At the end of Part 1 of this lesson I asked three questions for you to think about.
The first question was what kind of pain (suffering) affect you the most: physical, emotional or spiritual?
Most people think it was our physical and emotional pain that affect us the most, but it’s our spiritual pain because of our natural total self-centeredness enslave us and keep us farther from God.
We feel this spiritual pain when we deny ourselves.
If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life, will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. (Matthew 16:24-25)
Taking up your cross is no more than doing God’s will whether it make sense or feel good.
What it mean for us to “deny” ourselves is for us to:
- Stop focusing on our problems
- Think more about others
- Put Christ’s desires above our own
I know from experience it’s very painful for someone to deny themselves and do God’s will.
Jesus even struggled with it after knowing his mission was to go to the cross!
Because he faced the same battle we face–submitting to God’s will.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup (suffering) from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. ( Luke 22:42-43)
When we commit ourselves to doing God’s will, we must not forget we have the Holy Spirit to guide us and to strengthen us. (v43)
Jesus experience all his pain and suffering TO DIE so that we may live.
Every time we die to self we experience suffering but we also get closer to God’s will and closer to life.
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he MUST be killed and on the third day be raised to life. (Matthew 16:21)
The next two verses are perfect examples of what many people experience when their feeling get in the way of God’s will for them.
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said, “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:22-23)
Why did Peter get upset when Jesus told him about his future death?
Because Peter didn’t want to lose his leader and he was afraid this meant he would suffer too. Peter was thinking only of himself.
That’s why Jesus got so upset with Peter’s respond he knew who was behind it; Satan!
Our thinking, feeling and wants are stumbling blocks that Satan use to keep us from doing God’s will.
The only way out of the suffering, which most of us have made for ourselves, is to surrender to God’s will.
The more we live in harmony with God’s will for us the easier it is for us to be obedience to Christ.
Remember Jesus learned obedience through suffering (Hebrew 5:8). We must experience that same painful growing and learning process if we to experience His glory.