Paul gives great encouragement to the Romans by telling them to glory in the afflictions because afflictions bring about patience. Ever prayed for patience? Then you know that praying that prayer brings on trials and tribulations. That Greek word isqliÛyiv –Thlipsis— translated tribulation and the amplified meaning is
- a pressing, pressing together, pressure
- metaph. oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress, straits
In the New Testament it is translated as tribulation but it is also translated as: affliction, 14; afflictions, 6; anguish, 1; distress, 2; persecution, 1; tribulation, 16; tribulations, 4; trouble, 1 Paul also describes it in 2 Corinthians that we are pressed down but not crushed.
All those synonyms stir up uneasy feelings and are apt to generate some worry and fear. Isn’t that what happens when we think something might happen? We fear the unknown and we worry that the worst will happen. We do not have to wonder what happens because Paul tells us when he shares with Timothy what it will be like…
1Don't be naive. There are difficult times ahead. 2As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, 3dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, 4treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. 5They'll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they're animals. Stay clear of these people. 6These are the kind of people who smooth-talk themselves into the homes of unstable and needy women and take advantage of them; women who, depressed by their sinfulness, take up with every new religious fad that calls itself “truth.” 7They get exploited every time and never really learn. 8These men are like those old Egyptian frauds Jannes and Jambres, who challenged Moses. They were rejects from the faith, twisted in their thinking, defying truth itself. 9But nothing will come of these latest impostors. Everyone will see through them, just as people saw through that Egyptian hoax.(2 Timothy 3:1 The Message)
They are addicted to lust and allergic to God. What an amazing observation.
Doesn’t that sound like front page news? We are faced with things coming into our living room that would make our grandmothers blush, and our forefathers roll over in their graves. On a daily basis we see professing Christians treating their fellow brothers like punching bags. What has happened to integrity and morals and ethics?
Jesus warns us in John 16:33 that He taught all those things so that we would have peace in Him, in the world we have tribulation, but in Him there is peace and He has already overcome the world. Glory! Pressed down, but not crushed.
Luke reports (Acts 14:22) that Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch after he was stoned and left for dead to confirm disciples and exhorting them to continue in the faith for it is through many tribulations that we enter the Kingdom of God. Paul also exhorts in Romans 8 that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of Christ… not tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword. Therefore, we walk in that assurance through the valley of shadow of death fearing no evil.
As the end of days draws near, Satan grows even more angry. Because of his anger, he strikes out with all his knowledge of our weaknesses and our failings. This is the most perilous of all and we Christians do not even recognize it.
We sit piously in our pews listening to sermons and doing good works with an attitude of pure heart, yet we harbor ill will, unforgiveness, gossip, cheating on taxes or tests or incorrect change or ambitions, foul words, rigidness, legalities, love of appearances both in physical characteristics as well as in deeds. So many times we think we are doing the right thing when in fact we are acting upon personal vendettas rather than with forgiveness or with the desire to work out the problems. We are to work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Philippians somewhere).
This opens wide the door for Satan. It is a door which should have no handles or knobs for him. Yet, we have this problem with our worldly addictions. We just are not chary of Satan anymore. He is not just in sheep’s clothing, but has taken on all the attributes of a sheep. He has put on the guise of the angel of light, creeping into our churches and he whispering his siren song wooing us away from our first Love. All those trials listed above help us to draw closer to our Beloved, but Satan has become wiser down through the ages. He is more sly and crafty. He puts on the cloak of light and his lies are draped in truth.
I do not watch Grey’s Anatomy because of all the bed-hopping, but my daughter does. She called me all excited that one of the professing homosexuals on the show cried out at the end of an episode, “Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.” On the surface that is quite exciting. A network who has taken on an agenda to promote homosexuality allowing a statement like that from one who practices homosexuality. Quite impressive. Until you dissect it.
God decrees in no uncertain terms, very frankly and without embellishment that homosexuality is an abomination to Him. Romans 1 is a good example. Now, we have someone who practices that lifestyle professing something that we Christians love to hear, but when a Christian practices sin without remorse or repentance, what does scripture say about that? 1John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and we walk in darkness, we lie and are not practicing the truth.
Does this mean that the person is not Christian? Only God knows a person’s heart. But… 1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of His Son Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.
So, does walking in sin brand us as unbelievers? No. But, practicing sin destroys our witness and God deals with certain destroyers by taking them home early because there is such a thing as the sin that leads to physical death (1 John 5:16).
Saying I am a Christian, but living like your father is Satan makes God a liar. God is explicit about this. 1 John 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us. If His Word is not in the heart, then that person is not a True Believer and that person is not saved.
One superior thing about our Beloved LORD is that He is long-suffering. When we see a brother or sister living in sin, practicing a sinful attitude, then we are to pray for them, we are to listen to God’s instruction on that, for the prayers of a righteous person avails much . If He says to confront, then He gives us the words to say. If He says “Wait,” then there is something else He has in mind. We should ever and always hear His voice when dealing with that kind of sin, but always remembering that it is through our love for one another that the world sees Jesus.