Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Character Development through Suffering

Why does God allow evil and suffering? 

A)  Last week:  Because He has granted FREEWILL TO MORAL CREATURES.  Two categories of moral creatures = angels and mankind.
Anytime there is sin, there will be disharmony, pain, suffering, etc. - if not immediately, then down the road.

B)  Today:  Because He can make GOOD USE OF BAD THINGS
In this particular dispensation that we are in - between the fall of angels and fall of man AND all the way to His return and total redemption - it is not out of His control, BUT He has the ability to turn bad things into good.
Classic example = the Cross = greatest tragedy man has ever seen when the creation killed the Creator.
Classic verse = Rom. 8:28 - In all things GOD works.

Some of the ways He uses evil and suffering for good............

#1.  Punishment - punishes evil with evil

#2.  Discipline/correction - Heb. 12:7

#3.  Protective suffering - pain as a warning device.  Examples:  touch fire -->feel pain --> remove before destroyed!!
Pain can be a friend.

#4.  Redemptive Suffering  - willingly combat evil and endure suffering for the sake of others!  - AS Christ did, so WE do.
Example:  soldiers who die to free others, etc.

#5.  Suffering for the Manifestation of God - John 11:14-15 - through this suffering God was made known.

These tend to overlap, not always clearly in one category.

#6.  Character Development of His children - God uses suffering (in an attempt) to develop our character.
James 1:2-4,  Rom. 5:1-4

Pain and Suffering may serve to:
I.  Add to your character
II.  Remove from your character
III.  Protect your character
All three are to Improve your character.

I.  Adding to Character - learn, acquire, pick up due to suffering
Deut. 8:2-3, 15-16
Phil. 4:10-13
2 Cor. 1:3-5

II.  Removing from Character - refining, purifying, pruning, clipping
Zech. 13:8-9
Isa. 48:10
Psm. 66:8-12
1 Pet. 1:3-7
Reference:  Hymn #338 - "How Firm a Foundation" - Vs. 3 - 'When through fiery trials my pathway shall lie, My grace all sufficient shall be thy supply; The flame shall not hurt thee;  I only design thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.'

III.  Protecting Character - 2 Cor. 12:7-10 - deprivation, affliction FOR sanctification.

#1.  it's a process - example:  forging tools - A) heat, shape, cool, polish
                                                                    B) re-heat - and temper
#2.  You'll go through it - 1 Pet. 4:12

#3.  He's more interested in your character than in your comfort - this life is the blacksmith shop - there's going to be an eternity for comfort.

#4.  Whether you take temper is largely your choice.  -  Quote from Dr. Paul Bilhiemer - "Don't Waste Your Sorrows" - have to decide whether to accept it or not.

#5.  He promises - it'll all be worth the process. - 2 Cor. 4:16-18

Closing:  Will we submit to "blacksmithing" to become what He wants us to be?

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