God?

How come some Christians get through life without many troubles, but not me? What are some of the reasons that folks undergo severe testing? Just about every prophet, righteous person and teacher in the Bible went through some mighty difficult stuff to get where God wanted them. If you want to be used mightily, get ready to be tested, tried and refined.

Proverbs 11:17 17 A kind man benefits himself, but a cruel man brings trouble on himself.

James 2:13 judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.

Proverbs 17:20 20 A man of perverse heart does not prosper; he whose tongue is deceitful falls into trouble.

Q: What does this mean? If you tell a lie, what is going to happen? You’re going to get into trouble, and the way out is to admit it.

Proverbs 28:14 14 Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble.

Proverbs 12:21 21 No harm befalls the righteous, but the wicked have their fill of trouble.

1st Point: There’s no such thing as punishment from God for a Christian.

Your sin has been PAID.

1 John 4:17-18 7 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

Q: What does this say about punishment? Should a Christian fear punishment?

NRS John 5:24 Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life.

Q: What does this say about Christians? Is this in the future tense? When does this happen? Then are Christians ever under God’s judgment (that is to say, punished)?

1 Peter 2:24 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

Q: Why aren’t Christians under judgment? What’s made this possible?

2nd Point: Then why does bad stuff happen to me?

So if you think that you’re being punished by God for something you did wrong, stop it. That’s not accurate or helpful. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t some kind of suffering that is your fault. Some types of trouble are your fault.

Galatians 6:7-8 7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Q: What does this passage mean? If you tell a lie, what will happen to you? If you cheat on your taxes? If you continually think angry or lustful thoughts? (If you’re not being punished, what is happening? It’s just the way the universe is set up… You plant an apple seed, you don’t get oranges; you drink poison you die.)

Some Christians would hold that all trouble is your fault, that no truly faith-filled person would ever suffer sickness or poverty. Here are a few of the verses they use to show that:

Psalm 103:2-3 2 Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits– 3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,

Q: Some would say that if he forgives all your sins, then he would also heal all of your diseases, so long as you have faith, aren’t sinning, etc. What do you think about this?

Proverbs 19:23 23 The fear of the LORD leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

Q: Some would say that this is absolutely true. If you really are righteous, if you really do fear God, then you are able (and it’s God’s will for you) to live a life untouched by trouble. What’s your reaction to this?

3rd Point: Many types of suffering aren’t your fault.

Does God ever send suffering to people who don’t deserve it? Could a just God really do such a thing? What would be the point?

Hebrews 12:5-11 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” 7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Q: What were the folks in Rome going through? Was it their fault? What does the author say about their suffering? Why did God allow it? What do you think God sometimes allows suffering in your life that you didn’t deserve?

4th Point: We undergo suffering to make us more like Christ.

How come some Christians get through life without many troubles, but not me? What are some of the reasons that folks undergo severe testing?

Zechariah 13:8-9 8 In the whole land,” declares the LORD, “two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. 9 This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.'”

Q: What does refining entail? Is it pleasant? Yet what are the results?

James 1:2-4 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Q: What does this say about the purpose of suffering? Should we really take joy in it? (Freud thought we are Masochists) Can we be complete as Christians without it?

Hebrews 5:8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered

Q: Who is this talking about? What did he get from suffering?

We could go into many examples of people who suffered in spite of being extremely faith filled (indeed, because of that fact), starting with Jesus and Paul, but instead I’ll just say that to get you where God wants you, there will almost certainly be some suffering. How you respond to it is the single greatest determining factor to how long you spend there. Learn what you need to learn fast, then pray to get out of it.

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