Suffering Always Comes from Sin
Good morning and welcome!
What a wonderful time we had yesterday with our VBS and a big THANK YOU to all those who came to help decorate, to work the Bible school, brought food and supplies, and helped with the clean up.
This morning, you can see that the theme was “Mission to Mars” and don’t worry, the sermon this morning is not about outer space!
Instead, we are going to continue on with our sermon series “The Bible Doesn’t Say That,” and this morning we are going to be tackling the topic of Suffering ALWAYS Comes From Sin.
And the key word in this phrase is ALWAYS.
And for our backdrop of this topic we are going to be looking at the Book of James, chapter 1.
In just a few moments we will read , so you can being locating that in your Bibles.
And as you are looking, I would like for you to consider the notion that suffering always comes from sin.
Because how this translates is that anytime we go through any type of suffering, it is because God is punishing us for some type of sin we have committed.
That folks, is simply NOT TRUE.
In fact, Jesus himself tells us that . . .
44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
And consider Jesus himself.
Did Jesus sin in any way?
Of course not! However, we know that . . .
21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
And finally . . .
8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!
And we know that Jesus suffered so that we would not have to, but it was not because of any sin.
And we also cannot blame all suffering that people endure on some type of sin they have committed either.
For instance, what about Job?
Did Job sin?
No, in fact the Bible tells us that . . .
1 In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.
But Job suffered.
In fact, Job suffered immensely.
He actually lost everything.
In the end Job was restored and blessed for his faithfulness but he suffered.
And his friends did exactly what we do sometimes.
They could not explain why Job was suffering, so they blamed it on Job!
7 “Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed?
3 Does God pervert justice? Does the Almighty pervert what is right?
And the “wisest of them all” . . .
13 “Yet if you devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him, 14 if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent, 15 then you will lift up your face without shame; you will stand firm and without fear. 16 You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by. 17 Life will be brighter than noonday, and darkness will become like morning. 18 You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. 19 You will lie down, with no-one to make you afraid, and many will court your favour. 20 But the eyes of the wicked will fail, and escape will elude them; their hope will become a dying gasp.”
And like I said, the reason they did this is because they could not explain the suffering that Job was enduring.
They couldn’t find a good reason, so in their mind Job must have had some sort of “hidden sin.”
But in reality we know that Job’s suffering was a test.
6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming through the earth and going to and fro in it.” 8 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no-one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” 9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” 12 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
And when that didn’t work . . .
1 On another day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming through the earth and going to and fro in it.” 3 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no-one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.” 4 “Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. 5 But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.” 6 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.” 7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head.
But still Job would not budge.
So, if Job’s suffering was not because of sin, why did God allow it?
This is where James comes in.
So, if you have found in your Bibles, I’d invite you to stand with me if you are able as we read the verses 2-4.
James writes . . .
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
So, when we take the situation that was going on with Job and we compare it to what James writes, a different circumstance begins to emerge.
We know that Job’s suffering was a test of Job’s faith.
And James tells us to . . .
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
Now, I personally do not know anyone who would initially consider the suffering that they are face with as “pure joy.”
And James is not really even telling us to go around saying “Yay! I am suffering!”
No, what James is trying to get us to do is to look for the opportunity to grow closer to God through the trial and through the suffering.
We have ABSOLUTELY NO PROMISES that we will not suffer but what God does promise us is that . . .
5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
And the very words of Jesus . . .
18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
And . . .
20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The promise is not that we will not suffer, the promise is that God will be with us ALWAYS even in the midst of the suffering.
So, James is telling us to consider it pure joy when we suffer because James knows that this is an opportunity to learn from and grow closer to God.
He tells us in verses three and four . . .
3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
And that maturity and completeness is key.
We must learn perseverance and endurance in order to “finish the race” as Paul puts it in many places.
The testing of our faith also brings us to a place of humility and a place where we put ALL our hope in God and God alone.
Many times we go along putting our hope in doctors and treatments, which are both a blessing to us, but even all of their knowledge and skill comes from God.
Our hope is in God and any healing we receive comes from God, regardless of what means God uses for it.
So we have to keep that in perspective because that is what is going to help us get through the trials, no matter what the outcomes.
And when we can persevere, James writes . . .
12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
Suffering Because of Sin
Suffering Because of Sin
So, what about this notion of suffering because of sin?
Do we ever suffer because of the sin in our life?
Our Bible tells us in many places . . .
7 Wicked men are overthrown and are no more, but the house of the righteous stands firm.
21 No harm befalls the righteous, but the wicked have their fill of trouble.
1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.
And . . .
4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, 12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.
HOWEVER, God’s discipline is not afflicting us with some sort of horrible disease.
The best way I can describe God’s discipline is God drawing back a bit and allowing the natural consequences of our actions to take their course.
Paul writes to Timothy that . . .
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16
The reason I read that is because one of the primary avenues that we learn God’s will and God’s direction is from God’s Word.
Those who study God’s Word and apply God’s Word to their lives can do what is right and repent of their sin.
The other avenue is prayer and allowing the Holy Spirit to search us and purge us of unrighteousness.
But what happens is that we neglect our prayer life and our study of God’s Word.
We FAIL TO HEED the warnings that God continuously gives us.
And the time comes that when we refuse to listen and refuse to change our direction, that God draws back and lets the natural consequences take their course.
Not because God doesn’t love us, but because God does love us.
In hopes that we will return to God.
And part of discipline means learning, so even though God is with us, we still have to endure the consequences.
Because, as Paul writes . . .
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Because ultimately the goal is eternal life.
HOWEVER, suffering because of sin is honestly a small piece of the overall puzzle and has to do with specifically disobeying God’s warnings.
Most of the rest of our suffering is honestly a mystery, except for the fact that . . .
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
And we could speculate and question “why” all day long and in the end we will not know.
But one thing that happens though when we don’t use suffering to grow perseverance is that we have a tendency to grow angry with God; bitter about what we have faced.
I wonder if that is anyone here today?
You have suffered and endured.
You feel like God has abandoned you.
Other people have blamed your suffering on sin, saying it was your fault.
I can’t promise you that God will answer the question “why.”
I can’t even promise that God will remove the suffering.
But I can promise that God can and will bring spiritual healing, if you will let him.
I can also promise that God will also be right there with you through the suffering.
But first, you have to be willing to let go of the anger and bitterness.
Are you willing to do that today?
The other thing we did talk about was sin.
Do you have unrepented sin in your life?
Something you have been holding back from God?
Is God disciplining you this morning?
If He is, you already know it.
Are you willing to give that up and turn to God today?
Again, I can’t promise that the suffering will end.
You may have to endure the consequences of your actions.
As a lesson not only to you, but also to others.
But I can guarantee that God will forgive you and God will reconcile with you.
I can also guarantee that God will be with you regardless of what you have to face.
Are you willing this morning to turn to God?
Finally, in just a few moments we will be baptizing two young men, who have repented of their sin and come into a relationship with Jesus Christ.
I wonder if anyone here today would like to join them.
Either you would like to come and give your life to Christ and be baptized.
Or perhaps you have already given your life to Christ but have never been baptized.
We can do that today as well.
Whatever the need is, right now you can come and give it to Jesus.
Will you come?