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[Home]>[The Man-Made Church]>[7. Is Suffering Necessary?]
This is the 7. Chapter of "The Man-Made Church."
by Frank L. Preuss
If we approach the subject "suffering" this way - that we ask "is suffering necessary?" - we will probably have found the quickest way to understand suffering.
When we want to understand suffering then we first have to establish a key fact - the origin of suffering - or where does suffering come from? We have listed 82 cases from the Bible where the Bible lets us know where suffering comes from. This list is restricted to cases of sicknesses only - one form of suffering, the one that probably causes most cases of a suffering humanity. This table is called "The Cause of Sickness" and can be found under:
Home > Misc > Study Helps > 3. The Cause of Sickness.
In this list of 82 cases we have listed in the first column the case number or item number. In column two the scripture reference is given. In column three the individual that has been made sick is recorded. In column four the kind of sicknesses is given. In the last column we have shown whom the Bible records as having caused the sickness - the person who makes sick. Now to make it easier for the eye to glance down this last column and get an immediate overview of the majority of cases, we have used abbreviations in this last column: G stands for God, A stands for an angel of God and M stands for a man of God. When it is an angel of God or a man of God and the name is known, then we have given this name as well. When you turn to this list you will see that the majority of cases have a G in that last column and this means that the Bible records God as cause of the sickness.
We want to have a look now at the reasons why God is doing this and at the principles behind it. The scripture that best describes this doing of God is found in Isaiah 45:7.
I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
Another translation of the last part of this verse gives us a little bit more insight what kind of evil comes from the Lord:
Moral evil proceeds from the will of men, but physical evil proceeds from the will of God, and I create physical evil - calamity; I am the Lord who does all these things.
God does all these things. And in order to understand God it is often good to compare him to a father who deals with his child. Moral evil proceeds from the will of the child - the child hits another child. The father observes this moral evil of the child - hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissension, factions and envy - and the father does something about it. The father talks to the child, explains to him, that his behaviour is wrong and why it is wrong and tells him to stop it. If that does not help, he has to go further and warn the child and threaten with physical action. And when there is no change in the child's behaviour then the father will have to give the child a hiding. If talking does not help to restrain moral evil of the child, then the father has to implement physical evil. It is the same with God. If our spirit is not leadable by God's spirit and if we do not renew our mind to the word of God and we keep on acting against God's will and God's word, than God has to go to physical evil and try to correct us - bring us back to the right way.
If we go to the last column of the list we see in most cases the letter G. This G stands there for God. It means that the Bible states that it is God who caused the sickness. This applies to most cases. In some cases the letter A appears and in these cases sickness is caused by an angel of God, comes therefore also from God, because the angel acts on God's behalf. In some other cases the sickness is caused by a man acting in God's will. In cases where all three previous situations do not apply the name of the person that makes sick is given. We have only listed cases where the cause of the sickness is given in the Bible; because the main purpose of the list is to show where sickness does come from.
It is always good to study both: examples and theory. The number of examples listed is quite overwhelming; there are many more than two or three witnesses; we got 82. And we would encourage you to go through them in detail - study them in the Bible. The scripture references are all given in the second column. Convince yourself that it is God who does all these things. I the LORD do all these things (Isaiah 45:7). To be convinced of this is vital in order to understand suffering, and it is vital in order to learn to overcome it.
When you know why you are sick and when you know who makes you sick, then it is much easier to get out of such a situation. When you know the reasons of your suffering, then you can attack the evil at its roots and pull it out.
It is God who wounds and who heals. To know this is already half the solution to the problem of sickness.
See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand (Deuteronomy 32:39).
It is all in God's hand and to know this and to know that we are God's children and just have to run to God and ask him to make us whole - ask him to stop the suffering - is what one can call good news. And this possibility to run to God is open to everyone - to God's children and to outsiders. Only if they opt to run away from God do they opt for the suffering to continue, because they reject God and his Word - his forgiveness and his salvation.
If a person thinks that all sicknesses come from the devil, he will resist the devil and command him to leave him and so try to get rid of the sickness. He then might experience that this does not work and his faith life will deteriorate. But the main problem is that he remains thick. He remains sick because he does not know that sickness comes from God. Would he know that, he would have the key to his healing, because the next step for him to do would be to find out why he is sick.
As long as he thinks that his sickness comes from the devil, he will not overcome it, because the devil is not making him sick, the devil is just deceiving him - keeping him away from the truth.
Now, why would people teach that sickness comes from the devil? Why would sincere Christians with lots of Bible knowledge teach something that is not in the Bible and keeps so many from receiving their healing? One reason is that also of our own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them (Acts 20:30). There are brothers who want to make disciples for themselves and not for Jesus. They want to build their own kingdom and not that of the Lord Jesus. They want to build their own empire - their own denomination, their own sect, their own church. They distort the truth to attract people into the man-made church that pays their salary or into a man-made church that they run as their own business. So whenever you remain in a group that separates itself from the true body of believers you will receive false teaching. It is a biblical principle. The first step such people take is already the most severe case of distorting the truth. It is their act of starting and operating a denomination and the act of guiding you into this divisive group. They teach you to join their man-made church and this is the first distortion of the truth and is done in order to draw you away from the true church - to make you a disciple of them. It is so severe because you are then not any more a disciple of Jesus. You cannot serve two masters.
So the first reason why people teach that sickness comes from the devil is that with some "new" teaching they want to attract followers for themselves. They use the hidden things of dishonesty, they walk in craftiness, they handle the word of God deceitfully (2 Corinthians 4:2).
The second reason is that they are carnal and don't know the truth. They don't know the truth because they can't see the truth - the god of this world has blinded their minds and they are unbelievers (2 Corinthians 4:4). Because if they were believers they would fear God and not teach contrary to His word. They don't really believe in God and in his power - his power to punish them - and therefore teach false doctrines. You get an idea about their "fear" of God when they teach you that to fear God means to respect God. They actually teach you not to fear God by telling you that fear in this case means "to respect". Jesus' however teaches that we have to fear God and that we have to be afraid of him and he gives as reason the worst thing that can happen to a human being: being thrown into hell and being destroyed in hell (Matthew 10:28 and Luke 12:5). And Jesus does not talk about "respecting" God here because he says that we should not be afraid of those who kill the body. The word "respect" does not make sense in this connection because then Jesus would also be saying that we should not "respect" those who kill the body and that would not make too much sense. What makes sense is that we are not afraid of them, them being the Pharisees of Jesus' time or the denomination builders of our time who distort the truth. And the truth is Jesus. They distort Jesus and his body.
They are carnal. A carnal Christian is a Christian that divides the body of Christ by following people instead of Jesus Christ. Following people and following groups and denominations is the same. Either we follow the Master or we follow a man-made organisation. We can't do both at the same time. Our loyalty cannot be divided. We have only one Master and we are all brothers (Matthew 23:8). We cannot serve the Lord and at the same time an organization that divides the body of the Lord. No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other (Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13). Now these scriptures are generally true. But they are also especially true in money matters - where Jesus is using them, by adding that we cannot serve both God and Money. And that seems to go always hand in hand: making disciples for themselves and distorting the truth and thinking that godliness is a means to financial gain (1 Timothy 6:3-5) and peddling the word of God for profit (2 Corinthians 2:17). And the root of all these evils seems to be in most cases the love of money (1 Timothy 6:10). And often Christians and especially Christian teachers overlook that when the Bible here talks about that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, that this problem is discussed here by talking about false teachers on the one side and workers like Timothy and Paul on the other side. So when Paul here writes about the evil of the love of money then he does this in warning Christian workers against the evil of loving money. He speaks specially about workers - or "clergy" as they would call it. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith (1 Timothy 6:10): For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred (or, been seduced) from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. So we serve only one Master and do not serve money and we do not serve men and we do not serve organizations like man-made churches.
Paul spends the whole first letter to the Corinthians to show that Christians become carnal when they start to have something to do with denominations. The definition of a carnal Christian is that he is part of a denomination - part of a group that follows people instead of Christ. Divisions make carnal. It is a simple mechanism to protect the body of Christ. If one becomes guilty of causing divisions, he changes from a spiritual stage into a carnal stage; he becomes worldly - a mere infant in Christ. He loses the ability to eat solid food. He starts to distort the truth.
To give you an example of the extent of this situation I would suggest that you go into a Christian book shop and study the information about the authors of Christian books. Maybe on the back cover of books you find a photo and some portrayal of the author. You will find that many of them are attached to a denomination. This applies to translators of Bibles as well. So on Sunday in "church" you are fed with carnality - milk - and when you read Christian books the situation does not improve. Even when you read the Bible you have to make allowances for the fact that the translator was probably a mere infant in Christ. To give an example: Only a spiritual Christian will understand the language of faith, a carnal translator will translate something as a man in the street would say it today, without realizing that the language of a believer - of a person walking by faith and not by sight - is quite different from the language of the man in the street.
Now we want to come back to the fact that people that believe that sickness comes from the devil, will often not receive their healing because they do not know who makes them sick. To know that it is God who kills and makes alive, who wounds and heals (Deuteronomy 32:39) is an important pre-condition for getting healed. We must know that it is God who makes sick. When we know this then we will not go the wrong way and try to fight the devil and chase him away and believe that he will take the sickness with him when he leaves. After we have absorbed that it is God who wounds, we will have to find out why he does it. And there it is good to start with the second part of Deuteronomy 28 (Dt 28:15-68).
In Deuteronomy 28:15 it is clearly stated: But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee. When we stop doing what God in his word tells us to do, then curses will come to us. It says we have to carefully follow, to hearken, and it says "all" his commands and decrees. So it is a matter of detailed study. One detail for example is that people get sick, but get healed afterwards and other people get sick and remain sick. Adam and Eve are examples of the latter. They had to experience pain (see items 1 and 2 on the list "The Cause of Sickness"). She with a great increase of pains in childbearing and with pain when she gave birth to children and he will eat of the ground through painful toil (Genesis 3:16-17). Adam and Eve are the first two examples in our table. Now they got sick and they stayed sick. Had they repented when God came and corrected them, God would have forgiven them. But they chose to reject this chance God gave them and only after this rejection of God's attempt to correct them did God curse them and let them suffer pain.
These two cases of Eve and Adam are the first two cases of our list and these two cases are also the fall of all mankind. It is important to note that they did not repent when God came and corrected them and that God cursed them and the whole world only after this negative response of Adam and Eve - only after God had listened to what they had to say. With other words God did not immediately curse them and the world after they had sinned - no - God gave them a chance to put their case and be corrected and repent. Had they repented and therefore positively responded to God's correction the outcome would have been completely different. So let us become sensitive to correction - let us make a decision to be open to correction. We have to become sensitive and receptive when somebody indirectly says something that indicates a shortcoming in our life. Let us make a quality decision and invite the Holy Spirit to always remind us that we are open to correction. And let us be aware that this love for being corrected will make us wise and it will prevent us from much suffering.
With this situation of suffering of Adam and Eve we can cover already many cases of Christians that suffer today. They will not allow that God or a woman or a man of God corrects them. Pride is one reason. Another reason is them being part of a divisive movement and therefore worldly.
A good example is king Saul. The first reason of division Paul is mentioning in 1 Corinthians 3:3 is jealousy - envying. And that was how Saul's downfall started. He was jealous of David and David's successes and popularity. At this moment the church of God split. The church - the family of God - split. And it is interesting to see how it split. There were two groups. One represented by Saul and one represented by David. The one represented by Saul we could probably best describe by "apostolic succession". In this case "apostolic succession" would mean: Saul was installed in his office by the "apostle" Samuel and that fact established that he of course remains in that office and when he dies that then that person whom he has ordained to be his successor becomes holder of the office. And this system is of course the system of the man-made churches - a carnal system. The spiritual system is that it completely depends on the fact on whom the spirit of God is.
This term "apostolic succession" is a term from church history and is used to claim the rightful existence of man-made churches and is - interestingly enough - accepted by most denominations when they talk about the history of the early church. He was the first and we are the rightful successor. Peter and Paul were the first and we are the rightful successors. Saul was the first king of Israel and we are the rightful successors.
The second king of Israel was Ish-Bosheth. He became king of Israel for one reason: because he was the son of the first king - of Saul. But most Christians have very little knowledge of a king of Israel - the second one - of the name of Ish-Bosheth. Why? Because for God this was not the real king. The real king was David. And later David - 7 years later - became the real king. He was God's king, not Ish-Bosheth. So how do we know who is in God's eyes the real king? It is very clearly stated in 1 Samuel 18:28. The LORD was with David. It was not the outward situation that determined which was the church, it was the spiritual situation. Even more clearly is this expressed in 1 Samuel 18:12 "the LORD was with David, and was departed from Saul". The true church is the church with which the Lord is. It is discerned spiritually. In the church history of the man-made churches, as it is found in many books written by them, we have the history of the man-made churches, but not the history of the true church. Sometimes the true church appears in between the lines or when excesses are reported, like the inquisition, or when people died at the stake. There we get a glimpse of the true church, of the men who were killed by the man-made church, because they were - because of their spirituality - a thread to the man-made church and therefore had to be done away with, the same as Saul tried to do away with David. And today's "church historians" of course condemn these killings, but they are as guilty as the ones who did the murdering, because Jesus says "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord" (Matthew 23:29-39).
You might find that these messages of "The Man-Made Church" are too outspoken and not helping the unity of the believers. But look at how Jesus speaks of these people who are in reality the enemies of the true church. He calls them hypocrites, children of them which killed the prophets; he calls them serpents, generation of vipers, going to hell. That is strong language.
You go today into a "synagogue" - into a church building - and try to teach this subject and you will see what will happen to you.
So the real church was suddenly not any more Saul and the people around him but David, simply because Saul had become jealous and did not overcome this jealousy and God had withdrawn his spirit from Saul. The church had split and only those ones that had spiritual discernment could see it. The same situation existed in Corinth, because of "following Peter and Paul and Apollos" the Corinthians had become jealous, jealous for their favourite. They started to boast about men, glory in men (1 Corinthians 3:21), they started to take pride in one man over against another, one man be puffed up for one against another (1 Corinthians 4:6); they became jealous. As in Corinth so also today: people say, I follow Paul, I follow Apollos, I follow Cephas, I follow Luther, I follow Calvin; they had become a sect - a denomination. The result was, the same as with Saul - that they became carnal - they lost their spirituality (1 Corinthians 3:1-4).
Paul, the apostle, heard about this development. Some from Chloe's household informed Paul (1 Corinthians 1:11) and Paul wrote them a letter - 1 Corinthians. And history seems to indicate that the Corinthians took this letter of Paul to heart. They learned from this letter. They repented and made sure that this sinful way did not continue. When later again people, probably their elders, tried to direct the Corinthian church into a man-made church - into an organisation - probably led from Christians living in the capital of the Roman empire - in Rome - into a "Roman church" - they did not go along. They expelled these elders and replaced them with spiritual believers. They had learned their lesson. They watched out for those savage wolves, savage wolves that came in among them and did not spare the flock. Even from their own number (from among their elders) men arose and distorted the truth, speaking perverse things, in order to draw away disciples after them (Acts 20:27-30). Now this development of the Corinthian church can be nicely studied in a letter of an "apostolic father" written to the Corinthians: the first epistle of Clement to the Corinthians (I. Clement). Clement was writing from Rome and was very much reprimanding the Christians in Corinth that they had thrown their elders out of their ministry. Clement did not recognize the body of Christ - an organism. He wanted an organisation. He wanted to structure the church like the Roman empire was structured, with ranks and lines of command and his aim probably was to have himself - Clement - at the top - like the Roman emperor was the head of the worldly Rome, so would he be the head of the "church" - the church that was led from Rome - the Roman church.
Now you may say this seems all so complicated and I have never heard of a letter called "I. Clement". We do not really have to know all this and we do not really have to study "church history" to find out what is going on. What is it really all about? There are two principles. One is "boasting about men" (1 Corinthians 3:21) and the other is "taking pride in one man over against another" (1 Corinthians 4:6). And when you think this is still quite too complex and involves too many spiritual principles then go back to just one word and that is "jealousy" (1 Corinthians 3:3). Just remember one word: "jealousy". And when you are led by the spirit of God you pick it up every time. And when you are led by the spirit of God then you know that you are a son of God because those who are led by the spirit of God are sons of God. And when you are led by the clergy, you have a good chance of becoming twofold as much a son of hell as they are (Matthew 23:15). And sometimes the difference seems to be so little and may be it is just jealousy. To continue with jealousy in your life makes you carnal and a carnal Christian is not led any more by the spirit of God. He is led by the clergy. And this clergy business did not start somewhere in "church history", it starts always there where jealousy starts, like in Corinth when people take pride in one man over against another.
Other writings of the "apostolic fathers" are the letters written by Ignatius. His only aim for the churches he writes to is to get them to obey bishop and clergy. His command is to not to do anything without the bishops and the clergy: "Do nothing without the bishop". And this is written by a man that lived in the first century, a man who might have personally known John the apostle. I can imagine that the "Roman Church" would have loved to include these letters of Ignatius into the canon, but the content of Ignatius' letters was probably too obviously inspired by the wrong spirit and there were still too many spiritual Christians around who would have scorned such a decision.
So how do we handle people like Ignatius? We do it the same way David handled Saul: let them alone, get away from them, especially when they start to persecute you. Jesus gives us this command in Matthew 10:23 "But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another". And when you come in contact with them, do the same what David did. David warned Saul. Warn a divisive person (Titus 3:10).
So, who was the true church after Saul the king had been walking in jealousy and God had withdrawn his spirit from Saul? It was in the first place David. Just one person only. But there were others, those who did not follow Saul in his wrong direction. Probable a vast amount of Israelites and a man like Jonathan, but he already had his loyalty divided. Also a man like Ahimelech the priest. He trembled when he met David - all Israel knew what was going on - but he stood up for the things of God. He trembled because he probably had a fairly good idea what would be the consequence of him acting against the interest of the wrong church: death. And not only death for him, but death for his whole family or even for his father's whole family: 85 true priests got killed in one day and the whole population of Nob, men, women, children, infants and animals. The change from a true Christian into a persecutor of the family of God and a mass murderer took a very short time. This has not changed today. Watch out. The way from being led by God's spirit to becoming antichrist is not long. Be on your guard. If you are looking for a parallel to this blood bath in the New Testament, go to Revelation 17:6, to the woman that was drunk with the blood of the saints - Babylon. And the Bible says (Revelation 18:4) "Come out of her, my people". This passage clearly indicates what Babylon really is - the place where many of God's people are - but what is in reality a place drunk with the blood of the saints. Saul was drunk with the blood of the saints and so are the denominations of the past two thousand years. Watch out. Beware. And take action. Get out of the false church. Rather risk your life and get killed by them, than to loose eternal life by staying with them and being guilty of the blood of the saints. Make a decision for the side that is the real bride of Christ, for the side that is winning at the end. Don't be fooled by trying to be accepted by men and don't be fooled by trying to find the approval of men and then - at the end - go to hell.
Don't belong to the group of people Jesus describes in John 12:42-43 "But because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God".
Make sure you are on the winning side. Get God's approval. Get praise from God. Get out of your denomination as long as you are alive, as long as you can make a decision. And don't forget it is what is in your heart, there is the start made. Forget about jealousy and let Jesus really be Lord of your life. Do what he says, get out.
And when you make this decision, you will go to heaven. You make a decision for salvation. But God's salvation is comprehensive, it is not only eternal life, it is more. It is salvation from every situation in this life as well. You will get a bonus from God as well, you will not only be part of the bride - with eternal life - you will be saved from the plagues of the end time as well. Come out of her ... and that ye receive not of her plagues (Revelation 18:4). So there are only advantages in following God's way and to repent of the ways of religion. And even when we are persecuted and have to suffer, we already can rejoice (Acts 5:41) because we were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. But let us not suffer because of ignorance, because we do not beware and because we do not get out of denominations we are in. If we suffer the plagues of the end time it is our own fault. For us it is not necessary, because we know the truth and the truth - Jesus - has set us free.
So the Bible says we will not receive any of her plagues, the plagues of Babylon. Do you see the parallel in this to 1 Corinthians 11:30? Being part of Babylon - the man-made churches - is the same as not recognizing the body of the Lord. And who does not recognize the body of Christ eats and drinks damnation to himself. That is why in many denominations - among Christians who practice divisions - are weak and sickly people. The plagues of the end time means suffering. If you are sick and you want to get out of it, maybe you stop praying for healing and you stop confessing to be healed, because all your faith and all your confessions might not help you too much, because the real thing that stops you from getting healed is that you do not recognize the body of the Lord, that you are a divisive person.
We have asked the question why do people teach that sicknesses do not come from God but from the devil. The one reason is that such teachers distort the truth and speak of perverse things in order to draw away disciples after them (Acts 20:30). But now we want to look at another reason: It is a precaution in order to avoid persecution. When God's judgment comes onto earth then such teachers will blame the devil for all the disasters that will befall mankind and so prevent the people from turning against them - them being the "representatives of God on earth". The real situation will however be the following (Revelation 11:3-6):
And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
God's two witnesses have power to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want. And then the false teachers, those ones that teach that sickness comes from the devil, will declare that these plagues are not from God but from the devil "because our God does not do such things, we do not serve an evil God" and they will fight the two witnesses and of course they will fight the true church as well and accuse the true church of being followers of the devil. So the true church will suffer the same accusations as their Lord (Matthew 10:25):
It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?
They have accused Jesus of doing the works of the devil and they will accuse us of doing the works of the devil.
Now to make it quite clear that the plagues described in the book of Revelation come from God and that their purpose is to induce people to repent we want to go to these Bible passages.
And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts (Revelation 9:20-21).
And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory. And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, and blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds (Revelation 16:9-11).
God had control over these plagues. So right from the beginning of the Bible, when God proclaimed the curse, until the end of the Bible, when God pours out his wrath, and all the way in between, evil comes from God. But also all the way through the Bible the suffering of these evils is not necessary - it is only necessary for those whose heart remains hart, who can't see that God's power is endless and can save them out of every situation.
And then we have those that do not really want to stop suffering because it requires that they stop doing certain things. And of these things we could mention many but want to list here just the important ones.
1. They do not want to stop being proud.
2. They do not want to renew their mind.
3. They want to carry on talking and talking, especially about their suffering.
4. They love to receive sympathy.
5. They do not want to be corrected.
6. They want to be accepted by man and they seek the approval of men.
7. They - just generally - do not want to stop sinning.
8. They do not recognize the body of the Lord.
9. They do not believe.
10. They like to complain.
11. They love praise from men.
So when you are sick, turn to God and ask for being saved from this sickness. God never fails when we call on his name. But if you do not receive what you have asked, go through this checklist. We have listed in this message probably most of the possible reasons why suffering in people's life carries on. Go also through the list of 82 scripture examples, may be one of these reports will come quite close to your situation and when you go through these 82 examples from the Bible, study why people got sick, very often the reason for their suffering is given. And all these principles apply for all other forms of suffering like natural disasters, early death, physical attacks, war, famine, political evil, lack of necessaries like money, food, drink, cloth, work, transport. God makes you to suffer so that you learn to live a better life. It is the same as when a father corrects a child, he does it for the good of the child - it is in the child's interest.
So when you have come out of the situation of suffering, do not forget the reason why you had to suffer, it was a stepping stone in your way to be conformed into the image of Christ. And do not forget that to be healthy is important, but it is more important to not being thrown into hell (Matthew 18:8-9 and Mark 9:43-48).
It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. And when you have lost one part of your body, rejoice and let it always remind you of the cause of this loss. Let us say the cause why you lost this part of your body was because you walked in a lack of compassion and in arrogance, then let this missing part of your body always remind you to walk in compassion and in humility.
There are many places in the Bible that tell us that we have to be open to correction. It is very much advisable to start a collection of theses scriptures and to study them. We should do the same with scriptures that tell us something about the power of God. To know that God is in control of everything is vital to build up a strong faith and to become victorious.
The most often quoted book of the Bible when talking about suffering is the book of Job. We have already pointed out that talking and talking, especially talking about suffering does not really bring anything, it just prevents us from being saved from this suffering. Job's friends again and again tried to get Job to repent of his sin, a sin however they could not put their hands on. They did not realize that they themselves were guilty of this sin - talking - fulfilling the desires of the flesh - the desire to talk. And the second sin was unbelief; they did not really believe that God could put an end to the suffering; they had no solution for Job. Both sins of Job were also theirs. And what was the remedy for their situation? They had to learn that God is almighty and therefore God spoke to them and stressed this point. God is quoted from chapter 38 to chapter 41. Here God speaks of his power and that he created all things, also creatures that are themselves powerful are all his creation. One of the great reasons why people suffer is because they do not really believe in God's power, that he can do all things, that he is so powerful that he can stop their suffering. This problem of unbelief is as old as mankind and man has come up with all kinds of teachings to further this unbelief. In our time there is a teaching called evolution, it is so ridicules that later generations will have problems to understand that there could ever be people who would believe something like this - evolution. There is not one scientific proof of evolution. But millions of people believe it and thousands teach it. Just think about the claim that man evolved from an ape and that this thing of evolution is happening since millions of years. Why is it then that there are no such beings as half ape and half man, or 90% ape and 10% man or 20% ape and 80% man? If evolution is true we should have the face of the earth covered with such intermediate forms of beings. This evolving of man from ape should take place all the time, but nobody has ever heard of anything like it. People can only believe a thing like evolution because the god of this world has blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them (2 Corinthians 4:4). Evolution is a religion, there is no power behind it, it is there to deceive people and keep them away from God. The main reason why people follow evolution is because they want to have an excuse not to follow God, by simply declaring that there is no God.
If people try to teach that evil does not come from God, ask them: what was the first miracle that Paul the apostle performed? They do not know how to answer because their own teachers did not teach them this. So you will have them already on the defensive. Then tell them that Paul made a man, Elymas, blind. Paul made a person sick. A man of God caused sickness. And then ask them how that agrees with their theology: sickness does not come from God. And then ask them why it was that Paul was sick. They will answer you that Paul was not sick but that an evil spirit bothered him, and that that was the thorn in Paul's flesh. Agree with that and then tell them that Paul was blind and they will tell you that the reference to Paul's eyes does not state that he had sick eyes. Agree with that and then tell them that Paul was blind for three days and that it was caused by the brilliance of the light when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. They will be surprised because their teachers did not teach them this. Then tell them that the blindness of Elymas was caused by a man of God - by Paul - and the blindness of Paul was cause by the Lord and ask them why they claim that sickness comes from the devil. And they will say that the devil comes to steal and kill and destroy. Tell them that that is not in the Bible. They will tell you that it is in the Bible and they will even know and quote where: John 10:10. Tell them that it is not in the Bible. They will insist that it is. Tell them that the word devil does not appear in that scripture. They will be surprised because their teachers did not teach them this.
You see, they are led by the clergy; they are not led by the spirit of God. They only know what their clergy tells them. And their clergy distorts the truth in order to draw away disciples after them (Acts 20:30). The first distortion of truth is always when they entice you to join their denomination - when they entice you by telling you: You must not forsake the assembling of the believers - you must come to church - to our church - you must have a shepherd. They distort the truth; they want you to join the assembly of the dividers, of the dividers of the body of Christ, which are led by the clergy, the savage wolves.
And the distortion of the truth can go so far that they take the truth - the word of God - completely away from the people. There were times in "church history" when the people were prevented from having access to the Bible and in some denomination this has only changed recently.
So let us go back to what happened between Saul and David. Saul's jealousy was the reason for this split. Jealousy was at the start of the devil's downfall and so it was at Saul's. In 1 Samuel 18:8-9 we have the beginning of the split in the family of God: Saul was jealous. The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully upon Saul (1 Samuel 18:10). Persecution started immediately "I will smite David even to the wall with it", said Saul to himself. The church started to split.
What is actually quite interesting is that the organized church, or the "apostolic succession", just carried on. They had become separated from God. But this separation was just visible in the spiritual realm. In the physical realm everything was as it was before: The king, his kingdom, his servants and the people of his kingdom. All these were continuing and gave the impression that nothing had happened; the church's existence was unbroken. But in reality, in the spiritual realm, the church had become one man: David; and the men who later joined him. Now is it not interesting how the Bible describes these people who comprised this seemingly breakaway group of believers? Who were these people that joined David? They were his brothers and his father's household. That is very encouraging when our physical family is on our side. But who were the others that joined him? All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him (1 Samuel 22:2). That does not sound very encouraging to a Christian who wants to be accepted by the world and who wants to find the approval of men. No clergy, no fine church buildings, just caves and terrorist life: chased by the man-made church.
Then there was a man like Jonathan, with his heart on David's side, but he remained with the "jealous" group. And then there were the masses, also with their hearts on David's side but they also did not join him. They only joint him when he became king and then only the tribe of Judah. It took the other tribes 7 years to come to David. So we will have different situations. In most parts of the world the real church is a bunch of those who are in distress or in debt or discontented - from the worldly point of view a bunch of unacceptable people. But then you might have also a complete different situation like we have in China today where the true church is a gigantic mass of people and the biggest part of believers seem to be spiritual people.
Now this is an important subject: How a true church becomes a man-made church. It can happen quite fast, quite suddenly. One person becomes carnal, and the whole church is affected. Let us now go to another example, where Paul prophesies such a development over the church in Ephesus and actually over the hole church worldwide (Acts 20:29-31):
For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
Paul said, even from your own number, "of your own selves". Like King Saul, from the own number of the leaders of the children of God, he turned suddenly against God. So from the own number of the elders of the church in Ephesus men arose and turned against God's church.
Now with this prophesy of Paul's the whole idea of "apostolic succession" already collapses. The doctrine of "apostolic succession" is held by certain man-made churches and they believe that the apostles ordained elders, and these again ordained their successors, and so on, forging an unbroken chain of succession reaching to the present day which thereby guarantees their authority. And Paul says that even the elders that he himself knew, and probably ordained, will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. People can be personally taught by Paul and they still will turn against him and against God. People can be personally taught by Jesus himself for three years and they still can turn against him and betray him - like Judas Iscariot, a man personally ordained by Jesus Christ himself to be an apostle (Matthew 10:1-4) - and become grievous wolves.
And Paul calls them grievous wolves, like King Saul who was a savage wolf killing Ahimelech and all his relatives. At one moment you had the true church, and just a short time afterwards this church turned around and became a killing organization. There was no need for a long development period in church history, it happened just like that. One elder stopped to be led by God's spirit - he allowed a spirit of jealousy to take over - and the ugly face of religion appeared: they did not exhort people to follow God but they started to draw away disciples after them - they become savage wolves. They were not servants of God and his kingdom; they started their own kingdom and drew away followers after them.
But let us come back to suffering. David had to suffer in his mind: rejection, persecution etc. but physically he was okay. He was never captured, he was never wounded, no sickness is reported, no physical suffering, just mental attacks and these he seemed to have overcome all the time, the Psalms are evidence of it; he always was a praiser. And on the other side Saul. He was oppressed by an evil spirit. He suffered physically. He was sick because of sin. His sin was jealousy. And he remained sick. He did not recognize the body of believers (1 Corinthians 11:29). He continued to divide the family of God. And the beginning was such a seemingly harmless shortcoming: jealousy. And Saul could be such a nice person. When he was caught by David and David told him what his condition was, Saul even agreed with David and even seems to repent (1 Samuel 24:17 and 1 Samuel 26:21) but he does not really change his ways, he carries on to fight against God. And he carries on suffering. And what is he suffering? An evil spirit from the Lord. Evil comes from the Lord, even an evil spirit. And the end of Saul was death - early death. He died for his transgressions, because he was unfaithful to the Lord. So the Lord put him to death, he slew him (1 Chronicles 10:13-14). The Lord makes sick and the Lord puts to death. And many other physical evils come from the Lord. If somebody really wants to become a believer, wants to start to believe in the power of God, wants to believe in an almighty God, he has to start to study the fact that many physical evils come from the Lord. Make a study of where does famine come from, death, early death, fire, ruin, floods, rain, disasters, attacks of wild animals, evil political power, the devil's authority. Start to collect scriptures. You will not only get a large collection, your faith in an almighty God will increase tremendously. He is in control. He controls every movement in the universe and every movement in the microcosm, everything depends on him. We have here just concentrated on one aspect of his power and that is sickness. We did so because sickness is the most common form of suffering.
So Adam and Eve as well as King Saul were people who did not repent when they were corrected. David is the example of the man who did repent. When Nathan corrected David, David immediately said: "I have sinned" (2 Samuel 12:13). And Nathan replied, "The Lord has put away thy sin". And David did not repeat his sin, like Saul did.
The only time David seems to have had physical problems in his life was when he had sinned - committed adultery and had murdered a man - and before he was corrected by Nathan and he confessed his sin. Read Psalm 38.
But in this report of David and Bathsheba we have another example why people suffer. They suffer because of words spoken, words of darkness spoken, words that become reality. David said - and he said it in anger - "he shall restore the lamb fourfold". But David spoke this curse on himself and on his family. And fourfold he had to pay. The child that Uriah's wife had borne to David died. Ammon his son got murdered by Absalom and Absalom his other son got killed after he turned against David and fought him and Adonijah his son was killed by King Solomon. With four of his lambs did David have to pay - exactly as he had confessed with his own mouth. David lost 4 sons - he paid fourfold - he suffered what he had spoken.
When we do not know how to measure our faith, what impact our words have, we will have to suffer. We will suffer because of the words of darkness we speak. Because these words come to pass. We would recommend that you learn to measure the faith of people and your own faith. To help you to learn this ability we invite you to read "How to Measure Your Beliefs". This material will explain to you the importance of words and how believing and speaking correlate to each other. It will also teach you the importance of the vocabulary of silence.
One of the biggest sins of Christians is talking. Talking is probably the most dangerous lust of the flesh. The Bible has a whole book kept apart to deal with this habit of talking. And now we come to the classic case of suffering: to Job. To make it short: Job suffered so long because he kept on talking. Jesus healed many people but he hardly ever talked about the sicknesses of these people or why they were sick; he acted. And Job got healed when he started to act, when he prayed for others. So one way of stopping suffering of illness is to start to pray for others. And to be able to successfully pray for others presupposes that we believe that salvation comes from God.
Job is another case of a person that got corrected by the Lord and who accepted this correction. Job said, "Surely I have uttered that I understood not, things too wonderful for me, which I knew not ... Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:3-6). Job spoke of things he did not understand. How many Christians speak of suffering but never understood the subject they are talking about. It is just religious opinions they probably picked up on Sunday morning when they went to buy their religion from somebody who knew less than they knew. Job said, "I have heard of thee by hearsay: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:5-6). Job had his information from hearsay, it was second hand information and it was not the right information. Only after he received first-hand information - direct from God - did he receive the truth. We must be led by God and not by religious people. If we are led by religious people we will know God only by hearsay - and suffer. Job says that he now has seen God with own eyes and we have to do this as well, get our information directly from God's word. Only this direct relationship to God will save us from suffering and from hell. We must see God with our own eyes.
But it is so nice to speak of suffering and many things said are even true, but important is the action, the doing. Job finally said, "I know that God can do every thing" (Job 42:2). And this was preceded by God explaining to them (Job 38-41) that it is God that does all things. God does all things. Realizing the power of God, this study in detail of what God does, that he is in complete control, brought Job to the point that he realized that God can do all things, he can also stop him from suffering - heal him. "You can do every thing", Job said. This realization was his salvation. And that he stopped talking. This is even better expressed by Job in Job 40:4-5: "Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will say no more." How many Christians are keeping on suffering just because they do not put their hand over their mouth. How many would not have to suffer if they would just "say no more". Job speaks in the book of Job 14 times. His longest speech goes over 6 chapters (Job 26-31). Job's speeches are so long that they take up more than 1% of the whole Bible. And what he says and what his friends say is worth reading. But all the time Job remains sick - he suffers. Job's and his friend's speeches comprise more than 2% of the whole Bible.
In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin - When words are many, sin is not absent (Proverbs 10:19).
In one sense Job is a book of the sin of speaking - fulfilling the desires of the flesh (Ephesians 2:3). They spoke of suffering - of things they did not understand (Job 42:3). It is important for a Christian to master the vocabulary of silence, to learn the ability to keep quiet, to say nothing. Again we encourage you to go to "How to Measure Your Beliefs". It explains in detail how to obtain this life-giving ability. Let us see what God thought about the speeches of Job (Job 38:1-2): Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? God says that Job made the purpose of God unclear, that he darkened counsel by words without knowledge. God's plan of salvation always was comprehensive. God's plan of salvation always was salvation to eternal life through Jesus Christ. But God's plan of salvation also always was to save men here on this earth from all kind of suffering. And God here speaks of this second form of salvation: salvation from suffering. God's plan of salvation for men today and here on this earth from suffering is best demonstrated by what our Lord Jesus did when he again and again healed people and made people whole. All four Gospels are full of reports of Jesus making people whole. God's plan of salvation is to stop the suffering.
If you have got problems to believe that God can save you from suffering here and now, then you are probably also not really convinced that he will save you from damnation. Only then will you convince yourself that you really believe in your salvation from going to hell, when you have experienced his salvation from suffering in many incidents here in this world.
Why did Job make the purpose of God unclear? Job made God's purpose unclear by not pointing out that God is a God that saves. Job had to come to a point where he believed and acted and called on the name of the Lord. One of God's most important roles is that of the saviour. A more important role of God is that of the creator. But because God was and is the creator that is why he wants - and why he can - save.
And God makes it clear to Job that Job can't save Job. God says for example: Look at every one that is proud, and bring him low (Job 40:12). We can't do a thing like this; bring everyone who is proud under our control. We can't save ourselves. And then God says (Job 40:14): Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee. We can't save ourselves, but God can. If we really believe that God can save and wants to save then there should be no suffering, because we then would believe that God has saved us from this suffering. This is probably the main point of the book of Job. In reality Job is a book of redemption, salvation and deliverance.
And Job was in a situation where the subject of the saviour was still not too much revealed, but we have the full revelation of the saviour Jesus Christ and therefore are in a much better situation to call on the Lord for salvation. So whenever we read the book of Job let us rejoice because we have the answer to all the problems Job and his friends discuss: the new covenant - the saviour Jesus Christ.
We want to come back to the point the list in this message is making, that it is God who makes sick. Even in Job 2:7 Satan could do nothing to Job had he not got God's permission. Only because he had been in the presence of God could Satan afflict Job (Job 2:7). That it was God right from the beginning who made Job sick is stated in Job 42:11 "and they bemoaned him, and comforted him over all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him." It was the Lord. So it is always God who causes suffering. But it is because the devil deceives us that we do not wake up and stop suffering. That we do not repent or that we do not call on the name of the Lord for deliverance. Or that we, as in the case of king Asa (2 Chronicles 16:12), do not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians. It is not wrong to seek help from physicians, but first we have to call on the name of the Lord.
Scriptures like Job 2:7 and John 10:10 are used to try to proof that sickness comes from the devil and that our God is not a God that gives sickness to people and that God is not a God that causes natural disaster. We could say such a teaching is just a minor difference in doctrine or Bible interpretation. The devil does not cause the physical suffering - he is just deceiving the person that suffers. The devil's way of deceiving a person is to prevent him to call on the name of the Lord, to prevent him to believe that in the name of Jesus a person can get healed, to prevent him from believing that Jesus saves from everything, including sickness, prevents him from repenting, prevents him from knowing he is freed from the curse, encourages him to walk in pride, to carry on with negative talking, to operate in fear and prevents him from recognizing the body of Christ. These messages of the series "The Man-Made Church" have the aim that people start recognizing the body of Christ. Many among us are weak and sick, because they do not recognize the body of the Lord (1 Corinthians 11:29-30): "... not discerning the Lordís body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you." Suffering sickness would stop in many cases when Christians would just stop their connections with denominations.
This is another aspect of suffering. We always ask "Why suffering?" But we should ask "Is suffering necessary?" And when we start to scrutinize our list of sicknesses, then we realize that all the cases of suffering were not necessary, they could have been prevented, when people would have done the right thing. The only cases that do not fall under this are where a person suffers so that the work of God might be displayed in his life (John 9:3 and John 11:4). But we must not forget that the man born blind and also Lazarus had the covenant of the Old Testament and that that covenant was effective during their lives. They could have believed in their covenant rights and received their healing - before Jesus came and healed them or raised them from death. The main exception is however the suffering of Jesus Christ. We could say that also in this case Jesus could have decided not to suffer. If Jesus would have had just his personal interest in mind, then we could say it was not necessary for Jesus to suffer, he could have decided not to go to the cross. But, thanks to God, Jesus decided that it was very necessary to suffer - to go to the cross - so that we do not have to suffer - so that we do not have to go to hell - the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).
It was Jesus decision to suffer and when we study the cases where Christians suffered because of persecution, we get the impression that they also had certain decisions in this suffering, they decided to suffer and not avoid the suffering, but endure it and obtain a better salvation and to be an outstanding witness, like Stephen was, especially towards a man like Saul who later became Paul. But Jesus' general rule is: "But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into an other" (Matthew 10:23). Jesus did the same thing, when he was persecuted in one place, he fled to another. Our Lord has the power to save us; there may come however a time when it is time to suffer for the Lord's name and we will know when that time has come.
To illustrate the difference of two cases of suffering we want look at suffering because of persecution and because of speaking negatively. This time we will not look at sickness but at early death. Abel was the first martyr. He got killed because of his faith in God (Hebrews 11:4) and from the information we have about him being persecuted and killed by his brother Cain (Genesis 4:8) we can say that Abel had very little chance to do anything to prevent his brother killing him. So we have another case where we can't say that it was not necessary. So Abel died an early death because of persecution. How small the power of the devil is can be seen here as well, the devil could only deceive Cain to kill another human being - his brother; the devil himself could not kill Abel. Another person in the book of Genesis who died an early death is Rachel. She died giving birth to Benjamin. We have a statement of Rachel recorded in Genesis 30:1 "Give me children, or else I die". This gives us some insight into Rachel's attitude and also in the same verse it is recorded that she "envied her sister". Jealousy and pride are always the main weapons the devil uses to defeat people. But Rachel's main problem was her tongue, she spoke death over herself. She cursed herself.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
Rachel's tongue loved to speak death and she ate the fruit of what her tongue had spoken. Rachel said "or I'll die!". What she said meant death and she was rewarded by how she spoke (Proverbs 18:21). Let us stop to talk death and darkness into our own lives.
Job stopped to suffer, when he stopped to talk about his suffering. His suffering was, or situation of suffering, was stabilized by his confessing all the time that he was suffering. He created his own suffering by speaking all the time about it. How many Christians today suffer sickness because they talk all the time about it. They talk all the time how sick they are.
And when you start to look for examples in life, then allow only two types of examples. The first type of example is an example you find in the Bible and gives you information you can use for assessing the situation. And the second type of example are cases where you have inside information and are able to observe and especially are able to listen what is said and where you can measure the faith of a person involved.
There is a third type of example that is not helpful at all and that is the example of the good Christian lady who suffered cancer and died and nobody knows why. And people say that suffering is one of God's great mysteries. And no further information is available regarding this case. Something like this does not help to grow in knowledge and wisdom. To discuss such cases where we do not have any insight what the situation was and what the circumstances were does not bring anything. So let us go to examples from the Bible or to examples we have observed ourselves or of examples where we have some valuable information available.
Valuable information is a detail we can pick up about Job from the book of Job. Job was a good man (James 5:11; Ezekiel 14:14+20) and he had cancer, but this information alone does not bring us very far. But let us look at information like Job 3:25, a statement of Job: For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.
Job operated in fear and he spoke it out and he was still speaking about it when that what he feared had already happened and was still happening. With his words of darkness he stabilized the situation and the situation could not change as long as he kept on confessing it. Jesus again and again says that we must not fear. It is a sin. The same is worrying. Because it is unbelief. It is not believing that God can overcome every danger or attack on us. Or that he cannot provide. We fear God, and we fear God only. When the Bible says that we have to fear God then one meaning is that we do not fear anything else. The same when the Bible says that we have to trust God. One meaning of this command to trust God is that we do not put our trust in anything else, only in God. A third example is that we are commanded to have Jesus as Lord and to confess "Jesus is Lord" and one meaning of this is that nobody else is our Lord, Jesus only. So we only fear God, we only trust God and we only have God as our Lord, nobody else.
We do not fear bad things that might come upon us; it is a sin. Jesus says so. So, do not think we are talking bad about a holy man in the Bible. To study the mistakes holy men of the Bible made is the purpose why these incidents are recorded in the Bible. Two good ways to learn is to learn from the experience of others and to learn from others by negative example.
Another verse to learn from Job by negative example is the next verse, Job 3:26, I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came. Job made a lot of "wise" statements, so it seems to us, but in reality he created his own world of darkness by speaking it into being. How many people suffer from stress - have no peace, no quietness - simply because they say so all the time "I am under stress". They tell everybody that they are too busy, that they don't have time, that the stress they are under is killing them and exactly that is what is happening to them - the stress is killing them.
Some people use Job 2:7 "So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown" as a proof that sicknesses come from Satan. But we must not forget that already from the wording of this verse "went out from the presence of the Lord" it is obvious that Satan did so because the Lord had given him permission to do so. And the previous verses confirm this. In verse 5 Satan himself confirms that it is God who has to do it: "But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh" Satan says to God. Quite sovereignly stated is the fact that it is God who afflicted Job in Job 42:11: They bemoaned him, and comforted him over all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him. So Satan can only afflict if God lifts the hedge he has put around us. Or Satan can afflict a person if he is instructed by God or men of God to do so. The example is the immoral brother in 1 Corinthians chapter 5. Paul tells the church in Corinth to deliver the immoral brother unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
So Satan's power depends on God. Another example is found in John 13:26-27: Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Satan could only enter into Judas because Jesus allowed him to do so. What Jesus said to this effect is repeated in John 13:18-21. Jesus created this situation by speaking it into being. He said, "Verily, verily I say unto you, one of you shall betray me." And after Satan had entered into Judas, Jesus gave a direct command to Judas, "That thou doest, do quickly" (John 13:27).
Satan can only deceive. If he wants to do physical harm he needs God or man to give him permission. In the end times Satan only can harm people because men like the beast and the false prophet yield to the devil to steal and kill and destroy.
We might think that we did not give Satan authority to harm us, so why are we sick? May be you forget that the devil is the great deceiver. May be he deceives you all the time and you give the devil authority over you all the time, without you realizing what you are doing. May be you give Satan all the time permission to harm you by commanding suffering into your life. May be your tongue - it is your tongue that has the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21) - is speaking death all the time or most of the time or sometimes - like Job.
And there is another wide range of suffering, the suffering from lack. Sickness is just one kind of lack - the lack of health. Psalm 23:1 says "I shall lack nothing". Christians like to quote Psalm 23, but they lack, they lack all kinds of things. They lack a job, they lack money, they lack transport, they lack education, they lack food, they lack clothing, they lack time, they lack peace, they lack freedom.
And if we investigate and study we find out it is all not necessary, all this suffering could be avoided.
Let us take as an example the lack of money. There is a man who wants to fly from A to B and after finding out the cost he says, "These people know how to make money, these fairs are ridiculous". What is behind his suffering of lack of money - because that is the real thing behind his complain - that he has not got the money for the ticket. First of all his problem is his mouth. He confesses lack. When he is religious he says the Lord is my shepherd, I shall lack nothing, and when he is normal he says "These prices are a money-making racket". The word of God is not part of his life; it is just part of his religious life. He suffers, because he believes in suffering and confesses suffering. But there is more behind this bad habit of so many Christians to speak like this. All these statements seem so normal in daily life and everybody uses them:
That is quite expensive.
I don't think I can do it this year.
It would be nice to go there but not with my salary.
Yes, but they have got the money.
I can't afford that.
It is a lack of faith. We do not really believe that God is our shepherd and we lack nothing; that he can provide everything. And it is very often jealousy. We observe what others have and what we do not have. If we would be genuine, we would rejoice that that person has something good and when we also need it then we would believe that God is giving us the desires of our heart. If the man would be genuine he would rejoice that this airline is doing a good business, that they are offering a service that people want and that they get paid for it, paid more than the cost are so that they make a profit and prosper. And when he would really look into the situation he would see that the trip by air is cheaper than he going by car. The cost of running a car per kilometre and his time added to it would be a lot more expensive. By air it cost him 2 hours and by car it will cost him 2 days. So his whole judgement is wrong.
And what is worse, he regrets that these people run a prosperous business with their airline and he himself does not prosper, he can't even effort an airline ticket. The same with the guy who walks to work every day for 8 km and is jealous of the colleague who has a bicycle. If he would rejoice that his colleague is blessed he would have opened the way to be blessed himself.
Start watching out for these subtle statements that come out of your mouth and meditate on the reason why they come out of your mouth. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts (Matthew 15:19). Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34).
We really have to change the attitude inside our heart. Is there jealousy? Are we jealous that other people have and we do not have? Is there a love for things? A love for money? Be content with everything and get into the right attitude - with other words seek the kingdom first and then all these things will be given unto you - and the things will come automatically.
Paul was content. He was not in need (Philippians 4:11-12). And Paul had learned to be content whatever the circumstances. He also knew what it is to have plenty. He had learned the secret of being content in any and every way, whether well fed, whether living in plenty. This positive side of Paul's statement is often overlooked; often we just read that Paul was content when he faced a negative situation. But Paul was also content when he had plenty, when he was well fed. He had the right attitude. He was not controlled by money and by things, he controlled them. He had control over these things and that is why he had them. Very often poor people love money, and because they love money that is why they don't have it.
To have a lack of financial means - to have no money - is one form of suffering. And it is a form of suffering that is very common. Lack of health and lack of money are probably the most common forms of suffering. The question is often asked; "Why suffering?" We have seen that it is much more helpful to ask a different question, to ask "Is suffering necessary?" And then we have seen that in many cases suffering is not really necessary and found out that it very often could be avoided. The purpose of our discourse of suffering was to find a way out of suffering or even to prevent suffering. But in this we have a deeper aim and that is to become aware of God's power. The more we get to know God, the more we realize how powerful God is. He really is in control of the whole universe and of every detail in our life and in the life of others. So let us have again a look at this aspect and this time at what the Lord of this earth says himself (Exodus 4:11):
Who hath made manís mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?
The more we realize that it is God who wounds and who heals (Deuteronomy 32:39; Job 5:18; Isaiah 30:26) the more our faith will grow. And that - this growth of faith - is even more important than the prevention of suffering, because with faith we will overcome everything, nothing will be impossible to us. With faith we will have the way out of every situation - salvation from every possible situation can be ours. The Lord Jesus Christ is our saviour - and this has to become reality in our life. And this process - of coming to a point to know that Jesus saves out of every situation - is one of the main points the book of Job tries to make.
May be the main reason why people suffer is so that they realize that God can save them from this suffering and when they have learned this lesson, then there is no more need for them to suffer, because whenever they start to suffer again they simply turn to God for salvation.
Suffering is not good for us. Only when it teaches us to stop suffering is it of benefit for us.
Study the life of David. He always acknowledges God's salvation in his life. When he was a boy he did (1 Samuel 17:37):
The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.
And he did it all his life and we have no record that he ever suffered. Despite him being a fighting warrior all his life he never got injured, never got captured, never got killed. He never lost a fight, never lost a battle. And when he was an old man he looked back, or better when he had to look back because another mighty problem faced him where much suffering for him was in the offering because his son takes the kingdom away from him, he again, as always in his life, he puts his trust in the Lord for his salvation, his salvation from suffering (1 Kings 1:29):
As the LORD liveth, that hath redeemed my soul out of all distress.
David says that God has delivered him out of every trouble and he will do so now as well. God had saved him from every suffering and he will also not have to suffer in this case. Become like David - know that God's deliverance is yours - always.
That is what mankind seems so busy with, trying to save themselves. And all this effort, like political systems, scientific progress, defence systems, work, religion, money, etc are just ways to try to do it without God. Man likes to proof that he can do it himself. And he can't. Only God can. Our own right hand cannot save us. So let us come to the conclusion that the Lord is our Lord - and nobody else; that we fear God and nobody else; that we trust in God and we do not put our trust in anybody else. That Jesus is our saviour and that we cannot be saved by any other name.
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
This is the main aspect of the book of Job: pointing out that salvation from sin - the cause of suffering - and salvation from suffering - the result of sin - comes from the Lord and from the Lord only. There is no other name.
Job knew about God's power regarding wounding and healing, his friend Eliphaz talks about it (Job 5:18). And so it is with many Christians today, they know about it. They believe it as well and speak about it. But the crucial thing is to get healed and to walk in divine health. The practical outcome must be there. The fruit must be there. The actual healing will attract people to Christ, not the knowledge about it. So let us have faith and let us agree with God's word and speak it and receive what God has made available to us. It is this practical act of getting people healed, of getting them up and walking. And it was this that was one of the main activities of Christ when he walked on this earth, that he healed people and a main part of the gospels is this reporting of all these cases where people actually got healed. And this is one reason why the new covenant is called a better covenant, because it becomes very much clearer in the New Testament that God is the great physician - that he wants to heal and that he can do it and that he does it. Healing people is the great manifestation of God's power in the ministry of Jesus. And it was so in the ministry of the early church. And it should be in our ministry. Jesus is the saviour. Jesus' whole ministry is a testimony for the fact that suffering is not necessary for us. He overcame all suffering that came across his path.
May be the main reason for suffering is to bring a man to the point where he starts to believe in God for his salvation and starts to call on the name of the Lord. This view seems to be very much underlined by Revelation 9:20-21 and Revelation 16:9-11 (quoted earlier). It says there that God had control over these plagues (Revelation 16:9), he started them and he could stop them, he could have stopped these plagues for everyone who would have repented.
Is not that what it is all about - getting saved?
But God's salvation is complete. He provides salvation from eternal damnation and he also already provides salvation from suffering in this world.
And this preparedness of God to save is what is missing in the discussions of Job and his friends. But it comes through to Job at the end of the book and it brings salvation to him - the end of suffering. So it can bring an end to your suffering as well. Let the book of Job be an encouragement to you and let it help you to also become more prosperous as you have been before. The Lord made Job prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before. The Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first. God will do this for you and me as well.
Now there might be some doubt about the claim that suffering is not necessary in most cases. So we will have to convince ourselves that it is so. It is like convincing ourselves that God exists; only we ourselves can experience this revelation. We have to come to that point by experience. Others might be helpful in assisting us to that end but it will be our own experience that will be decisive to know that God exists and to know that suffering comes from God and salvation from it as well. It is a vital step in learning to be guided by the Holy Spirit.
We will come to a point in life that when we are corrected we will know immediately why we have been corrected. The moment the suffering begins we know exactly why it happened - for what reason - the sin we are walking in flashes into our mind. The situation is quite clear and we also know that this is what befell us - the suffering that overcame us - was necessary in order to stop us to continue in that sin.
Let us take an example. I walk in anger towards another person and my mind allows the devil to continue to give me thoughts of resentment, retaliation, pride, unforgivingness etc. I have no peace and this disturbed relationship with another human being upsets me and I simply don't do what I should do: Forgive and walk in love. God tries to correct me by reminding me of his rules but I don't listen, I carry on in anger. So as I don't listen to the word that is in me and that the Holy Spirit brings up to my mind, God has to use other means to get through to me: physical means. I have to feel. I have to feel physically. I have to feel negative things in my physical body. God talked to me in my spirit and I did not listen so he is now going to speak to me physically in my body. If I don't want to listen I have to feel - feel badly. God will hurt my body. I might fall and his angel will not protect me from hurting me. I am hurt, physically. I have a part of my body damaged. It was necessary to bring me to my senses, to bring me back onto the right way. Suffering has become necessary, but it was not really necessary if I had listened to the spirit's prompting in the first place. Suffering had become necessary, but it was not really necessary, when I consider the situation as a whole. I should have learned a long time ago not to walk in anger. I should have overcome, overcome the devil who suggested to me to have thoughts of retaliation, at a very early stage. I should have never acted unkindly towards this other person. I should not have been moved by something that was really nothing. I should have ignored an insult, which was not really even an insult; it was just my pride again. The whole thing is a process of learning, of conforming more and more into the image of Christ.
And that is what it is all about. I actually should rejoice the moment I am hurt and the pain sets in, because it reminds me that God is guiding me, is faithful, that he calls me back to the right way - his way.
And there is another reason to rejoice. God might keep this hiding I got from him a matter between him and me. He hurts me there where nobody can see my wound, so that the ungodly might not rejoice over the godly. God treats his children different than he treats the sinner. Especially when we sin in ignorance. If someone is an enemy of God, God will fight him, but a son of his he chastens in order to improve him. Secretly is the righteous chastened, lest the sinner rejoice over the righteous. God corrects the righteous as a loved son.
Now if I afterward do the same thing again and walk in anger, God might see it necessary to chasten me in such a way that others will see what happens to me, will see that I am getting a hiding. I might fall again, but now others will see my stumbling and will see how I fall into the mire or into the mud and look like a pig. Now this chastening was not secretly anymore and the sinners might rejoice over me - over my fall - over the disgrace I experienced - but I also might be rejoicing because my God is faithful and corrects me - guides me back to the straight way. Something like this is an experience that shows me that I know God and that God knows me. I acknowledge his action in my life and - what is even more important - I react the right way. And I thank God for what he has done. It is a practical experience of guidance and such experiences let my faith in God grow because I know that I know God and I know that God knows me. It is this intimate knowledge of God that makes us his children, and it is this intimate relationship with God that makes us respond to God's guidance and it is this reaction of ours to God's guidance that is a proof that God knows us because he leads us and we respond to his leading.
Should we ignore God's leading, God will stop leading us, because it is pointless to lead us because we do not react to his prompting. And that is why so many Christians are not let by God, because somewhere on their road they stopped to react to God's spirit leading them or, what is probably more likely, they never started to be led by the spirit of God, because nobody told them how it works. And nobody told them how it works, because the ones who were supposed to tell them, did not know themselves, because they are carnal and dividers. So more and more we realize how these things have something to do with each other. Much suffering exists only because Christians are in sects, in denominations, and therefore carnal. It is this teaching how to be let by the Spirit of God which is one of the main responsibilities of the shepherds and teachers in the church. They teach the young Christian how to be led directly by the Lord Jesus Christ and equipped with this, the young Christian can, after a short while, walk on his own and can do this without the help of these shepherds and teachers because he has learned to listen directly to the Lord. And because everybody in the body has learnt this, everybody is mature and spiritual. And everybody knows what unity means - being in contact with the Lord. And everybody, who is in a sect, does not know this and that is, why everybody in a sect is carnal, the leaders - the clergy - and the members - the laity. So the whole sect, both parties: clergy and laity, are on the wrong way, on the way to hell (Matthew 23:13-15).
This false teaching that sicknesses do not come from God brings with it, that God's influence in this physical world and God's guidance by means of physical circumstances is considered as not existing. It is so dangerous, because it prevents Christians being led by the Lord. They are instead led by the clergy - into the abyss.
So God will stop to lead us. The communication between God and us stopped and we will quit knowing him and God will cease from knowing us. The relationship has been terminated. And that is the difference between the 5 virgins that kept a supply of oil and the other 5 virgins that also had lamps but did not take oil with them. The anointing was not there; they were Christians and expected the second coming of Christ but the anointing of His presence was missing. When Christ came they were busy trying to buy the presence of God from religious people, but it did not help them, only the real thing helps - the mutual knowledge of each other. So Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, I don't know you" (Matthew 25:12).
And this is the ultimate of suffering - not knowing God and not having salvation: going to hell. But going to hell is not necessary. It is not necessary to suffer eternally because there is one way of escape: the Way - Jesus Christ.
Let us go back to our example. Now God might carry on letting me suffer, let us say the first time he did the chastening secretly, just between me and him. The second time he had to start to embarrass me by letting other people know about the chastening and the third time he again does it openly, maybe I get stuck with my car in the mud and I have to ask other people to help me to get out of the situation and the fourth time I hurt myself in the presents of others by bending up and bumping against a piece of furniture. Finally God gets my attention and I repent, ask God to forgive me and stop being angry - behave again as a child of God should behave - and God stops chastening me.
While God is going through this procedure to bring me back on to the right way, I might start to think that these things just happen as they are happening to anybody else and that they have nothing to do with God and his guidance and that they have nothing to do with my spiritual situation. I actually then would stop to believe that God is in control and start to believe that chance would have that these things happened and that all this is a matter of chance. This could be the end of me being let by the spirit. And how many Christians believe that something like chance exists and have thus opened the door to unbelief. So being let by God's spirit is very much a matter of faith.
Or I could take another route of escape. I could say, "I can't really overcome this nature of mine, I get angry. I can't do anything about it; it is just the way I am." Again this would be unbelief - not believing that God can change me, that he can make a person out of me that conforms to the image of Christ.
So if these things happen to me, that God speaks to me four times, four times I have to suffer, to suffer pain, or inconvenience or embarrassment, then it is probably time to stop and evaluate the situation: Why do I react in such a worldly way? Why do I get angry and behave like a pagan? If I am used to be led by the spirit of God, then God will show me why I am not in peace - why I am getting angry. It will just flash into my mind: feed on God's word and not on that of the devil. May be it is because I feed my spirit with worldly stuff. May be in my free time I am busy with worldly things, with the affairs of this world and not with the real world, the spiritual world. The whole week I have time for rubbish and as a result my life style becomes rubbish. Rubbish in - rubbish out. The worries of the world are fed into my mind and the worldly reactions come out of me. May be I just have to stop being busy with listening to worldly news and start to have time listening to my spirit and allow the Holy Spirit to guide my spirit. I simply have to go back to feed my mind with God's word and as soon as I do this and start to meditate on God's business again, the devil's business interests will fade away.
God managed to bring me back to the right way. And in so doing I had to suffer. But it was not really necessary. I could have stopped being tuned to the world of the devil much earlier. I could have actually never ceased to be tuned to the spirit of God and so avoided suffering completely.
So if you suffer from an ailment ask the Holy Spirit to show you the reason behind it - the spiritual reason. Because it does not help to get rid of a disease. Because getting rid of the dis-ease might not bring an end to suffering because another dis-ease will just appear. Remember that behind every illness there is a spiritual reason. So solve the inner problem and the outer problems will disappear. Or with other words: keep God's commandments - stick to his recommendations - only then will the wounding stop. If you don't attend to the spiritual reason your sickness will just reappear in another form - God will just correct you in another way. His corrections are like warning lights, telling you that there is something wrong in your spiritual body. And as warning lights he uses parts of the physical body.
But a lot of these things have something to do with faith. Very often our route of escape is a route of unbelief. God says to his children, "How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all signs I have shewed among them?" (Numbers 14:11). How long will we refuse to believe in God? Because of their unbelief the Israelites had to remain in the dessert for 40 years and they had to die there. And what a lot of people overlook in this connection is that their children, instead of being brought by them into the land of promise, also had to suffer the dessert for 40 years. The children had to suffer for 40 years. And why did they have to suffer? Because their fathers did not believe. And here we already have the answer to the question: "But why must innocent children suffer?" Begin to see these things out of the view of God. If we refuse to believe in God, then we treat God with contempt. We should stop to treat God with contempt and so spare our children the suffering. May be our children will stop to suffer when we start to believe.
The sooner we become submissive to God, the less we will have to suffer and the less our children will have to suffer for things we have done wrong:
And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live. Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years. Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee. Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him (Deuteronomy 8:2-6).
We should therefore come to realize that the Lord our God disciplines us as a man disciplines his son. And the sooner we have been disciplined and the sooner we have become submissive, the sooner we, and especially our children, will not any more have to suffer. We have to stop to treat God with contempt and we have to start to believe in him.
It is important to believe in God. When I was bending up and bumped against some furniture and hurt myself and other people saw it, the devil came to me and said, "You better don't believe in this living in divine health and even talking to other people that they can live a healthy life - that suffering is not necessary. You just make a fool out of yourself, see what happened right now to you, you are hurting and these guys have seen it."
So if I want to be victorious and want to bring the good news to others, I have to live the life accordingly and not try to cover up my shortcomings by some talk about suffering - but actually just walking in unbelief. Do I use my failure - me being chastened by the Lord - to shrink in my faith walk? Do I allow this corrective measure God had to take to "rearrange my theology" with regards to walking in health? Do I start a religious theology regarding suffering to allow for my shortcomings in my faith in a living God? May be this kind of reasoning and unbelief is the origin of all theology. So what do we have to do when we suffer and we want that this suffering comes to an end? Go through the following check list.
1. Did you call on the name of the Lord? Do you believe that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved?
2. Did you believe when you asked God to help you? Did you really believe in God's salvation?
3. Are you still talking the problem or have you started to talk the solution?
4. Are you still maintaining ties with a denomination? Do you recognize the body of Christ?
5. Did you renew your mind to God's word and are your actions in line with God's word?
6. Do you really believe God is in control of every aspect of your life and of every detail in this universe?
7. Have you learned to measure your own faith? Are you actively measuring your faith and the faith of the people you come in contact with?
8. Is there still pride, jealousy and fear in your life? What about unforgivingness?
9. Do you really suffer because you are persecuted or do you use that just as an excuse not to walk by faith?
10. Do you still like to talk to others about your suffering? Do you still yearn for sympathy? Do you still like to let other people know what you have to endure in life?
11. Are you prepared to recognize suffering as a corrective measure coming from God and are you responding positively to this correction?
12. Are you prepared to accept correction from other people? May be even from "people who are on a very much lower spiritual level than you" are?
Now this checklist should help you to overcome your suffering and you should apply this checklist also when you want to evaluate the suffering of other people. And you will only be able to form an opinion of the reason for the suffering of other people when some insight into this situation is available to you. But don't say that we don't know why people suffer, rather study the subject and help people and yourself to overcome it.
So we want to encourage you to look forward to a future without any suffering in your life. Read the book of Joshua and see how the Israelites lived a live free of suffering and full of victory. Only in their second battle they were defeated, but God showed them exactly what the reason was. They learned from this and had a future without suffering.
And the LORD gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers (Joshua 21:44). There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass (Joshua 21:45).
Live a life of victory and people will be attracted towards you.
We want to draw your attention to a further study help related to this subject matter. It is called "The Speeches of Job." This is a study aid for studying the book of Job. It lists the people appearing in that book and where they speak. It also gives some indication regarding the amount of words they speak. One of the helps it gives is that when you read a specific verse in the book of Job this list lets you find out who is actually the speaker. This table called "The Speeches of Job" can be found under:
Home > Misc > Study Helps > 2. The Speeches of Job.
This study aid is simply a list of all the speeches made in the Book of Job indicating the speaker, the scripture reference and the length of the speech.
This is the end of "Is Suffering Necessary?"
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