We shared regarding the weapons of Apostles Paul some time ago.
In that study, we learnt that a Christian without weapons can never triumph over his enemies, that is why we need to learn from the weapons of the Apostles. These weapons allowed Apostles to be victorious in the past, and today it can help us as well.
We would be able to fight a good fight, just like the apostles. Let us look at the weapons of Apostle Peter.
Peter is a man just like us, he was once defeated by the devil, but he was able to stand up and fight once again because of Gods mercy.
Weapon 1 : Armed With A Mind Of Suffering
Peter once said
“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.” – Peter (1 Pet 4:1-2 )
When Peter denied the Lord 3 times, he was afraid to suffer. Though he once said that he was willing to follow Christ to death, but he was afraid to acknowledge him when he saw the suffering the Christ.
At that time, he was not prepared, he did not have the heart to suffer for Christ. He failed in that battle because he was without that weapon. As he wept, he reflected in the midst of pain. Later on at the day of Pentecost, after he received the Holy Spirit, he is now willing and ready to suffer for Christ. Christ had just suffered for him, so he armed his mind with that same attitude.
This time he was victorious when the devil attacked him once again.
We all remember the story of Herod planning to execute Peter, this record was written in Acts 12. In fact Herod had already killed James the brother of John earlier. For Peter, death was imminent. But this time, he had no fear, he had no regret. He is able to sleep soundly in the prison. For he is prepared, and he is armed with his weapon, the heart to suffer.
That is how he fought a good fight for Jesus.
If we want to fight a good fight, we must be armed with the same attitude to suffer. We must be willing to suffer for Christ
Understanding Suffering And Sin
Peter said that people armed with the heart of suffering had ceased to sin. He did not mean that suffering remove sin, therefore there is no need for Christians to torture themselves like medieval monks.
In fact, Paul even reminds us that self torture had no value against the indulgence of the flesh (Col 2:20-23)
There was once a comic strip that was drawn to mock Christian, but I think there is much truth in it.
There was a monk who tried torturing himself , and he discovered that he is unable to stop himself from sinning. So he went to the Reverend and ask him for advice
“The next time you have wicked thoughts, use this revolver and shoot the wall”
At first it worked well, until the monk ran out of bullets. So he wanted to ask for advice again. But as he approach the Reverends room, he heard a gunshot, so he peep in.
The Reverend was firing a machine gun at the wall.
This story reminds us that we cannot defeat evil by our own strength, which is why we need Jesus to forgive us. We need to learn and emulate him.
When Peter said those who suffer ceased to sin, he is trying to tell us. That those who suffered in the flesh, knows the pain and suffering brought by sin. Therefore they will choose to turn over a new leaf and stop sinning.
Even if the devil were to tempt him again and again, that would have no effect, for he remembers the pain that will follow. Even though sinning provides a moment of happiness but it carries with it a lifetime of suffering.
Suffering Can Cure Spiritual Aliments
Suffering is never good for our life, but it is good medicine that can heal spiritual illness. Therefore, if we want our souls to be saved, we need to have a heart to suffer. It can help us defeat the temptation from the devil.
The devil had 2 strategies with regards to stumbling Christians
Devil Attack Strategy No 1: Flood Your Lives With Suffering
Many a times, the simplest way to destroy a Christian life is to put enough suffering to deter a Christian to practice his faith. This is his basic strategy and we still see Christians suffering for faith today.
But it is the second strategy that is more vicious and subtle than the first.
Devil Attack Strategy No 2: Flood Your Lives With Enjoyment
Christians who had much enjoyment in life, falls into temptation. Just like how Esau sold his birth right for some red pottage, just like how Judas betrayed Christ for 30 pieces of silver. A person who focus much on enjoyment tend to fall into temptations.
They are deceived by the devil to betray Jesus. But if a Christian were not to be greedy, he would not fall. Unfortunately, many are not prepared to suffer and they come to Christ only for peace. Of course I know that Jesus give us peace , but at the same time we ought to be prepared for suffering as well.
If suffering is not part of Christian walk, why then did Jesus say “Take up your cross to follow me?” Very often we pray to God to take away our cross. But if he wants to take it away,why then did he still tell us to take up the cross to follow him?
So whenever we encounter troubles failures and persecution for faith, they are all Gods test for us.
The Importance Of Bearing The Cross , Paying The Price
Jesus once said
“Those who do not bear the cross
cannot be his disciples” – Jesus (Lk 14:27)
Jesus was not being discriminatory here, because people who cannot bear the cross can never be his disciples even if they want to. Jesus went on to share two parables (Lk 14:28-30 and Lk 14:31,32)
The first talks about building a tower. If one wanted to build a tower, will need to prepare money and take a loan if necessary. The process of returning the lord requires us to suffer a bit and it requires our patience as well.
But a person building the tower would feel that the tower is worth the trouble and the suffering, so he would not mind to go through suffering to get it completed.
If we are willing to suffer just for a earthly home, what more for the kingdom of God? A Earthly house is subject able to collapse and destructions, it can turn our hope and our work into vanity. But our heavenly home is one that will never be destroyed. Jesus is reminding us to calculate the course. He want us to decide if it is worth it for us to carry the cross and follow him. We can make our own decision there.
The second Parable talks about going to war.
Can we fight 20 K soldiers with 10K troops? if we cannot we ought to make peace and not fight. Today Human wars against sin, can we rely on ourselves to be sinless? Can we stand before the judgment seat of Christ with a clear conscience?
We know we can’t that is why we need to reconcile with Jesus, to seek forgiveness. For we know that we cannot rely on ourselves to defeat our own weakness. That is why we need forgiveness and salvation.
That is why Jesus concluded saying
“So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake
all that he has cannot be My disciple.” – Jesus Lk 14:33
So if we want to be his disciples, we need to take up the cross. We give thanks to God in times of peace, and we give thanks even in the midst of troubles for we know it is a test.
Therefore we need to arm ourselves with the mind to suffer for Christ. With God’s help we can triumph over it.
Learning The Mind Of Suffering From Job
When Job was on trial, how was he able to overcome the devil? What weapon did he use?
Job in fact relied on the mind to suffer. Interestingly his wife failed because she did not have that weapon. This is evidently seen in Jobs reply to her
“You speak as one of the foolish women speaks.
Shall we indeed accept good from God, and
shall we not accept adversity?” – Job (Job 2:10)
Both Job and his wife are God fearing people who loved God, but one managed to survive the trial. Job survived because he is prepared to accept both good and adversity from God. He thank God for good and bad times.
He is able to say “The Lord Given, The Lord Taken away, may his name be praised”
No one likes to have his blessings taken away, perhaps that is the reason why we are unprepared when adversity calls. Perhaps that is the reason why Christians are defeated easily.
Many Christian fail not because of a lack of faith, but a lack of attitude and a heart to suffer for God
The Choice Is Ours To Make
Jesus wanted us to make our choice, to carry the cross and to be his disciples. If not we would be like Jobs wife, she thinks that Job should curse God and die. But a true Christian would be like Job, he is able to accept both good and bad from the Lord.
Elder Peter reminds us
“For to this you were called,
because Christ also suffered for us,
leaving us an example, that you
should follow His steps” – Peter (1 Pet 2:21 )
Christ is not someone who does not practice what he preach, Christ had suffered for us before calling us to suffer. Sometimes when we are suffering we feel that God is silent to us. We picture God as someone sitting high above heaven relaxing as he watch us suffer.
But Christ had already suffered for us and he had set an example for us to follow. That is why Peter continue his exhortation saying
“ Beloved, do not think it strange concerning
the fiery trial which is to try you, as though
some strange thing happened to you;
but rejoice to the extent that you partake of
Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is
revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding
joy.” – Peter (1 Pet 4:12-13)
If we want glory with Jesus, we would need to suffer together with him. In fact while Jesus is with us, he had already suffered for us. He can choose not to pick up the bitter cup , but yet he accepted it for our sakes. In order to give eternal life to all of us
Conclusion: Arming Ourselves With Suffering
Let us be free from sin, especially Christians who were saved from sin. If we truly understand how difficult it is for God to save one soul, we would not return back to our old ways
What do you know about “emulating Christ” what does it really means?
Emulating Christ is to go through Gethsemane, Golgotha and then to heaven.
If God has to go through it, can we now get a express train ticket into heaven? This is a privilege that even God did not receive.
So let us be prepared, and be armed with a heart to suffer for Christ. Only then can we fight this good fight and receive glory in heaven at the end.