2 TIMOTHY 3:12 – Godliness Attracts Persecution

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“But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” (1 Peter 3:14-17, ESV).

What is Godliness?

Here are some words of the Psalmist David in Psalm 15:1-5.

“(1) O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; (3) who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; (4) in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the LORD; who swears to his own hurt and does not change; (5) who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.”

GODLINESS is:

  • the condition of righteousness (Matthew 5:10, 1 Timothy 6:11, Matthew 6:33, Proverbs 10:2, Proverbs 11:18, Psalm 34:15, Matthew 5:6, Psalm 34:19, Romans 1:17, 2 Corinthians 6:14, 1 Peter 2:24, 1 Peter 3:12, Romans 1:17, 5:19, 6:13);
  • an opposition to sin—as God is opposed to sin (Psalm 1:1, Psalm 37:28);
  • a condition in harmony with justice—as God is just (Micah 6:8, Romans 2:1, Isaiah 1:17, Isaiah 30:18, Psalm 33:5, Zechariah 7:9-10);
  • generosity and kindness and love—as God is generous and kind and loving (1 Thessalonians 5:15, Psalm 37:21);

There are kind, generous and noble characters in the world who are not Christians. These may have more or less of opposition from others who are evilly disposed—as darkness always opposes light; yet these noble people exercise moderation in their righteousness—they are not righteous overmuch. These fine characters might occasionally get some persecution, politically or otherwise; but even the enemies of such would have respect for them.

Living godly versus living godly in Christ Jesus

Because of their special relationship to Christ Jesus, God’s people:

  • have a special enlightenment.
  • see more clearly the principles of God’s Justice.
  • have a more exacting rule by which their lives are governed.
  • have an intelligent knowledge that they have entered into a Covenant of Sacrifice. 
  • realize that they are not to compromise their religion in any way; not to compromise with sin or with the world.
  • uphold the principles of righteousness, even to the detriment of their own earthly interests.
  • consecrate all of their time, talent, influence, money to the Lord’s service, and in relation to the use of their blessings from God, they ask themselves:

     “What is the Lord’s will, the Lord’s way?”

    How would the Heavenly Father want me to use my time, talents, influence, money etc… in His service, in the cause of Christ?

God’s people would wish to use their money for the preaching of the Gospel and the publishing of it in various ways. They would reason:  There are many opportunities for people to get education along earthly lines, and I believe the Lord would have me as His child to use His money to help people get spiritual education.

The godly who are not in Christ Jesus—those who have a measure of Godlikeness:

  • do not see these deeper things of the Divine Plan and the special arrangement God has made with the Church.
  • may indulge in a great many things that would not be wrong for the world—not sinful, not immoral, not unkind.
  • might feel perfectly free to give of their money for various causes and purposes, that would be reasonable and proper in themselves— such as attending a football match or a theatre production; spend a certain amount each season on the opera; be patrons of art and music and literature—adopting a course that will win the approval of society; or spend a thousand dollars—or ten thousand dollars—on a single painting, because he wants art to flourish. Or he might buy a fine piece of sculpture to adorn his home, but this is not the course for true Christians, who must consider the Lord’s will for them as His servants.

The Christian has limitations which the worldly do not have. 

But we are glad! 

  • Glad for all good men and good women, who can be good and noble even though not in Christ Jesus.
  • Glad to esteem them.

There are noble people in the world. There are some godly ones (to a certain degree) outside the Church, and they are likely to come to see something of the Truth, if they are really noble characters.

The godly of this world will get a blessing in the Restitution time. Every godly thing that they have done, every act of generosity, will get its reward. By cultivating their higher sentiments, they will have fewer steps to retrace.

Specially GODLY are Specially PERSECUTED

The persecutions which come to the godly in Christ Jesus are special persecutions. We are not to expect much of this from the Body of Christ. 

Persecution is not merely one act or one word—it is a succession of unkind words and acts with a view to punishing some one for adhering to an opinion or course of conduct.

Persecution comes from a certain class called by Jesus the world. But the class that Jesus called the world are those who had form of godliness, but did not have the power  thereof. The Apostle speaks of a class who would take the name of the Lord upon them and misuse that name. There are people in the world today who do not know nor want to know the difference between Truth and error—and who keep out of the way of being told. They somehow know that there would come a certain measure of condemnation to themselves if they recognized the real facts and did not act in accordance with them.

They are not all bad people by any means. There are very many good people among the tares; but there is no real wheat among the tares—no real nutriment.

These tares pose as the Church of Christ; the tare systems pose as Christianity. And from this class usually come the persecutions. They try to crowd out the wheat, or to choke it and make it unfruitful. It was so in our Lord’s day. Those to whom the Lord referred as persecutors were not the Gentile world of His day, but the worldly ones of the Jews—those who were not fully consecrated to the Lord, but who thought they were.

Nicodemus was a fine character, and Gamaliel was a fine character—and so were a great many who did not become Christ’s disciples at all but were seeking after righteousness; as, for instance, the young man who came to the Lord and asked Him, “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” The Lord answered, “Thou knowest the commandments.” The young man said, “Master, all these have I observed from my youth up.” He was a noble character, and Jesus looking on him loved him, even though he was not a disciple. And Jesus said to him. “One thing thou lackest; go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven; and come, take up thy cross, and follow Me.” But he went away sorrowful. He did not want to become a member in Christ Jesus.

He did not want to give everything to the Lord.

He was very rich—“had great possessions,” and he preferred to hold on to his wealth.—Mark 10:17-22.

There were others who went through many of the forms and ceremonies, and who kept the various admonitions of the Law, and its feasts and fasts; but they were not the “Israelites indeed in whom was no guile.” And later they became the persecutors of Christ and those who walk in His steps of sacrifice.

Professed Christian Persecutors

And so those who live godly in Christ Jesus have their persecutions, not so much from the worldly class as from professing Christians. There is a class in Churchianity today that has a great deal of pride and self-satisfaction.

Some say respecting those who proclaim Present Truth and who live saintly lives as followers of Jesus Christ:

If we let these people alone and let them teach these things, all that we have been upholding for centuries will crumble.

Did not Luther hand down Truth to us?

Did not Calvin give the Church Truth?

Have we not the teachings of Wesley?

No, no; we will not have these “new doctrines”!

But we see that these people are persecuting the Truth and its representatives because of misunderstanding.

We should have a great deal of sympathy and not feel specially angry with them.

This does not mean that we should be glad of persecution—no persecution “for the present seemeth joyous, but grievous.” (Hebrews 12:11.) But if we know that we are suffering for righteousness’ sake, then we know the Spirit of God rests upon us. It is those who know that they suffer for Christ’s sake, and who take it gladly because it is the will of God, that may rejoice, because the persecution is working out in them blessed effects. Let us then

“Be still beneath His tender care,
For He will make the tempest cease;
And bring from out the anguish here,
The afterward of peace.”

“The Lord Your God Doth Prove You”

WHY does God permit His people to suffer?

WHY does God not shield those who are His from suffering, just as a loving parent would shield a child?

The Scriptures reply that it is because God is working out a great Plan that will eventually bring blessings to all who will do righteously. God wishes to show the evil effects of sin and the deteriorating effects of Adamic disobedience. God’s purpose is that after the Six Days of Sin and Death are ended, in the Seventh Day there shall be a blessing for the whole groaning creation. “Jehovah God will wipe away tears from off all faces.”Isaiah 25:8.

And there is a particular reason why God should permit persecution to come upon His consecrated ones. “The Lord your God doth prove you,” test you. Why? What is He proving? 

We profess to be His loyal children. We profess to be laying down all that we have. And now “the Lord your God doth prove you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with ALL your heart and with ALL your soul.Deuteronomy 8:213:3.

How much will you endure? 

How patiently will you endure? 

To what extent will you endure? 

Those who will endure most, and endure most patiently, will give evidence of the best character.  And those who demonstrate the best character will have the highest positions in the Kingdom. Each will get a position according to his faithfulness. But as star differeth from star in glory, so it will be in the Kingdom.

 

He who fights

the greatest fight against his own nature

and demonstrates most the love and zeal of his heart,

such is the one who will have a high place.

 

The Solitary Way

Alas! How few may know the grace it takes
To tread the solitary way. Alone!
Ah, yes, alone! No other human heart
Can understand the nameless sorrows there—
The nights in weeping spent, and yet, when dawns
The day, to greet the world with radiant smile,
And scatter sunshine while you whisper low
To your poor heart, “Canst bear a little more?”

Alone! Poor heart, and dost thou question, Why?
Dost think it strange that thou must walk this way?
Ah, no! Thou dost but follow in His steps
Who went before, and of the people there
Was none with Him! Alone? Yet not alone
Hath not thy blessed Lord and Master said,
“My presence shall go with thee”? Ah, my soul,
No longer, then a solitary way!

G. W. Seibert

Acknowledgment

Br. Charles Taze Russell. The content of this post is based on Reprint 5394-5 from the Reprints of the Original Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.

Br. Allen Springer—for the Harvest Truth Data Base website from which all the Reprints of the Original Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence can be accessed electronically.

 

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VICTORY Over Self

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Let us firstly begin with a poem by Benjamin Barton (1874-1916):

VICTORY

When I am neglected or forgotten, or purposely set at naught, and I smile inwardly, glorying in the insult, that is VICTORY.

When my good is evil spoken of, my wishes are crossed, my taste offended, my advice ridiculed, and I take it all in patient, loving, silence, that is VICTORY.

When I am content with simple raiment, plain food, any climate, any solitude, any interruption, that is VICTORY.

When I can stand face to face with folly, extravagance, spiritual insensibility, contradiction of sinners, persecution, and endure it as Jesus endured it, that is VICTORY.

When I never care to refer to myself in conversation, nor seek commendation, when I can truly love to be unknown, that is VICTORY.

Now let’s examine 7 points concerning Victory over Self:

POINT 1

When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation or to record your own good works or seek commendation; when you can truly love to be unknown … that is victory over self.

POINT 2

When your good is evil spoken of; when your wishes are crossed; your advice disregarded; your opinions ridiculed and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart and you refuse to even defend yourself but take it all in patient loving silence … this is victory over self.

POINT 3

When you are content with any food, any offering, any kind of clothing, any confinement, any society, any solitude, any interruption by the will of GOD… that is victory over self.

Do we find ourselves wanting: more? … something different? … a better house? a better car? … better experiences?

Some have no running water. Electricity is only available three hours a day. Water has to be warmed up on the stove. Children get to school without any heat there whatsoever. They wear six layers for clothing. Many brethren are not paid for six months of the year and eat only what’s in their own gardens. I’m sure if we saw their living conditions we would learn contentment.

  • Proverbs 37:16 — “Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked.”
  • Proverbs 15:15 — “All the days of the afflicted are evil, but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast.”
  • 1 Tim 6:6 — “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”
  • Hebrews 13:5 — “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”
  • Philippians 4:11-13 — “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

When you are content with any food, any clothing, any climate—this is victory over self.

Are you content with any climate: snow, cold, sun, heat?

Are you content with any interruption?

How annoyed do you get if things in the day interrupt our plans for the day?

When the day has been done, and you have done your best, WAIT for the results IN PEACE.

Really, all the LORD expects of us, is to do the best that we can each day. When our head touches the pillow at night and if we were not able to accomplish all we wanted—still, BE AT PEACE and leave the results with our heavenly Father.

POINT 4

When you lovingly and patiently bare any disorder, any irregularity,  any impunctuality, or any annoyance… when you can stand face to face with waste, folly, extravagance, spiritual insensibility and endure it, as Jesus endured it— that is victory over self.

We realize that often at times we allow ourselves to get overly upset to that which is absolutely insignificant in the light of eternity the event may be next to nothing but the consequences to how we react day by day could literally effect our eternal destiny.

We have many Scriptural admonitions to help us realize the importance that our heavenly Father places on the development of complete patience and acquiescence to whatever the Lord’s providence may permit.

  • 1 Corinthians 13 — Agape love is PATIENT. It endureth ALL things…
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:14 — “Be patient towards all men.”
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:15 — “See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.”
  • Hebrews 10:36 — “For ye have need of patience, that, having done the will of God, ye may receive the promise.”
  • James 1:3-4 — “For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

The VERY REASON OF ALL TRIALS, IS TO DEVELOP PATIENCE.

  • Luke 21:19 — “By your endurance you will gain your lives.”
  • Romans 2:7 — “To those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.”
  • Romans 5:3-5 — “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

How did we endure in the little annoying disturbances of life? 

How did we endure that which is beyond our control?

God permits it for the crystallization of our characters.
POINT 5

When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself and can humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly finding no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart—that is victory over self.

Seeing our own weaknesses is very difficult. It’s ten times easier to see everyone else’s! Our flesh can rationalize and feel ourselves thinking, “oh, we’re doing great all the time … and that we’ve got a few shortcomings but, oh, they’re only very minor”… but when someone out of love pulls to our attention an area that would be kind of good to correct or look into, well, at first, it may hurt us! Our flesh may have a tendency to react and think it’s unjustified; it wants to go on the defensive and try to look at the other person and find faults in them thinking who are they that they should be correcting me! Our Heavenly Father knows our flesh has this tendency but how important it is, when someone suggests how to correct us. Our Heavenly Father relies on others in what He wants to correct in us.

  • Proverbs 15:32 — “He who neglects discipline despises himself, But he who listens to reproof acquires understanding.”
  • Psalm 141:5 — “Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it. Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds.”
  • Proverbs 25: 12 — “Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear.”
  • Hebrews 12:6 — “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

May we strive to not go immediately on the defensive but go on our knees and see if it is what is true. If we find it is a valid truth—to pray for God to help us accomplish correction.

POINT 6

When you can see your brother prosper and see his needs met and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy nor question God while your own needs are far greater and in desperate circumstances—that is victory over self.

There may be times in our lives, that financially we may be in despair and envy may be in our hearts when we see others prosper by the popularity of others or with their talents or by their position in ecclesias or that they have so few trials, or are able to do what we can not or have what we want but cannot have. Here are some brilliant texts of scripture to rid our hearts of this condition of thinking:

  • 1 Corinthians 13 — “Love does not envy; it does not boast…”
  • Proverbs 14:30 — “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.”
  • Romans 13:13 — “Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.”
  • 1 Corinthians 3:3 — “for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?”
  • James 3:14 — “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.”
  • Galatians 5:24-26 — “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”

If there is envy, then pride enters the picture, and we think we deserve better…”if they have it, then we should have it too.”

  • Proverbs 25:27 — “It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory.”
  • Philippians 2:3 — “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
  • 2 Corinthians 12:7 — “even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.”

Apostle Paul realized when he was weakest, that is when he was closest to the Lord and was dependent on him during his loneliness.

Let us gain complete victory over self image!

The sentiments of these verses I am sure we are all striving to accomplish. But knowing the qualities of our fallen human nature we realize that it’s most difficult to achieve perfectly.

They all involve the putting down of the tendencies of being overly concerned with the thoughts of self and our image and how its looked with and perceived by others.

It jars us to look inward and see how each of these phrases applies to ourselves. Is it true of me that I never care to refer to myself in conversation or like to mention my good works.

Our flesh is so successful in calling attention to ourselves in such subtle ways. If we analyse ourselves carefully perhaps we realize we have. Often we do it subconsciously and we may not even be aware of it. E.g. we may be telling of someone’s trials or victories in conversation or perhaps in a testimony meeting and then perhaps just somewhat in passing our flesh weaves in mention of self in the story and leaving our somewhat favourite impression of our involvement it seems that our flesh almost desperately wants to be liked and well thought of by others and feels that it is fulfilling our consecration vows really well.

Do I never have a longing for approval from others?
Who doesn’t like to hear a compliment? I know I do. We all do.

The aim of this discussion is to:

  1. Reflect inward. How much am I concerned about self image and how others view me So many scriptures show us how GOD hates pride.
  1. To decrease our concern of how others think of us but be more concerned how does God think of us and are we bringing praise and honor to our heavenly Father? Our Father has given us Scriptures:
  • Proverbs 16:5 — “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the LORD; be assured, he will not go unpunished.”
  • Proverbs 19:11 — “A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.”
  • Proverbs 15:1 — “A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.”
  • Psalm 37:8 — “Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.”
  • 1 Corinthians 4:12, 13 — “and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.”
  • 1 Peter 2:20 — “For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.”

View every experience our Father permits to come to us as for our good in gaining victory over self.

POINT 7

When you are forgotten or neglected or purposefully said at nought and you do not sting or hurt with the insult or the oversight but your heart is happy being counted worthy to suffer for CHRIST—that is victory over self.

When we take all of these seven points discussed in all LOVING PATIENT SILENCE and BARE IT ALL and ENDURE LIKE JESUS ENDURED IT, humbly submitting inwardly and outwardly without any anger and rejoice in spirit when other brethren prosper and when we are forgotten, neglected yet we do not sting back but our heart is happy being counted worthy of suffering with Christ, and when we realize we will never do it all perfectly, let us strive more to achieve more perfectly and let us HELP EACH OTHER and NOT BE A HINDERANCE.

Amen.

Acknowledgment: Bro. George Tabac

This post’s URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/05/25/victory-over-self/

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