Title: Judges 20. The second appendix: The Benjamite War; Coming to know Christ fully through complete devotion.
Complete dependence on God flows from love for Him with all our heart, soul, and strength. We need to be enraptured with Him and His love, and this is why the first step is to learn of Him from His word. A superficial or cursory knowledge will not do it. You will not be enraptured with Him unless you really know Him, and such knowledge is not only academic. You don't know a man fully unless you can walk in his path, and the more we walk in the way of Christ, the more we will know Him, and the more we know Him, the more enraptured we will be with Him and His love for us. To the extent that any part(s) of our life are withheld from Him, to that extent we will limit our envelopment in His life and our vision of that life.
If you are wondering what parts of your life are hindering your full understanding of the life of Christ, ask in faith for God to reveal them in prayer. I guarantee that you will find them out.
We noted that the life of Christ must be chosen by the believer. It cannot be programmed into him, nor can he be forced to walk in it. We also noted that it cannot come to him too easily or he will not apply faith, and he will be ungrateful, things which are not a part of such a life.
There must be obstacles and trials so that the believer is forced to trust, learn patience, and become testable. God does not create these trials; if He did it would make Him an author of sin.
The presence of obstacles in this life arises due to the same reason we need faith - the world has fallen.
We are all born into a dark place, and when light came into it in the person of Christ, those in the darkness needed faith if they were going to be joined to the light. Those who loved the darkness persecute those who have loved the light. The presence of trial arises for the same reason that there is need of faith.
So if we want to bypass the trials as Christians, we want a world that doesn’t exist. We want a fairytale.
No one finds lasting happiness and meaning in a dream world or a fake world. It is ok for children to play at pretend for a while, but they cannot remain in it. As children of God, we are adopted in this age as adult children. The pretend world is never an option for us, nor is it healthy. We must face reality as soon as possible, and we must face it head on with the strength of Christ in faith.
There must be dangers and fears that can only be traversed by faith in the power of God's love and God's way. His way is by far what is best for all of us, and in fact, it is the only way for all of us.
This life carries with it great rewards from God.
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 8:12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh —
ROM 8:13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
ROM 8:14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
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.
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.
If you care more about a literal crown in heaven than the experience of Christ's faith and strength flowing through you, then you will get neither (if indeed the crowns are literal).
JOH 15:18 "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.
JOH 15:19 "If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
It is a blessed thing to be set free from this world that will eventually come into judgment. It is a sad thing that the world hates us for being free.
The elements before you represent the price of that freedom. When we eat of it, we are eating what is symbolically the bread that has come down from heaven, and so we will never hunger again. When we drink the cup, we are drinking what is symbolically the New Covenant in His blood, and we will never thirst again.
It is sad that the world would persecute such beauty and love, but the lovers of darkness are not easily swayed.
Freedom in such an environment is wrought with dangers. We must avoid falling into them, but we must not hide from them, for the others to whom Christ has sent us as His witnesses are ensnared in those dangers. We must face the dangers and the people who use them with courage, knowing that if our Lord could endure the cross and the evil men that surrounded Him, then we can endure the world’s dangers as He is in us, by our side, and praying for us.
The bread and the cup represent that which gives us courage; the courage to face our persecutors with Christ’s love.
JOH 15:20 "Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.
JOH 15:21 "But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.
LUK 23:33 And when they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left.
LUK 23:34 But Jesus was saying, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.
LUK 23:35 And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, "He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One."
LUK 23:36 And the soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine,
LUK 23:37 and saying, "If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!"
LUK 23:38 Now there was also an inscription above Him, "THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS."
When we look at the murderers who were also hanging on crosses that day, we find more persecution, but then something wonderful.
LUK 23:39 And one of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, "Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!"
LUK 23:40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, "Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?
LUK 23:41 "And we indeed justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong."
This was the only kind word He received throughout the whole ordeal. Simon helped Him carry His cross, but he was forced to, and we do not read of Simon saying anything to Him. His own disciples fled. Pilate called Him innocent, but not to His face and afterwards condemned Him.
When you are enduring suffering for His sake, encouragement and kindness may come from one of the least likely places, but it will come from another who has eaten the bread life, and drank the cup of the New Covenant in faith.
Hold on believer, hold on tight to His word, to Him. The One who would go to the cross in your place will never forsake you. We may think He is delaying, but He is only showing you how strong faith can be, and that faith in you shows you how strong you can be with Him. Hold on, the song of deliverance is coming.
LUK 23:42 And he was saying, "Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!"
LUK 23:43 And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise."