Monday, June 28, 2021

The Way of the Disciple - Part 10

Joseph Herrin (10-15-2011)

Suffering's Role in Spiritual Growth

There is a very important, and little understood principle, to be addressed in this post. The principle can be summarized as the following:

The strength of the natural man must be broken in order for a spiritual creation born of the seed of Christ to be revealed in us.

Whenever a man is strong in a natural sense, the development of the spiritual man is inhibited. I would include here an excerpt from a previous writing titled The Shattered People that speaks of this principle.

All of us are like the seed of an oak, or even the seed of a grain of wheat. The life within the seed is there with all of the potential to grow into the pattern of that which it came from. Yet the outer shell restricts this life from coming forth. Even as a seed must fall into the ground and die, being subjected to freezing, flood, heat and pressure, resulting in the outer shell being broken open, so too must the lives of the saints be subjected to great stress in order for the life of Christ to be revealed. Christ Yahshua said we had but two options: we can fall on the Rock and be broken to pieces, or the Rock can fall on us and scatter us like dust (Matthew 21:44).

Recently, the Spirit revealed this truth of the necessity for brokenness in a most poignant way. I know of a man in his sixties who has been a child of God nearly forty years. There was much hardness in this man’s life, and the outer shell of his natural man greatly constricted the flow of the Spirit within him. He was prone to speak very cutting and hard words to members of his family, wounding many of them.

About a year ago this man had to undergo major surgery, and he nearly died. After his surgery he was left in a very weakened state physically, mentally, and emotionally. His natural strength was abated. In his weakened condition the Spirit was able to move in his life and to express qualities of meekness, gentleness, humility and love. In his vulnerability and weakness he expressed many words of regret about his past hardness, and the failures of his life. He called up family members, and with tears he spoke of his regret over his hardness, and he asked forgiveness of those whom he had hurt.

Over time this man’s strength began to return, and as it has the former hardness that was a characteristic of his natural man has also returned. He has returned to speaking hard and injurious words to those around him. As I contemplated this I saw clearly why the Spirit must bring all of God’s children to places of brokenness. We all “have this treasure in earthen vessels,” even the very life and Spirit of Christ. Yet this life will be as a bottle of precious and costly perfume that has never been opened if we protect it and do not allow it to be shattered. The scriptures give us a beautiful picture of this.

Mark 14:3
While He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining at the table, there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head.

John 12:3
Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.  

Alabaster is a white, marble-like mineral that people used to store ointments in. While the alabaster vial remains sealed and unbroken, the contents are completely hidden, closed off from the world. When Mary broke her alabaster vial we are told that “the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” If we want our environment to be filled with the fragrance of Christ, then we too must be broken vessels.

[End Excerpt]

I recently received correspondence from another saint who has embraced a surrendered life in recent years. She was directed by the Spirit of Christ to make many radical changes to her life, and they have proven costly. Where she formerly had financial security and a settled life, she now has to look to Yahweh daily for her provision and she has moved about from place to place. Eventually the Spirit led her to move back to her hometown where her parents and family live.

In moving back this sister encountered much censure and criticism from family members who are Christians, but who have not come to the same degree of surrender to be directed by the Holy Spirit. As is the case with most Christians who are led by their soul, her family members led comfortable and outwardly successful lives. When these ones viewed her life, they saw the recent changes as being negative. She was reproached as one who is deceived, deluded, or has taken a wrong turn in life. Yahweh used the criticism and judgments of others to teach her meekness, gentleness, forgiveness and longsuffering. Rather than defend herself, she chose to bear the offenses patiently.

Many of these offenses came from her father. He expressed his concern to his daughter that she was in much error, making known his disapproval of her decisions, and the lack of wisdom in the course she had now embraced. Rather than commending her for taking up her cross to follow Christ, she was subjected to judgments that she was less spiritual than other members of the family. These criticisms hurt, for this woman loved her father and desired to have a close and loving relationship with him.

About a year ago this woman’s father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, or a similar form of advanced dementia. His mental decline was very rapid and he was soon wandering off and getting lost. His mind was reduced in its capacity to reason, to argue, and to determine his own way through this life. At the same time that his mental powers were in decline a transformation began to take place in the way he related to others. The former criticism that had marked his relationship with his daughter was replaced with a spirit of love and appreciation. A sweet, simple love exuded from his innermost being as he daily interacted with her. This man remained full of love until his death some months later.

What occurred in both of these examples I have listed is that the inner nature of Christ began to be revealed through individuals whose natural powers had formerly remained unbroken. As the strength of the Adamic man was weakened, the inner life of Christ was able to come forth free of those restraints that had formerly bound it up.

The truth revealed in these things, and corroborated by the testimony of Scripture, is that the natural strengths of man are very often a hindrance to the release of the Spirit within our beings. It is necessary for every man to enter into a weak condition in a natural sense in order for the power of Christ’s divine life to be revealed in and through them. The apostle Paul makes this very argument.

II Corinthians 12:7-10
Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me - to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

People of God, consider how contradictory the attitude of Paul is with that manifested by the world and the church today. Paul said, “I will rather boast about my weaknesses.” What do men boast about today? Do they not boast about their strengths? Yet, it is these very strengths that hinder growth in conformity to Christ.

Consider some of the many things men identify as their strengths today. The ability to earn a prodigious amount of money is one of man’s chief strengths. Having wealth accumulated, much property, investments, and money in the bank gives a man a sense of power and achievement. Some men boast about their intellect. They may have excelled in college, or earned advanced degrees; They may be highly knowledgeable in certain fields of endeavor, or have a great capacity to reason logically, and this gives them a sense of empowerment. Other men are strong physically. They have an athleticism that gives them a sense of invulnerability, of endless strength to accomplish whatever they set their minds to do.

In every such instance where a man comes to rely in, and operate from, a position of natural strength, there always exists the potential of conflict with the spirit. When a man has found that his natural strengths have carried him far in life, he very often will judge that these same natural strengths will bring him equal success in the kingdom of God. This is great error. Whenever Yahweh sets forth to accomplish anything, it must be by the following principle:

Zechariah 4:6
“Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says Yahweh of hosts.

Truly, “It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh profits nothing.” Among the last recorded words of Christ to His disciples before He ascended are the following:

Acts 1:8
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."

Some who heard these words might have wondered, “What is wrong with the power we already have? Are not our wealth, our physical strength, and our mental powers of the soul adequate? Cannot we look to our natural strengths as we labor to be Christ’s witnesses?” It was certainly the pattern of the Jews in that day to carry forth all their religious duties through the power of the natural man, for the Spirit had not yet been given.

Sadly, even after the Spirit has been given, a majority of Christians continue to operate on the basis of a soulish power. Much service to God is performed in the power of the natural man. The soul of man is guiding and directing, and the natural powers of man that are looked to in order to accomplish every task. The results are predictable.

Men who operate out of their natural strength will fall short of the mind and will of the Father. Man’s ways are not God’s ways. Look at the focus the church has placed upon prosperity, wealth, and worldly success today and it is evident that the soul of man is guiding. The church is seeking to manifest an image of power, success and strength to the world. The church seeks to meet the world head on from a position of strength, yet the Son of God came in much weakness.

When men are strong in natural things, they are weak in spiritual things. This is why we find so few great people on this earth embracing the meek and lowly walk of a disciple of Christ.

I Corinthians 1:26-29
For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.

I have observed in my own life that natural strength does not promote spiritual growth. In those seasons of my life when I was earning a good salary and had much money to spend, my tendency was to make decisions for myself. I felt empowered by my success, and the result was a spiritual malaise. Rather than drawing closer to God, I found that I was pressing in less to His presence.

Yahweh knows our tendency to forget Him when we are full and experiencing abundance. Therefore, He will lead His willing people through wilderness places where the abundance is gone.

Hosea 13:5-6
I cared for you in the wilderness, in the land of drought. As they had their pasture, they became satisfied, and being satisfied, their heart became proud; Therefore they forgot Me.

If I had been a physically strong man, I am confident that this too would have been a great hindrance to my spiritual growth. Physical strength would have engendered in me a carelessness about spiritual things. Yahweh in His wisdom and mercy permitted me to be born with brittle bones. From the time of my childhood I was more easily injured than other children. I was not athletic, and this natural weakness caused me to adopt a more humble attitude toward those around me than I would have had otherwise.

One of the greatest areas of natural strength men must overcome is the power of their mind. Men are naturally prone to rely heavily upon their own ability to reason as they pursue a course through this world. As Christians, such reliance upon natural reason will stymy spiritual growth. Christians, even after they have been born of the Spirit of Christ, still retain the ability, and tendency, to think as natural men. This tendency to operate from a natural wisdom must be cast down.

I Corinthians 3:18-19
Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God.

What does Paul mean when he says we “must become foolish”? The natural man esteems things that God does not. Look at the world around you. Look at what is promoted on television and in all forms of media. A pursuit of material abundance is one of the chief tenets of worldly wisdom. Try to get as much of this world as you can. Seek a comfortable life. Enjoy as much pleasure as possible. Pursue popularity. Live large. Be filled and happy. This is the wisdom of the world. Yet the wisdom of Christ speaks in this way:

Luke 6:20-26
And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.”

The wisdom of God esteems that which the natural man despises. The natural man seeks to walk in strength. The spiritual man boasts in his weakness, for then the power of Christ can be revealed in him. There are a multitude of ways in which Yahweh can bring His sons and daughters to experience this necessary sense of weakness. In the passage we previously looked at from the apostle Paul, he was writing about a thorn in the flesh. This thorn was some type of physical affliction that was very humbling. Yet, Paul acknowledged that there were other things Yahweh brought into his life, and ours, to produce in us this same sense of natural weakness so that we would look to the power of Yahweh to sustain us.

“Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Has Yahweh brought you to a place where you are insulted and reproached? Does this not cause you to perceive your vulnerable position in this world? Those who are popular feel empowered by their popularity, yet those who are insulted are weak by comparison.

Have you been brought to experience various distresses? Perhaps you have distressing circumstances in your finances. Maybe the distress is in learning of some serious medical problem you are facing. Whatever the experience, distresses come into our lives to help break down the natural man so that the life of Christ can be revealed in us.

Are you persecuted for your obedience to Christ? It is certainly difficult to find that the Christian religious system holds you in contempt, or has declared you to be deluded and a heretic. When ministers close the doors of their churches in your face, and you find you have no place among them, there is a sense of being alone in this world. This isolation drives us closer to our heavenly Father. The same is true when we face persecution from the world, from governments, and the courts of the land.

Paul said he had learned to be content with difficulties. All disciples of Christ will be led into difficulties. Yahshua said that there is an afflicted path that leads to life. His invitation is to take up your cross and follow Him. All of these experiences are designed to provide us with a favorable environment for spiritual growth. We grow best when our lives are difficult.

Consider now why Christ told those who would be His disciples that they must give up all they possess. Our possessions give us a sense of security, of strength. How many people wrap their homes, cars, and possessions around themselves as a security blanket? These worldly possessions enable them to feel comfortable and protected. Yet, what man needs to grow spiritually is a sense of his vulnerability in this world. When we are weak we look to God constantly. When we are weak we are cognizant of our need for God to come through for us each and every day, lest we be overcome and perish. When we are weak we look to God to perform that which we cannot accomplish in our natural strength. When we are weak we trust in God’s thoughts more than our own. Therefore, God chooses for His children to experience much weakness in this world.

When a man or woman comes to Christ they must lay aside the natural order of their former life. Whereas they previously sought to live life from a position of strength, they must now embrace weakness. Rather than relying upon their natural abilities to carry them through life, they must now look to the Spirit of Christ to direct their steps and empower them for every task.

Because natural strength is such a detriment to spiritual growth, Christ will ALWAYS lead His disciples to experience much weakness in this life. We often read or hear about in the news of some young person who has had much fame and fortune at an early age. These ones have been overcome by their natural appetites and sinful impulses. They have fallen into a lifestyle of sexual immorality, of illegal drug use, or drunkenness, or even theft. Has not the church fallen into deception when they would desire to have the same wealth, affluence and popularity as these ones who have made shipwreck of their lives? I thank God that He has chosen for me an afflicted path, for had I the experience of many of these young movie stars and singers I would surely have strayed far from the path of life and lost all thought of God.

When you and I surrender our lives to be led of the Spirit in all things, Christ will upset the normal course of our lives. In some way, indeed in many ways, Yahshua will produce weakness in a man or woman. Some who were formerly financially secure will find themselves emptied of worldly possessions and wealth. Some who were physically strong will find themselves made weak. Some who were accounted as wise in this world will be brought into circumstances where they are judged to be fools. As we follow Christ we will find that weakness becomes our companion.

Weakness produces for men and women the proper environment for spiritual growth. The fruits of the Spirit grow abundantly in the fertile soil of an Adamic life that has been brought to poverty. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, self-control...

Does not weakness act as a catalyst in the promotion of these spiritual fruit? Do you not find it easier to act and speak in a patient, kind, and humble manner when you are approaching others from a position of weakness, rather than strength? Are not the rich prone to pride and haughtiness? Are not the strong tempted to bully those weaker than themselves? Yahweh will abase His sons and daughters that they might find it easier to manifest the fruits of the Spirit.

Considering these things, we should think it not strange that in yielding our lives to Christ to follow wherever He would lead that we are soon brought to poverty, illness, injury, weakness, or reproach in this world. Christ existed in the form of God. He had great power, glory and authority in the heavens. Yet He became weak to prove the excellency of the power of God in mankind. Yahshua knew hunger, poverty, reproach, and the injury of the cross. Yet as He accepted these things He showed forth the power of love, peace, patience, humility and every other divine attribute of the Father.

II Corinthians 13:4
For indeed He was crucified because of weakness, yet He lives because of the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, yet we will live with Him because of the power of God directed toward you.

Surrender your life to Christ to be directed by Him and you too will be brought to weakness that you might find the power of God revealed in you. This is a principle of the kingdom of God.

Heart4God Website:    

Parables Blog:    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Friday, June 25, 2021

The Way of the Disciple - Part 9

Note: This post was written 10 years ago when I had just experienced a wreck on my motorcycle. I am completely healed up from the accident now.

The God Who Wounds
Joseph Herrin (10-06-2011)

Hosea 6:1-2
“Come, let us return to Yahweh. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day that we may live before Him.”

I write these words from a hospital bed. My left leg is wrapped from the knee down to the toes. It is propped up on two pillows in the bed that has become my narrow sphere of activity. I have an IV line in one arm, and my crutches are leaning against the end of the bed should I need to get up. My left leg now bears numerous external scars, and internally has titanium plates and screws attached to the bones.

The question arises, “Was it the Father who wounded me? Was it the Shepherd of my soul that led me to this experience of suffering?” It is hard for many Christians to confess that the Father would inflict experiences of suffering upon anyone, much less His own children. I often hear Christians speak of some injury inflicted upon themselves, or others, with expressions such as “God allowed this to happen,” or “God did not cause this suffering, but He permitted it.”

Why do we have such reticence in stating frankly that God is the One who inflicts injury, or subjects a person, to suffering? The answer, I believe, has much to do with mankind viewing suffering as evil. Logic leads the natural mind to conclude that only an evil being would inflict suffering on another person. It has been my goal in this series of writings to set forth a different view of suffering. Suffering, rather than being evil, is necessary for the development of God’s sons and daughters. The role of suffering in bringing mankind to spiritual maturity is revealed in a number of Scriptures that speak of the suffering of Christ.

Hebrews 2:10
For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.

Hebrews 5:7-9
In the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him...

The Greek word translated as “perfect” and “perfected” in these verses is “teleios.” It means “To bring to maturity. To make whole, entire, and lacking in nothing.” It is the will of God the Father that He have many sons (both male and female) who will attain to spiritual maturity. Christ was the forerunner. He was perfected through suffering, and this is the manner in which all sons must be brought to that full maturity Yahweh desires for His saints.

Ephesians 4:13
Until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ.

From the time of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, Yahweh revealed that suffering would play a key role in bringing forth sons in the image and likeness of God. In Yahweh’s words to the woman we find a profound parable revealing suffering’s role in producing sons that are pleasing to God.

Genesis 3:16
To the woman He said, "I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth. In pain you shall bring forth children; Yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you."

Much has been written and taught about this passage, but few have understood the spiritual parable contained in it. Adam is a type and shadow of the Last Adam, who is Christ.

I Corinthians 15:45-47
So also it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living soul." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual.

Eve is also given as a type and shadow of Christ’s bride, the church.

Ephesians 5:31-32
For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.

When God spoke to Eve in the Garden, He was revealing spiritual truth relating to the church. It is Yahweh’s desire that He have many sons in His image. Through the natural experience of the woman He has revealed that these sons can only be produced through experiences of pain. Yahweh, in His infinite wisdom and love, has determined this. Notice that He declared to Eve, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth.” It is Yahweh who is the initiator of this pain.

Despite the suffering and pain associated with natural childbirth, billions of women have survived it and have brought forth offspring. Similarly, the church can only bring forth mature sons through experiences of pain and suffering. The church must accept this suffering as the will of Christ. This is what is indicated in the words:

“Yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

Christ is the husband to the church. He is Lord, and rightfully must rule over the individual members of the church. In His role as Lord, Yahshua has revealed to all who would follow after Him that they must experience suffering. He has invited men and women to “take up your cross and follow Me.” Despite the fact that Christ would lead men and women into experiences of suffering, there are those whose “desire” is for Christ, and they willingly submit to Him ruling over them.

We previously looked at a Scripture passage where Christ compared the sufferings of His disciples to a woman in the pains of childbirth. This is an apt analogy. Yahweh does everything with great design and purpose. The suffering of the woman in childbirth was given to reveal a profound kingdom truth. Mature (perfected) sons can only be produced through suffering.

I Peter 5:10
And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

It is appointed to you and I to “suffer for a little while.” Our sufferings may seem terrible and unending, but in God’s sight they are but a moment. Soon they will be forgotten. Christ will wipe away every tear from the eyes of His holy ones, and sorrow and suffering will be no more. The apostle Paul saw these present experiences of suffering from God’s perspective. Paul freely admitted that if this present life were all there is that Christ’s disciples would be among all men the most to be pitied. At the same time, Paul saw beyond these present experiences. Yahweh had given Paul visions of things to come. With the future ages in view Paul wrote:

Romans 8:18-23
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.

Paul continued the analogy of childbirth. He acknowledged the role of pain and suffering in this process. Paul begins this passage by speaking of the “sufferings of this present time,” and he ends by speaking of groaning and suffering.

Quite often when thinking about the “sufferings of Christ” we think only about persecution. I have already touched on this aspect of the sufferings of Christ. In the passage above Paul reveals that the sufferings Yahweh subjects His sons to includes suffering that is common to the entire creation. Sickness and injury are forms of suffering we find everywhere throughout the earth. Yahweh will use these also to bring His people to perfection.

The apostle Paul was given to the body of Christ as an example of a man who was brought to spiritual maturity through suffering. I have previously cited Scriptures where Paul spoke of being stoned, beaten, whipped, chained and imprisoned. Paul also suffered the experience of being shipwrecked. Storms are a natural part of the suffering the creation has been subjected unto. God does not spare His sons and daughters from passing through storms, but He has promised to walk with us through them. Yahweh sustained Paul through repeated shipwrecks.

Paul also experienced another type of natural suffering: sickness. Paul had a severe affliction of his eyes that left him nearly blind. This affliction was evidently something that marred his appearance, for Paul described it as a trial to those who observed him in this state.

Galatians 4:13-15
But you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time; and that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition you did not despise or loathe, but you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Yahshua Himself. Where then is that sense of blessing you had? For I bear you witness, that if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me.

Did Paul have some loathsome condition, something difficult to look at? I believe it is very possible, for that affliction God sent to Paul was intended to keep him humble. That which keeps us humble is humiliating. Paul had been used of God to heal myriads of people, but he could not heal himself. Three times Paul requested that Yahweh remove this affliction from him, but God would not do so.

II Corinthians 12:7-10
And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me - to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

A thorn in the flesh is another way of saying “a bodily affliction.” Yahweh afflicts the bodies of His sons and daughters in many ways. I was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, commonly called “Brittle Bone Disease.” I am laid up in a hospital bed at this moment with multiple fractures to my left leg. I experienced my first fracture at the age of seven when I broke my thumb. Soon thereafter I broke my right leg twice, my left leg once, my right elbow twice and my left elbow once, and fractured ribs. All of this occurred by the time I turned 15. In my adult years I broke my right ankle while in my thirties, experiencing a partial tear to the anterior cruciate ligament in the right knee at the same time. I have dislocated my shoulders numerous times, and now I have sustained several fractures to my lower left leg.

Even as a child I understood that it was ultimately God who determined my afflictions. When I was around ten or twelve years old and had just experienced another fracture, I remember asking my Dad why God chose for me to suffer these things. I have learned much about the purpose of suffering in the years since then. I still perceive the hand of God in the things I suffer. I do not merely say that He permits me to suffer. I confess that He causes me to suffer. Yet, I also understand that a God of love will only afflict His children with good intent. There is no evil judgment, or censure of God, when I say that He causes me to suffer.

Some Christians attribute all suffering to Satan. Paul himself spoke of his affliction as being “a messenger of Satan.” The Scriptures reveal that Satan’s access to the Christian is restricted. He can only do that which God grants him permission to do. In the Gospels Christ tells Peter that Satan had demanded permission to sift Peter as wheat (Luke 22:31). Had Christ not granted permission to Satan, he could not have come against Peter. We see the same truth revealed in the book of Job. Satan could only touch Job’s life insofar as Yahweh permitted.

Job 1:12
Then Yahweh said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him."

Job 2:6
So Yahweh said to Satan, "Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life."

There is a magnificent promise found in the New Testament whereby God assures Christians that their trials and tests will always be measured to them with great care. Yahweh has promised that no child of His will ever face a trial, or temptation greater than their ability to walk victoriously through it. I have often found great consolation in this verse that I memorized in my youth.

I Corinthians 10:13
For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently.
[Amplified Bible]

There are times when it certainly feels like we are being tested beyond our ability to bear. It is at such times that Yahweh stretches us, inducing us to force our roots deeper into the life of Christ, to find a greater place of abiding in Him. We must be pressed to our limits at times that we might grow stronger spiritually. Our Father will never permit us to face any temptation, or experience of suffering, that is greater than our ability to patiently bear it if we will avail ourselves of the grace made freely available to us. When Paul entreated Yahweh to deliver him from the affliction he was suffering, the Father’s answer was “My grace is sufficient for you.” Yahweh’s grace is always sufficient. Nothing can separate us from His love.

There have been times recently when my soul was weary of dealing with bodily affliction. At such times we are tempted to voice some complaint to God. We need to resist the temptation to grumble, murmur, or find fault with what Yahweh chooses for us. Grace is always present to enable us to rest in God and to trust Him in the time of suffering.

I have found it helpful to not allow my mind to dwell on the entirety of the experience before me. It may be months before my body is healed from my present injury. The thought of enduring week after week of bodily affliction can be overwhelming. At such times, the words of Christ prove to be of great value.

Matthew 6:34
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

It is enough to live one day at a time. Yahweh’s grace is sufficient for each day, being perfectly matched to those experiences of suffering He chooses for the perfecting of His sons and daughters.

Before I end this post, a word needs to be shared concerning discerning the various reasons for suffering. There are certainly times when Yahweh will remove an affliction if we ask Him to. There are times when Yahweh would have us to stand against a demonic attack. Additionally, some sickness comes in order to demonstrate the glory of God as He brings supernatural healing. The people of God should always seek to know the Father’s mind concerning those experiences they are passing through. It was well that Paul sought God concerning his affliction. It was also good that Paul accepted the Father’s will when Yahweh revealed the reason for the thorn in his flesh.

It is beyond the scope of this writing to discuss all the reasons afflictions come into the life of a Christian, and to know when the suffering is to be resisted as an attack of the adversary and when it is to be accepted as the will of God. Suffice it to say that the saint should always seek to know the mind and will of the Father. Yahweh has given His Spirit to indwell us that we might know His thoughts, and gain an understanding of His will.

A great deal of suffering comes into the life of the Christian due to their own disobedience. I have suffered much in my life because of sin. I have been slow to subdue the appetites of my flesh. In my body I have suffered ill health due to being overweight and eating things that were not health promoting. The saint should always seek to discern whether his/her experiences of suffering are due to some disobedience in their life. Only by identifying the disobedience can repentance and healing come.

Some have gone too far down this path and have suggested that all sickness and injury is the result of disobedience. Others respond to all sickness and injury as if it were an attack of Satan and they immediately begin rebuking the devil. There are also those who are too complacent in accepting all injury and suffering as being the will of God. In all things we need the mind of Christ. We are called to walk by the Spirit. Let us press in to know His mind regarding the experiences of our lives. We have a loving Father, and He will not leave us without direction.

What the Scriptures do reveal is that Yahweh does afflict His people. He wounds, and He heals. He tears us, and He bandages us. There is an afflicted path that leads to life. Yahweh’s Spirit will guide all faithfully down that path who will yield their lives to follow in the steps of Christ.

II Corinthians 4:17
For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison...

Heart4God Website:    

Parables Blog:    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

The Way of the Disciple - Part 8

The Christian Life as Tragedy
Joseph Herrin (10-01-2011)

You are probably familiar with the genre of writing known as tragedy. Some famous examples of this form of writing are William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and Macbeth. One definition for the writing form known as Tragedy is, “any literary composition, as a novel, dealing with a somber theme carried to a tragic  conclusion.”

The life of a Christian disciple is aptly described by these words, but only insofar as it relates to our experiences on this earth. What most eyes fail to see, even Christian eyes, is that when the final curtain closes on this earthly life, there opens an entirely new curtain into realms of life in the Spirit. This present life is only the precursor to much greater things to come.

The shortsightedness, unbelief, and carnal desires of many Christians lead them to view this life as the main event, if not the only event. Although a great many Christians speak of life after death, heaven, and ages to come, they do not actually put any stock in such notions. They live as if there is no tomorrow, as if this present life is all there is. Having such a mindset, they are very much intent on enjoying their good things now. I have shared previously the plethora of books put out by a myriad of Christian authors that promote the pursuit of worldly success, pleasure and prosperity. You can find one such blog at the following link. The post consists primarily of images of book covers. A picture is truly worth a thousand words.

One very evident fact that stands out as I contemplate the prosperity message is that it is advocating something very different than a life of tragedy and suffering. No doubt, many would question whether it is appropriate to describe the Christian life as tragedy. The Bible reveals that such a description is very fitting. The apostle Paul stated:

I Corinthians 15:19
If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

Paul’s statement is easily understood. Paul knew that Christ’s invitation was to “come and suffer.” There is a cross for every disciple who would follow in the steps of Christ.

I Peter 2:21
For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps...

The life of Christ is given to the church as a pattern of all who would follow Him. The life of Yahshua was described in the following manner:

Isaiah 53:3
He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and well acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

From a temporal viewpoint, the life of Christ was a tragedy. Yahshua had formerly existed in the likeness of God, and shared in Yahweh’s glory. Yet He emptied Himself and took on the form of a bondservant. His life had been scripted for Him before He ever came to earth. This fact is quite easily defended by the myriad of prophecies that were spoken hundreds of years before His birth.

Yahweh had foreordained everything that was to occur in the life of His Son. The story Yahweh wrote for His Son was one of tragedy and suffering.

Acts 2:23
This Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.

Isaiah 53:10
Yahweh was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief...

Yahweh wrote the life story of His Son before He was born of a virgin. The story was one of persecution and much affliction. Christ came to His own, and His own people received Him not. He was rejected, and persecuted by the one’s He came to save. Yahshua was accused of having a demon, of being illegitimately born, of being a Samaritan, whom the Jewish people despised. Christ was born in poverty, and His life ended in shame as He was cruelly beaten, scourged, and crucified between two thieves.

This is the story that Yahweh wrote for His beloved Son, and it is truly a tragedy. If Christ’s life had ended at the cross, it would be the saddest story ever told. But it did not end there.

Philippians 2:8-11
Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Yahshua every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Yahshua Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Christ arose from the dead, and He has been seated at the right hand of God. All power and all authority has been entrusted to Him. Yahshua is now clothed in glory, and the angels in heaven bow before Him in worship and adoration.

What this entire series has been seeking to emphasize is that there is a pattern to Yahweh’s work among mankind. Christ’s life reveals this pattern. There is humility before exaltation, and suffering before glory.

I Peter 4:13
To the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.

First there is suffering, then there is glory. Yahweh has stamped this pattern upon the entire creation. There are none who can overturn this order that has been established by the counsel of God. All must pass through suffering on their way to exaltation as sons of God. Even as a play opens with Act One, Scene One, so too has Yahweh ordained that our pathway to progression as mature sons in His image must begin with sorrow. He has called this opening experience of our lives, “the first things.”

Revelation 21:4
And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.

This pattern is declared everywhere throughout the pages of Scripture. It is an inviolable principle. It is appointed unto mankind to experience mourning, crying and pain. There will be sorrow and suffering in this age, but those who embrace it, and walk faithfully with the Father, will find that it is merely the precursor to far surpassing and glorious things to come.

Psalms 126:5-6
Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting. He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

II Corinthians 4:17
For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison...

Romans 8:18
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us.

These last two passages were written by the apostle Paul. His life on this earth was also a tragedy. Yahweh was also the author of those experiences Paul was required to pass through. At the very time that Yahweh made His call on Paul’s life known, He declared:

Acts 9:15-16
He is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake.

People of God, the Spirit expressly declares that God has a predetermined path for each of our lives. The plan He has designed for you and I could very aptly be described as a tragedy, for He promises that the only way to life is by following an “afflicted path,” and no man can be Christ’s disciple unless he takes up “his cross” and follows in the steps of Yahshua. The following words summarize the experience set before those who accept Christ’s invitation to follow Him.

Romans 8:35-36
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."

Yes, these words are written for your sake, and mine. Whenever a man or woman surrenders their life to follow Christ they will be led into much tribulation. Christ promises no disciple ease and comfort and blessing in this life. What He promises is that they will experience the same sufferings of which He was made a partaker. Yet, as they yield themselves to follow in His steps, they will be laying up for themselves joy and riches and honor and glory that is far beyond compare.

Paul said that while he was following Christ he was “afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within” (II Corinthians 7:5). Yet, the time came when Paul had faithfully completed his course, and he was standing at the finish line. Paul had arrived at the end of the “first things” and was poised to enter into the good things to come. He wrote:

II Timothy 4:7-8
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Who are those who love Christ’s appearing? It is those who have heeded the call to follow hard after Christ, walking the same afflicted path He walked. Of these it is written:

I Corinthians 2:9
"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him."

People of God, this present life that you and I live exists for a brief moment. It only seems like this life is endless. There are far surpassing ages to come. Yet this is the time given for you and I to share in the sufferings of Christ. To the degree that we do so we will be able to rejoice at His appearing, for we will then share in His glory.

This present life has been choreographed by the Father. He has written up Act One of each of our lives as a tragedy. But the story of our lives does not end there. It is only the beginning. We must pass through sorrows, for a brief moment, but it leads to far greater things.

Yahweh has given mankind the parable of childbirth to help us to understand this process. Life must always spring forth out of sorrow. Yet, for those who submit to this process, the joy that follows will be so far surpassing all other experiences that the sorrow that preceded it will be forgotten.

John 16:20-22
“Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a man has been born into the world.  Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.”

This pattern is observed everywhere in creation and in the pages of Scripture. Yet, the church has failed to see it. Yahweh has testified of His people:

Isaiah 42:19-20
Who is blind but My servant, or so deaf as My messenger whom I send? Who is so blind as he that is at peace with Me, or so blind as the servant of Yahweh? You have seen many things, but you do not observe them; Your ears are open, but none hears.

How can millions of Christians go to their churches week after week and listen to the Scriptures read, while remaining oblivious to this pattern that Yahweh has established? How can they believe teachers of myths and fables who assure them that they can walk a broad path of prosperity, ease, and comfort now, and be assured all the glories of heaven in the ages to come? Are they not willingly deceived, for such falsehood appeals greatly to the soul of man?

Christ has done a marvelous thing. He has made a way for mankind to pass out of death and to obtain to the divine life He shares with His Father. He did not provide an easy path, but He said it would be worth it to follow in His steps. None who ever submit to follow Christ by taking up their cross will ever declare at the end of the road that the way was too hard, or too difficult. Instead, the testimony of the saints will be, “Is that all I had to suffer? Is there no more? The reward is far too great, and I am unworthy.” Then the saints will cast their crowns at the feet of Christ, for He alone is worthy to obtain all glory, power and honor. What tremendous grace is manifested that Yahshua would share these things with us!

Yet, Christ asks one thing. If you would be a sharer in His glory, He would ask you to first share with Him in His suffering. He invites you and I to take up our cross and follow Him.

Romans 8:16-17
The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

Is this too much for Christ to ask? He would invite us to partake of momentary, light afflictions that we might be brought to maturity spiritually, becoming fit to share in His power and authority for the ages to come.

II Timothy 2:12
If we endure, we will also reign with Him...

If you have spent much time in the Christian religious system of this day, no doubt you have not heard a message such as this. Is it not surprising how very many Scriptures there are that proclaim this message, yet they are unobserved by the church today?

Yahweh has a plan for your life. He has a path He would invite you to walk, even as He had one for His firstborn Son. He has revealed that it is an afflicted path, but He promises to walk with you the entire way. He declares that nothing will ever separate you from His love, not even death. It is up to you and I to choose whether we will accept the script Yahweh has written for our lives, or whether we will refuse it and write our own.

Christ has said that there are few who find the path to life, while vast hordes are on the broad path that leads to destruction. Which way will you choose? The end of the path through this present life will be arrived at very quickly for each of us. Then we will see whether we chose our path with wisdom. Did we choose like Esau to despise our inheritance and birthright to momentarily satisfy the desires of the flesh? Or did we accept an evil path in hope of obtaining a glorious inheritance at the end?

Our Father knows our frame, that we are but dust. He knows that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. He will be compassionate to our weaknesses, and He will patiently guide all who will yield to accept that story He has written for their life. Yet, let none anticipate that they will receive the reward of the overcomer in Christ if they have spurned that Way God has prepared for them to walk. We will all reap what we sow. This too is an inviolable principle.

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.

Heart4God Website:    

Parables Blog:    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Monday, June 21, 2021

The Way of the Disciple- Part 7

The Privilege of Persecution

Joseph Herrin (09-28-2011)

Luke 6:22-23
“Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and cast insults at you, and spurn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven.”

In recent days two separate articles have come to my attention that reveal that persecution of Christians is on the increase in America. The Spirit expressly testifies that these things will increase, and very markedly so. We are at that time which the Bible refers to as “the beginning of birthpangs.” In order for mature sons and daughters of God to come forth, the church must pass through a season of pain and sorrow. When it is observed that a “man child” has come forth to the glory of God, all the pain of what was experienced will be forgotten.

Matthew 24:8-13
“But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations on account of My name. And at that time many will fall away and will deliver up one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many. And because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved.”

John 16:21-22
“A woman when she is in travail has sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembers no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And you now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man takes from you.”

When the church observes actual instances of Christian persecution in America, the response of many is shock and outrage. Many are tempted to resist such persecution through whatever political or human means that are at hand. Such responses reveal a wrong mindset, and a misapprehension of the purpose of suffering. Suffering is not a great evil to be avoided at any cost; It is a privilege to be borne by those who are true disciples of Christ.

Let me share with you an excerpt from the first article that recently drew my attention to the escalating persecution of Christians and their beliefs.

Gay activists get LifeSiteNews translator and pro-family activist Julio Severo cut off by PayPal
by Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

September 19, 2011 ( - Under pressure from homosexual activists, PayPal has decided to deny service to famed Brazilian pro-life and pro-family Christian activist Julio Severo.

In additon, at least two Christian organizations targeted by the same activists remain under investigation by PayPal and may also lose use of the service.

Severo, an Evangelical essayist who also translates for LifeSiteNews, maintains a highly influential blog in Portuguese that is read and commented on by politicians in Brazil’s federal government.  He is also the author of several books, including a work on the homosexual movement in Brazil.

Severo’s use of PayPal has been targeted in recent weeks by the homosexual group “All Out,” which has created an online petition to urge PayPal to dump Severo and nine other PayPal users as purveyors of “hate” and “extremism.” Severo’s site expresses love of homosexuals and a concern that homosexual behavior is destructive to those who participate in it.

Following the initiation of the campaign, Severo and several others on the list have been contacted by PayPal, asking for information on their organizations and implying that they are not in compliance with PayPal policies.

Following Severo’s response noting that he is not an organization, only an individual, PayPal responded today stating, “We appreciate your interest in PayPal. However, due to legal and regulatory constraints, PayPal Private Limited is unable to process donation payments for non-registered charities and non-profit organizations (NPOs); political party/organizations; religious institutions; personal/organizational fundraisers, etc in countries under its jurisdiction.”

“This is not a decision we make lightly, and we deeply regret any inconvenience or frustration this matter may cause you,” PayPal adds.  “Please understand that this decision is final.”

The organization adds that it will not permit Severo to access any funds remaining in the account for 180 days, after which it will inform him of how to recover them...

Homosexuals also managed to remove Severo’s blog from Blogger for a short period of time in 2008, after complaining about its content. However, following a massive outcry from Brazilian Christians, his site was restored.

“I am very worried, because PayPal caved in to gay militants and their hate campaign to have me excluded from PayPal,” Severo told LifeSiteNews.

“I use PayPal to pay for essential services for me and my family. And we are in a very limited situation, because we are away from Brazil because of gay and government persecution. Our resources are limited,” he added. “And now under pressure of my persecutors, PayPal is making sure that my ways to receive donations may be even more limited and hard.

“Millions of individuals use PayPal to receive money. Why cannot I receive too?” Severo asks and points out that “I am not a charity. I am only a Christian individual with a wife and four little children...”


As a Christian teacher with a website hosted by Blogger, who also receives gifts from Christian brothers and sisters through Paypal, this story strikes close to home. Satan has often employed fear of suffering as a tool to silence Christians and to drive truth underground. Should I begin to censor my writings to insure that they do not offend various groups or individuals, fearing that my source of support, or my ability to share publicly with others, might be cut off? Once we begin down the path of permitting fear to dictate our actions it is very difficult to recover.

As Christ is our pattern, we do not see that He ever compromised in speaking forth the mind of His Father. Even when He knew that the religious leaders of Israel would be incensed and begin seeking His life, He spoke boldly and without apology. Yahshua entrusted His life into the hands of His Father knowing that He would be protected until the time appointed by the Father for Him to suffer.

In Peter, we initially see a very different response. Observing that Christ’s open declaration of the things of God led to arrest and suffering, Peter was initially cowed as he feared the same result. Three times on the night of Christ’s arrest, Peter denied that he even knew Yahshua. To save himself from suffering, Peter denied the Lord who had chosen him.

At the third appearing of Christ after His resurrection, we find Yahshua speaking to Peter about his failure. Even as Peter denied Yahshua three times, Christ asks him three times, “Peter, do you love Me?” Christ then tells Peter that he cannot avoid suffering, but must embrace it. Only in this way will Peter be able to fulfill the desire of God and be brought to the full image of Christ.

John 21:17-20
Yahshua said to him..., "Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself, and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go." Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow Me!"

These words of Christ, although having a literal fulfillment, were spoken as a parable to reveal spiritual truth. In our immaturity, our lives are guided by our own soul. Our soul’s seek to avoid suffering, but following such a course causes Christians to remain as spiritual children. In order to progress to maturity we must all stretch out our hands and embrace the suffering of the cross appointed to us. We cannot refuse to share in the sufferings of Christ. It is only through suffering that we are brought to a mature conformity to Christ.

Yahshua was expressing to Peter that he must yield to the cross, and become willing to go where his own soul would not choose to go. If Peter would advance to spiritual maturity (“when you grow old”), he must permit someone else to gird him and guide him. This person is the Spirit of Christ. He will clothe us in garments of humility and lead us down an afflicted path.

People of God, this story about Paypal cutting off service to this man who has been speaking out openly against the sin of homosexuality is just one example of the growing intolerance of the preaching of Biblical truth. This morning a sister forwarded to me a link to a story on the website Prison Planet. It lists 18 (6+6+6) examples of the persecution of Christians at this hour. Whether each of these events are truly examples of suffering for Christ, I am unable to judge. However, I am persuaded that Christian persecution is on the increase, and will only accelerate. Following is an excerpt from the article:

#1 Home Bible studies are now banned in the city of San Juan Capistrano, California.  According to city officials, regular gatherings “of more than three people” in private homes are simply not allowed.  One couple that has held home Bible studies for years has already been fined twice [2] and is being threatened with even more fines.

#2 Paypal has initiated “formal investigations” of a large number of Christian websites and organizations. Apparently, many of these investigations have been launched due to concerns that these websites and organizations do not hold to a “politically-correct” view of sexuality...

#3 In Wichita, Kansas last year, a Christian minister was handcuffed and hauled off to jail by police for sharing the gospel and handing out tracts to Muslims on a public sidewalk.  Apparently freedom of speech does not apply on the public sidewalks of America any longer.

#4 In the UK, police recently threatened a cafe owner with arrest for silently playing a Bible DVD on a small television on the back wall of his cafe.  The following is an excerpt from a Daily Mail article about this incident….

    Mr Murray, 31, was left shocked after he was questioned for nearly an hour by the officers, who arrived unannounced at the premises.

    He said he had turned off the Bible DVD after an ‘aggressive inquisition’ during which he thought he was going to be arrested and ‘frog-marched out of the cafe like a criminal.’

#5 Last year, a high school student in Southern California was suspended for two days because he had private conversations with his classmates during which he discussed Christianity.  He was also banned from bringing his Bible to school ever again.

#6 Big cable networks regularly feature “comedians” that love to mock Christians.  For example, HBO “comedian” Bill Maher recently stated that “there’s a term for people who hate charity and love killing: Christian.”

#7 Down in Texas, the Department of Veteran Affairs actually tried to ban prayers that include the words “God” or “Jesus” during funeral services for veterans.

#8 In North Carolina last year, a pastor was dismissed from his chaplain duties for praying in the name of Jesus.

#9 An unclassified Department of Homeland Security report published a couple years ago entitled “Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” claims that a belief in Bible prophecy “could motivate extremist individuals and groups to stockpile food, ammunition and weapons.”  The report goes on to state that such people are potentially dangerous.

#10 Back on February 20, 2009, the State of Missouri issued a report entitled “MIAC Strategic Report: The Modern Militia Movement.” That report warned that the following types of people may be potential terrorists….

*anti-abortion activists

*those that are against illegal immigration

*those that consider “the New World Order” to be a threat

*those that have a negative view of the United Nations

#11 All over the nation, “child protection agencies” are ripping an inordinate number of children out of Christian homes. In many of these cases the parents believe in homeschooling their children or they do not believe in having their children vaccinated.

#12 On June 18, 2010 two Christians decided that they would peacefully pass out copies of the gospel of John on a public sidewalk outside a public Islamic festival in Dearborn, Michigan and within three minutes 8 police officers surrounded them and placed them under arrest.

#13 A Christian consultant was recently fired by Bank of America and by Cisco because they discovered a book that he had written that expressed Christian viewpoints about social issues.

#14 A while back, a federal judge actually ruled that the University of California can deny course credit to applicants from Christian high schools that use textbooks that teach that it was God who created the earth.

#15 Back in 2009, one 8 year old boy in Massachusetts was sent home from school and was forced to undergo a psychological evaluation because he drew a picture of Jesus on the cross.

#16 The Obama administration has announced that there is a whole host of laws that it will not be enforcing, but one thing that the Obama administration has chosen to do is to aggressively pursue lawsuits against anti-abortion protesters.

#17 During a Congressional hearing earlier this year, U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee warned that “Christian militants” might try to “bring down the country” and that such groups need to be investigated.

#18 According to a shocking FBI document obtained by Oath Keepers, the FBI definition of “suspicious activity” now includes making “extreme religious statements” and believing in “radical theology.”


Christ’s theology in His day was certainly considered “radical.” So too was the preaching of the apostle Paul. Not surprisingly, their words stirred up strong emotions and at times a violent response from those who heard them. If the sons of God speak forth those things Yahweh’s Spirit delivers to them to speak in this hour, it too will be considered radical, offensive, and will provoke a response of persecution.

John 15:20
“Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you...”

II Timothy 3:10-12
But you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord delivered me! And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Yahshua will be persecuted.

When Paul speaks of being delivered by the Lord out of all his persecutions, he is not implying that he was spared experiences of suffering. Christ gave Paul strength to stand, and not shrink back, when faced with suffering. It was the will of Christ that Paul suffer many things. This fact was expressed at the very time of Paul’s conversion.

Acts 9:15-16
But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake."

Although you and I may never be called to suffer as many things as Paul, Yahweh has specifically appointed experiences of suffering for everyone who would follow in the steps of Christ. We must not shrink back from these experiences as Peter did on the night of Christ’s arrest. We must embrace the cross appointed to each of us.

The vast majority of Christians in America who come across articles such as those cited in this post will be alarmed. Their immediate response will be to cry out in indignation, and perhaps to engage in some carnal means of averting further persecution against Christians. The church has not been taught the role and necessity of suffering for Christ. Deceptive teachings that assert that God wants to provide an uninterrupted life of blessing and prosperity to the saints has deeply weakened the churches ability to stand. When persecution and suffering presents itself to the church in coming days, a great many will fall away.

Mark 4:16-17
“And in a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away.”

Christ encouraged those who would follow as His disciples to adopt a very different mindset from that which is so prevalent in this hour of sensuality, ease, and comfort. He told His disciples to think of themselves as “blessed” when all men hate them. He told them to “leap for joy” with the understanding that they have a great reward in heaven.

It is a privilege to be permitted to share in the sufferings of Christ. In coming days, many saints will be invited to partake of this privilege. To natural eyes, such things look like no privilege at all. Men think it a curse to be turned out of homes, to have their possessions confiscated, to be arrested, reproached, blasphemed, and roughly treated. In coming days, many will be put in prisons, and some will lose their lives for their obedience to follow Christ wherever He would lead. Let us have our minds made up ahead of time that we will accept whatever comes, and not turn back.

Revelation 12:11
“And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death.”

Let us “think it not strange” when these experiences come to us. Tribulation is appointed to all of the sons of God. There is a cup of suffering that Christ drank from, and He would offer it to all who are called and chosen as sons. There is a baptism of fire that all must pass through.

Mark 10:39
Yahshua said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized.”

Let us not be alarmed at the increasing enmity of the world toward Christianity. These things must come. The swelling tide of Christian antipathy cannot be turned back through political activism, through boycotts, letter writing campaigns, or any other means. Christ prophesied that His disciples would be hated by all nations. It is vain to seek to produce a safe society where Christians can worship God and serve Him unmolested. To seek such a course will only result in a watered down message, compromised obedience, and disciples of Christ that have lost their saltiness and are good for nothing.

The Father has been merciful to me and has never shown me too much of what lies ahead. Yahshua testified, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,” urging His disciples to “take no thought for tomorrow.” Tomorrow will come. There will be evil things we must pass through. Many will be rejected by family, friends, church members, and society. Some will experience the loss of all worldly possessions. More than a few will be beaten, imprisoned and even put to death. As the elect of God bear up patiently under all things while maintaining a heart of love and forgiveness, they will prove that they are worthy of the name of Christ, and that the world is not worthy of them.

Hebrews 11:35-38
And others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.

We should not be surprised that Paypal should refuse service to the disciples of Christ in these last days. An hour is coming when those who bear the imprint of Christ, and have overcome the mark of the beast, will not be permitted to buy or sell in a world under the dominion of Satan. The faith of the saints must be tested. Those who stand fast will find that their faith will be purified even as gold is refined in a fire.

Our faith is precious in the eyes of God. Let us not cast away our confidence, for the words of the apostle are true:

I Peter 5:10
And after you have suffered for a little while , the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

There is a beneficent purpose behind the suffering appointed to us. Yahweh would have us perfected and established as sons ready to receive an inheritance imperishable in the heavens. Let all who would be perfect put on the mind of Christ who said, “Not My will, but Thy will be done.”

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.

Heart4God Website:    

Parables Blog:    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Friday, June 18, 2021

The Way of the Disciple - Part 6

We Wrestle Not Against Flesh and Blood
Joseph Herrin (9-21-2011)

Ephesians 6:12
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood...

This series has focused upon the necessity of Christ’s disciples to experience suffering. In perhaps a majority of circumstances the sufferings of Christ’s disciples come to them through the hands of other men and women. There is a natural enmity between the natural descendants of Adam and the spiritual descendants of Christ. This enmity was viewed as far back as the strife that existed between Cain and Abel, and between Ishmael and Isaac. This enmity continues on to this day.

The disciples of Christ should not be surprised that it is those who confess faith in Christ who are their chief persecutors. It was those who swore allegiance to Yahweh who crucified the Son whom He loved. Yahshua said this same state of things would persist throughout the church age.

John 16:1-2
“These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues (churches); yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God  service.”

Who is it that thinks they offer God service except those who claim to be His servants? Yahshua is declaring to His disciples that the very ones who profess obedience to God will become their persecutors. It is Christians who will arise more than any others to inflict reproaches and suffering upon Christ’s disciples in this day. They will quote Scriptures as they do so, and present evidence that what they are doing is the will of God.

Yahweh has revealed to me that He has called me to serve as a pioneer and explorer for others of His sons and daughters. He has led me down an afflicted path for these past 12 years that I might serve as a guide, instructor, and encourager to a much larger number of His children who must walk a similar course in these last days. I do not share my experiences to boast of those things I have passed through. Rather, I share them to reveal to my brothers and sisters what Christian discipleship looks like in this hour in a nation such as America.

There are no experiences that the Spirit of Christ has led me through that were not common to the early church. The first disciples’ experiences are recorded for us in the New Testament. We have previously read that Christ’s disciples suffered many things. They were made a reproach and spectacle before religious and secular people. Some had their possessions confiscated. Others were imprisoned. They were put out of the synagogues. Some suffered beatings, while others were put to death. The sufferings of Christ were shared abundantly among those who accepted Christ’s invitation to “Come, take up your cross, and follow Me.”

Over time the church at large has drifted away from discipleship, having replaced it with confession of Christ as Savior. The Lordship of Christ is no longer observed in the lives of most who profess to be Christians. There is no surrender, no yielding of one’s life to “follow the Lamb where He goes.” Because of this, very little of the sufferings of Christ are known to this generation.

Part of the value of Christ having me share the experiences I have encountered since I yielded in 1999 to follow wherever He should lead, and to do whatever He should ask of me, is to demonstrate to the saints that such a walk will result in affliction. Many find it hard to imagine being persecuted as a Christian in a nation such as America. The vast majority of professing Christians get along remarkably well with the society around them. Causes of conflict are difficult for many to imagine.

The lack of suffering among Christians in American society, when compared to the very substantial suffering of those early saints in Roman society, is not due to the world having changed. It is the result of Christians having abandoned the call to be disciples. The following statement is a universal truth throughout all nations and societies during this kingdom age.

II Timothy 3:12
Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Yahshua will be persecuted.

During the past 12 years I have experienced tremendous resistance from men and women in American society. There have been reproaches, condemnation, rejection, even attacks and unveiled hatred. The greatest part of this has come from professing Christians. Adamic man has not improved since the days of Christ, nor have the natural affections and passions of the flesh become more accepting of the spiritual. There remains a natural antipathy in the hearts of natural men toward those walking as spiritual. Indeed, there is great hatred, even to the point of murder.

Matthew 24:9-12
“Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations on account of My name. And at that time many will fall away and will deliver up one another and hate one another... And because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold.”

James writes to the people of God and reproves those who have an abundance of the world’s goods with the following words:

James 5:6
You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you.

I have found, both in Scripture and in personal experience, that it is those who have much of the world’s goods who become exceptionally antagonistic toward the disciples of Christ.

James 2:5-7
Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?

Those who love money, comfort, and material possessions find that a natural enmity exists in their hearts toward those who are Christ’s disciples. A man cannot serve God and mammon. Despite this clear declaration of Christ, the vast majority of Christians today are trying to do that which He testified to be impossible. Most Christians are attempting to serve God and to pursue material prosperity at the same time. Little do they realize that in doing so they are adopting a mindset that is antagonistic toward Christ and His disciples. Such ones are at risk of becoming the persecutors of the righteous while thinking they are doing God a favor.

Luke 16:13-15
“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”  Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things, and they were scoffing at [Yahshua]. And He said to them,  “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts.”

There are many pharisees in the church today. Many of them appear as the most righteous and devoted of all believers. They sit in the best seats, and are given honor, for the leaders of the churches favor those who exude a material prosperity and worldly success.

The Scriptures, personal experience, and the witness of the Spirit of Christ, all lead me to conclude that much of the suffering, reproaches, and persecution that will accrue to those who surrender to follow Christ in this hour will arise from those who profess to follow Christ while pursuing material prosperity. Christ will lead many of His sons and daughters to embrace a path where most, if not all, of their material possessions must be left behind. Having a house, or a nest of their own will no longer be a certainty. Those who follow Christ will of necessity need to manifest a contentment with whatever God chooses for them. There will be periods of lack. Food will not be present in the same abundance as former days, nor the comforts of life that so many take for granted.

Those who esteem such things will become critical of those whose pursuit of obedience to Christ has replaced a pursuit of the material. Family members, church leaders, fellow saints, and the members of a materialistic society will all scorn those whose lives appear to be cursed with poverty. Men and women will receive condemnation for not giving themselves to a pursuit of mammon. They will be vilified as lacking compassion for their family members, of being lazy, prideful, or spiritually deluded.

I am at this very moment aware of saints who are entering into times of material lack as they labor to follow Christ with all their hearts. God has certainly ordered their steps. He has promised not to forsake them. He will provide them their daily needs, but what God has defined as man’s need is very different from man’s definition.

I Timothy 6:8
And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.

Remember once more the Scripture we reviewed in the previous post.

Luke 6:20-26
And turning His gaze on His disciples, He began to say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and cast insults at you, and spurn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for in the same way their fathers used to treat the false prophets.”

Christ is revealing to those who will follow Him that they are going to have a very different experience from those who are full and satisfied, those who are comfortable and full of happiness. If you surrender to follow Christ, you will know lack where others know plenty. You will be reproached when others are honored. You will face difficulty when others are at ease.

Joseph, the son of Jacob, is a type of those who are forerunners in suffering. Joseph knew suffering and reproach when his brothers were living lives of ease as the sons of a wealthy father. Yahweh must have some sons who will embrace suffering that He might bestow promotion upon them. At this hour, many are being called to surrender their lives to follow Christ wherever He would lead. A desire to obey their heavenly Father will lead these sons and daughters into Egypt where they must undergo the furnace of afflictions. For a season they will be separated from their brethren. All natural affection toward them will appear to have disappeared. Great is the reward that awaits those who endure to the end.

The point I want to address in this post is that the source of your suffering will very often be people. It is rarely some nameless circumstance that leads to our suffering. There is usually a human hand behind it. When we encounter reproaches and persecution from human sources there is a temptation to enter into striving with man. In counseling with others I have frequently encountered a wrong focus. Many of Christ’s disciples seek to deliver themselves from suffering by contending with those they view as their persecutors. It is never the will of God that we strive with man.

Consider the example of Joseph. After he had matured through many years of suffering in Egypt, this man of God came to understand Yahweh’s purposes in his suffering. Although his brothers had acted with evil intent toward him, Joseph perceived that God had ordained all of his experiences of suffering with good intent. Speaking to his brothers, Joseph declared:

Genesis 50:20
And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.

If you surrender your life to follow Christ wherever He would lead, you will find yourself brought into experiences of suffering. Those who you counted as brothers will treat you as their enemy. Some will act with great hatred, seeking to cause you much harm. The reflex of the natural man is to defend oneself, and to strike back. Those who are spiritual must not do so. We have Christ as our pattern.

Acts 8:32
“He was led as a sheep to slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
So He does not open His mouth.”

These words that describe the response of Christ to His attackers are applied to those who would follow in His steps.

Romans 8:36
Just as it is written, "For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered."

The apostle Peter testified that Christ did not strive with man. Instead, He entrusted His soul to His Father when enemies arose against Him. Peter presents Christ to the saints as the pattern we are to emulate.

I Peter 2:21-23
For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously...

As we observe the life of Christ we find the following pattern. When He was faced with persecution, even crucifixion and death, Christ was silent before man. When He was threatened, He did not threaten in return. When He was reviled, He did not defend His own reputation. When brought before man’s courts Christ was silent.

Mark 15:3-5
And the chief priests accused Him of many things, but He answered nothing. Then Pilate asked Him again, saying, "Do You answer nothing? See how many things they testify against You!" But Yahshua still answered nothing, so that Pilate marveled.

The counterpart to this silence before man is that Christ DID make His petition before the Father. Yahshua pleaded with the Father to deliver Him, if it be His will to do so. Ultimately, Christ surrendered to whatever the Father chose for Him to experience.

Luke 22:42
"Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done."

John 12:27-28
"Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Thy name."

Yahweh has shown me that this is the pattern His saints are to follow when they are facing persecution. He has directed me repeatedly to not strive with man. Even when I have been brought before the courts of this world, I have been instructed to not argue, accuse, nor to present a defense. Like Christ, my petition has been lifted up to the Judge who sits on high. I have made my plea to Yahweh, and I have accepted whatever He should choose for me before I have faced those who judge on earth.

This is a most important matter. As sons of God we must always discern that the experiences of suffering we face are ultimately chosen for us by our Father in heaven. Did not Christ reveal this when He prayed to His Father in Gethsemane? He understood that the cup of suffering presented to Him was chosen by God. It could only be honorably removed by the same. Christ could have delivered Himself in the courts. He could have mounted a defense. He could have confounded His accusers with His wisdom as He had done so many times before. Yahshua had legions of angels at His dispatch, and could have called on them to deliver Him. Yet, He did none of these things.

As we come to discern the necessity of suffering, and its role in our perfecting as sons of God, we will enter into this same place of rest that was demonstrated by Christ. We will not act out of fear, seeking to deliver ourselves from the suffering we see before us. Those who trust Yahweh will know that He will not ever permit anything to truly harm them. Though our outer man may perish, our inner man will be preserved alive.

Romans 8:35-39
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, "For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered." But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Yahshua our Lord.

It seems strange that the church can read a passage such as this and not understand that it is appointed to the sons of God to suffer many things. Yet, through deceit, often embraced willingly, the church has come to believe that these words speak of someone other than themselves.

If you have embraced the understanding that YOU are called to follow Christ down an afflicted path, you will not think it strange when you encounter difficulties and difficult people. It is my hope that you would perceive that adversaries must come, and many will appear from within the household of God. If you are not afraid of suffering; If you stand in the confidence that it is Yahweh who holds your life in His hands and not man, then you too will be able to resist the urge to enter into contention with flesh and blood. You will be able to bless those who curse you, and to walk calmly to the slaughter as a sheep that is silent.

It is as we quiet our souls in the face of many threats that we begin to experience the release of the Spirit within us. That gentle, patient, forgiving, and longsuffering nature of Christ is revealed in us. Perhaps we too will find that some will be brought to marvel at the peace in which we abide. Such is the faith that overcomes the world.

Heart4God Website:    

Parables Blog:    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063