I am going to help you discern the difference between three things that often get confused with each other:
- Suffering for God
- Attack from satan
- Natural consequence
All three of these produce the same response: we don’t like it. And since we don’t like it, we generally just whine about it and blame it all on the devil.
But if what we are going through is God-ordained suffering to help us grow, whining and complaining will keep us from getting to where God is trying to take us.
If it’s a natural consequence of something we did, something someone else did, or simply because we live in a fallen world, whining and complaining will just delay our freedom in Christ.
If it’s an attack from satan, whining and complaining gives satan what he needs to continue destroying our lives even when he has been stripped of his authority and power.
Regardless of its suffering for God, an attack from satan, or a natural consequence, whining and complaining will not help you.
That’s worth the price of admission right there. I could just leave you with that, and we could all go home.
Whenever you start whining and complaining, I hope you are reminded of this moment and think, “This is going to get me nowhere. So I might as well knock it off and find the solution.”
The solution will be different depending on the cause of your suffering. That’s why I will help you discern the difference between these three things.
Suffering for God
Let’s start with everyone’s favorite: suffering for God.
American Christians have a really hard time with this. We’ve been trained that once you say yes to Jesus, everything will go your way, and you will have an easy life and all kinds of money.
Suffering? Ah, that was for the early church. They took care of all that for us so we could have a perfect day every day.
Romans 8:17-18 NLT – In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.
Turns out there will be suffering now, in this life, even as a Christian. Or should I say, especially as a Christian? But our suffering will be transformed into glory.
Amazing! But what kind of suffering are we talking about?
Does this mean we have to be sick to bring glory to God? Do we have to be poor to bring glory to God?
Not all suffering is suffering for God
See, this is where we get confused. We hear, “I have to suffer for God” and then assume that all suffering we experience is from God.
But let me highlight an important detail in the scripture we just read.
Romans 8:17-18 NLT – In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.
It tells us exactly what kind of suffering brings glory to God – the same suffering Jesus experienced.
Was Jesus ever sick? No. Was He poor? No. Every need was met, even if the money came out of a fish’s mouth or if five loaves and two fish needed to be multiplied to feed thousands.
So, what kind of suffering did Jesus experience?
He showed up as a fulfillment of the scriptures yet was rejected by those who taught the scriptures. The religious leaders, who should have been His greatest supporters, rejected Jesus.
Not only that, but His own hometown rejected Him. He was out traveling, healing the sick, and casting out demons. Then He went back to where He grew up, and they rejected Him.
He also suffered:
There were lots of people on the outside who rejected Jesus. But even one in His inner circle of twelve disciples ended up betraying Him.
I’ve had this happen, and it hurts. There was a couple who spent years helping us build this church. They served every Sunday. They went on mission trips. We probably shared hundreds of meals together with them.
Then, when I started preaching against the woke false gospel, they got mad and left. But they didn’t leave quietly. They betrayed our church and me by spreading all kinds of lies about us.
Jesus what not only rejected by those around Him, but He was even betrayed by His own team. On top of it all, He suffered:
He was constantly mocked for His beliefs. People made fun of Him. They lied about Him. And in the end, they whipped Him, beat Him, and killed Him.
So, when the Bible mentions suffering as Jesus did, this is what it is talking about. You will be rejected. You will be betrayed. And you most definitely will be persecuted for following Jesus.
Here’s how Jesus explains it:
Matthew 5:11 NLT – God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.
Yep. People gonna say all kinds of evil things about you. It’s part of being a follower of Jesus. BUT God transforms the persecution into a blessing. Or, like the book of Romans said, He transforms it into glory.
So, when you are suffering for God, the solution is to rejoice despite your suffering because it will turn into something awesome.
Just remember, suffering for God does not include sickness or poverty. For our suffering to qualify as something from God, it must line up with the same suffering Jesus experienced. Mainly, persecution.
Is this helping anyone? Let’s move on to the next one.
Attack from Satan
Although we like to give him credit for all of it, only some of the challenges we face in life are a direct attack from satan. Even then, he can’t do anything without our consent and cooperation.
Are you surprised at what I just said? Maybe you’ve been taught that satan is so powerful and can come torment you any time he pleases. Well, I am about to blow that to smithereens.
Scripture reveals that we have the same authority as Jesus. So let’s take a look at how many times Jesus was attacked by satan and what He did about it.
In Luke chapter four, we learn that Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. How many of you would be excited about that assignment from the Holy Spirit?
The first temptation was food. For forty days, He ate nothing. For most of us, we wouldn’t make it past day two. The devil would have tempted us with Chick-Fil-A and it would have been over.
As you can imagine, at the end of the forty days, Jesus was very hungry. I imagine this was hangry to a whole notha level.
The devil waited until Jesus was at His weakest to show up and tempt Him.
By the way, this is what he always does. Have you ever noticed how much harder it is to deal with the enemy’s lies when you are tired and hungry?
The first attack was a direct assault on Jesus’ identity. Satan said, “If you really are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”
Satan is after your identity. If he can get you to question your God-given identity, that’s when he can do the most damage in your life.
That’s how you know that the LGBTQ agenda is authored by satan. All of it is an identity crisis.
God is the one who creates male and female, and He designs your gender at the moment of conception. If satan can get you to question the foundation of who you are, he doesn’t even have to worry about you finding out who you are in Christ.
The very first attack satan hurdled at Jesus was to get Him to question His identity. What did Jesus do?
Luke 4:4 NKJV – But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’”
Every attack from satan can be destroyed with the Word of God.
That’s why it’s so important you get in the Word every day. You need to know it so you can use it as a weapon against satan.
Most of you know my story about being delivered from homosexuality. If not, go watch the LGBT FAQ video on our website at nolimits.church.
Even after I was delivered, satan kept attacking my identity. He would plant thoughts like, “You were born that way. You can’t change it.”
Before I was delivered, I’d listen to this crap. But I learned to respond with the Word of God.
“No one is born gay. But even if I was, I’ve been born again. My old life is gone and I have new life in Christ. I am now dead to sin and alive to God. And for every temptation, God provides a way out.”
Guess what happened when I started using the Word as a weapon? I never fell into the sin of homosexuality again.
Word of God as a Weapon
The devil then tried two more things on Jesus. Both failed because Jesus used God’s Word as His weapon.
So what have we learned so far about attacks from Satan?
All he can do is lie. That’s his only attack.
If you believe the lie, then it can manifest into a physical attack of some sort. But it all starts with a lie.
“Heart problems run in your family. That’s why you are having chest pain. You are going to die young.”
It all starts with a lie. But it can only manifest if we give our consent for the lie to become our reality. Yes, physical ailments can show up in your life simply because you believed a lie from satan.
But every lie can be struck down with the Word of God. If you aren’t using the Word of God against satan, start today. It works every time.
Turns out, attacks from satan aren’t all they are cracked up to be. Like I said earlier, he can’t do anything without your consent and cooperation. You have to give in to the lie for it to go any further.
Now the question is, was Jesus ever attacked by satan after this?
Satan Uses People
In John chapter eight, Jesus is in the temple explaining to people that He is the Messiah. He told them over and over that He was sent by God and He and the Father were one.
Jesus was secure in His identity. He knew who He was. And it’s a good thing because satan himself tried to steal His identity, and the religious leaders did the same.
On more than one account, they tried to stone Jesus to death simply because He said He was the Messiah, and they didn’t believe it. Yet every time they tried to kill Him or arrest Him, He got away.
This reveals that even if you do not submit to satan’s lies, other people do. They allow satan to work through them by cooperating with his lies.
But even when satan uses people to attack you, they can’t do anything to you except lie about you and persecute you. When you know your authority in Christ and rest in His promise of protection, no one can touch you.
Then, why was Jesus crucified?
Because he decided to lay down his life.
John 10:18 NLT – No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again.
Jesus decided when it was time to lay down His life. Satan tried to kill Him over and over again but wasn’t successful until Jesus decided it was time.
And He wants you to know that you can decide when it’s time to lay down your life. You don’t have to die prematurely. God wants to satisfy you with long life.
And in case you are struggling to believe that we can walk in the same authority Jesus had, let me remind you of something:
1 John 1:6 NLT – Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.
Did Jesus allow death to take Him out before He was ready? No. He decided when to lay down His life. And we are to live our lives just as Jesus did.
Walk in your authority! You decide when to lay down your life. So, do you need to fear attacks from satan? No. Do you need to fear people who are controlled by satan? No.
Remember, all satan can do is lie. And it can only turn into something else if you believe the lie instead of destroying it with the Word of God.
The answer to an attack from Satan is always speaking the Word of God. So you better know the Word and cherish the Word so it comes out of you the moment satan lies to you.
Let’s move on to the last one:
Some of the suffering we go through is a natural consequence. Maybe you did something foolish. Maybe someone else did something foolish that affects you. Or maybe it’s just because we live in a fallen world.
Let me give you some examples.
If your kids wake you up several times a night for several nights in a row, you will be really tired. It’s not an attack from satan as much as it feels like it. It’s simply a natural consequence.
If you drink pop daily and eat your favorite packaged treats several times a day, you will become Type II Diabetic. And it will not go away until you stop being foolish with what you choose to eat.
If you smoke every day, your lungs will fail you at some point. They are pretty resilient, but they can only take so much.
From what I can tell, most of the sicknesses we deal with today results from natural consequences. It results from what we eat, what’s in our water, vaccines, viruses, and bacteria.
Does that mean we have to just deal with it? No. It means we need to lean into the power of Jesus to help us change our behaviors while trusting Him to handle the things we can’t change.
Dealing with natural consequences
Every day, I pray, “My food is blessed by the Word of God and prayer. I know there is nothing purely nutritious left on this earth. But I trust you, Lord, to restore it back to its original design as it enters my body.”
Then I go about my day and make good choices. I drink lots of filtered water. I eat healthy proteins and clean fats. And I stay aware of how often I eat sugar and simple carbs.
Yes, I eat a donut every now and then. But not every day, and not even every week. Before I have a treat, I simply ask myself, “When’s the last time I had a treat? Am I overdoing it?”
We can trust God to shield us from the harmful things that are around us. But our behaviors must cooperate with what we are asking Him to do.
In other words, don’t be asking for healing from Type II Diabetes when you are not willing to lay down the desserts and sweet drinks. That’s foolishness.
Just don’t make a religion out of what you eat and drink. God has provided food for our nourishment and enjoyment. Pray over it daily and ask Him to help you eat what your body needs.
The answer to suffering resulting from natural consequences is simple: ask the Holy Spirit to help you change behaviors while trusting Him to handle the things you can’t change.
There’s only so much I can do to change how many times my kids wake me up at night. But I can trust the Holy Spirit to energize me regardless of how much sleep I got last night.
Suffering for God must align with the suffering Jesus experienced, primarily persecution. The solution is to rejoice in the midst of your suffering because it will turn into glory.
An attack from Satan always starts as a lie. He cannot do anything in your life unless you cooperate with the lie. The solution is to destroy the lie by speaking the Word of God.
Suffering from natural consequences is a part of life. The solution is to ask the Holy Spirit to help you change behaviors while trusting Him to handle the things you can’t change.