True Christianity is all about grace—Christ taking our place and receiving the punishment that was due to us. This is an unquestionable and eternal truth so how and where does the suffering that the Bible talks about fit in? Here’s my best shot: Christ has perfected us through His Blood, but He did so in the outside-of-time realm of the spirit or “heavenly places” (Eph 1:3). In order for us to manifest the Promises in the time or natural realm the Truth of the Cross must have its affect on our minds, which is the realm of the soul. This is called mind-renewal, and walking out this process looks like denying and defying the inferior wisdom of this world alongside the leading of the Holy Spirit and I believe that this is New Testament suffering. Let me explain why.
“For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery to fear again, but you have received a Spirit of adoption as sons by whom we cry out, “Abba Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children then heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer [defy the old mind; limitation; the laws of the cosmos; wisdom of this age] with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” Romans 8:14-17 (personal commentary added)
In this process of “suffering” or “defying” as the Lord put it with me today, we will no doubt experience emotions of fear and sometimes physical weakness or even pain. Why is that? Because our mind is still in process and where our mind is determines our limitation in the physical, here and now and in pushing the boundaries of possibility trepidation and pain is commonplace. The fear and pain is not from God, but He’s not opposed to us going through it because in that place we learn to trust in His goodness.
Think about when you’re beginning a new workout program. In the midst of your working out your true beliefs of your physical capabilities are exposed in thoughts like “I can’t do it! It’s too far! It’s too much!” And when your personal trainer tells you the opposite of what you’re telling yourself and forces you to run the distance or put up the weight you realize that you’re not as limited as you initially thought. What a beautiful process. Often painful and scary though, right? Mind renewal and learning to live led by the Spirit is often like this. And God is that encouraging personal trainer who will push you to face the fears encoded in your conscience by the wisdom of this age. I’m learning that submitting to His training is everything when it comes to walking out the glorification/transformation He’s planned for us. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” Gal 5:16
Here’s my story: I have, for the larger portion of my life, been unconsciously filling up my mind and encoding my conscience with the wisdom of this age when it comes to my health and nutrition. All the information that I’ve filled my head with is absolutely wonderful, but, as God is showing me, it is relevant and a blessing only to human beings. I am a new creation and as such my operating system, if you will, is completely different. The Bible says things like “no deadly thing will by any means harm you” and “everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude” (see 1 Tim 1-5) But very recently God has been showing me that in my heart of hearts I do not believe these things, but rather I’ve defaulted to what the most recent nutritional science says. Science derived from studies done on fallen man. God has taken me on a journey of strengthening my conscience and reprogramming my mind with His Word and in this journey I’m experiencing fear and, quite honestly, a fair amount of pain.
Essentially, because of my beliefs about food and how the human body reacts to it I experience limitation in what I’m able to eat. When I transgress the limitation imposed by the knowledge stored in my mind I experience symptoms that, according the promises of God, sons of God should not experience. Rather than leaving me bound in this state, which by the way is no picnic emotionally, God opted to set me free from these fears and vulnerability through pushing me to face them.
You see, more than making life a breeze for His people, God desires for us to go through the process of learning to “live according to the Spirit” by way of what Paul calls “suffering.”
I confess that I have not yet achieved a perfectly strong conscience in this area. I’m still in process and it’s a day by day, moment by moment, meal by meal adventure. Some days God graciously says “Hey, son, today eat what you believe is “safe” for you to eat.” And then other days… most days, He opts to kill the pansy in me and says “Stop thinking. Believe that I am your source of perfect health and invulnerability to food. All things are to be received with gratitude. Eat a cheeseburger.” For example, today God told me to have some coffee and even though, according to His promises, dairy won’t hurt me He said “skip the steamed milk.”
That’s the beauty of all of this. It’s not about arriving somewhere. It’s about being present with God in the journey, but trust me in this journey we overcome fear and limitation. We need only to submit to His coaching.
Another thing I must mention before I close is this: each of us are in a different place in this and on a different journey with God. Where He has you might be abstaining from meat, dairy, or carbs. There’s no reward or glory for getting ahead of where God has you in attempt to become the most unbound, supernatural son of God. God doesn’t reward pride or bless thinking that is void of a revelation of His unconditional love. Talk to Him and discover where your conscience is at and what action He desires for you to take… or not take.
What’s awesome is that the promises of God are not just for our physical health, but also for our finances, emotional stability, relationships, the work of our hands, and our entire lives. Basically, God is so much more amazing than we think or dare to believe. What are some areas that God might be leading you to overcome fear and limitation in? I encourage you to go for it!
Zachary Pavilonis is a graduate of Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, Redding California, an adventurer, something of a coffee snob, and one whose greatest passion is seeing people come into an understanding of the outrageously vast goodness of God and seeing that empower them to a life of “Thrival” and chasing after the dreams God has deposited in their hearts. Zachary’s ministry has a strong emphasis on helping people “reign in life”; empowering others to be joyful, passionate, prosperous on all fronts, secure, and fully honest and confident before God and man. Zachary currently lives in Colombo, Sri Lanka and is under the ministry of Prophet Kirby de Lanerolle, WOWLife. http://www.wowlife.in/
For more of Zachary’s articles, please visit his blog at http://zackpav.wordpress.com/