Title: Judges 20. The second appendix: The Benjamite War; the law of Christ is the law of love.
Complete dependence on God flows from love for Him with all our heart, soul, and strength. It also means that I love my neighbor as myself. My love for myself is manifest in that I want the best for myself, but so often people are confused or misguided in their search for what is best. The believer in Christ, if he attains some wisdom, will realize that the life that God has gifted to him is indeed the best thing for him, and if he loves his neighbor as himself, then he will desire nothing but that same life for his neighbor. We should all desire God's joy.
We should all desire to know and experience the full extent of Christ during our earthly lifetime. Such a life is the best by far. Whatever part of our lives we selfishly hold on to will hinder our full experience of Christ.
Does God only want to have a family that behaves itself? Does He only care about our conduct, while being unconcerned with the reason why we walk in a certain way? Is He only concerned with His reputation? I think if He was, He would have never made humans or angels in the first place. God is certainly proving His righteousness and justice to the universe, but He doesn't have to. Why would He be concerned that we are convinced of that if He has perfect self-esteem and contentment? The only explanation is that He desires us to see it in the only way that it can truly become a part of us. We must choose it, and to choose it, we must see its value. We can only see its value when it is a struggle to find it.
Saved people cannot be programmed with experiential sanctification (walking in a manner worthy). They must see it and choose it.
Two things become obvious for creatures like ourselves who have a potential of seeing and choosing God's righteousness and therefore His joy. It cannot be programmed into us without our consent. Computers can do good things, but no one would call a computer good in the way that we would call God good. Creatures like us have to choose it. But we are fully depraved and we can't see it in the position that we are born into. God must transform us from depraved to possessing righteousness and eternal life. The first step is the cross and our first step is to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the world for all who believe.
Experiential sanctification cannot come to us too easily. Something that has worth is worth fighting for. We will not take steps of faith if such a fight doesn't exist.
Secondly, as saved people, seeing and choosing God's righteousness cannot come to us too easily. This is the most curious thing, because all of us want things easily, and grace would seem to match this desire since grace means free and we associate free with easy. Free and easy are not sisters in the plan of God. We have no gratitude for that which comes too easily. All children who get all that they want when they want become spoiled, mean, and ungrateful. Adults who are told that they are entitled to more things than they have, become mean, angry, and ungrateful.
Something that has worth is worth fighting for. This is why it is difficult and there are tribulations, tests, trials, temptations, obstacles, and the like all throughout our Christian lives. If you don't have the fight, you will not take the necessary steps of faith. God is not holding sanctification in maturity far from us so that He can be entertained by our struggle. He is not holding it far from us at all. It takes faith to grab hold of it, and without the obstacles, we will not take the steps of faith.
This is why we will not only be grateful for the full extent of the experience of the life of Christ, but we will also be grateful for the trials that were necessary to realize His life.
1PE 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;
1PE 4:13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.
1PE 4:14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
1PE 4:15 By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler;
1PE 4:16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God.
ROM 5:1 Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
ROM 5:2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.
ROM 5:3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;
ROM 5:4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;
"proven character" - dokimh,[dokime] = testability. Tribulation (testing) makes us able to take steps of faith (patience), and that leads to the strength to handle more tests and experience Christ's life fully.
The ability to handle more tests and thus experience Christ's life more fully opens our eyes to the strength that God has put within us, and this makes for hope or confidence in the future. What can mere man do to me? How could we not be grateful for all of it?
ROM 5:5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
God has called each of us to realize the fullness of the life of Christ. Remember, He said, abide in Me and I will give you My joy and your joy will be made full. The things of the flesh and the world that we hold on to will limit how much of the life of Christ that we will see in time.
Our ultimate reward is life lived in the image of Christ. When, in complete dependence upon God, we choose to endure the suffering for His name's sake, then we receive our full inheritance.
ROM 8:15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!"
ROM 8:16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
ROM 8:17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.
The compound words: sunkleronomoi (co-heirs), sumpaschomen (co-sufferers), sundoxasthomen (co-glorified) naturally go together. All children are heirs of God, but not all the children suffer and endure with Christ.
All of the children are called to suffer for His name's sake, Php 1:29, but not all the children will endure such undeserved suffering. It should cause us to think intently when we see in this verse a dogmatic statement; all children are heirs of God, followed by a conditional statement, if indeed we suffer with Him. Verse 17 states that all the children are heirs, but it also suggests strongly that there is an inheritance that is a co-inheritance with Christ that only those who have suffered as Christ did will enjoy.
Since all believers are in union with Him, it would be odd that there would be two inheritances, one with the Father and one with the Son. It is more consistent to understand that there is a part of the inheritance of Christ that only those who have followed Him, and therefore suffered with Him will enjoy. If we understand that the inheritance is not some kind of materialism per se, but a certain character, then this makes perfect sense.
If the reward or inheritance were strictly some kind of materialism then this statement would indicate that we are working for it. However, the reward is not something outside of the battle itself. The reward is the experience and the resultant character and strength that it brings.
No one who has not withstood with patience, courage, and faith the undeserved suffering that comes upon a man for the sake of Christ, can know or have the character of it.
Can we only see things as making up the inheritance, or can we also see character and virtue as a great part of our inheritance in Christ? What good is it if I have all the crowns that heaven can offer, but I don't have persevering faith?