Title: Judges 20. The second appendix: The Benjamite War; Coming to know Christ fully through complete devotion.
We must diligently learn and apply in order to come to know Christ fully, but we must remember that we can never do either unless Christ show Himself and empower us in His way.
Christ must show Himself to us. We cannot find Him or learn of Him without Him doing it. Yet, it is impossible for Him to show Himself to a Christian who chooses the wrong character.
God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. If we humble ourselves under His mighty hand then He will exalt us.
1CO 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ.
1CO 3:2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able,
1CO 3:3 for you are still fleshly.
Paul longed to teach them the deep things of God, which he wrote about in chapter 2, but he was unable. Did they love God? How could they when they loved themselves as much or even more? To love God has only one result: that you love Him far above all else, because He is far above all else.
2CO 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
2CO 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
I've known Christians who have learned false doctrines concerning the Christian way of life and they refuse to lay them aside. I've known legalistic Christians, those who think spirituality is speaking in tongues, Catholics who refuse to discuss the Bible, those who think spirituality is the freedom to sin, those who think they can lose their salvation, Christians who are unhappy and afraid but listen to Bible teaching every day, and those who think Christianity is harsh and cold and they are harsh and cold and without compassion. On and on go the false ways, and too often those who hold to them are not willing to let go of them.
The right character is a humble student. The right character is the grace of God. God must shine His glory into a clean mirror.
And if we make the extraordinary our standard, as we are instructed in Php 3:16, we shall be led into the passion of Christ, the valley of the shadow of death.
It is not our own love that gives victory over our enemy, but the love of Jesus Christ alone, who for the sake of His enemies went to the cross and prayed for them as He hung there. We were all once His enemies, but the love of His cross overcame us. In this we see that our enemy is our brother for whom Christ died. The persecutor of the Christian is in desperate need of the love of Christ for salvation, peace, and freedom.
We must not ask how the enemy treats us. We must ask how Christ treats us, and then we will be equipped to bless our enemy with Christ's love.
Due to the world being electronically connected, we are approaching an age of widespread persecution. Our adversaries seek to root out the Christian church and the Christian faith because they cannot live side by side with us, because they see in every word we utter and every deed we do, even when they are not specifically directed against them, a condemnation of their own words and deeds. Are they wrong in assuming that? We do not condemn them, but they are themselves condemned, and they should find that there is no use in condemning us because we do not reciprocate their vitriol and hatred. They would rather that we did, but we bless them, do good to them, and pray for them.
We are to stand in the midst of the enemy who gazes at us through eyes aflame with hatred, and we reveal the love of Christ to them by proclaiming His crucifixion, burial, and resurrection, and living in them ourselves. We love our neighbor as ourselves, and we love our hateful neighbor as ourselves, wishing for them to have the peace of Christ in their hearts and to enjoy His fellowship as we do.
Jesus, the Messiah, had suffered on the cross; now His people, the members of His body, had their quota of affliction to bear, and Paul was eager to absorb as much as possible of this in his own flesh.
The suffering of affliction now was, for the followers of Christ, the prelude to glory at His coming. This was always the hope and should always be, that the sufferings of this present time cannot be compared to the glory that is to be revealed to us, and that it is actually a momentary light affliction, that is producing in us an eternal weight of glory.
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.
ROM 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
2CO 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves;
2CO 4:8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;
2CO 4:9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
2CO 4:10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus [the cross], that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
2CO 4:11 For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
2CO 4:12 So death works in us, but life in you.
Paul sees himself and his fellow workers as conduits through which God works for the blessing and benefit of others.
2CO 4:13 But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, " I believed, therefore I spoke," [PSA 116:10: spoke to God in prayer] we also believe, therefore also we speak;
2CO 4:14 knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you.
2CO 4:15 For all things are for your sakes, that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.
2CO 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.
2CO 4:17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,
2CO 4:18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
The sufferings of this present time are just a prelude to the glory that is to come in the eternal state.
Can we see why we would miss out on a portion of our inheritance if we refuse to suffer with Christ? Can we see that it is nonsensical to be a part of His body and refuse to offer His love, peace, and salvation to the world, even our enemies, though we receive suffering for doing it? Do we see that it is nonsensical to hold back any part of our lives from Him, as if any part of it were our own?