Some of you have waged battles against the flesh, works of repentance have been done, out of obedience to parents, to the Word, and it’s a work that needs to be acknowledged, praised, rejoiced over, and seen as valuable considering you’ve gone against the flow, perhaps sacrificing relationships which would have compromised you, purposely choosing fidelity to Christ, it's no small accomplishment. It was an excellent investment in your future, in yourself, for the household you live in now, so that you can wisely counsel as a Titus 2 (for the community of believers) and so that you have the perspectives, virtues and character, which will be needed to invest in a husband’s household and his work.
Are we thanking God for this victory? It was His accomplishment in reality.
When new hard perspectives hit us like, “Christian boys are flirting with substandard girls and I am being passed up!” be careful not to murmur against the Lord and say like the Israelites,
"Did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Was all this for nothing?" Be conscious of the fact that your faith is being tried.
What causes our faith which once brought us out of Egypt to fail when it could carry us further?
Guard against taking into your flesh the “Curse God and Die Syndrome”
Satan tempted Job’s wife to succumb to it and she did. He tempted Christ and he did not. Our first parents met with the same temptation and fell. David’s wife Michal had the syndrome fully imbibed.
When tormented with circumstances not of our choosing but none the less afflicting our souls…
Like when we see brothers fall into sin it is gut wrenching because we have a good doctrine and understand evil. We mourn the loss and could not do otherwise and keep our Christian integrity.When we are mocked, railed against, when our piety is scoffed at, when for our faith and the application of our faith is belittled it is a weighty affliction to our souls because we know our Christian integrity is ours only by the grace of God.When those closest to us curse God continually, feed their flesh, which revels in bitterness, and allow their resentment against God to spill over on us, they state where their allegiance lies and we bear the burden of their separation. It is tremendously lonely but for our Comforter’s integrity.When those we respect blame us for their problems raising false accusations about our virtue compromise our reputations and futures it can be devastating because we are intimately familiar with a Savior that brought us out of our wretched state and made us able to stand with Christian integrity.When we suffer monetary loss, when our needs aren't met, sickness comes, friends and family pass away, whatever it may be...
When we are tormented with afflictions it is so very tempting to imagine God as well as everyone else we know is doing nothing for our cause. That the great Sovereign is sleeping, inconsiderate, preoccupied with His selfish interests and not ours, right when we are so very needy.
Satan would have us curse God and curse the circumstances attributing to our affliction and those who seemingly brought them on us. He will move us subtly to it and it to us. The temptation is managed artfully and often manifests when the facing the afflictions exampled above. If we curse our circumstances, or curse those who seemingly brought on our circumstances we’ve cursed God and failed our test and often times misunderstood our circumstances.
To God Be True
Satan seduces in order that we would deny our allegiance to God. He wants to rob us of our Christian integrity. Christ, Job, Adam and Eve, and many since the dawn of creation were tempted in this way. We must bravely make good and pass the test and carry the day. We must bless God in all things though we are tried. It is for our soul’s defense to plant our flag in allegiance to Christ.
A Wise Christian Walks Circumspectly
We must anticipate and not let down our guard because battles are not waged with one arrow.
Also, be on guard against subtle thoughts, which are full of acute pain with regard to your want of reward for the services you’ve rendered the Saviour. When you coddle ideas of God being far off, when it seems to you He takes pleasure in making you miserable, of stripping you, scourging you without any provocation given, you will then leave off your love of him, of blessing him and serving him.
Some may moan, Some may curse, Some will rant and rail, Some may become a sober poet,
Dost thou not see that thy devotion’s vain?
What have thy prayers procured but woe and pain?
Hast thou not yet thy int’rest understood?
Perversely righteous, and absurdly good?
Those painful sores, and all thy losses, show
How Heaven regards the foolish saint below.
Incorrigibly pious! Can’t thy God
Reform thy stupid virtue with his rod?
—Sir R. Blackmore
But we must always be persuaded to bless God.
Satan continually suggests to us hard thoughts with regard to God, to our siblings, to our parents, to our church body. He would love it if we’d believe God envies our happiness and delights in the misery of His creatures. There is nothing more false.
If we do not resist such temptations we’ll think unrealistic evil of God, our siblings, our parents, our church body as we speculate about what we see them doing.
If we really are abased by our circumstances, it is more appropriate that we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God and bring our minds to the meanness and poverty of our condition. We may indeed want for something. If God will lay us in the ashes thus we will be content to lie down. A low spirit becomes low circumstances and will help us to reconcile ourselves to them.
The Last Punch
The last hope we’re clinging to can turn sour; it might be our last friend, or our last hope in a promising circumstance. But we must be persuaded to bless God. He is working all things for our good.
Satan’s policy is to send his temptations by those who are dear to us. For example, Adam and Eve, Christ and Peter. Job’s wife suggests two of the blackest and most horrid of Satan’s temptations, “Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God and Die.” What is the use in retaining your Christian integrity? The truth is Christ suffered and was repaid. Only fools cling to impiety when they could bless God and live.
But that is the very question we must answer, “Do you still retain your integrity? Why? What for?” This is not a hard question to answer and often we avoid it blaming those the tempter uses to make a diversion from ourselves. If in your heart you’ve compromised your Christian integrity hoping after that which is not good, or that which is good but you’ve not earned, repent.
Always be persuaded to bless God, keep your integrity, and be obstinate in your religion so no temptation can cure you of it. Resent the temptation. Be indignant at such a temptation. Abhor the thought of it.
Christ gave us an example when He said, “Get thee behind me Satan” and in so doing he showed us a constant resolve to cleave to God and think only good of Him.
Only those who are angry and are without sin IN their anger, are those who are angry only AT sin and take a temptation as the greatest affront. They are those who cannot bear those who are truly evil. Remember the temptation came from Satan so resist the temptation to think evil, lower your standard, or cling to false standards.
If those who we know are wise and good speak foolishness or act foolishly reproof is necessary and we are faithful to show them the evil in private appropriate ways. (Galatians 6:1, Matt. 18:15-20) If God puts us in a situation where we have to ward off personally directed attack, affront, and/or temptation we should also endeavor to be convincing of why we should hold to our integrity. Whether we are stripped of everything else or not.
To think evil and curse your brothers and sisters in Christ is a wholly a different matter than righteous indignation. Discern between a restoring and cursing. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Are you offering the fruit of the Curse God And Die Syndrome? If so, keep the wretched distemper to yourself and repent. If not, bless God as the affront comes and speak sound biblical truth to the matter.
The Dividing Line Of Responsibility
Job's wife failed but Job did not.
Thus, in a good measure, Job still held fast his integrity, and Satan’s design against him was defeated: In all this did not Job sin with his lips; he not only said this well, but all he said at this time was under the government of religion and right reason. In the midst of all these grievances he did not speak a word amiss; and we have no reason to think but that he also preserved a good temper of mind, so that, though there might be some stirrings and risings of corruption in his heart, yet grace got the upper hand and he took care that the root of bitterness might not spring up to trouble him, Heb. 12:15. -Matthew Henry on Job 2
The lessons from Genesis with regard to our first parents fall tell us that if we follow temptation into sin we alone bear the punishment. Adam blamed his wife but she was not responsible for his sin and so he bore his own punishment and she hers.
He fashions us,
A wise Christian will make good use of affliction. Both blessings and curses come from the hand of God. They are contrary to each other but they do not come from a contrary source or with a contrary cause and so in all things we can be persuaded to bless God. We must have our eyes on him, with thankfulness for the good He sends and without anxiety over the evil. We must prove that we know how to be abased as well as how to abound. Why are we surprised when we are tried? It is God who promised that we are His workmanship, that He would continually fashion us. What is it that strengthens us other than resistance? Character is built in the struggle. We are taught just how valuable God’s mercies are when we are being made to go without them. When the time comes in which we may abound when man’s folly usually turns to boasting we’ll have ingrained humility and be the just and wise stewards most cannot be. Afflictions cause us to partake in God’s holiness because when the abundance of your heart is for God it will produce good things and will suppress the evil that is there.
Always Be Persuaded To Bless God!
Adapted from Matthew Henry's Commentary on Job 2.
Recommended ResourcesHow to be Free from Bitterness, and Other Essays on Christian Relationships