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Doctrine of Testing, Momentum

June 18, 2014

Every believer will be tested in this life. Passing these tests is a must if you are going to accelerate your spiritual growth and reach spiritual maturity. Using the problem solving devices to solve problems and pass the tests of life will accelerate a believer and increase their momentum toward maturity. The key to passing any of life’s tests is Bible doctrine resident in your soul and ready for application.

Testing, which normally takes on the form of suffering, comes to a believer as either suffering for blessing or divine discipline. Though divine discipline may not seem like a test, it is. It is a test to see if you can utilize the doctrine in your soul to get back in fellowship with God and begin advancing in your spiritual life. The solution to both categories of suffering is proper application of Bible doctrine. Therefore, priority number one remains consistent intake of God’s Word. The Bible tells us to walk through life with our eyes wide open. This means that we should realize that testing will come our way and be prepared for it. If you have done the work of learning accurate Bible doctrine, you will be prepared. You won’t be caught off guard and you will pass the test, if you apply the doctrine in your soul. (Ephesians 5:13-18)

In order to endure suffering and pass the test of momentum testing the believer must exhibit the same mental attitude that Jesus Christ exhibited when He suffered in His humanity. What was His attitude? Peace, joy, stability, single-mindedness, humility and obedience to the plan of God. Jesus Christ fully understood the plan for Him. This plan involved intense suffering, both physical and mental. Knowing this, He was still willing to die for our sins. (Isaiah 26:3-4; Hebrews 12:2; II Timothy 1:7; II Corinthians 13:11; II Corinthians 10:5-6; Philippians 2:5-8; Matthew 26:39)

In I Peter 4:1 we are given a command to arm ourselves with the same mental attitude as Christ. This is a command, not a request. This command is a military term referring to a fully armed Greek soldier. What is the believer’s equipment? We have studied this equipment before in Ephesians 6. The one offensive weapon mentioned in Ephesians 6 is the Word of God. In this verse we are commanded to arm ourselves with the same mind as Christ. You will recall that the Word of God is the mind of Christ. In other words, there will be no orientation to suffering apart from Divine Viewpoint Thinking.

The second half of I Peter 4:1 is a reference to undeserved suffering (for blessing). When you are armed with the mind of Christ, then the suffering that comes your way will not be due to sin in your life. Christ has delivered us from the power of sin. Therefore, when we are filled with the Holy Spirit and are thinking divine viewpoint, any suffering that comes our way is undeserved and is for our benefit. Proper orientation to suffering and understanding of suffering results in divine production even in times of adversity, trials and sufferings.

Once a believer is oriented to suffering by making good choices, by separating from those who would distract him and through the control of God the Holy Spirit, they can produce divine good works even while suffering.

In I Peter 4, Peter is writing to a group of believers in Asia Minor who have been spared persecution up until this time. However, Peter is warning them of impending danger as Nero searches for Christians to torture and kill. Thus the phrase “But the end of all things is at hand.” By application, Peter is warning all Church Age believers that undeserved suffering will occur. We are told that things will get increasingly worse as the time of the Rapture nears. This, of course, will also include the categories of suffering.

The word “sober” in I Peter 4 means to have a stabilized thought pattern. Having a stabilized thought pattern means thinking divine viewpoint (the mind of Christ). This kind of thinking eliminates the possibility of getting upset and falling apart when suffering comes your way. Stability of the mind comes from Bible doctrine circulating in your soul. This gets you prepared for suffering.

Sober for the purpose of prayer means that you are to develop a consistent, stable prayer life. Once again, you cannot develop a prayer life apart from knowledge of God’s Word. God’s Word teaches us how to pray effectively. When suffering comes, and it will, we can be ready to pass the test if we have developed a stable thought pattern and a consistent prayer life. This is part of our divine production in suffering. Divine production is not necessarily overt activity. It may be, and quite often is, inward activity (thinking, praying).

In I Peter 4:15 we have a list of sins that cause a believer to come under divine discipline. We categorize this as deserved suffering as a result of bad behavior. There are four sins listed in this verse, which bring discipline to believers. The first sin is murder and according to Jesus in Matthew 5:21-22, murder is not only overt, it can be the mental attitude of hatred. The second sin mentioned is thievery, which ignores the Biblical principle of the rights of others with regard to their property and possessions. The third sin is evildoer and is a reference to a hardened criminal. This person is a habitual evildoer and ignores Biblical principles as well. Suffering for these people may come in the form of imprisonment.

The fourth sin is being a busybody (meddling in the affairs of others). This kind of person is constantly trying to mold those around them into a certain pattern of behavior. This sin involves judging others and is anti-social in nature. No one wants to be around a person who is always sticking their nose in places it doesn’t belong. A believer who practices these sins is going to suffer, first from God, in discipline and second from society, who will either punish or reject them. This punishment from society is legitimate under God’s system of divine establishment government. The people mentioned in this verse are not suffering because they are Christians. They are suffering because of their choice to engage in bad behavior.

In I Peter 4:16, Peter refers to a believer who is suffering undeservedly. When a believer is in fellowship with God (filled with the Holy Spirit), he does not have to be ashamed of his suffering. The reason he doesn’t have to be ashamed is that through suffering he can glorify God. God is glorified when we are filled with the Holy Spirit and using the Bible doctrine that we have learned. This, of course, brings inner happiness and peace. When we are able to have happiness and peace in the midst of suffering, we are already blessed.

Suffering according to the will of God in I Peter 4:19, is suffering for righteousness sake (undeserved suffering). By relying upon the filling (control) of God the Holy Spirit, we are committing the safeguard of our souls to Jesus Christ. Jesus has already gone through the same trials that we face and has shown us that by utilizing the filling of the Holy Spirit we can come through the test victoriously. It is God Who turns the suffering into blessing because of His faithfulness. (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:10)

The Word of God is very clear that all believers will, at some point in their lifetime, suffer. We live in Satan’s domain and life naturally tests us. This may come in the form of people testing, disaster testing or world system testing. Whichever you encounter, don’t be surprised or think that it is strange, it happens to all of us. I Peter 4:12-14 says to rejoice because you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings so that when His glory is revealed, you may be glad with exceedingly great joy that you were counted worthy to suffer for His sake.

In contrast to shock or surprise, a believer should have inner happiness in the midst of suffering. (Philippians 4:4; James 1:2) Our sufferings are not as intense as the sufferings of Christ. However, we will suffer in this life. If Jesus, the perfect Son of God, was maligned and persecuted we will be also. (John 13:16; 15:20; 16:33)

When the glory of Jesus Christ is revealed at the Second Coming, inner happiness will last forever. The wonderful thing for us is that this same inner happiness is available to us now in the midst of suffering! And it is God’s purpose for every believer to have joy during suffering. This inner happiness or joy comes from two sources: 1) The Word of God and 2) the filling or control of God the Holy Spirit (the divine power system).

Thinking under the pressure of suffering is vital to the outcome. The Christian Way of Life is a life of thinking the thoughts of Jesus Christ. The mind of Christ is the doctrine found in the Word of God, the only source of absolute truth. In order to have the proper thinking, a believer must be consistently learning, believing and applying the Word of God to every circumstance in life. Proper preparation is the key to passing the test of suffering.

Daily study of God’s Word keeps the thinking of Christ fresh in our mind and helps counteract Human Viewpoint Thinking. (Psalms 119:129-135) Thinking your way through life with Divine Viewpoint Thinking will bring victory, peace, power and stability. (Isaiah 26:3-4, 33:6) It also eliminates mental attitude sinning, such as maligning, character assassination, gossiping, jealousy, self-pity, etc. Vacillating between Divine Viewpoint Thinking and Human Viewpoint Thinking makes a believer unstable according to James 1:8. An unstable believer is an unhappy believer.

The Christian Way of Life is a supernatural way of life, which cannot be lived apart from knowledge of Bible doctrine and the guidance of God the Holy Spirit. This way of life requires thinking. All changes in our lives must come from the inside. The true character of a believer is determined by what he thinks, not by what he does. God never forces a believer into any course of action. We determine what our own spiritual lives are going to look like based on what we allow ourselves to think. Divine Viewpoint Thinking equals a victorious Christian Way of Life. ((Romans 7:6, 8:2; Galatians 5:25; Ephesians 5:18; Romans 12:1-2)