DEATH! A Deed of the Disturber

Jan Antonsson


The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway

July 8, 2017

Neosho, MO

“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin” (I Peter 4:1, ESP).

The phrase “Deeds of the Disturber” has been coming to me many times over the past two weeks.  It is the title of a novel by a favorite author, but that’s not the context in which I heard the phrase.  It pointed to the subject of death.  Romans 6:10-11, came to me immediately:  “For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.  Since being on the Internet, both Lenny and I have written many articles about our being reckoned dead to sin and alive in Christ, no matter what happens to our physical body.

Lenny never thought he would die, but rather would be among those whom Paul said would not sleep, but would be  “changed in the twinkling of an eye”  (I Corinthians 15:51-52),  and would then take possession of his New Creation body.  Sadly, he was off in that belief, as I learned to my sorrow four years ago this July 15th.  Yet, he was not wrong about being changed, because over his life, nearly 85 years, he had been changed more and more into the image and likeness of God.  It was easy for me to see in him because he was closer to God than anyone I ever knew and because he lived his life in unconditional love for God and for all of us who had the pleasure of knowing him.  Without his loving me that way, I doubt I would ever have understood God’s unconditional love for us.

That brings me back to the suffering of Christ in the flesh, as all of us must do to one extent or the other, and its relationship to sin.  Once when we were visiting here, I had a migraine headache.  They are so rare, thankfully, that it took me a while to figure out what it was and why aspirin didn’t cut it.  My head hurt, throbbed, pounded and I was miserable.  The verse quoted above from I Peter 4:1, made me laugh, because I hurt so badly that sin, even were I determined to commit it, was made impossible by the pain.  Laughing just made my head throb worse.  I still remember the experience though, as an object lesson.

Some Christians in the past have purposefully brought pain upon themselves as a way to get rid of their sins.  I read that Martin Luther would flay his back with a multi-corded whip because he was trying to beat the devil out of himself.  That is a wrong headed idea in my opinion.  Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me,” but clearly, crucifixion is not a self inflicted source of pain.  You cannot nail yourself to the cross. Matthew recorded the statement as,  ‘‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (16:24). Luke added the word daily to the comment (Luke 9:23).  The purpose here is not to cause us to suffer, but rather to bring us to the death of self, of our will.  Death always brings resurrection, and since we cannot die physical death but once, even as Jesus did, the passage must be talking about something other than physical death.

When you stop to think about it, there are many kinds of death.  Some consider growing up a death to childhood; divorce as a death of marriage, poverty as the death of prosperity; illness as the death of good health.   You get my drift here, so leaving aside the death, let’s move on to the deeds of the disturber.  Who is this dreadful fellow anyway?  In my youth, the church I attended believed it is the devil, who ever lurks in wait to seduce us into sin, which will lead to death and thence to hell.  Many churches still believe and teach that.

If you read the first two chapters of Job, you learn something astounding.  Satan appeared before God, who pointed out Job to him, as  “blameless and upright, a man who fears GOD and shuns evil” (Job 1:8, NIV).  Satan’s answer  shows that clearly this was a set up, for he argued that God had put a hedge around Job and blessed all the work of his hands, but he taunted God, “Stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face” (Verses 10-11). God replied, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger” (Vs. 12).  You know the rest of the story, of Satan’s taunts and God’s careful instructions about how far Satan could go.  

Clearly, God was the General here and Satan was but His lieutenant following orders.  In other words, as Harry Truman once put it, “the buck stops on His desk.” What this clearly indicates, though it is shocking to some, is that God Himself is the Disturber in Chief (Deuteronomy 32:39; I Samuel 2:6; Isaiah 45:7; Amos 3:6).  

Peter made this explanation of  the situation concerning suffering, sin, and death: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (I Peter 3:18, ESV).  Being brought to God is the resurrection we mentioned earlier.  Two of my dear friends who have cancer, have had the experience of being brought closer to God as they stared death in the face. 

God is the lover of our souls, of our minds and our bodies.  He, like the Hound of Heaven, pursues us down all our pathways until we acknowledge Him. I passionately believe He’s not trying to save us from hell when we die, but from the hell we have to walk through here on earth.  One of my readers and friends wrote and asked for prayer because she said she was in hell right now.  We’ve all been there, suffered there, probably asked, “Why me?” when faced with life’s tragically painful moments.  After we’ve been pulled through enough of these cactus patches, the light begins to dawn on us, first dimly and then brightly as we realize that it is not our sin which brought us here (though some sins can do that easily), but it was our Father’s intention to bring us to Him.

Mother Teresa was quoted as saying to a dying man in dreadful pain she was ministering to in Calcutta, “Jesus is hugging you my son.” He reportedly replied, “Please ask Him not to hug me so tight, Mother.”  I’ve been there and so have you, not to the point of physical death, but certainly to the point of physical, mental and emotional turmoil that I feared would kill me without His relief.

The Hebrew writer gives us a beautiful and poetical perspective on our suffering, quoting God as saying, “Once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heavens….so that what cannot be shaken may remain.  Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:26-29, NIV).  Think how much time we’ve wasted in our lives fearing the fires of hell, when in fact, God is the launderer’s soap, the refiner’s fire which burns off our dross, and leaves us purified and refined like gold and silver (Malachi 3:2-3).

Father, we thank you that You are the only One with whom we have to do, our Abba, our Redeemer, our friend, our Prince of peace and comfort.  With You holding our hand, what do we have to fear, of whom should we be afraid?  We join our voices with all the Saints, in praise, “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.”  Amen.  Jan Antonsson

Jan Austin Antonsson

17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail Address)

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