“In order to understand what “sharing in the sufferings of Christ” means, we must first understand what “the flesh” according to scripture means and what it does not. When it is said that our “flesh must die”, God is not talking about our physical flesh and blood bodies. (of course the day comes when we all will die, but that has nothing to do with conquering “the flesh”) This flesh is our unregenerated propensity to sin. This flesh is what wants its own way and not the way of God. This flesh chooses to sin. This flesh is weak and unable to overcome temptation. This is the “flesh” that must die. And we have to “kill it” – we have to choose God’s way and provision to overcome its natural tendencies. By this we mature and grow in grace. It does involve much suffering….. mental and emotional suffering, because it is hard to bring it into subjection to the Word of God. But it can be done, or else God’s Word would not say……”For as much then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin.” Phil. 3:10. What Christ suffered when on earth, allows us to arm ourselves with the same mind – He was tempted in all ways but without sin. Hebrews 4:1 . We can, by the power of His Holy Spirit dwelling within us, conquer that “flesh” and not sin. If we do sin, we confess it and “repent”, strive even harder to keep that flesh desire from causing us to fall.
Also, if we are persecuted for the Gospels sake, beaten, tortured, rejected, despised, and killed as Jesus was, we are definitely sharing in His sufferings for the very cause He came to earth – to preach the Word of God unto salvation through Him and Him alone. Now, people get beaten, tortured, rejected and killed every day, but not for preaching the gospel. Do they share in His sufferings? Are they guaranteed a place in heaven because of it? Of course not.
Moving on – a false teaching that has surfaced is that if you do not suffer (physically in your body or having chaos in your life), you are not sharing in His sufferings and you will not “make it”. You will not endure to the end. You need physical bodily suffering in order to be counted among the “few who will enter in”. It is a good thing if you not only battle the “flesh” sin nature, but that also includes suffering in your flesh and blood body…that God allows you to be sick so that you will be more holy and qualified. God is not healing you because you need to do something “in your flesh” to assure eternal salvation. But that is NOT what this scripture means:
1 Pet 5:10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
There is nowhere in scripture that says one must be sick or injured or attacked by demons causing physical suffering and chaos to qualify and enter into the fellowship of His sufferings.
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.
If being sick or disabled was necessary, then the Apostles and early believers would not have been able to spread the Gospel. God would have allowed them to be sick. They would have been incapacitated, bed-ridden, useless to the Great Commission. Many times they were healed of the tortures they received. John was thrown into boiling oil, but survived! Paul was thought to be dead, but stood up perfectly healed. To include physical (medical) suffering as being necessary to “make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, and settle you” is a far cry from the actual meaning of the scripture. The bible is full of testimonies of HEALING AND DELIVERANCE.
There are those who suffer with illnesses, diseases, demonic attacks, and disabilities. We know that God does allow all things. Many times, physical problems result from reaping what someone has sown – lifestyle choices, unrepented sin, just living in a poisoned fallen world. However, being sick does not make you holier than those who are not. Here is the false doctrine being circulated! If you’re not having physical problems and are not receiving a healing, then you must be “sharing in the sufferings of Christ” and you are closer to God than those who are well. There is a guilt trip put out on those who for whatever reason, do not have horrendous physical problems! It makes one wonder if they are right with God when they are reasonably healthy and don’t have drama, chaos and a mess of physical sufferings going on in their life at the moment.
More than likely, those promoting this idea have unrepented sin, mostly pride, that hinders their healing or deliverance and they are seeking answers as to why they are not healed. They must find some reason! anything other than admitting the sin in their lives that has blocked their answer to prayers. So they come up with an unbiblical excuse. Pride will always try to make you think you’re better and holier than others.
Other times, God is sovereign and we don’t know why. But one thing is for sure – being sick does not make one any holier or free from sin. That is adding to the finished work of Christ! He paid for all through HIS sufferings, not ours, and only His Work is necessary to bring us through and endure to the end. We must kill our “flesh”, not our bodies! We see many cult members flogging themselves, cutting themselves, causing physical harm to themselves in order to get closer to their “gods” – should we have that mindset??? of course not!
If we are sick or have a disease or disability, God surely does work within us to draw us closer to Him and to give us comfort, patience and strength – but our righteousness is in Christ alone, not in the physical shape of our bodies. Some people are healed, some are not – again God is sovereign – but if someone is not healed, and begin to preach that therefore they must be more sanctified, or holy, or of the “few that will enter in” because of their physical illness, they are gravely deceived. What a can of worms that teaching opens! People may think that they shouldn’t even pray for healing or deliverance because they need to “share in the sufferings of Christ”. They may feel guilty because they are relatively healthy! It is a slippery slope for sure.
This type of false teaching must be exposed. We must learn what suffering for Christ, or sharing in Christ’s sufferings really means. We must differentiate between the “flesh” and the “physical body”. There is only one scripture that talks about turning someone over for the destruction of the flesh, and as we can see – it was an unrepentant fornicator!
‘1 Peter 4:11 Corinthians 5:1-5 King James Version (KJV)
5 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.
2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.
3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,
4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,
5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
If you are physically sick, unless you have grave, unrepented sin in your life, you have not been delivered unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh! Even in this scripture, it says that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. The false teaching says that if you are not suffering physically, “there will only be a “few” that enter in. Most refuse to suffer and they will be cast into outer darkness”. If you refuse to die to self and kill your sin nature, of course you will not make it. But if you add not receiving a healing as a qualifier, you’re mistaken.
Yes, suffer in your flesh – your natural man desires, temptations, sins – strive to “kill” all of the fleshly desires – but NEVER believe that having a physical illness will qualify you for eternity more than someone who doesn’t. This attitude is unacceptable – it is not the Mind of Christ, nor His will. Don’t let wolves cause you to doubt or feel guilty, or God forbid, wish that you were sick or injured or disabled so that you could “share in His sufferings”.
Also, be aware that your “suffering” may indeed be the chastening of the Lord for sins in your life that you refuse to acknowledge. You have not suffered unto blood striving against sin. A chastisement in your body does not bring about righteousness – (as does the price paid by our Savior in His) – it is meant to bring about conviction and repentance. Learn the difference and don’t succumb to twisted interpretations designed by Satan to derail your faith and understanding of the finished Work of Christ.
12 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
If you can’t figure out why you have physical problems and think in your self-righteousness that you are without a part in it somehow, seek the Lord deeper and harder – listen to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and don’t just try to justify yourself by making up a teaching that can damage especially those young in the Lord in the Body of Christ. You will be held accountable for every word.
God would never deny healing because illness is necessary to secure and endure. It is NOT. Jesus paid that price by His gruesome death and resurrection. To think otherwise is just plain pride. Remember – it’s not about you and if the only way you can justify your condition is to make something up and twist scriptures to confirm it, beware.