Sunday, February 19, 2017

Christian Suffering

Before you begin your Bible study, as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, be sure you have named your sins privately to God the Father.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (Known, Unknown and Forgotten sins) (1Jn 1:9)

You will then be in fellowship with God, Filled with the Holy Spirit and ready to learn Truth from the Word of God.

"God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and Truth." (Joh 4:24)


Christian Suffering


     THE BIBLE EXPLAINS SUFFERING and reveals powerful Divine assets for coping with adversity. No believer in Jesus Christ should remain ignorant of the causes and solutions to any difficulty in his life. Suffering is not inexplicable. Every instance of suffering has a reason, an explanation, and a solution!
     Christian suffering can be most clearly understood in relation to the individual believer’s Spiritual growth. From this perspective, adversities may be classified into five categories. Two categories are typical of Spiritual child­hood; three characterize Spiritual adulthood. The two categories of suffering in Spiritual childhood are punitive. The three in Spiritual adulthood are de­signed by God for blessing. This study will examine the problems and Divine solutions connected with self-induced misery, Divine discipline, providential preventive suffering, mo­mentum testing, and evidence testing. These are five categories, which will be de­fined in due course, and account for all suffering in the Christian life.
     The connection between punitive suffering and Spiritual childhood and suffer­ing for a blessing with Spiritual adulthood is not a rigid distinction. Some suffering for blessing occurs in Spiritual childhood, and punitive suffering can hit the Spiritually adult believer when he sins or makes bad decisions. The general pattern, however, gives us a basis for understanding the pressures in our lives. 


     Adversity plays a dominant role in the lives of adult human beings. Suffer­ing is like a parent. What responsible parents do for their children, suffering does for adults. The discipline and restraints of childhood imposed by parents are replaced by the discipline and restraints of adult life enforced by suffering. As a parent, a guardian, a referee ready to blow the whistle as an authority provided by God; suffering challenges us as believers to utilize the assets God has given us. Suffering depletes our human resources and confronts us with our total dependence on the grace of God. Suffering impresses upon us our need to conform to His plan!
     Parents do more than discipline their children. Likewise, suffering is not merely a warning and a restraint but a teacher and motivator as well. Misfor­tune does not always come to injure, says a Latin maxim. Pain not only dis­courages us from going in the wrong direction, but it can also help to propel us in the right direction. The proper application of Truth under pres­sure produces Spiritual growth. We see Truth working. We experience the Reality that God is “a very present help in trouble.” (Psa 46:1-2; Psa 46:10) As a result of using His Word, our love for Him grows stronger, and we accelerate our Spiritual advance. Whether as a guardian or as a stimulus of Spiritual growth, all suffering in the Christian life must be understood in relation to the plan of God. Suffering, (Old sin nature, Thought, people, organization and disaster testing) is designed for our good and for His glorification. He is glorified by sustain­ing and blessing us in any situation, whether prosperity or adversity. It is for His Own glory, therefore, within the hardships and disasters of life, God Promises, I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you. (Jos 1:5; Heb 13:5-6) He will “never let the righteous [Spiritual believer] be shaken.” [Or totter or fall] (Psa 55:22) Rather than eliminating suffering from our lives, He gives us far greater benefits by walking with us “through the valley of the shadow of death.” (Psa 23:4)


     Many Principles in our study of suffering will apply to unbelievers (To motivate faith in Christ; Rev 11:13) as well as to believers, (To grow to Spiritual maturity; Heb 11:37-40) but we will concentrate on Christian suffering. We are study­ing the assets that God has graciously given to anyone who has believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are also identifying difficulties that arise when believers fail to utilize what God has given them.

Union with the King of Kings 
     Spiritual childhood begins at Salvation. At the moment anyone first believes in Christ, God the Holy Spirit simultaneously accomplishes eight ministries in behalf of the new believer. One of these ministries is the baptism of the Spirit, in which the Holy Spirit instantaneously places the believer into permanent union with Jesus Christ. 
     For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ [The baptism of the Holy Spirit at Salvation] have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, [No racial distinctions] there is neither slave nor free man, [No social classes] there is neither male nor female; [No sexual bias] for you are all one in Christ Jesus. [In union with Christ] (Gal 3:26-28
     The Lord Jesus Christ is the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” (Rev 19:16) He holds the most exalted of all royal titles. He is head of a new royal dynasty, the Church, to which we belong. The present era of history is the Church Age, in which every individual who believes in Christ as his Savior is adopted as an adult son and heir into the royal family of God. (Rom 8:15; Gal 4:1-5; Eph 1:4-5) Our adoption occurs at the first moment of faith in Christ, when we are placed in union with Christ. (Gal 3:26) We are royalty now and will be royalty forever. This is our eternal position; in our current experience, however, we must learn to Think as royalty. We must learn to conduct ourselves as royalty. In order to Think and live as Spiritual royalty, we need royal Thoughts. Simul­taneously with the baptism of the Spirit, therefore, God the Holy Spirit also places each new member of the royal family into a magnificent, invisible en­vironment, a system of living that can be compared to a royal palace. Because the believer’s very own invisible palace is a sphere of Spiritual power. In the function of the Spiritual life God has made available to each believer the exercise of Divine omnipotence. The believer’s utilization of Divine omnipotence will be explained as our study proceeds. The palace, or the Spiritual life, is a teaching aid that clearly explains the tremendous assets and privileges that God has given to each New Covenant Church Age believer. TopAnd Bottom Circles.jpg

     Living as royalty in the palace, (The Bottom Circle) is a synonym for living the Christian way of life. Only in the palace can we use our Spiritual assets, develop capa­city for life, and live with Spiritual wisdom, happiness, and graciousness as the Spiritual aristocrats we are. Furthermore, the palace is the only sphere in which Christian growth can occur.

The Protocol Plan of God

     Royalty lives by protocol. The Christian way of life can be called the protocol plan of God because the system — the Spiritual life — for utilizing God’s power, is a system of protocol. God designed the Christian life; we must THINK His way! Protocol is a rigid, long-established code; prescribing com­plete obedience to superior rank and strict adherence to due order of prece­dence and precisely correct procedure. Each element in Webster’s definition describes the plan of God for the believer’s life.

1. LONG-ESTABLISHED CODE: In eternity past God created for each Church Age believer a rich portfolio of blessings, which glorifies God, who it also designed the Spiritual life as our means of taking distribution of those blessings. (Eph 1:3-4)

2. OBEDIENCE TO SUPERIOR RANK: Sovereign and omnipotent God holds infinitely superior rank to which we must give complete obedience.

3. DUE ORDER OF PRECEDENCE: The highest priority in our scale of values must be learning the Word of God, Divine Thinking — Truth, which teaches us what assets we possess and explains how to utilize them.

4. PRECISELY CORRECT PROCEDURE: Only by adhering to God’s precise Thoughts for the royal family do we fulfill the conditions for receiving our blessings created in eternity past that glorify God.

     Divine grace has created a royal way of life which Divine authority Com­mands the royal believer to execute. We are responsible for fulfilling the pro­tocol plan of God, but God never issues an Order for which He has not already provided the means of execution. To obey God’s Commands is to tap His resources.

     The Gates of the Palace

     The Commands of God are like gates that open upon Divine assets. (Isa 62:10) The believer passes through these gates and uses his God-given assets by consistently learning and Thinking with God’s Thoughts and by following Divine protocol. Obedience to Divine authority puts the power of God into effect in the believer’s life. Although hundreds of Divine Commands for the royal family are found in the New Testament, all of these Commands can be classified into ten categories. The Spiritual life consolidates God’s Commands into ONE consistent, comprehensive system. The Spiritual life will be developed later in detail, but here a brief description of the ten gates will suffice, along with examples of Divine Commands pertinent to each gate. This section of the book outlines the Spiritual life; the next will fill in the outline, revealing the dynamics of the believer’s palace when he faces suffering.


GATE 1, THE POWER GATE, is the silent, invisible, enabling ministry of God the Holy Spirit. Omnipotent God the Holy Spirit sustains the believer, supply­ing the supernatural means of executing the supernatural Spiritual way of life.

     God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit [In Fellowship] and Truth. [With the Spiritual Thinking of The Word of God] (Joh 4:24)

     Be filled with the Spirit. (Eph 5:18)

     But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.  (Gal 5:16)

GATE 2, THE GATE OF BASIC CHRISTIAN MODUS OPERANDI, is the source of the believer’s objectivity. In Gate 2, the most elementary systems of problem solving are available to the immature believer, which include the following:

     The Rebound Technique is the grace means of restoring the believer to temporal fellowship with God after sin has broken that fellowship. The believer initially enters Gate 1 at Salvation, but he exits when he sins. He can reenter only through Gate 1. When the believer follows the simple, grace mechanics of reentry, the Holy Spirit automatically resumes control of the believer’s soul, (In place of the sin nature's control) restoring him to fellowship with God.

     If we acknowledge our sins, [to God the Father] He is faithful and just so that He forgives us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1Jn 1:9)

Through the Faith-Rest Drill the believer mixes the Promises of God with faith and Thinks rationally to reach Doctrinal conclusions. (Heb 4:1-2)

     In fact, we know that to those who love God, He works all things together for the good . . . To what conclusion are we forced, face to face with these things? God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:28; Rom 8:31)

Hope is the believer’s anticipation of Promised blessings and his initial basis for motivation. ThreeHopes.jpg
     For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Rom 15:4)

GATE 3, THE GATE OF ENFORCED AND GENUINE HUMILITY, makes the believer teachable.

     ...Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time. (1Pe 5:5-6)

GATE 4, THE MOMENTUM GATE, is designed for intake, metabolism, and application of Divine Thoughts, which cause Spiritual growth and Personal love for God.

     Man shall not live on bread alone, [Human needs] but on every Word [Spiritual Thought] that pro­ceeds out of the mouth of God. (Mat 4:4)

GATE 5. THE GATE OF SPIRITUAL SELF-ESTEEM, is the entrance into Spiritual adulthood. Spiritual self-esteem is the strength of soul that comes from Personal love for God. Love for God is the Spiritually adult Christian’s motivation in life. Spiritual self-esteem is also the beginning of sharing the Happiness of God.

     For me, living is Christ, and dying is a promotion. (Php 1:21)

     And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. (Mar 12:30)

     Though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and even though you do not see Him now but believe in Him [From Truth in the soul] you rejoice with an inexpressible and glorious happiness. (1Pe 1:8)

GATE 6, THE GATE OF SPIRITUAL AUTONOMY, is the stability of Spiritual adulthood, characterized by Impersonal love for other people. Imper­sonal love is the functional Virtue of the Spiritually adult believer toward all mankind. Deriving its strength from the Virtue of the believer himself rather than being limited by questions of attractiveness or repulsiveness, compatibility or rejection from others, Impersonal love is the foundation for the correct mental attitude toward people and self.

     The second is this, YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. There is no other Commandment greater than these. (Mar 12:31)

     But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (Mat 5:44)

     But Jesus was saying, Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing. And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. (Luk 23:34)

GATE 7, THE GATE OF MOMENTUM TESTING, involves suffering which accelerates the believer’s advance from Spiritual autonomy to Spiritual maturity. Gate 7 is one of the categories of suffering for blessing.

     I press on toward the goal for the prize of that upward call from God in Christ Jesus, therefore, as many as are Spiritual adults, let us keep on Thinking this. [God's Thoughts on every subject] and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you. However, let us keep living by that same standard [Of Divine Thinking] to which we have attained. (Php 3:14-15)

GATE 8, THE WINNER’S GATE, is the gate of Spiritual maturity. This is the beginning of the most advanced level of Spiritual adulthood, in which God is glorified and the believer is blessed to the maximum under ALL circumstances, whether pros­perity or adversity. The adult believer’s inner happiness is stabilized and established in Spiritual maturity.

     If you keep My Commandments, you will reside in the sphere of My love, just as I [The humanity of Christ] have fulfilled the Commandments of My Father [Who created the Spiritual life] and I reside in the sphere of His love. [During His first ad­vent Christ lived in the prototype] I have taught you these things [Divine Thoughts] that My happiness [Sharing the Happiness of God] might be in you and that your happiness might be completed. [At Spiritual maturity] (Joh 15:10-11)

     When the Holy Spirit placed us in the palace, God the Father intended for us to live there, not to get out of fellowship with Him; through sin and move into the dungeon of Satan’s counterfeit systems. We are Spiritual royalty; but we must reside in our palace to solve the prob­lems of suffering and to grow Spiritually. God’s plan calls for us to handle suffering from inside the palace. Only in the palace is His omnipotence at our disposal for handling the problems of life.


Problem Solving in Spiritual Childhood

     Each gate of the palace contains Divine assets that may be used to solve particular problems that cause or accompany suffering. What difficulties do these eight gates solve? To help the believer recall and utilize the grace of God in the midst of overwhelming pain, the Divine provisions for problem solving are best described in highly objective language. The power and grace of God, therefore, will be presented in terms of “problem-solving devices.” This terminology may sound harsh and mechanical, but there is a reason for it. Under pressure the believer needs Truth. If he is coddled, he may be in dan­ger of intensifying his problem by slipping into self-pity. No one with integ­rity wants to feel sorry for himself. Furthermore, under stress the believer needs straight answers. He does not need a lot of beautiful language. His emo­tions are already highly charged, and emotionalism offers no hope of stabiliz­ing him. Certainly the grace of God can be described in beautiful poetic terms, but emotional stimulation will not solve the problem and might only complicate the Christian’s suffering which already is difficult enough. The purpose for this terminology is, to make it absolutely clear to the suffering believer that God has provided real assets, that both transcend his current sin nature, thought, people, organization and or disaster testing; and offer him effective help in time of need. (Pro 28:25-26) The purpose is not to commiserate or to comfort him. This human dimension of the problem is not to be ignored, but that is not the focus of this book. This book is in­tended to teach and to present a system of orthodox Doctrine with tremendous practical application. Simple problem-solving devices are available for Spiritual childhood in the first four gates of the Spiritual life. More powerful problem-solving de­vices become effective in Spiritual adulthood in the final four gates. The Christian way of life is a supernatural way of life that demands a supernatural means of execution! The only power equivalent to the demand is the omnipotence of God. Therefore, Gate 1 is the invisible, behind-the-scenes ministry of God the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life. The Holy Spirit manages Gate 1 entirely by Himself from His Divine omnipotence. We contri­bute nothing. We merely ensure that we give Him empowerment of our lives by using the rebound technique. (Pro 1:23) Rebound is the believer’s first responsibility in Gate 2. Rebound, faith-rest, and hope are basic problem-solving devices found in Gate 2. Rebound allows the believer to reside consistently in his palace. It switches on the power of Gate 1. Because the Spiritual child (Indeed, every believer) is prone to leaving his palace, (1Jn 1:8-10) he must quickly learn how to reenter. He exits by committing sin; (Mat 15:19) he reenters by acknowledgement that he is out, (Just wanting to be in fellowship with God is the standard) and naming that sin to God if you know it? And we are forgiven for all known, unknown, and forgotten sins. (1Jn 1:9) This Divine provision is called the re­bound technique because it causes the believer to bounce back after failure, restoring his fellowship with God, avoiding the trap of a guilt complex. The next problem-solving device in the Christian way of life is faith-rest, which enables the believer to control his own mental attitude. Emotion is a blessing, but it can also be a terrible cursing when it sweeps away reason and Truth. If emotion dominates thought in a crisis, the result can be disastrous. The Spiritual child needs to know how to remain lucid when his emotions rise and how to Think clearly under pressure. The accurate application of Truth appropriate to the crisis, demands a stabilized mentality. How does the dis­traught believer regain and maintain his self-control? The solution is the faith-rest drill. A confusing, complicated situation must first be reduced to utter simplicity by claiming the stated Promises of God. (Heb 4:1-3)


     Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Behold, all those who are angered at you will be shamed and dishonored; Those who contend with you will be as nothing and will perish. You will seek those who quarrel with you, but will not find them, Those who war with you will be as nothing and non-existent. For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, Do not fear, I will help you. (Isa 41:10-13)


     Stabilized by Divine Promises, he can recall Principles he has learned and eventually reach Doctrinal conclusions. From the Divine Viewpoint he can then deal with the complexities of the situation. Another basic problem-solving device in Gate 2 is called “hope.” Hope answers the question “Where am I going in life?” The believer learns pertinent Doctrine about his own future blessings; his eager anticipation, or hope, of receiving those blessings motivates him to keep advancing in the protocol plan of God. (Rom 5:3-5) Hope begins as a basic problem-solving device in Gate 2 but increases in strength as the believer grows Spiritually. (Rom 8:24-25) As a result, hope also becomes one of the key problem-solving devices of Spiritual adulthood. Arrogance is the believer’s worst enemy. (Jer 18:12) What is the immediate and long-term solution to the insidious, multifaceted problem of arrogance? In Gate 3, enforced humility is an immediate problem-solving device as the believer sub­mits to the authority of God’s Thoughts and plan. (Isa 57:10) Obedience to Divine protocol means using perfect Divine Thoughts rather than trusting inferior human thoughts and ability. (Mar 8:33) As the believer learns more Truth, he understands the reasons behind God’s Com­mands and sees how His Commands reveal His matchless character. With a growing knowledge of Truth, enforced humility becomes genuine humility, the foundation for Personal love for God. The most critical issue in the believer’s life is how does he solve the prob­lem of ignorance? At Salvation he knows nothing of God and His protocol plan. The solution in Gate 4 includes tremendous Divine power for learning, metabolizing, and applying the Mind of Christ. (1Co 2:16) The Bible draws an analogy between eating food and learning Truth, which is the believer’s Spiritual food. (Deut 8:3; Mat 4:4) Just as food must be metabolized to sustain the body, so Truth must be metabolized before it is usable in Spiritual growth, application or problem solving. And then the waste (False thoughts) are eliminated just as in the human body. Someone may order a meal at a restaurant, and the food, if well presented, may be attractive to the eye. But the food nourishes him only when he eats it. Likewise, the be­liever learns Truth, but this benefits him only when he believes what he has learned! (Jer 15:16) He must integrate the new Doctrine he hears with the rest of the Doctrine he knows for that new Truth to contribute to his Spiritual growth. To dispel his ignorance, the believer must establish a firm policy of learning God's Thoughts every day. He must always organize his day to accomplish his first priority, the assimilation of God’s Word! (Ecc 11:6; 2Co 4:16; Heb 3:13)
Problem Solving in Spiritual Adulthood
     Spiritual childhood continues from Salvation until the believer reaches Gate 5, which is Personal love for God. Spiritual adulthood extends from Gate 5 all the way to Gate 8, the winner’s gate. As the Christian moves into Spiritual adulthood he finds solutions too many problems. How can he love God whom he cannot see? How can he have an objective yet positive attitude toward self, even though he knows his own flaws and weaknesses? How can he tolerate obnoxious, antagonistic people? How can he avoid being distracted by the people he loves? These are problems in relationships, and the solutions lie in Virtue-love. Virtue-love is the combination of Gates 5 and 6 of the Spiritual life, which include Personal love for God, Spiritual self-esteem, Spiritual autonomy, and Impersonal love for all mankind. These Biblical Concepts are in contemporary terminology to communicate the progression and the mechanics of Spiritual adulthood. Gates 5 and 6 solve problems in relationships with God and with other people. Toward God, Virtue-love derives its strength from God Himself, the object of the believer’s Personal love. Personal love for God naturally generates Spiritual self-esteem and Spiritual autonomy within the believer’s own soul. The believer gains confidence concerning his eternal Spiritual royalty and that inner composure becomes the self-assured basis for kindness, thoughtfulness, and graciousness toward other people. Toward others, therefore, Virtue-love is Impersonal love for the entire human race. Impersonal love draws its strength not from the object of love but from the Virtue of the believer himself, even when the object of love is totally incompatible or antagonistic toward him. When the believer begins to acquire Virtue-love, how does he coordinate his newly developed Spiritual muscles? How do the first awkward expressions of Virtue-love become the genuine poise of Spiritual strength? The answer is suffering for a blessing. Between Gates 5 and 6, and again after Virtue-love is consolidated in Gate 6, God applies pressure to test the believer and to accelerate his advance. Gate 7 is a series of tests designed to propel him into Spiritual maturity. The mature believer is a winner in life. He has developed the capacity to receive the conveyance of “every Spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph 1:3) all of which were tailor-made for him “before the foundation of the world.” (Eph 1:4) These fabulous blessings, now on deposit for each believer, are called “greater grace.” (Jas 4:6) Conveyance of the believer’s greater blessings glorifies God to the maximum.
Now that the believer has reached Spiritual maturity, he becomes aware of yet another problem. Having learned the Doctrine of the angelic conflict, which explains the existence of the human race and the objective of human history, he knows that God’s purpose is always to demonstrate His Thoughts. How is God glorified to the maximum? How does He express His glory in the life of a believer who already receives the magnificent blessings of Spiritual maturity? The answer is evidence testing. Evidence testing is Satan’s cross-examination of a mature believer whom God has called to the stand as a witness to show the Thoughts and Virtue of the new nature created in us, (2Pe 1:4) a demonstration of Christ, His Thoughts and Nature alive in us. God receives the glory we are privileged and blessed. (Luk 17:10) Satan attempts to discredit each witness, but Spiritual maturity gives the believer the strength to face the worst Satan can throw at him. (Rev 2:9-10) When the believer uses Divine Thoughts under extreme duress, not only is God’s perfection demonstrated to the elect angels, Satan and the demons, but the marvel of God’s grace and power is also made dramatically clear to the mature believer himself! His Occupation with the Person of Christ sustains his inner happiness and is the greatest of all problem-solving devices. (Heb 12:2; 1Pe 1:6-8) Whether enjoying prosperity or coping with adversity, the mature believer has access to all the problem-solving devices of the Spiritual life. As he grows, he still uses all the problem-solving devices of Spiritual child­hood, but now they are reinforced with the strength of adulthood. (Rom 4:20-21; Heb 11:2) Using the tremendous assets of his palace, he sustains his Spiritual momentum through­out his life and handles suffering with such confidence that he becomes a maximum demonstration of God’s perfect grace and integrity. (Num 11:23)

     Besides the Doctrines of the royal family and the palace, yet another Spiritual Con­cept must be understood in connection with suffering. The protocol plan of God is an aggressive plan. Its objective sharply focuses the believer’s atten­tion. The Christian’s purpose in life is to know God, as He has revealed Him­self in His Word! This goal is achieved by learning, metabolizing, and apply­ing Truth, which not only will cause the believer to Personally love God but also create true motivation in all realms of Spiritual and temporal life. Positive volition is more than a passive interest in God and His plan! The believer must take the offensive and employ Divine assets to attain the goal that God has set for every believer.
No one stands still in the Christian life: If a believer does not advance, he retrogresses. This Truth is intensified under pressure. Suffering never leaves the Christian the same as he was before; suffering makes him either better or worse. The believer who reacts to pain and pressure with arrogance has bitterness, vindictiveness, implacability, guilt and self-pity, this mental attitude sets him back and stops the Christian life. (Luk 15:28-32; Php 3:18-19) To advance, he must follow the example of Paul who repeatedly expresses the attitude of offensive action: “I press on reaching forward . . . I press on toward the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Php 3:12-14) The offensive has always been an important Principle in life. It is a military axiom that offensive action is the only means by which a victory is gained. Offensive action brings victory, while defensive action only delays defeat. Just as the offensive increases the effectiveness of the force adopt­ing it, likewise taking the offensive in the Spiritual life increases the believer’s ability to handle any suffering he encounters. The offensive also raises morale, permits concentration of effort, and allows freedom of ac­tion. Defensive action can be used to assist offensive action elsewhere, to gain time, to utilize terrain, or to compensate for weakness, but offensive action must be used where there is any reasonable chance for success. In the Christian life there is always a “reasonable chance of success.” Tak­ing our cue from the many Biblical analogies drawn from military life, (Eph 6:10-18; Heb 4:12) let us use the parallels between the Christian life and a military operation as a means of anticipating where our study of suffering will carry us. The believer has an objective in life, which is to know and love God! This personal objective implies that the believer must attain Spiritual maturity, in which status his life glorifies God to the maximum. How does he reach his as­signed objective? He goes on the offensive by metabolizing Truth, while consistently living in the Spiritual life. Truth gives him Spiri­tual momentum. From Truth he develops capacity to love God; he attains Spiritual self-esteem. Spiritual self-esteem is a remarkable achievement, which we will study in detail. It is the giant step into Spiritual adulthood, the first major intermediate objective along the route of advance to full maturity. Because Spiritual self-esteem can easily become arrogance, God strength­ens the believer’s Spiritual self-esteem with providential preventive suffering. (2Co 12:7) This is the first category of Christian suffering designed for blessing. When strengthened, Spiritual self-esteem becomes Spiritual autonomy, (Mat 22:37) which is a base of further operations. The believer continues his advance to Spiritual ma­turity through the valley of momentum testing, which is yet another category of Christian suffering for blessing. Upon reaching Spiritual maturity, the believer is in a position to face the challenge of evidence testing and to glorify God to the maximum. Suffering plays a major role in the believer’s advance. His personal deter­mination to achieve Spiritual maturity by obeying God’s Commands makes him equal to any suffering in life. Mental alertness and a readiness to use the assets God has provided are the attitudes of the Spiritual winner.


     BY FAR THE MOST PREVALENT CATEGORY of human suffering is self-induced misery. People in general and believers in particular cause themselves tremendous anguish, both within their own souls and in the overt circum­stances they create. The law of volitional responsibility recognizes that a be­liever’s decisions have natural and logical consequences. When he makes bad decisions, suffering will naturally result. In nearly every instance of Christian suffering, therefore, part or all of the problem can be traced back logically to the choices of the one who suffers. Before God created the human race, He decreed that man would have free will. By Divine decree; our decisions (Or indecisions) have real repercussions for which we are responsible. Just as there are scientific Laws in which science observes the faithfulness of Jesus Christ who “upholds all things by the word of His power” (Heb 1:3; cf. Col 1:16) so also there are laws of human consequence in which each individual’s thoughts, decisions, and actions establish the trends in his life. Every human being has free will. We make decisions constantly. Some of those decisions are good, others bad. You probably discovered in early youth that when you chose to take certain actions you were punished, but when you chose to take other actions you avoided punishment and perhaps enjoyed some measure of blessing. This Principle also holds true in the Spiritual life. When we follow Divine protocol we are blessed; when we violate protocol we are disciplined. The obvious conclusion is that we must learn God’s system and Think with it! The implication of the law of volitional responsibility is that every human being must take the responsibility for his own decisions and actions. A mature person understands that he never blames others for his unhappi­ness. He acknowledges any mistakes or wrong decisions he has made regard­ing relationships, activities, motives, and functions in life and fulfills the ob­ligations he has incurred. If he suffers from causes beyond his control, he does not allow the pain to tyrannize his soul. Rather than poison himself with bitterness and self-pity, he makes the most of his present options and op­portunities through good decisions compatible with the protocol plan of God. The Law of volitional responsibility is clearly taught in Scripture.

     Be not deceived; God cannot be mocked. Whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. (Gal 6:7)

     Sowing and reaping can be beneficial or detrimental. In Galatians 6:7 they illustrate the law of volitional responsibility, warning the believer not to ignore or violate the protocol plan of God. The seeds a farmer plants will in­variably produce their own species of plant and fruit. Likewise, the sins a per­son commits sprout and follow a natural pattern of growth. Tracing the results of a particular sin is not the point of this verse. Just as no two seeds are exactly alike and just as they are affected by nearly infinite combinations of soil and weather, a believer’s sins produce suffering in keeping with all the variables of his life. The harvest of suffering will differ from one person to another even if they seem to commit the same sins. But anyone who thinks he will escape the consequences of his own decisions de­ceives himself. He assumes that God has not sovereignly decreed man to have free will. If man’s decisions had no effect, he would not have free will. How­ever, man does have free will and his bad decisions have bad effects.

     Arrogance is self-deception. An inflated opinion of self is the believer’s great enemy, an illusion which will relentlessly undermine his life and happi­ness. Most suffering in life is caused by ignorance and arrogance. In contrast to humility and Truth, which orients the believer to God's Reality, arrogance is divorcement from God's Reality. The Divine decrees guarantee that the consequences of man’s deci­sions occur in Reality, and because the arrogant believer’s perception and thought are divorced from Reality, his suffering will seem to come out of nowhere. The natural results of his decisions often will take him by surprise. Situations for which he himself is responsible will shock and disappoint him, will confound his expectations, and will dash his misplaced hopes. In arrogance and ignorance the believer will falsely blame his misfortunes on other people, environment, childhood trauma, bad luck, the devil; or even God. Because he is out of touch with Divine Reality, he is ultimately illogical in his thinking. Blaming others is rationalization; everyone is responsible for his own decisions! (Gal 6:8)                        
     Volition, which is a component of the human soul, is the source of personal sins and sin nature good and is also a source of evil, PERSONAL SIN is an act of volition contrary to the will and Standards of God. Personal sin is distinguished from Adam’s original sin, which caused the fall of the entire human race, and distinct also from the old sin nature, which is the genetic legacy of Adam’s sin in the body of each of his descendants. (Psa 51:5) Personal sin is one manifestation of man’s fallen state. The old sin nature is a source of temptation, but volition is the source of every personal sin. Personal sin results from volition saying yes to temptation; whether or not the individual knows he is transgressing God’s will. The presence of the old sin nature is no excuse for committing personal sins, nor is ignorance. God has given us assets with the power to overcome these handi­caps. Personal sins are classified as (1) mental attitude sins, like arrogance, greed, lust and jealousy, (Mat 15:19) (2) verbal sins, such as gossip, maligning, and lying, (3) and overt sins, like murder, theft, and fornication. OLD SIN NATURE GOOD is man's relative righteousness, which can never meet the Standards of God’s absolute righteousness.  When compared to God, “...all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment...” (Isa 64:6) Religion vainly seeks to earn the approbation of God through the “dead works” of the human old sin nature, (Heb 6:1; Heb 9:14) whereas Christianity, which is not a religion, is a personal relationship with God based not on human merit but on the possession of perfect Divine righteousness. At the moment of Salvation, God imputes His own righteousness to every believer (Gen 15:6; Rom 3:22; Rom 4:3; Rom 8:10) and declares each believer justified, vindicated, acceptable to the absolute Standards of God. (Rom 3:19-30) EVIL is a self-destructive way of thinking that is hostile to the will of God. As ruler of the world Satan's thinking is his multifaceted policy of evil, a policy of guaranteed misery which we are born with, and think with. (Jer 17:9; Joh 8:44; Rom 12:2) Until we Spiritually mature. (1Co 14:20; Heb 5:14)


     Sin, old sin nature production, and evil are absolutely excluded from the plan of God for the believer’s life. But since believers still have their old sin natures after Salvation, (Rom 7:24-25) and since many believers fail to learn what con­stitutes sin, old sin nature production, and evil or how to deal with them, Christians will inevitably commit these violations of Divine protocol. Suffering under the law of volitional responsibility will afflict the believer who does not know he is involved in sin, old sin nature production, or evil. Because voli­tion operates in ignorance as well as in cognizance, whether or not a believer knew a particular thought or act was wrong, he nonetheless chose to commit it. He did it because he wanted to do it. Consequently, he must take responsi­bility for that decision and for any resultant suffering. He is foolish if he re­mains oblivious to the connection between his decisions and his misery. No one has an excuse for practicing sin, old sin nature production, or evil. Free will is always the cause. Even in psychosis people use their volition. Indeed, psycho­sis is primarily volitional. In fact, many psychotic individuals have exceed­ingly strong wills. Very few people are born psychotic; most of mental illnesses are acquired through arrogance, self-centeredness, selfishness, self-righteousness; and the practice of making thousands of subjective wrong decisions over an extended period of time. (1Sa 16:14-15) In deliberate rebelliousness, in ignorance, or in psychosis; suffering piles on top of suffering — for which the individual bears responsibility.

     Not all suffering under the law of volitional responsibility arises from sin, human good, or evil. Occasionally, our suffering originates from nothing more than poor judgment. The very fact that we are imperfect means that our judgment will be flawed from time to time. No matter how smart we are, someone can always deceive us. Despite wisdom and objectivity, we all have areas of subjectivity and sentimentality that can distort our thinking. Intelli­gence is no protection. Experience affords little help. Advice from friends or warnings from experts will never keep us from doing the foolish things we set our minds on doing. A great deal of suffering arises from errors in human judgment.

     Violations of the laws of Divine establishment, (Life, property, protection, privacy and freedom) guarantee suffering to both believer and unbeliever under the Principle of volitional responsibility. The Scriptures describe in detail operational laws for the entire human race within the framework of national entities. The sanctity of life and property of pri­vacy and freedom, must be respected or suffering will result. If a believer commits murder, for example, he has not only committed a sin against God but he has violated the laws of establishment concerning the sanctity a human life. He should, therefore, suffer capital punishment because he made the criminal decision to commit murder. (Rom 13:1-4) The Christian way of life is more demanding than the establishment life of the unbeliever. The believer’s life has a Divine purpose; the unbeliever’s life does not — except to become a believer. Hence, the Christian suffers from violations of establishment Principles, as would any unbeliever, but he also suffers when he ignores the Commands of God’s protocol plan. He is Commanded to reside and function in the palace, the Spiritual life under the enabling power of God the Holy Spirit, but if he “quenches” or “grieves” the Holy Spirit through sin, (Eph 4:30; 1Th 5:19) he cuts himself off from God’s purpose for his life and enters the dungeon of Satan’s system. (2Ti 2:25-26) All suffering from the cosmic system is classified under the law of volitional responsibility, but the believer in the cosmic system suffers more severely than does the unbeliever in the cosmic system. 


     The law of volitional responsibility not only explains individual suffering but also accounts for the collective suffering that man brings upon himself. A corporation may go bankrupt through the bad decisions of a few company officers and government officials. Suffering from their decisions touched many other people. With so many individuals operating in the world, each with free will, a certain amount of suffering inevitably overflows into one’s life from the decisions of others. Volition is still the cause. If not created by one’s own volition, suffering results from someone else’s volition. The innocent suffer with the guilty, but innocent or guilty, each believer must apply the solutions available in the Spiritual life. If he personally fails to use Divine assets and problem-solving devices, the blame for misery can fall only upon the believer himself. Ultimately there are no innocent parties; man by nature is a flawed imperfect creature. Since the fall of Adam, no one is naturally great; nobility of soul is a rare achievement. Evidence of this Biblical Principle is found in the tremendous amount of suffering in the world today, suffering that has been rampant through thousands of years of human history. In every generation, there is always a plethora of suffering. Each individual, (Excluding the humanity of Christ; Isa 9:6; Heb 7:26; 1Pe 1:19) is identified with Adam in his fall; each is genetically related to fallen Adam. Because of Adam’s deliberate decision to sin in the Garden, (Rom 5:12) we are born with genetic and environmental handicaps to which add our own volitional flaws from personal sin and poor judgment, creating our own suffering under the law of volitional responsibility. Human weakness, ignorance, and arrogance weave a tapestry of inevitable suffering for many people. However, we are not doomed by our handicaps to lives of misery and despair. A Principle of grace is far more powerful than is the unavoidable law of volitional responsibility: While man manufactures his own problems and resultant suffering, God manufactures solutions and blessings in the midst of suffering. (Sin nature, thought, people, organization and disaster testing)


     All personal sins were judged at the Cross. (Rom 8:3; 1Pe 2:24; 2Co 5:21) The Gospel of Salvation is the supreme illustration that Divine sovereignty and human free will coexist by Divine decree. In grace God the Father, who is the author of the Divine plan, took direct action and solved the sin problem. He imputed all the sins of man­kind to Christ on the cross and judged Him as our substitute. (1Jn 2:2) Jesus Christ died for the sins of every member of the human race, paying in full, once and for all, the penalty demanded by the absolute righteousness of God. (1Pe 3:18) That is why the Scripture says “...whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” (Joh 3:15) One non-meritorious act of positive volition to believe in Christ appropri­ates the work of eternal, omnipotent, sovereign God. This is grace. (Eph 2:8-9) Through Christ’s perfectly meritorious work and man’s non-meritori­ous faith, God totally removes the barrier between fallen man and Himself, reconciling the believer to Himself. Even though sins were judged on the Cross, and we have eternal Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, our daily living on earth involves the natural repercussions of our sins. Sin has temporal consequences toward God, toward self, and toward other people. In relation to God, the sin caused by negative volition removes the believer from temporal fellowship with Him in the pal­ace of the Spiritual life. When we rebound, the sin is always forgiven and we are restored to fellowship with God. Admitting being out of fellowship privately to God the Father is our responsibility (1Jn 1:9) and is our first obligation after committing a sin. What is our responsibility toward self? In relation to self, the danger lies in allowing the sin that God has already forgiven to kindle a mental attitude reaction. Like a chain smoker who lights his next cigarette on the butt of the last one, the chain sinner ignites a mental attitude sin on a sin that rebound has taken away. For example, when a believer guilty of hatred confesses his sin to God. He forgives him and forgets the sin. If the believer then fails to forget the sin God Himself has forgotten, the old hatred can lead to further sins of bitterness and revenge. Likewise, fornication is a sin that, even though totally forgiven by God, may cause the devastating sin of guilt. Or, in erroneous zeal to make up for a sin for which Christ was already judged on the Cross, a believer may enter into self-righteous crusader arrogance, which once again ejects him out of the Spiritual life, and fellowship with God. An essential part of rebound, therefore, is the isolation of sin. We never allow one sin to become the cause of another and another; in a subjective chain reaction. After perfect God has forgiven us, a guilt complex or self-pity or a “root of bitterness springing up” must be classified as a devastating mental attitude sin, a prime cause of self-induced misery. (Heb 12:15) By understanding and applying the powerful Doctrines that underlie the simplicity of the rebound technique, we are able to prevent the forgiven sin from igniting another sin.
We are responsible to rebound and move on in our Christian lives, rather than be enslaved to past sins by bitterness or a guilt complex. Any suffering that our sinning brings about is converted by rebound, from cursing to blessing. Although we may be the cause of our own pain, our situation has now become an opportunity to utilize Divine assets, to see God’s provisions in action, and to grow in grace. Since we are responsible for all of our decisions, what is our obligation to people who have been hurt by our sinning? What is our responsibility to those harmed by our bad judgment? Although our sins are forgiven and we are restored to fellowship with God, we have avoided chain sinning and have proceeded to apply Truth in our own lives, our sins may continue to have injurious effects on other people. Rebound and the isolation of sin are marvelous problem-solving devices supplied by the grace of God, but they give us no excuse for irresponsibility toward others. Rebound is a license for Spiritual growth, never a license for sin. Nor does God’s grace in rebound ever justify a believer’s flip attitude toward the freedom, privacy, property and or feelings of others. Here we sail into dangerous waters where we must “...rightly divide Word of Truth.” (2Ti 2:15) To be right with man does not mean that we a right with God. Unbelievers can have relationships with other people, proving that human relationships are not at the heart of the Christian way of life. What the unbeliever can do is not the Christian life! In the protocol plan of God, relationship with God comes first and has a positive impact on relationships with people. A right relationship with God leads to a right relationship with man. The believer’s most important function after committing a sin is to restore his fellowship with God, where he is filled with the Spirit and thereby perpetuates his Spiritual growth. Much less important, but still part of the believer’s volitional responsibili­ty, is the fulfillment of his obligations in relation to other people. Every situa­tion is different; each believer must apply Truth for himself. There is no pat solution by which the Christian resolves his human relationships, but certain Biblical Principles must guide his Spiritual Thinking and application. Responsibility to people we have harmed lies between two extremes that we must avoid. We must not be insensitive, nor should we allow ourselves to be enslaved by anyone’s implacability. In other words, we are not to ignore the just cause of anyone who suffers because of our decisions, but neither should we be motivated by fear or a guilt complex. Between these two extremes lies our responsibility. If the suffering we cause can be alleviated, we should go to the extent that justice, sensitivity, and common sense dictate in easing the situation. Often the problem is complex. Usually both parties in any dispute are guilty to some degree. Some “solutions” would only aggravate the problem. We should be thoughtful and generous and should walk the extra mile, (Mat 5:41; Rom 12:18) but when nothing more can be done, we must leave the situation in the Lord’s hands for the solution as we press on in our Christian lives.(2Sa 12:13; Psa 51:4) No matter whose volition originally causes the suffering, each person is ultimate­ly responsible for applying Truth in his own life! Above all else, the believer must live his life as unto the Lord, not as unto people! This is not to be construed as ignoring the human dimension of the problem, but application of the Law of volitional responsibility does not mort­gage the believer’s future to pay for his past failures! Instead, the protocol plan of God demands the Virtues of humility, Personal love for God and Im­personal love toward other people. (Mat 22:37-40) Bad decisions make suffering inevitable, and when a believer commits a sin, he must take responsibility for its conse­quences toward God, self and others. 


     In the devil’s world a certain amount of suffering is unavoidable, but self­-induced misery can always be avoided. The key is found in the application of Truth resident in the soul. All Truth is ultimately based on the absolute Person of God, and all human integrity is loyalty to some category of Truth. Truth exists in three categories:

1. LAWS OF DIVINE ESTABLISHMENT for believers and unbelievers alike,

2. THE GOSPEL OF SALVATION for unbelievers,

3. THE WORD OF TRUTH for believers only.

     When inculcated with Truth, the human soul can triumph over ad­versity. This point is dramatically illustrated by the establishment-oriented un­believer. Although he has limited resources of Truth, he displays admirable stability and courage under stress. If the unbeliever can handle suffering with the restricted power of establishment Truth, then far greater are the believer’s dynamics as he utilizes Truth and the Divine omnipotence available in the Spiritual life to meet the challenges of life.

     The effectiveness of Divine establishment as a limited source of strength dramatically reveals the superior power of Divine Thinking. American prisoners of war in North Vietnam provide a notable example of unbelievers and believers whose inner strength was derived from establishment Principles. These men were sustained by a code of establishment Concepts through years of bestial, crippling torture. Rear Admiral James B. Stockdale, (Ret.), the senior Ameri­can prisoner of war, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his “valiant leader­ship and extraordinary courage” as the leader of prisoner resistance. He con­firms that even under extreme suffering, the law of volitional responsibility remains operational, and he describes the prisoners’ ability to avoid self-destructive mental attitude sins.
   There are a lot of things a torturer can’t do with torture. Aristotle said that compulsion and free will can coexist, and he was right. . . . A man about to undergo torture must have burned into his mind the fact that he can be hemmed in only within a very narrow window and that he need not volunteer information. . . . To keep your integrity, your dignity, your soul, you have to re­tain responsibility for your actions, to deal with guilt. (“Yes, I lost the bubble, I might have done better, but I didn’t.”) You need to look squarely at what you did and measure its limited gravity in the light of the overall Truth of the total situation, then use the guilt, such as it is, as a cleansing fire to purge the fault, as a goad for future resolve, and above all do not be consumed by it. But you have to do all this yourself. To say that guilt doesn’t exist or that it was the work of “evil spirits” or “brainwashers” is self-delusion. . . . What is indispensable to avoiding the web of fear and guilt is the ability to stand isolated, without friends and sur­rounded by enemies, and quite uncharitably say “no,” without the crutch of anger, without embarrassment, with finality and with commitment to the consequences. . . .  Young Americans in Hanoi learned fast. They made no deals. They learned that “meeting them half way” was the road to de­gradation. My hypothetical young prison mate soon learned that impulses, working against the grain, are very important in political prisons, that one learns to enjoy fighting city hall, to enjoy giving the enemy upside-down logic problems, that one soon finds him­self taking his lumps with pride and not merely liking but loving that tapping guy next door, the man he never sees, the man he bares his soul to after each torture session, until he realizes he is thereby expiating all residual guilt. Then he realizes he can’t be hurt and can’t be had as long as he tells the Truth and clings to that forgiving band of brothers who are becoming his country, his family. American prisoners of war applied establishment Truths concerning person­al freedom and responsibility as well as humility, honesty, and mutual respect. They avoided torturing themselves with mental attitude sins. Moreover, free from self-induced misery, they learned to actually enjoy the challenges of their unspeakable situation. Their success did not stem from mere stubborn­ness, which can be a counterfeit of integrity. Anger, fear, guilt, vengeance, implacability, or insecurity may motivate unyielding tenacity. This pseudo-strength may appear admirable and may even achieve a degree of success, but the inner result of such false motivation is only wear and tear on the soul. In particular, fear is a tremendous drain of mental and physical energy. God is the source of establishment Truth, but the protocol plan of God both includes and exceeds Divine establishment. If the application of establishment Truth creates genuine strength of soul, the application of Spirit & Truth has far greater dynamics. (Joh 4:24) The whole is greater than the part. The advancing believer understands that “the overall Truth of the total situation” includes the magnifi­cent grace of God, His Divine omnipotence, and the problem-solving devices of His protocol plan. Freewill (Volition) causes suffering under the law of volitional responsibility, but the existence of freewill also strips away every excuse for self-induced misery. The believer’s own negative volition is his only hindrance to advance­ment in the protocol plan of God. There is no excuse for failing to perceive, metabolize, and apply Truth in the power of the Spiritual life. Far surpassing establishment Truth, fabulous equal privileges and equal oppor­tunities are granted by God to every believer for the fulfillment of His plan, purpose and design. 


     The believer is responsible for most of his own suffering, but what is the solution? He must reverse the trend. Rather than make bad decisions, the be­liever must begin to make good decisions, which also have logical repercus­sions — good results. The believer who obeys the Commands of God, frees the omnipotence of God to advance and bless him. This means that he must learn Truth filled with God the Holy Spirit. Only the believer who understands and properly uses the problem-solving devices available to him in the palace of the Spiritual life fulfills his destiny in the plan of God.

     Divine protocol is precise. “God is not a God of confusion” or disorganiza­tion. (1Co 14:33) The believer is free to express his individual volition within the Boundaries (Thoughts) established by the plan of God. God’s plan must be ac­curately understood and applied. The believer who distorts God’s plan by overemphasizing isolated elements rather than living by the entire system of protocol is not solving his problems; he is compounding them. The rebound prayer, for example, is the means of reentering the Spiritual life and restoring the ministry of God the Holy Spirit in the be­liever’s life. (Joh 4:24) But even a precisely accurate rebound prayer generally does not cause pain to instantly, magically cease. In reaction to pain, prayer is often taken out of its protocol context and falsely applied to suffering. Prayer is a weapon for the strong, not a crutch for the weak. Prayer has many wonderful applications within the rules God has laid down, but no amount of prayer will reverse the natural results of bad decisions. When a believer prays for himself or asks others to pray for him because he is hurting from bad decisions, he may be hoping prayer will achieve what it was never designed to accomplish. If he merely wishes his suffering to end, he wants God to suspend the Law of volitional responsibility, change His entire plan for the human race, and somehow miraculously make the pain go away. The source of the suffering is the wrong decisions the believer himself has made regarding business, or personal relationships, or when facing temptation or sin. There are Divine solutions to suffering, which we are study­ing, but imploring God for relief is not one of them. (2Co 12:8-9) In fact, the removal of suffering might deny the believer a special blessing available to him only through the suffering. The protocol plan of God establishes the correct procedure to Think and use; the believer must learn and obey the system God has established. The ignorance and confusion of believers who have never learned the protocol of the Christian life can only intensify their suffering. 


     WE HAVE SEEN THAT MOST CHRISTIAN SUFFERING arises from the believer’s own thoughts, decisions, and actions. One bad decision follows another until his life is unbearable. He makes a shamble of his present experience and destroys his future options. No one can devastate a person’s life, as he can himself. At some point in this self-destructive process, God intervenes with Divine discipline. God will not stand by while members of the royal family sink into degeneracy; He takes stern measures to alert them to their dire situation and to encourage them to rebound and reenter the palace. In His perfect wisdom God knows when and how to warn each believer. Our heavenly Father knows the most effective way to confront us with the fact that we are totally dependent on His grace. (1Co 11:30-31) All Divine discipline is administered in grace. The Christian under discipline may doubt that God is treating him in grace, but he could not imagine how much more he would hurt if God were not acting in grace. God severely punishes believers but not because He likes to see us squirm. He is perfect. He is just. We are His children, the royal family of God, and He punishes us for our benefit. By definition, Divine discipline is the sum total of punitive action taken by the justice of God in grace to correct, to punish, to encourage, to train, to motivate the believer’s free will toward the protocol plan of God. Divine discipline is for believers only (Heb 12:8) and occurs only in this life, not in heaven. (Rev 21:4)
     Divine discipline is a warning that the believer is outside the boundaries of God’s plan. Just as a football game is played inside the boundaries of the playing field, so the plan of God must be executed within the bounds of Divine protocol. (2Jn 1:9) Just as the referee blows a whistle when the ball carrier steps out of bounds, so God blows a whistle on us and administers Divine discipline when we live out of fellowship. (Rev 3:20)

     When a believer cuts off his fellowship with God through sin and remains in the cosmic system, God in His grace must deal with him as a child. Truth has been ignored; God must get the believer’s attention through pain.

     And so you yourselves have forgotten a Principle of Doctrine which teaches you as sons: My son, [God addresses believers as His child­ren] do not make light of corrective discipline from the Lord nor be fainting when you are reprimanded by Him. (Heb 12:5)

     Hebrews 12:5 encourages us by explaining that Divine discipline is tailored to each believer. God treats us as individuals. Discipline is neither too lenient (“Do not make light”) nor too severe (“Nor be fainting”) but is administered for maximum effectiveness in every believer’s life.

     For whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He punishes every son whom He welcomes home. (Heb 12:6)

     Divine discipline from the Lord is part of parental training in the royal family of God. The premise in comparing Divine discipline with child rearing in the home, that is; except for the humanity of Jesus Christ, there is no such thing as a perfect child. Some children are unquestionably better behaved and more responsive to instruction than others, but every child needs training so that eventually he will be able to function in adult society. Parents try to instill authority orientation in their children. Anyone who leaves home with­out authority orientation makes himself a monster who will manufacture misery for himself and others under the law of volitional responsibility. On the Spiritual side of the analogy, there is no such thing as sinless perfection in this life, again with the exception of Christ’s impeccable humanity. As long as any believer lives in his mortal body, in which the old sin nature resides, he will continue to sin. (1Ki 8:46; Psa 143:2; Ecc 7:20) As he matures Spiritually, he will sin less frequently and perhaps will commit different categories of sin, but periodically he will succumb to temptation and enter the cosmic system. (Rom 7:18-25) If the believer remains in the cosmic system, his thinking loses touch with the Reality of God’s protocol plan. Under prolonged cosmic influence, his arrogance becomes antagonism toward God; he multiplies his own unhap­piness and incurs Divine discipline. Like parental training, Divine discipline is designed to inculcate humility, which is orientation to God's Reality and authority. Only the humble believer is teachable; (Psa 25:8-9) he desires to understand how he fits in the overall scheme of God’s grace. Only with humility can anyone be objective and responsive to the authority of God's Thoughts. Although self-evaluation when accompanied by arrogance rapidly slips into subjectivity; (False reality) we have the responsibility to analyze our lives objectively in the light of the Word of God. We should be first to recognize our own weak­nesses. If we do not, Divine discipline enforces humility on us, teaching us to see ourselves as we really are in relation to God and His marvelous plan. The very fact that we receive discipline from God tells us we are divorced from Reality and that God is bringing us back to grace-oriented objectivity. From that solid footing we can rebound and resume our Spiritual growth.


     And you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM; FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES. It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children (Unbelievers) and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. (2Pe 1:4) All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. (Spiritual Maturity) Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, (Rebound) and make straight paths for your feet, (Stay in Fellowship) so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, (Sin unto death) but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification (Spiritual Maturity) without which no one will see the Lord. (Isa 54:12-13; Mat 5:8; 1Jn 3:3) (Heb 12:5-14)


     God is never arbitrary in administering discipline: His punishment is always appropriate to the individual in question. From His perfect Divine jus­tice, all discipline not only fits the violation but also matches the believer’s receptivity. Hence, there are three categories of Divine discipline:

     When the believer does not use rebound, these three categories of discipline are progressive. Mild discipline gives way to more and more severe discipline if the believer fails to respond. The believer who refuses to live in fellowship receives warning discipline, added to the misery he has already created for himself under the law of volitional responsibility. He has isolated himself from fellowship with God; he has shut Christ out of his thoughts.
     Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. (Rev 3:20)

     That knock at the door is warning discipline. As a general rule, warning discipline is in itself less severe than the believer’s self-induced misery. However, the combination of warning discipline and self-induced misery adds up to a significant shock. Because he has not yet declined into the later stages of negative volition, this believer is still sensitive to the Truth. He can still profit from this degree of discipline so that God does not have to proceed to the next stage of punitive suffering. He can still hear the knocking on the door. God can catch his attention with relatively mild suffering. If the believer ignores or rejects Divine warnings, he eventually requires intensive discipline. By habitual abstinence he has dulled his sensitivity to Truth; warning discipline is no longer sufficient. God still has a marvelous plan for blessing this cosmic believer, but God’s plan can be executed only in the power of the Spiritual life. God continues to support him with logistical grace, keeping him alive so that he might return to his palace. Where there is life there is hope, and God fans the feeble flame of hope by continuing to discipline the believer (Isa 42:3) even after he has insulted and blas­phemed God by choosing to remain in Satan’s cosmic system. Stiffer Divine discipline is required to jolt the habitually rebellious believer into objectivity. Intensive discipline alone is worse than self-induced misery: When these two categories of suffering are combined, the total pain from God and from self is extremely severe. This adds up to unbearable suffering for the believer who persists in the cosmic system. God is exceedingly patient with His children. He extends to the believer every possible opportunity to fulfill His protocol plan. But with each rejection of God’s gracious appeal to return, the Christian ren­ders himself less capable of making a positive decision. “Hardness of heart,” or scar tissue of the soul eventually locks his volition in negative. (Heb 4:7; Heb 6:6) Unless he rebounds, he will arrive at the third and final stage of Divine discipline, the sin unto death. (1Jn 5:16) Dying discipline, or the sin unto death, is a horrible departure from time into eternity. The Christian involved has no inner resources for meeting death. In ignorance of Truth, death becomes a terrifying plunge into the unknown. (Jer 17:13) God’s work of Salvation can never be canceled; even the most hardened, self-righteous Christian is immediately “absent from the body and. . . At home face to face with the Lord” when removed from life on earth, (2Co 5:8) until the judgment seat. (2Co 5:10)
     And the Lord said, Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time? (1Pe 5:2-4) Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. (Rev 3:21) But if that slave says in his heart, My master will be a long time in coming, and begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk; (Php 3:18-19) the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers. (Mat 8:10-12; Luk 13:28-30; Luk 14:16-27 ; 2Pe 2:13-22; Jude 1:11-13) And that slave who knew his master's will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. (1Co 3:11-15; Mar 9:49-50) From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more. (Php 3:10) (Luk 12:42-48)
     Such recalcitrant believers who enter heaven, and not outer darkness will enjoy complete happiness in heaven, (Rev 21:4) but they receive no eternal rewards with which to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ forever. (1Co 3:15) These cosmic believers are losers in life; their tailor-­made blessings for time and eternity are never delivered to them, but remain permanently on deposit in heaven as a memorial to lost opportunity and to God’s magnificent, irrevocable grace. (Eph 1:3; 1Pe 1:4) Believers who complete their Spiritual life (Mat 25:23) will have entrance into the New Jerusalem (Isa 54:12-13; Rev 3:12; Rev 22:14)  
      Not every Christian who fails to rebound and continues in locked-in negative volition is removed immediately from this life. God may keep a believer alive for a long time in the intensive stage of Divine discipline. With great finesse God may employ these eternally saved “enemies of the Cross” (Php 3:18) as agents of momentum testing in the lives of growing believers. Specifically, Christians suffering intensive Divine discipline may administer the people test, the thought test, the system test, or the disaster test to Spiritu­ally adult believers. (Lam 3:53) Representing many different personalities, attitudes, and styles of living and taking many different human approaches to life, cosmic Christians who periodically receive intensive discipline serve Satan as cosmic evangelists. (Job 2:9; 1Co 3:3) Satan uses these negative believers to distract positive believers from the protocol plan of God. Cosmic Christians draw other believers into the pseudo-strength and superficial attractions of the cosmic system. (Gal 5:7-10; Rev 2:2) Besides “enemies of the Cross of Christ” (Php 3:18) other Biblical terms for cosmic believers include “anti-Christs” (1Jn 2:18-19; 2Jn 1:7-9)“agents of the devil” (1Jn 3:8) “children of the devil” (1Jn 3:10) “haters of God” (1Jn 4:20) “hostile toward God” (Rom 8:7) “men of the flesh” (1Co 3:1-3)“enemies of God” (Jas 4:4) “double-minded.” (Jas 4:8) All these phrases refer to believers, not to unbelievers! Cosmic believers are like aggressors in army field exercises. Often troops who have only a few weeks remaining in the service will be issued weapons and blank ammunition in order to play the role of the enemy against soldiers who are being trained. The aggressors and the men in training are members of the same army, but the only troops benefiting from the simulated combat are those being tested, not the aggressors. Likewise, the only reason God sustains the lives of some negative believers is to use them to train others. These “enemies of God” (Jas 4:4) are still members of the royal family. But the only role they can play in the glorification of Christ is to be a test for positive believers. Because of their own failures to execute the protocol plan of God, they become merely a means of building strength in someone else. Obviously, this is not a Christian’s highest calling. These cosmic Christians on the verge of maximum discipline may be sin­cere, sweet, and highly legalistic individuals who have distorted Christianity into a religion of old sin nature good works. They may be moral degenerates (Col 2:20-23) rather than immoral degenerates. (Rom 1:29-32) The growing believer who can see through their facade, (Mat 23:28) discerning the evil of self-righteousness, yet avoiding condemning them himself, (Luk 6:37) accelerates his growth in the Spiritual life! God’s genius is wonderfully displayed as He permits a negative Christian in Satan’s system to ambush a positive Christian. God uses Satan and the believer who is going in the wrong direction as a stimulus to contribute to the Spiritual maturity of the believer advancing in the right direction. (Psa 76:10; 2Co 12:7

     Divine discipline may help others besides the one being punished, but primarily discipline is a teacher, a private tutor of the one in pain. Through suffering, God confronts the believer with his ignorance of Truth. Believers who fail to learn Truth will suffer all their lives until they are removed by the sin unto death. (1Jn 5:16) They may be negative at different points in the learning process, which involves rebound, reception, retention, recall of Truth, the resisting of sin and our own will. (Jas 1:13-15) Those who refuse to listen to Bible teaching (No reception) will live out their days in ignorance and arrogance, self-induced misery and Divine discipline. They will be unhappy and will never understand why.
     Other believers who do listen to Truth, even those who listen consis­tently, may reject true information they do not like to hear. (Reception, but not believing and Thinking with Truth) The points of Doctrine they resist must be learned another way, the hard way, through Divine discipline. Divine discipline is suffering, but not for its own sake; Divine discipline is teaching. Where the believer has reception and retention but no recall of Truth for application, Divine discipline solves the problem by forcing the believer to concentrate on Truth in a humanly hopeless situation. God must teach and all of us must learn a certain number of lessons through suffering. We have a choice: Learn the easy way through Bible Teaching, or learn the hard way through suffering. These are the two systems of learning in the Church Age. Instruction from one’s pastor is God’s unlimited means of Communication. (Hos 8:12) In contrast, discipline from God is a limited means of Communication. The pastor who teaches the Word of God in fellowship, line by line, verse by verse can cover the whole realm of Divine Truth, resulting in Spiritual momen­tum and maturity in his listeners. Discipline, however, can only motivate the believer to return to the plan of God and resume learning Truth under his pastor. Divine discipline has a limited objective, to alert the believer that he is out of bounds and to motivate his recovery through rebound. Concentrating in Bible class may be difficult from time to time, but it is not nearly as painful nor as limited as receiving discipline directly from God. Discipline reminds us that we never get away with anything. (2Sa 12:7-14 ) God never overlooks any member of His royal family. No believer is ever ignored by the grace of God. Sooner or later God will provide sufficient punishment to re­mind the believer of what is really important in life. (At God's perfect timing)
     God takes punitive action in order to teach and train us. Divine discipline motivates us to learn, so that the renewing of our minds with Truth becomes a way of life. (Rom 12:2) We may learn the hard way from time to time, but we learn nonetheless!
     Those whom I love, [Believers] I reprove [I tell them: They are wrong] and discipline; therefore be zealous [Positive] and repent. [Rebound] Behold, I stand at the door and knock; [Intensive discipline] if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, [Rebounds] I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. (1Jn 1:3) He who overcomes, (1Jn 2:16) I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame (Luk 4:3-13) and sat down with My Father on His throne. (Rev 3:19-21)
     The Church Age believer always belongs to Christ’s royal priesthood, even when he lives in the cosmic system. He always has the right to approach the throne of grace with rebound and be restored to his palace. (Heb 4:16) Discipline alerts the cosmic believer to the fact that something is wrong with his life. The Lord graciously keeps knocking, giving the believer continuing opportunities to rebound. Failure to respond after hearing God’s warnings results in more discipline until death. (Rom 2:8-9)
     Arrogance in any of its myriad (Innumerable) forms is a “life of deceit.” The arrogant believer denies the results of his own bad decisions and ignores the warning discipline that God adds to his self-induced misery. If he is a moral degenerate, he practices sin and evil behind a facade of respectability; (2Ti 3:5) preoccupied with his own righteousness and zealous to convert others to his brand of sin nature good he refuses to believe that he causes most of his own trouble or that God is trying to get his attention through suffering. If he is an immoral degenerate, his sins will be more blatant. He may blame circumstances or environment for his behavior. He may claim to be no worse than others by deceitfully comparing his few, strengths against their weaknesses. He may look upon his sins as isolated exceptions rather than as the consistent trend of his life. Both moral and immoral degeneracy attempt to justify self, but both are equally abhorrent to God. The only way God can break through the “life of deceit” is with pain that strikes the degenerate believer in his particular area of sensitivity. God “makes war against the arrogant.” (Pro 3:34; Jas 4:6; 1Pe 5:5) Attacking arrogance where the discipline will hurt most and be most effective. The believer who remains adamant in his arrogance loses all sensitivity to God’s appeals and eventually incurs maximum discipline which removes him from this life.
     Addressed to the local church in Laodicea, (Rev 3:16) uses the notori­ous Laodicean water supply to illustrate the sickness of cosmic involvement. While neighboring Hierapolis was renowned for its hot springs and nearby Colossae enjoyed cold springs, Laodicea had neither. Its piped water was lukewarm by the time it arrived and had an offensive mineral smell. The Laodicean believers perfectly understood the startling, anthropomorphic (Showing God as having human abilities) an image of God vomiting. Lukewarm water illustrates the cosmic believer’s lack of the maximum intake of Truth. As a result of the law of volitional responsibility, life begins to turn sour, growing noxious under progressive stages of Divine discipline. If bad deci­sions are not remedied by good decisions — to rebound and execute the pro­tocol plan of God — the believer will sink into the cosmic system until God unceremoniously expels him from this life. 
     He [A negative believer] dug a grave [Bad decisions resulting in cosmic involvement] and explored it, [Perpetuating his misery] therefore he has fallen into a ditch which he himself has con­structed. [Self-induced misery] His frustration shall return on his own head; his violent oppression of others shall descend on the crown of his head. (Psa 7:15-16
     All three stages of Divine discipline are illustrated in Paul’s description of certain Corinthian believers who came to the communion service drunk.
      For this reason [Believers partaking of the Eucharist while out of fellowship] many are weak [Warning discipline] and sick [Intensive discipline] and a number of believers sleep, [Dying discipline] but if we would judge ourselves [Rebound] we should not be judged. (1Co 11:30-31)

     When the believer rebounds, his discipline may cease, diminish, or continue at the same intensity. Whatever suffering remains after rebound is designed for blessing rather than for cursing. Restored to his palace, the believer is now in a position to apply the Divine Thoughts he has attained and to benefit from using God’s resources under pressure! 
     Behold, happy is the man whom God reproves. [Tells you: You’re wrong] Therefore, do not despise the discipline of El-Shaddai, [The “many-breasted God,” a Divine title emphasizing God’s logistical grace] for He inflicts pain [Warning discipline] and He bandages the wound. He wounds [Intensive discipline] and His hands heal. (Job 5:17-18
     In contrast with most Christian suffering, which is self-inflicted, the purpose of discipline is healing. God is like a physician who must cause pain to set a fracture or to perform life-saving surgery. We hurt ourselves when we ignore the Law of volitional responsibility and continue to live in the dungeon of the cosmic system; God must hurt us more to bring us back to health and strength. He gives only what contributes most to our blessing and happiness: In discipline God gives us exactly what our cosmic status requires. 

     The God of logistical grace disciplines His children, but never does He abandon us. Even in the pressure of intensive discipline, the “many-breasted God” faithfully supplies all the logistical grace we need to sustain our lives; discipline never implies that God forsakes us. (Heb 13:5) Divine discipline never means loss of Salvation. (Joh 3:18) Salvation cannot be canceled by anything he thinks, says, or does. Salvation is the irreversible work of God. But there is inequality in eternity for believers. (Mat 22:13; Mar 4:20; Luk 12:46-48)
     It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, (Joh 12:24-25) we will also live with Him; (Rom 8:11-14) If we endure,(Gal 6:7-9) we will also reign with Him; (Rev 3:21) If we deny Him, (Mar 8:38) He also will deny us; (Psa 73:27; Jer 17:13) If we are faithless, He remains faithful, (Rom 3:3-4) for He cannot deny Himself. (2Ti 2:11-13
     When God provided Salvation, He knew in His omniscience that believers would be easily distracted. He is not shocked when a Christian ignores his own royal birthright. We may be appalled by the unfaithfulness of members of the royal family, but the sins that shock us have already been judged on the Cross. God is not forced to change His plan because man periodically demonstrates the foolishness which God always knew he would exhibit. God’s plan is greater than human sin and failure. His grace is immutable. He is not thrown off balance by every shadow of turning in a believer’s life. (Jas 1:17)

Triple Compound Divine Discipline 
     Two specific categories of Divine discipline will serve to illustrate how God administers punishment. First, His treatment of individuals is dem­onstrated in triple compound Divine discipline; second, His punishment of families, groups, and nations is illustrated by the fourth-generation curse. These two examples will show how Divine discipline not only punishes the guilty but also protects mankind from self-destruction. If negative volition were unrestrained, the human race could not survive. The freedom which the believer exercises under the law of volitional responsibility is guarded by the authority of Divine preventive discipline. Verbal sins such as gossip, judging, and maligning warrant harsh Divine discipline because they destroy the privacy of their victims. Privacy is an essential component of freedom. Living his own life before the Lord would become difficult for a believer if he were vilified and his personal business were constantly criticized. Sins of the tongue violate the sanctity of human freedom; if a believer actually were living in the cosmic system, malign­ing him would only interfere with his recovery.(Rom 14:10-14) God has protected individual privacy through the laws of Divine establish­ment and has doubled the guarantee to each Church Age believer by adding the privacy of the priesthood. At Salvation, God appoints each Christian to the royal priesthood of Christ. (Heb 5:6; 1Pe 2:5; 1Pe 2:9; Rev 1:6) Every member of the royal family is his own priest, representing himself before God; each royal priest is answerable to God alone for his Spiritual life. Because God has so thoroughly guarded the believer’s privacy, He obviously will not permit the unrestrained practice of sins that directly attack privacy. In fact, He administers triple compound Divine discipline to believers habitually guilty of sins of the tongue. Triple compound Divine discipline deals first with the believer’s decision to commit mental attitude sins.  Second there is always a motive behind verbal sins, and that motivation may be arrogance, jealousy, bitterness, hatred, vin­dictiveness, implacability, self-pity and or a guilt complex, any of which is liable for Divine discipline. Mental attitude sins motivate the believer to exalt self and put down someone else. In other words, after deciding to indulge in mental attitude sins, the believer makes the additional bad decision to convert his mental sins into verbal sins, which incur a second liability to Divine discipline. One of the most foolish actions a believer can take is to become involved in verbal sinning.
      Do not judge so that you will not be judged. [Divine discipline] (Mat 7:1)
      Judging is a general term for verbal sins directed against another person. In judging, someone states or implies something derogatory about someone else. Whether or not the accusation is true is of no consequence. Even if the information was accurate, and accuracy is difficult to establish, there is no excuse for repeating gossip. And or to merely hint at someone’s sins. Judging violates the Principle of grace. God has granted each believer-priest the right to conduct his own life before the Lord. In particular, all believers, in every stage of Spiritual growth, have an equal right to hear and read the teaching of Truth. Therefore, according to the Principle of grace, and in light of God’s desire for each believer’s Spiritual advance, gossip incurs a triple liability, which we will classify as triple compound Divine discipline. The slanderer is liable for:

1. MENTAL ATTITUDE SINS that motivate him, 
2. VERBAL SIN itself, and 
3. SINS HE MENTIONS in the slander.

     Different Christians will enjoy different activities and will represent a wide variety of tastes in dress and behavior. Each believer-priest’s responsibility is to grow in ONE MIND and live his own life as unto the Lord. (1Co 1:10)
     ...For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (Spiritual Thinking) (1Sa 16:7
     Obviously exceptions to the Principle of privacy exist. Parents have the right and responsibility to regulate the lives of their minor children who live at home. Because a pastor is responsible to protect members of his con­gregation from invasions of privacy, he must be alert to discourage gossip, etc. and tell the Truth to them, in all subjects, not his opinion, but what the Word Commands. (Jer 23:22; Gal 4:16) Likewise, a supervisor who evaluates his subordinates is not committing a sin when, as part of his professional responsibilities, he truthfully reports an employee’s weaknesses and failings. If that supervisor, however, spreads his reports to people who have no professional need to know, he too is guilty of judging.
     Anyone who engages in judging is actually guilty of two sins: the verbal sin itself and the mental sin that motivated him to gossip or malign his victim. Each of these sins calls for Divine discipline; suffering is already com­pounded. But that is not the end of discipline for sins of the tongue. Yet another administration of punishment is added, based on the sins that are mentioned in gossip.
     For in the way you judge, you will be judged, and by what measure you measure to others, it will be measured back to you. (Mat 7:2
     The maligner is liable for the discipline that would have gone to the one he maligns. If the victim is actually guilty of sins, God has already been dealing with him, either through the law of volitional responsibility or through Divine discipline. But as soon as his sins are made a subject of gossip, all the dis­cipline is transferred over to the one who has maligned him. If the victim of gossip is not guilty of sin, he is blessed while his antagonist receives discipline appropriate to the sins he mentioned in gossip. This adds up to triple liability and triple compound discipline. The maligner is punished for mental attitude sins, for verbal sins, and for the sins he mentions in judging his victim. Triple compound Divine discipline is ex­tremely harsh. It is a kind of poetic justice that gives believers a marvelous incentive to avoid the sin of gossip. The ability to control one’s tongue always accompanies Spiritual growth.
     If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect [Spiritually Mature] man, able to bridle the whole body as well. (Jas 3:2)

Discipline in Historical Perspective     
     Up to this point we have concentrated on suffering caused by individual believers. A staggering amount of human misery, however, seems to originate beyond any believer’s personal responsibility, afflicting thousands of people throughout wide geographical areas. How do mass historical disasters such as wars, famines, epidemics, and economic depressions fit into the Doctrine of suffering? The answer to this critical question will provide the frame of reference for understanding the fourth-generation curse, which will be our second example of how God administers discipline. Widespread historical suffering always involves three sources: God, Satan and man. Satan rules the world. (Joh 12:31; Joh 14:30; Joh 16:11; Rev 12:9) Even in his fallen state, Satan is still the most powerful creature (Apart from the resurrected humanity of Christ) ever to come from the hand of God. The devil is an extraordinary genius of unparalleled executive ability. The cosmic system is his strategy and policy for ruling his kingdom. Satan’s ambition is to prove himself equal with God, (Isa 14:14) but no creature stands independent of the Creator! Satan will never be God’s equal in any sense of the term. Arrogance always causes a person to overestimate his abilities indeed, Satan’s lust for success and power has produced only misery. Much of the world’s suffering is caused by the devil’s “inability to execute all that he has designed.” Satan’s arrogance, his cosmic system, his frustration, violence and ultimate incom­petence create an environment of misery on earth. Suffering is a fact of life in the devil’s world, and man makes himself the willing victim of Satan through freewill decisions that place him in the cosmic system. If Satan cannot succeed independently of God, obviously man cannot! In fact, when man lives outside the plan of God, he is far from independent; instead, he becomes a slave in the devil’s self-destructive cosmic system. Angelic and human rejection of God’s plan causes only self-induced misery and would destroy the human race if Jesus Christ did not retain control over human history. But Jesus Christ does control human history despite Satan’s reign over the world. (Psa 2:1-12; Joh 5:22; Rev 1:5, Rev 1:18) Our Lord exercises control through direct and indirect action. He directly intervenes by providentially controlling the variables of history that lie beyond the scope of human volition, variables like climate, weather, and natural disasters. He indirectly controls world affairs through the agency of human volition, when man freely complies with Truth and utilizes available Divine omnipotence. With perfect justice Jesus Christ administers either blessing or cursing. He blesses believers and unbelievers who adhere to the laws of Divine establish­ment. He delivers far greater blessings to believers who execute the protocol plan of God and achieve Spiritual maturity! Blessings to the mature believer overflow to the friends, relatives and associates who live and work in his periphery. These people are blessed either directly by God or indirectly through the Spiritually mature believer. The mature believer, therefore, has tremendous invisible impact because individuals and organizations receive blessing by their association with him. God is glorified by blessing mature believers. (Joh 15:8; Joh 17:4) Consistent with God’s eter­nal purpose, Jesus Christ lovingly watches over mature believers, (Psa 1:6; Psa 33:18-22; Psa 34:15-19; Psa 66:7) directing the course of history for their advantage. (Rom 8:28) They may not know one another, but God knows each of them. They are the hub, the pivot on which turns the prosperity of the organizations to which they belong families, social and service groups, professional associations, corporations, churches, geographical areas, towns, cities and nations. Our Lord blesses the human race through the royal family, specifi­cally through Spiritually mature members of the royal family. On the other hand, Jesus Christ disciplines believers and judges unbelievers who reject Truth and violate His plan. (1Sa 16:14; 1Ti 1:20) Just as there is a Principle of blessing by association, there is also cursing by association. Self-induced misery by itself makes the cosmic Christian a pariah, obnoxious to everyone he meets. Added to the law of volitional responsibility, Divine discipline to this cosmic believer also affects people in his periphery and organizations to which he belongs. (Jon 1:4-16) Cursing by association expands to become collective Divine discipline against the cosmic believer’s nation. In addition to satanic rebellion and human disobedience, therefore, the third source of suffering on a histori­cal scale is Divine retribution. 


     Although church and state must always remain separate, all categories of Truth —establishment, the Gospel, and Bible Doctrine — are consistent with one another as well as coherent within themselves. Through the laws of Divine establishment, God has divided mankind into nations, (Gen 11:9; Act 17:26) and along these national lines flow certain Spiritual blessings. (Gen 22:18) Among the nations of the earth, client nations are used by Jesus Christ as a conduit of blessing to mankind. A client nation is one whose government protects the freedom, privacy, and property of its citizens and, while maintaining the separation of church and state, does not hinder the presentation of the Gospel and Truth within its borders.     From within the client nation, nongovernmental organiza­tions such as churches or mission boards initiate and support Biblically orthodox missionary work in foreign countries. Evangelism, Bible teaching, and foreign missions indicate the Spiritual vigor of the client nation. Adherence to the laws of Divine establishment also makes the client nation a haven for Jews, a refuge from anti-Semitic persecution in other parts of the world. (Gen 12:3)                            
     The Jews suffer horribly as a prime satanic target in the angelic conflict because God created them as His special instrument for bless­ing mankind (Gen 12:1-3) and because His unconditional Covenants to Israel hinge on the historical survival of the Jews. (Psa 89:28-37) Israel was God’s original and unique client nation; the Jews are His eternal chosen people. (2Sa 7:10-16) If all Jews could be destroyed, reasons Satan, then God could not keep His Word to them. Divine integrity would thus be com­promised, and Satan would win his case in the angelic conflict. However, Christ the Messiah will fulfill all unconditional Covenants to the Jews when He restores Israel to client nation status at His second advent and rules forever as King of the Jews. (Isa 11:11-13; Zec 10:6-12)
     Because Israel is under Divine discipline during the Church Age, (Isa 28:11-13; 1Co 14:21) God cur­rently blesses mankind through a succession of gentile client nations during “the times of the Gentiles.” (Luk 21:24) The Roman Empire under the Antonine Caesars (AD. 96—192) was the first gentile client nation. Since that time, many other client nations have risen and fallen, including the Frankish kingdom of Charlemagne in the eighth century and Great Britain of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The United States of America is a client nation today. (A.D. 2010) In the client nations of the Church Age, blessing by association within the believer’s personal periphery expands to become the royal family’s invisible historical impact. Never before the Church Age, has God granted to each indi­vidual believer the privilege of utilizing Divine omnipotence in the completed Spiritual life, and of having a powerful, invisible impact on history! In Israel a few mature believers used only a fraction of the Divine assets we possess and had a significant influence on national and world history. Certain Principles of historical impact did exist in the Age of Israel. Even in Israel the believers were the “salt of the earth,” the preservative and seasoning of the land, (Mat 5:13) also called the remnant according to the election of grace. (Rom 9:27; Rom 11:5) That Principle still applies: As go the believer, so goes the client nation. (Psa 33:10-22) But now, each member of the royal family is also a “new Spiritual species” (2Co 5:17) with a new system of protocol and power that gives him far greater potential for making an impact on history than had any believer of the Jewish Age. The mature Church Age believer has invisible influence in at least four realms:

1. BLESSING BY ASSOCIATION in his personal periphery, 
2. HISTORICAL IMPACT in his nation, and 
3. INTERNATIONAL IMPACT as he supports missionary activity to non-client nations.   

     Unheralded in the annals of human history, Christians in relatively small numbers anonymously determine the uptrends and downtrends of civilization. Jesus Christ prospers His client nation when its believers advance in the Spiritual life; He disciplines the nation when believers live habitually in the cosmic system. Usually a nation will begin to decline under the weight of its own degeneracy. If enough believers ignore the increasingly severe stages of individual discipline and remain in the cosmic system, the nation’s Spiritual pivot shrinks and the nation itself must receive collective Divine discipline. As an application of this Doctrine, your primary duty to your country is to advance to Spiritual maturity! Divine retribution against the client nation intensifies through five cycles of discipline, which include social disintegration, economic collapse and political chaos. (Lev 26:14-22) The fifth cycle destroys the nation’s sovereignty through the horrors of military conquest, reducing the vanquished populace to poverty, barbarism and slavery. (Deut 28:49-67)
     My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. [Of Spiritual Thinking] Because you [Believers] have rejected knowledge, I [God] also will reject you from being My priest. [Individual and client nation impact] Since you have forgotten the law of your God, [God's Thoughts; Truth] I also will forget your children [Loss of client nation privileges and blessings] (Hos 4:6

     How do the five cycles of national discipline, which devastate wide areas and whole populations, affect individual Christians? Blessing and cursing by association differ in one key respect. Blessing by association frequently benefits people who personally reject Christ and the protocol plan of God. This often explains why “the wicked prosper” (Jer 12:1-2) they receive blessing by association despite their own indifference to God as the source of their prosperity. Cursing by association, however, does not destroy the Spiritual advance of maturing believers who may live or work in the periphery of cosmic believers. The law of culpability states that no one suffers Divine discipline apart from his own negative volition. The positive impact of growing believers offsets the negative influence of cosmic believers. When the pivot is too small to balance the spin-off of negative Christians, however, God must administer Divine discipline. In a magnificent display of perfect timing and omnipotence in the control of history, the disasters that God sends upon cosmic believers are coterminous (At the same time) with suffering for blessing for growing believers. The sweep of collective suffering across the face of contemporary history administers to some believers the various categories of suffering for blessing and to other Chris­tians all three categories of Divine discipline. The same historical event may bring blessing on one hand but warning discipline, intensive discipline, or dying discipline on the other hand. No one is ever lost in the shuffle; God never forsakes any believer. (Psa 139:1-18) God always has you personally in mind. The mature or growing believer is never deprived of blessings by downtrends in history. (Psa 23:4-5; Jer 39:10-18) Since Jesus Christ con­trols history in this Church Age, all the negative forces of international economics and politics cannot obstruct the timely delivery of blessings to even one mature Christian. (Rom 8:38-39) War, economic depression, and religious persecution never hinder Divine omnipotence. (Job 5:19-27) While the world seems to be collapsing around the protocol believer, he enjoys a stimulating life of blessing and total confidence in God. Just as God built a wall of fire around Jerusalem when she stood vulnerable in the midst of her enemies, (Zec 2:5) the Spiritual life protects the growing believer from the destructiveness of mass suffering. The cosmic believer is caught up in the same historical disasters that besiege the advancing believer. This negative believer, however, is a cause of collective Divine discipline and lacks the inner resources of Truth needed to meet the crisis. He has no inner dynamics because he has failed to utilize God’s power system. Instead of suffering for blessing, his pain is Divine discipline, whether warning or intensive. Some believers, shocked into objectivity by historical trauma, recover from the cosmic system. Others persist in their personal degeneration. For them the collective suffering of the nation serves as the instrument of the sin unto death. Christians will be among the victims of nearly any historical catastrophe. Suffering in itself does not conclusively indicate whether God is blessing a believer, or disciplining him, or permitting him to create self-induced misery. Therefore, each Christian must apply Truth for himself and determine his own status before the Lord.

     In contrast to triple compound discipline for gossip, which deals with individuals, the fourth-generation curse is an illustration of Divine discipline related to historical trends. We usually think of collective discipline as puni­tive action in a particular geographical area, but the fourth-generation curse deals with a group of people defined not only as they extend over a geo­graphical area but also as they extend over a period of time. God is never arbitrary. In the administration of perfect Divine justice, God considers every facet of every situation, including the factor of time and the manner in which one person is influenced by others. God first declared the fourth-generation curse in the Ten Commandments.
     You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me. (Exodus 20:4-5
     How can a God of grace, justice and love, visit “the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Him?” (Deut 5:9; Num 14:18) God is never unfair to anyone. A villainous ancestry does not prejudice God against any individual. Instead, as we shall see, the Divine policy of a fourth-generation curse punishes the guilty while protecting the innocent and guaranteeing the freedom of each individual to express his positive or negative volition. God treats every individual as a person, yet He does not fail to deal with destructive collective trends that intensify from one generation to the next. As an essential part of giving mankind free will, God allows human volition enough free rein to be genuinely free. Patterns of sin which are habitually re­peated become ingrained characteristics of a family, group, or nation. Child­ren learn sins and evils from their parents and perpetuate family trends. Rather than instantly disciplining man, God permits negative volition to run its course. Many possible categories and combinations of wickedness, rebellion and sin are allowed to form and harden for three or four generations as expres­sions of human freedom. (Exodus 34:6) But when negative volition runs so ram­pant as to threaten His plan, God “does not leave the guilty unpunished.” (Exodus 34:7) After a period of grace before judgment, extending over these three or four generations, He administers collective discipline to the family, group or nation. To protect the human race from self-destruction, God administers col­lective discipline that grows progressively severe from one generation to the next. In the third or fourth generation, He sends a catastrophe to dissipate or eliminate the trend. This form of discipline allows evil patterns to develop in the course of human history but destroys them before they can jeopardize the plan of God. God permits no trend of present history to hinder the positive volition of subsequent generations. Under this system of collective discipline, each generation is disciplined for the same sins because those sins are committed by each generation. The sons commit the sins of the father. “Those who hate God” (Exodus 20:5; Deut 5:9) are disciplined because they themselves reside perpetually in the cosmic system and establish patterns of evil in their lives. But no one suffers under the fourth-generation curse except by his own volition. At any point the curse may be broken by believers who execute the protocol plan of God, refusing to follow the evil pattern of their progenitors. (Parents) 
     Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children be put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sin. (Deut 24:16
     The sins of the father have to be repeated in the next generation for culpability to be established and for punitive action to be administered from God. Otherwise, a different law applies: the law of grace. 
     Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, keeping His Covenant of grace to a thousandth generation of those who love Him [Stay in Fellowship] and keep [Think with] His Commandments. [THOUGHTS] (Deut 7:9
     After first announcing the fourth-generation curse, God immediately Promised that obedience to His plan will always break the curse. 
     But showing lovingkindness to thousands to those who love Me [Stay in Fellowship] and keep [Think with] My Commandments. [THOUGHTS] (Exodus 20:6)
     No one suffers under the fourth-generation curse apart from his own culpability. (Blame) Despite historical trends, God’s grace is always operative on the earth. Indeed, the curse upon a family or nation can be broken in any generation when individuals believe in Christ and form a pivot of mature believers by fulfilling the plan of God. 
     The LORD is good [Divine essence is perfect] and His love en­dures forever. His faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psa 100:5
     God’s motivation in delaying historical discipline is illustrated by His patience toward mankind prior to the Last Judgment at the end of human history. 
     The Lord is not slow about His Promise, [To judge mankind] as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, [Believer] not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to a change of mind. [Staying in fellowship and Thinking with His Thoughts] (2Pe 3:9
     The fourth-generation curse furnishes a Principle that helps us interpret human history from the Divine Viewpoint. Historical disasters are often Divine discipline sent to break up destructive trends and to give the next generation an opportunity to fulfill the plan of God.
     (Pro 30:11-14) documents four generations of increasing degeneracy, beginning with disrespect for parental authority and culminating in “a generation whose teeth are like swords to devour the afflicted.” God protects the human race from the self-destructiveness of such rampant arrogance. The Principle of the fourth-generation curse, which the Bible presents in the context of the ancient world, sheds light on upheavals in modern history. The French Revolution, for example, was a conflagration of evil trends that had crystallized in the long reign of Louis XIV. The Sun King, as he was called, destroyed the pivot of mature believers in France by revoking the Edict of Nantes and, furthermore, reduced the French aristocracy to sycophantic courtiers. (One who seeks favor, especially by insincere flattery) The disappearance of a Spiritual pivot and the absence of a vigorous aristocracy destabilized every level of society. As a result, unre­strained middle-class jealousy incited lower-class violence. Ultimately, French society was destroyed in the Reign of Terror, and a new order was established under Napoleon. The Russian Revolution also vented evils that had built up for many years before overt violence broke out. What does the fourth-generation curse teach us? First, it warns us that rejection of God’s plan can become the accepted, ingrained tradition of a family and nation. A little neglect, a little compromise, a little arrogance soon becomes a way of life. Second, this system of Divine discipline advises us that opposition to God leads to terrible suffering personally and to disaster for the nation. Third, the fourth-generation curse reveals God’s marvelous grace. He patiently applies discipline to each rebellious generation but will never permit evil trends to destroy the options of future generations. Because of God’s grace, exhibited in collective Divine discipline, the human race cannot destroy itself. The Doctrine of the fourth-generation curse encourages the believer to utilize Divine assets in his own life because this category of discipline em­phasizes his invisible impact on history. Believers can either perpetuate the fourth-generation curse or break the pattern of discipline. The privileges and opportunities of the royal family imply tremendous responsibility. If a Christian fails to live and grow in his palace, he contributes to Divine discipline against his entire nation! 

     The fourth-generation curse never implies that guilt passes from parents to children but that parents who oppose God’s plan will influence their children to follow the same pattern of opposition. Children are influenced by their parents and tend to repeat their parents’ sins. The fuse on historical disaster burns for three or four generations as child­ren perpetuate the sins of their parents. Toward the end of this period, God initiates the cycles of discipline against the nation to warn believers to return to the protocol plan of God and break the curse.
     At any time, a generation can respond with positive volition to the Gospel and Truth, heading off national catastrophe! A Biblical example of an eleventh hour recovery is the Assyrian Empire’s response to Jonah’s message. (Jon 3:10) Another example is the Spiritual recovery of the second gen­eration of Jews in the Exodus. Had they continued in the rebellion of the first generation, collective Divine discipline would have intensified. In Reality, their positive volition broke the curse that already had prevented their fathers from entering the Promised Land. In modern history the United States is rapidly approaching historical disaster economically, militarily, socially and Spiritually. The one factor that stands between our nation and maximum Divine discipline is the positive voli­tion of believers! Only Divine grace can avert the horrible suffering of the fourth-generation curse, but God will bless this nation only if there is a strong pivot of mature believers to be the recipients of His grace benefits. The solution to the fourth-generation curse requires instructing children in the laws of establishment and Truth. (Deut 6:5-7)
     You will inculcate these Words of Mine [My Thoughts] in your hearts and minds, [And Think with them] tie them as notes on your hands, and as training aids tie them around your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit down at home, when you travel, before you go to bed, and when you wake up. Write these on the door frames of your houses and on your gates so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the Lord has promised to give to your ancestors [Promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as long as the heavens remain above the earth.] (Deut 11:18-21) 
     The perpetuation of the client nation to God always involves training the next generation. Rather than be a negative influence, parents must be a posi­tive influence by teaching Divine establishment, the Gospel and Truth to their children. Parents should bring blessing by association to their children rather than lead them to disaster under the fourth-generation curse.  We are to teach them, (Deut 21:18-21) and not to eat them. (Deut 28:53-58) The Jews did, (2Ki 6:28-30) because of disobedience. (Hos 4:6; Rom 11:22)

In concluding our study of punitive suffering and in approaching the subject of suffering for blessing, we can draw a series of contrasts.
     In disciplinary suffering, which is deserved, the issue is sin and wrong decisions from a position of weakness. In the adult believer’s undeserved suf­fering, the issue is blessing and momentum because of right decisions from a position of strength. Spiritual momentum from metabolized Spiritual Thoughts results in still greater blessing.
     The believer’s status under Divine discipline is cosmic involvement, which is described by a variety of terms: worldliness, carnality, apostasy and or reversion­ism. Under suffering for blessing, the believer’s status is always residence in the palace of the Spiritual life. There is a tremendous difference between living in a palace, and wasting away in a dungeon. Under discipline the suffering is unbearable. The Promise that “no tempta­tion has overtaken you. . . beyond what you are able to bear” (1Co 10:13) describes testing, not Divine discipline. Testing is designed to exercise and strengthen the believer’s Spiritual muscles, but discipline must be severe enough to shock the believer, to get his attention. He must learn from the suf­fering that human resources are inadequate; he must hurt unbearably so that he is forced to consider the Divine solution. (Rebound; 1Jn 1:9; and maximum intake and use of Divine Thoughts) Under testing, suffering for blessing is always bearable. The believer under testing is using the assets of the Spiritual life which constitute “the way of escape . . . that [He] may be able to endure it.” (1Co 10:13
     The believer’s viewpoint when he incurs Divine discipline is arrogance and subjectivity. In suffering for blessing, his Viewpoint is humility and objec­tivity. The solution to Divine discipline is the rebound technique, which is the Christian’s most basic problem-solving device. (1Jn 1:9) The solution to suffering for blessing involves more advanced systems of problem solving.

     The result of Divine discipline, when the believer uses rebound, is that cursing is turned to blessing. The suffering ends, is diminished or continues at the same intensity, but in any case the purpose now is blessing instead of punishment. God’s solutions are always designed for blessing. The result of suffering for blessing is that the Christian gains multiple benefits from the acceleration of Spiritual growth: enlarged capacities and the greater blessings of Spiritual maturity. There are five categories of Christian suffering, but all five categories are designed for the believer’s personal benefit. We have just covered the first two; the last three are the subject of the remainder of this book.

1. Self-Induced Misery
2. Divine Discipline

3. Providential Preventive Suffering
4. Momentum Testing
5. Evidence Testing

     When the believer remains outside the Spiritual life, which is tantamount to being out of fellowship with God, he reaps punitive suffering (Divine discipline) from his own bad decisions. This suffering is still beneficial to him because it can make him face the Reality of his de­pendence on God’s grace, bringing him to the point of rebound and recovery. Punitive suffering can show him that his scale of values is wrong and that he must correct his priorities. But when the believer resides in fellowship, and suffers through no fault of his own, the benefit is even greater! The purpose now is not to take a negative believer and motivate recovery but to take a growing believer and accelerate his growth. In contrast to punitive suffering, which is beneficial on a limited scale, suffering for blessing is designed by God to accelerate the believer’s growth through the stages of Spiritual adulthood that lead to Spiritual maturity.



     THE PROTOCOL PLAN OF GOD includes two systems of Spiritual growth Gradual growth comes through the perception, metabolism, and application of Truth. God Commands every believer to operate consistently under this system throughout his life on earth. (Mat 4:4; Eph 4:11-13; 2Jn 1:2-4) The second system, accelerated growth, occurs when metabolized Doctrine is tested under pressure. (2Co 12:9-10) After attaining Spiritual adulthood, further growth requires periodic suffering. This suffering for the purpose of blessing draws upon the believer’s reservoir of Truth, exercising and increasing his inner strength. Truth is Spiritual nourishment; suffering for blessing is Spiritual exercise! In Spiritual childhood, most suffering is self-induced misery or Divine dis­cipline. The only pain that can be construed as suffering for blessing in the life of the Spiritual child is the suffering that continues after rebound. In Spiritual childhood suffering for blessing is like a teacher, but in Spiritual adult­hood suffering for blessing is more like a demanding college professor.
By definition, suffering for blessing is the undeserved pain, hardship, difficulty that God periodically sends into the life of the Spiritually adult believer for the purpose of accelerating Spiritual growth and demonstrating the total sufficiency of His grace. Suffering for blessing by its very connotation is not intended to hurt the believer or to make him miserable but to advance him. For the adult believer undeserved suffering is strictly a matter of blessing. Indeed, only God can bless with suffering; suffering caused by self is harmful. (Col 2:23) God does not administer suffering for blessing until the believer is quali­fied to handle it. That is why suffering for blessing is reserved for Spiritual adulthood. Nor does God send suffering for blessing until the believer has capacity to appreciate God as its source and to be grateful for the problem-solving devices that He has provided in the palace. Again, this explains why God can periodically give suffering for blessing only to Spiritually adult believers. But God never gives the believer more suffering than he can bear.

     No testing has overtaken you but such as is common to man­kind; but God is faithful, who will not permit you to be tested beyond what you are able to bear, but with the testing will also provide a solution, [A way out] that you may be able to endure it. (1Co 10:13)

     In God’s protocol plan, strength, (Spiritual Growth) precedes suffering for blessing. God provides the means of dealing with a situation before He applies the pressure so that suffering for blessing never overloads any believer. Only by his own bad decisions can the believer create more suffering for himself than he can bear. Only the believer himself can decide to live outside his palace. Only he can re­fuse to learn Truth so that he has no Spiritual resources to draw upon. When pressure crushes a believer, the cause of defeat is always his own volition, never the sovereignty of God! Suffering for blessing is always bear­able. Unbearable suffering under the law of volitional responsibility, with Divine discipline added on, is designed to awaken the believer to his depend­ence on God’s protocol system. (Rev 3:3) Obedience to Divine protocol prepares believers for suffering. All problems of suffering are resolved in the mechanics of the protocol plan of God, and all solutions stem from Truth. Consistent residence and function in fellowship, arm the believer for the pressures of life. (1Pe 4:1)


The final three categories of suffering in the Christian way of life are re­served for Spiritual adults. We will devote an entire chapter to each category.

1. PROVIDENTIAL PREVENTIVE SUFFERING keeps the believer from distorting his newfound Spiritual self-esteem into arrogance. At the same time providential preventive suffering converts Spiritual self-esteem, into Spiritual autonomy.

2. MOMENTUM TESTING accelerates the believer’s Spiritual advance, carrying him from Spiritual autonomy into Spiritual maturity.

3. EVIDENCE TESTING demonstrates the efficacy of God’s grace in the life of the Spiritually mature believer and culminates in maximum glorifica­tion of God.

These three categories of undeserved suffering are specialized provisions of God’s grace. Their purpose is the continued Spiritual growth of a believer who has faithfully adhered to Divine protocol. Sadly, in any generation rela­tively few Christians obey Divine mandates and utilize His marvelous grace assets. Few ever reach Spiritual adulthood. Easily distracted from their true destiny as members of the royal family of God, most believers lack the positive volition, the humility and the consistency to stick with the protocol plan. Not many believers will ever face suffering for blessing. Hardly any will enjoy the benefits of experiencing God’s grace in action under extreme duress. Personal and historical disasters rarely find believers prepared to enjoy God’s provisions. Instead, self-induced misery and Divine discipline are by far the most common forms of Christian suffering. If you have not learned a great deal of Truth; you have no right to assume that the pressures in your life are suffering for blessing. If, however, you have inculcated your soul with God’s Thinking, you can anticipate a challenging, stimulating life of special grace from God in adversity and in prosperity! (Php 3:10)

IN SPIRITUAL ADULTHOOD, the believer’s Spiritual momentum follows a definite pattern:

1. Consistent perception and metabolism of Truth inside the Spiritual life result in the believer’s giant step into Personal love for God and SPIRITUAL SELF-ESTEEM. 
2. When tested under providential preventive suffering, Spiritual self-esteem becomes SPIRITUAL AUTONOMY. 
3. By successfully passing the momentum tests, Spiritual autonomy be­comes SPIRITUAL MATURITY. (Mat 13:8
4. When Spiritual maturity stands up under evidence testing, GOD IS GLORIFIED TO THE MAXIMUM in the historic angelic conflict. (Joh 15:8; Joh 17:3-4)      
Paul describes this pattern of momentum in his second epistle to the Corinthians. 
     And He has said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for power [The Spiritual life] is perfected in weakness. [Testing] Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, [Sin nature Testing] with insults, [People testing] with distresses, [Thought testing] with persecutions, [System testing Job, family, social life, Etc.] with difficulties, [Disaster testing] for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, [Under testing] then I am strong. [We grow by staying in fellowship and Thinking with the Mind of Christ!] (1Co 2:16) (2Co 12:9-10
     We will examine this passage more thoroughly when we focus on provi­dential preventive suffering. Here we need to note only the pattern of the adult believer’s continued progress.
     “Power is achieved with weakness” states that suffering is necessary for Spiritual advance. The Greek noun, (Dunamis) “power, or strength” refers to God’s omnipotence as utilized by the believer in the advance through Spiritual adulthood: Spiritual self-esteem, Spiritual autonomy, and Spiritual maturity. The adult believer has power because he consistently lives in the Spiritual life! The verb, (Teleo) which is translated “made perfect” in the King James Version, means “to finish, to accomplish, to fulfill, to achieve,” the latter best agreeing with the context in verse 9. How is power achieved? How does the believer advance through the final gates of his palace? The Greek preposition (En) plus (Astheneia) — in the instrumental case of manner — indicates the manner in which the action of the verb is carried out: “with weakness.” “Weakness” refers to the progressive phases of suffering for blessing. Weakness here is not failure or sin but helplessness. Suffering for blessing puts the Spiritually adult believer in a situation he cannot resolve with human resources. (Php 3:3; 1Pe 4:1-2) He is helpless and must totally depend on Divine assets (The will of God the Father, the Mind of Christ and the fruit of God the Holy Spirit) that he has acquired by metabolizing Truth in his soul. (Jer 15:16) The suffering itself does not advance the believer; his utilization of God’s power in suffering is what advances him. (Jer 15:19-21) Power and weakness exist together at the same time: The adult believer uses the strength of Spiritual self-esteem to move through his weakness in providential preventive suffering. He uses the strength of Spiritual autonomy to go through his weakness in momentum testing. And he uses the strength of Spiritual maturity to move through his weakness in evidence testing. He not only exercises the power inherent in each stage of Spiritual adulthood to meet the test, but when he succeeds in passing each test, he achieves the power of the next stage of Spiritual adulthood. With each test he passes, he moves up! (2Co 3:18) What degree of strength is required to endure providential preventive suffering? Spiritual self-esteem. What power is required to pass momentum testing? Spiritual autonomy. And what is needed to pass evidence testing Spiritual maturity. As a result of dealing with the undeserved suffering that God sends, the believer’s strength increases so that he is able to cope with the next increment of suffering when it comes. In His perfect wisdom God gives each believer the unique sequence of blessing and suffering, of prosperity and adversity necessary to bring him to maximum glorification of God! (Psa 23:4)


BEFORE GOD ADMINISTERS SUFFERING FOR BLESSING, the believer must have the inner strength necessary to endure and profit from the test. In other words, the believer must have Spiritual self-esteem. God will not send suffering for blessing until first the believer is confident in his relationship with God and in his own Spiritual ability to use the assets that God has given him. He must be inculcated with Truth so that he loves God, and lives by God's Thinking! (Mat 10:20; Joh 3:34; Joh 7:16-18; 1Pe 4:11) For believer and unbeliever alike, a person’s attitude toward self affects his entire outlook on life. An important branch of psychology emphasizes the key rule of self-esteem.
      Of all the judgments we pass in life, none is as important as the one we pass on ourselves; for that judgment touches the very cen­ter of our existence. We stand in the midst of an almost infinite network of relation­ships: to other people, to things, to the universe. And yet, at three o’clock in the morning, when we are alone with ourselves, we are aware that the most intimate and powerful of all relationships and the one we can never escape is the relationship to ourselves. No significant aspect of our thinking, motivation, feelings, or behav­ior is unaffected by our self-evaluation. 
     In this, psychology has made an accurate observation. It recognizes man’s genuine need to regard himself in a positive light. Although self-esteem solves many problems in life, human self-esteem ultimately has a fatal flaw. 
     Thus says the LORD, Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind [For Salvation, help, blessing, Etc.] And makes flesh [The Old sin nature self] his strength, And whose heart turns away from the LORD. (Jer 17:5)
     The heart [Old sin nature of man] is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jer 17:9) 
     The problem is that man is not worthy of his own esteem. Since the fall of Adam, the human race has been inherently depraved. Man is born Spiritually dead, utterly isolated from his Creator, totally incapable of a relationship with God. (Eph 2:1) Man proves his depravity by the personal sins he com­mits; (Strip club crowd, lust of the flesh; crowds) and by the human old sin nature good; (Glen Beck crowd lust of the eyes; tax collectors) and evil he practices. (Obama crowd; pride of life; soldiers) (Luk 3:10-14) Man is commonly arrogant, greedy, self-centered, superficial, cowardly, petty, devious, self-righteous, cruel and violent. Only by a concerted effort of the will can he even partly control his old sin nature.
     I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, [Spiritual life] but I see a different law in the members of my body, [Sin Nature] waging war against the Law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, [The Mind of Christ] but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. [The demon influenced sin nature in US] (Rom 7:21-25)
     Regard for self is always some form of arrogance. (2Co 3:4-5) Most people deceive themselves with intel­lectual rationalizations or psychological delusions concerning their own im­portance. Man feels the need for a positive self-image, yet he falls short of his own relative standards, to say nothing of totally failing by God’s absolute stan­dards. The very self which man desires to esteem is weak and prone to evil. Man’s best intentions and greatest achievements are undercut by ignorance, handicaps, distractions, and temptations. Human self-esteem is an elusive and flimsy substitute for what man really needs, and what God in His grace has provided: Spiritual self-esteem Spiritual self-esteem is based on Who and What God IS, not on who and what we are. It stands on God’s absolute in­tegrity, (Gal 5:22-23) not on man’s unstable old sin nature. (Mat 15:18-20

    Spiritual self-esteem belongs to the protocol plan of God. The Christian achieves Spiritual self-esteem by faithfully learning and Thinking with Truth, by advancing step by step within God’s protocol system until he reaches Gate 5, Personal love for God. Spiritual self-esteem is an inevitable result of Personal love for God. The believer’s self-confidence is not derived from self but from the confidence that he has a unique relationship with the God of the universe. Believers of the royal family of God have greater cause for Spiritual self-esteem than do believers of any other dispensation. God displays His glory in the Church as never before in human history. His objec­tive is to show “...the riches of His grace which He has lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight.” (Eph 1:7-8) and to demonstrate “what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe...” (Eph 1:19) Even a partial list of the advantages granted to every Church Age believer will demonstrate the superiority of Spiritual self-esteem over human self-esteem. As Church Age believers we are a “new [Spiritual] species” in union with Christ. (2Co 5:17) By the baptism of God the Holy Spirit at the moment of Sal­vation, we are “created in Christ Jesus” for the purpose of utilizing Divine power, not human power. (Php 3:3) God has made available to us the exer­cise of Divine omnipotence for the execution of His plan. (Act 1:8; 1Co 2:4; 2Co 4:7; Eph 1:19-20; Col 1:19-21; 2Ti 1:7) Never before the Church Age did God extend this privilege to every believer. Only partial utili­zation of God’s omnipotence was made available to a few believers of previ­ous dispensations. We are instructed to “walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:4; Eph 2:10; Eph 4:24) because the new Spiritual species is designed to utilize total availability of the omnipotence of all three members of the Trinity. The omnipotence of God the Father created for every Church Age believer a portfolio of invisible assets which includes the Spiritual life. (Eph 1:3) The omnipotence of God the Son sustains the universe and perpetuates human history. (Heb 1:3) The om­nipotence of God the Holy Spirit provides the function of the Spiritual life. (Act 1:8) Furthermore, our bodies are indwelt by all three members of the Trinity.
     God the Father indwells us for the glorification of His protocol plan which He designed in eternity past for each Church Age believer. (Joh 14:23; Eph 1:3-12; Eph 4:6; 2Jn 1:9)
     God the Holy Spirit indwells us to create a temple for the indwelling of Christ as the Shekinah Glory,  to be a down-payment of our royal inheritance, and to empower us in the execution of the Father’s plan. (Rom 8:11; 1Co 3:16; 1Co 6:19-20; 2Co 6:16, Eph 1:14)

     God the Son in-dwells us for a number of reasons: 
1. To reign as King in His Temple, in the body of every believer! (Mat 21:5; Luk 19:38-40; Rom 15:12; 1Ti 1:17; 1Ti 6:15-16)
2. For Christ to be formed in us by reception, retention, and recall of His Thinking. (Rom 8:10; 1Co 2:16; 2Co 13:3-6; Gal 2:20; Gal 4:19; Col 1:27)
3. As the depositary of special blessings for time and eternity (Eph 1:3) and as the escrow officer who will deliver these blessings to the believer when he reaches Spiritual adulthood by using Divine Thinking, (Pro 3:13-15; 1Co 3:11-14) and when he appears before the Judg­ment Seat of Christ. (2Co 5:10)
4. As motivation for continued momentum when facing the three cate­gories of suffering for blessing: providential preventive suffering, momentum testing, and evidence testing. (Joh 15:13; 1Jn 3:16; 1Co 9:19; 2Co 5:15)
5. As the basis for assigning highest priority to relationship with God over relationships with people! (2Co 13:14; 1Jn 1:3; 1Jn 2:24)        
6. The use of Divine power, over the exercise of human power! (Luk 4:14; Act 1:8; Rom 1:16; 1Co 2:4; 1Co 2:5; 1Co 4:20; 2Co 4:7)
7. As the basis for the glorification of Christ, the Shekinah Glory, in the unique life of the New Covenant Church Age believer. (Joh 17:22-23; Joh 17:26)

     Every Church Age believer is permanently indwelt by the entire Trinity. As a consequence, many other advantages also belong to us. For worship and privacy in our unique relationship with God, we have been inducted into the highest of all priestly orders. Every Church Age believer belongs to the royal priesthood of our great high priest, Jesus Christ. (Heb 4:14; Rev 1:6) In addition, each of us has been granted a royal warrant from God to be Christ’s ambassador in Satan’s kingdom. (2Co 5:20) We repre­sent Christ on earth and have an invisible impact on history. Furthermore, each Church Age believer possesses his own royal palace, the prototype of which was tested and proven by the humanity of Christ. (Joh 15:10) We are heirs of God, joint heirs with Jesus Christ. (Rom 8:17) Even this partial outline of our royal assets shows that our status is unique. There are no ordinary Christians. Each ‘ordinary’ Christian has a position and a function far superior to anything available to the greatest be­lievers of previous dispensations. Our extraordinary status is revealed to us through our consistent, faithful, lifelong intake of Truth! Doctrine teaches us who we are in the plan of God. Truth orients us to God’s will, plan, and purpose for our lives and emphasizes the attainment of Spiritual self-esteem, Spiritual autonomy and Spiritual maturity. Advance in the protocol plan of God manifests the Spiritual royalty to which God has elevated us. God has given us a basis for Spiritual self­-esteem totally related to grace, unspoiled by human weaknesses of any kind. (Joh 12:24-25

     Personal love for God precedes Spiritual self-esteem and becomes the source of this initial stage of Spiritual adulthood. Who is this infinite and eter­nal Person who has granted us so exalted a position in Christ? What is the character of our majestic God? God reveals Himself to us in His Word. He has “exalted [His] Word above [His] name.” (Psa 138:2) His essence is reflected on every page of Scripture: in every Doctrinal dissertation, in every Biblical illustration and application, in every passage of historical narrative, in every line of Biblical poetry.
    To be “transformed by the renewing of [His] mind” (Rom 12:2) the be­liever must learn every Biblical Doctrine his pastor teaches. Even if its rele­vance is not obvious at the moment, every Doctrine contributes a vital facet to the Christian’s understanding of God’s essence and personality. The Bible was not designed merely to provide solutions for a believer’s current prob­lems; the Bible’s purpose is to reveal the magnificent and multifaceted nature of God. (Joh 17:3
     How precious also are Your Thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You. (Psa 139:17) 
     To learn God’s essence is a marvelous, lifelong endeavor for which we have been given powerful assets related to the Spiritual life. This great­est of all enterprises demands right priorities and the self-discipline, for the daily faith­ful intake, metabolism and application of Truth! To understand God’s attributes is to love Him. This constitutes the very purpose of our lives! In Spiritual childhood the believer does not have the capacity or capabili­ty to love God. Much sincerity, emotionalism, and sentimentality is miscon­strued as love for God. In Reality, to love God the believer must know God. This requires cognition of Truth. God is invisible. The incarnate Lord Jesus Christ is the visible “exact rep­resentation of His [Invisible] essence” (Heb 1:3) but the resurrected hu­manity of Christ is now absent from the earth. How does the believer love someone whom he has never seen? (1Pe 1:8) Love is based on perception. We come to know and love God through His Word. In fact, Truth is the Mind of Christ. (1Co 2:16) His Word re­veals to us God’s attributes, His Wisdom, (Spiritual Thinking) His love for us, His brilliant system of protocol. (Exact procedure) We love God when our souls are inculcated with Truth so that we Think His Thoughts, share His Viewpoint, and appreciate His perfect In­tegrity and matchless Grace. Learning Truth takes time; love for God does not come overnight. But after years of faithfully learning the Word of God every day! The day will come when the believer will wake up and realize that Jesus Christ is his best friend. That will be the giant step from Spiritual childhood into Spiritual adulthood. That will also be the beginning of Spiritual self-esteem.
The believer’s Spiritual self-esteem is patterned after two precedents:  
2. The SPIRITUAL SELF-ESTEEM OF THE HUMANITY OF CHRIST residing in the prototype Spiritual life.  
     God can Personally love only that which is perfect. Because He is absolute righteousness, God loves Himself. He is totally worthy of His own demanding, uncompromising love. Within the essence of God, therefore, we discover the ultimate pattern for Spiritual self-esteem: His perfect love is directed toward His own perfect righteousness. God has total Self-esteem and has found a way to make Spiritual self-esteem available to the Church Age believer. The humanity of Christ is the pattern for Spiritual self-esteem for the royal family of God. The Spiritual life was originally designed for our Lord’s humanity, a gift from God the Father given on the first Christmas. Throughout His first advent the humanity of Jesus Christ resided and functioned con­stantly inside the prototype Spiritual life. Though tempted far beyond anything we have ever known, He never departed from the Father’s plan; He never stepped out of the Spiritual life. From early childhood, the humanity of Jesus Christ learned Truth and lived by the Truth in His soul. From His youth He “kept increasing in wisdom [Spiritual Thinking] and stature, [Respect; Virtue] and in favor with God and man.” (Luk 2:52) This pattern continued throughout our Lord’s first advent. Truth was first priority in His life. (Mat 4:4; Luk 11:28; Joh 7:15-16) His final Words on the cross were not only a quotation of Scripture, but the Scripture He quoted was a tribute to the Father as the, “God of Truth.” (Luk 23:46) cf. (Psa 31:5) In the humanity of Christ, Truth produced Personal love for God, which inevitably resulted in Spiritual self-esteem. When we study evidence testing, we will examine our Lord’s Spiritual self-esteem as it developed through Spiritual autonomy into Spiritual maturity. We will see that He set the precedent for our Spiritual self-esteem.
     The believer with Spiritual self-esteem is dependent on God but not dependent on other people. The independence in his soul contributes to his capacity for meaningful personal relationships. Every Christian lives in a world of people. A few people will like him, others will tolerate him, some will despise him. (Psa 55:12-14; Mic 7:5-6; Mat 10:34-39; Luk 21:16-19) The Only One who will not lie to you is God! (Heb 6:18) If we are honest with our thoughts, we have deceived everyone we have known, and they have lied to us! (Unless we have reached Spiritual maturity) (Rom 3:4; Rom 3:10-18) The only person we can really trust is God! And if we don't; we lose! (Pro 8:36) Although surrounded by people, each believer must do many things for himself. He must Think with God's Thoughts, establish and live with God's Priorities, makes his own decisions to obey Truth, and suffer his own pain, (Mat 10:38) and eventually do his own dying. (2Co 5:8) The critical importance of Spiritual self-esteem is dramatically seen in the fact that no one can die another person’s death. Friends may stand by and per­haps lend comfort, but when the time for death comes, each one goes it alone! Nor can anyone bear another’s pain, feel another’s emotions, or think anoth­er’s thoughts. Always there is a place for sensitivity, compassion, and encour­agement from one person to another, but ultimately the most basic activities of life require Spiritual self-esteem of each individual believer. One of the greatest achievements in life is the ability to equate living and dying. Life on earth includes the period in which an individual knows that he is dying; dying is part of life. Only by facing the Reality of death with Truth can any believer face life from the Divine Viewpoint. (Php 1:20-21) And only through suffering for blessing and attaining the stages of Spiritual adulthood can the believer equate living and dying and thereby bene­fit from suffering. Every believer must not only learn how to live but also learn how to die. Being alive does not imply that a person has the slightest idea of how to live, of how to fulfill the potential that human life affords. Nor does being a member of the royal family of God, mean that a believer knows how to con­duct himself as a Spiritual aristocrat. A Christian does not necessarily know the first thing about the Christian way of life and the mechanics of executing God’s will, purpose, and plan for the Church Age. Certainly possessing eter­nal life does not guarantee that he knows how to pass from time into eternity with confidence and poise. After Salvation we must learn Truth to know how to live and die in prosperity or adversity; in pleasure or pain, in the company of others or alone. (Php 4:11-12) Even learning Truth is something each believer must do for himself under the teaching ministry of his pastor-teacher. Every Christian must make his own decisions to give Truth first priority in his life, to as­semble where the Word of God is taught, to be filled with God the Holy Spirit while he listens, to concentrate on the pastor’s message, to believe the Truth and to properly apply the Doctrine he understands. This is what the Bible means when admonishing us to “cherish [Guard, or keep] understanding.”
     He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; [Intake of Truth] He who cherishes understanding [Stays in fellowship] will prosper. (Pro 19:8
     To “get wisdom” and to “cherish understanding” describe the believer’s faithfulness in consistently learning and applying Truth over a long period of time At all stages of Spiritual growth, he requires daily nourishment from Truth. To love “his own soul” is a description of Spiritual self-esteem. This is legitimate love for self. Combined with “prosperity,” reveals the pattern of growth in Spiritual adulthood. The believer grows Spiritually by “getting wisdom” and enters Spiritual adulthood when he attains Spiritual self-esteem. (He understands) (Col 2:2) As Spiritual self-esteem is stabilized, strengthened, and tested under the pressure of suffering for blessing, he advances stage by stage to Spiritual maturity. He “prospers” all along the way. This is how the Christian learns to live and die for himself. When the Mind of Christ has been inculcated and metabolized into the soul of the believer that individual acquires Spiritual self-esteem. Inside the Spiritual life the Virtues of the humanity of Jesus Christ are formed in him, (Rom 13:14; Gal 4:19; 1Pe 2:9; 2Pe 1:4) including our Lord’s great Personal love for the Father. (Joh 14:31) From his own love for God and Divine Thinking, the believer then has the contentment, stability, composure and all the other characteristics of Spiritual self-esteem with which to face the challenges of living and dying.
     Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [Suffering for blessing] and Your staff, [Blessing] they comfort me. (Psa 23:4

THE CHARACTERISTICS OF SPIRITUAL SELF-ESTEEM: Spiritual self-esteem can be explained categorically as having fourteen characteristics. 
1. THE BEGINNING OF CONTENTMENT. Contentment, or capacity for happiness in one’s present circumstances, begins in Spiritual self-esteem, grows stronger in Spiritual autonomy, and reaches a peak in Spiritual maturity. (2Co 12:10; 1Ti 6:6-8; Heb 13:5) In Spiritual adulthood, sharing the happiness of God is the Christian’s greatest and most effective problem-solving device. (Php 4:11
2. MENTAL STABILITY. A stabilized mentality comes from the consis­tent and accurate application of Truth in adversity and in prosperity. (Php 4:12-13
3. COMPOSURE MARKED BY SELF-ASSURANCE. Self-assurance is characteristic of the believer who can consistently and accurately apply Divine Thinking to life and who has experienced the efficacy of Truth in his own life. (Jas 1:22-25
4. GRACE ORIENTATION TO LIFE. The believer with Spiritual self-esteem appreciates the extension of God’s grace toward him without distort­ing that grace policy into antinomian license. (Rom 6:1) Furthermore, he demonstrates a gracious attitude toward other people without distorting toleration into compromise of integrity. (Rom 12:10
5. DOCTRINAL ORIENTATION TO REALITY. Spiritual self-esteem orients the believer to Reality by maintaining his humility, by avoiding inordinate ambition and competition (Jas 3:14-15) by developing Spiritual common sense, Spiritual in­dependence, and a sense of humor. (Rom 12:3; 2Co 12:13)
6. GOOD DECISIONS FROM A POSITION OF STRENGTH. The Spiritual life is the position of strength in which good decisions are possible, based on Divine Thinking — in Gate 4 — and motivation from Person­al love for God — in Gate 5. (Eph 6:10; Php 2:2; Col 1:11)
7. THE BEGINNING OF PERSONAL CONTROL OF ONE’S LIFE. Spiritual independence is based on maximum use of one’s royal priesthood, by which the believer represents himself before God. His perspective in life is focused on God rather than on people. (Joh 5:43-44; Col 2:7; Heb 12:2-3
8. THE USE OF SPIRITUAL SELF-ESTEEM AS A PROBLEM-SOLVING DEVICE. Spiritual self-esteem solves the problems of inadequacy, fear, emo­tional disturbance, lack of personal identity, and uncertainty concerning one’s niche in life. (2Ti 1:7) Furthermore, the believer with Spiritual self-esteem solves his own problems from the Truth he knows rather than run­ning here and there to find the book a certain Doctrine is in, or for Spiritual advice. He views difficulties as opportunities to utilize the Truth in his soul. (2Ti 2:3-4
9. THE BEGINNING OF A PERSONAL SENSE OF DESTINY. The be­liever’s Personal sense of destiny becomes stronger as he progresses through the three stages of Spiritual adulthood. The meaning, purpose, and defini­tion of his life become clear as he resolves his relationships with God, self, and people. (Luk 14:26-35
10. POSTSALVATION EPISTEMOLOGICAL REHABILITATION. Epis­temology is the study of knowledge itself, addressing the question of how man knows what he knows. After Salvation the believer must concentrate on a new source of Truth, under the teaching ministry of a Spiritually mature pastor filled with the Spirit. (Joh 4:23) The be­liever must acquire a new Doctrinal frame of reference through learning and metabolizing the Word of God; by faith, for “the righteous [A believer with im­puted Divine righteousness] shall live by faith.” (Rom 1:17) Post-salvation epistemological rehabilitation is a term that encompasses all the Truth the believer has learned between Salvation and Spiritual adulthood. This renovation of Thought includes everything from understanding Spirituality how to execute the protocol plan of God, to appreciating one’s portfolio of invisible assets, to mastering the subject of this book; Christian suffering. Meta­bolized Truth has “transformed [The Spiritually adult believer] by the re­newing of [His] mind.” (Rom 12:2)  
11. COMMAND OF SELF. Fulfilling the responsibilities that accompany independence, the believer exercises self-control, self-restraint, poise, and self-regulation. (Pro 19:11; 1Co 9:19; 1Co 9:27; 2Ti 2:10) Command of self, fa­cilitates good communication with other people, which is mandatory in all successful relationships. 
12. A NEW ATTITUDE TOWARD LIFE. Personal love for God gives the believer a dynamic attitude, Viewpoint, and perspective on life. His Thoughts and priorities change as his focus on Christ motivates him in everything he Thinks and does. (Joh 15:10-17
13. QUALIFICATION FOR PROVIDENTIAL PREVENTIVE SUFFERING. Spiritual self-esteem gives the believer the ability to handle suffering for blessing. The characteristics of Spiritual self-esteem qualifies him to pass the test of providential preventive suffering and advance him into the next stage of Spiritual adulthood, which is Spiritual autonomy. (1Pe 4:12-19)
14. ATAINMENT OF THE FIRST PHASE OF THE UNIQUE SPIRITUAL LIFE. God has designed a unique life for the Church Age believer, part of which is expe­rienced and part of which is not. The non-experiential aspect of the unique life includes the indwelling of all three members of the Trinity. This is the Church Age believer’s permanent status, not his progressive expe­rience. The experiential aspect of the unique life is the glorification of Christ in the body of the believer. (Eph 5:1; 1Co 6:20) A distinction must be made between the permanent, unchanging, unfelt in­dwelling of Christ as the Shekinah Glory and the Christian experience of Christ being glorified in our bodies. (Php 1:20-21) A distinction also must be made between the permanent, unchanging, unfelt indwelling of the Holy Spirit and His invisible, behind-the-scenes function in the Spiritual life through which He glorifies Christ in our bodies. (Joh 16:13-14) Each stage of Spiritual adulthood brings a new experiential glorification of Christ. This progressive experience begins with Spiritual self-esteem, which is described by the phrase “Christ is formed in you.” (Gal 4:19) In Spiritual autonomy, which is the next stage of Christian growth, the glorification of Christ in the unique life of the royal family will be described as “Christ [Being] at home in your heart.” (Eph 3:16-17) In Spiritual maturity, the final stage of Spiritual adulthood, the unique life will be expressed as “Christ [Being] glorified in [Your] body.” (Php 1:20-21
     And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the Word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold. (Mar 4:20)
    The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come. (Mar 4:28-29)
     These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful. (Rev 17:14)

     Spiritual self-esteem is the declaration of Truth resident in the soul; it is living by one’s own Spiritual Thinking from that Truth; it is making application of metabolized Truth under all circumstances, including suffering for blessing!
     The Christian who gains Spiritual self-esteem has crossed the dividing line between Spiritual childhood and Spiritual adulthood, between Spiritual depen­dence and Spiritual independence, between punitive suffering and suffering for blessing. Spiritual self-esteem is the giant step in the believer’s life, the first stage of Spiritual adulthood. The believer with Spiritual self-esteem thinks and applies Truth to life, motivated by his Personal love for God. He understands enough Truth to Think independently, having the courage of his own perceptions and Doc­trinal applications.  Fur­thermore, instead of arrogantly exaggerating his strengths or his weaknesses, he orients to the Biblical Reality of who and what he is as a member of the royal family of God and at the same time never loses sight of Who and What God IS. He accepts his human limitations while emphasizing the unlimited privileges and opportunities that God gives to every Church Age believer. He exploits his options. When a believer has attained Spiritual self-esteem, he does not feel threat­ened by others. He refuses to be manipulated through guilt or fear. If he is guilty of sin, human good, or evil, he assumes the responsibility for his own decisions, good or bad, and resolves his problems according to (1Jn 1:9). He understands his right as a member of the royal family of God to live his life as unto the Lord in the privacy of his own priesthood. His life does not belong to other people but to God. God’s logistical grace sustains him, so he can adhere to Divine Commands in the protocol plan of God. Spiritual self-esteem enables the believer to ex­ploit all the problem-solving devices in the Spiritual life. With Spiritual self-esteem he can begin to enjoy happiness and tranquility of mind in every category of suffering for blessing. The Christian with Spiritual self-esteem knows he belongs to a winning plan. He understands what God accomplished for him in eternity past. He knows at the present time how to thrive in God’s protocol system. He has learned that a fabulous eternal future awaits him after death. God’s protocol plan gives his life meaning, purpose, and definition. He advances in the cer­tainty that logistical grace will support his life and empower his indomitable will to triumph over any handicaps or weaknesses he may possess. Spiritual adulthood and continuing Spiritual growth are the believer’s triumph over his handicaps, genetic and acquired.
     With Spiritual self-esteem the believer persists in learning and applying Truth because he loves God and believes His Promised blessings for time, and eternity. (Heb 6:18) Personal love for God is the highest motivation in life. The believer with Spiritual self-esteem confidently persists in the plan of God without needing flattery or fanfare, without relying on recognition, encourage­ment, counsel, or inspiration! He leans on no one but God. Rather than borrow motivation and fortitude from the soul of someone else, he uses the Truth in his own soul! He has nothing to prove to anyone. He fears no one. He does not crave the approval of people or over­react to their indifference, disapproval, or rejection! Nor does he slavishly imitate the personality or demeanor of others. He is content with his own personality; he has identified his own niche in life. Spiritual self-esteem makes the believer intellectually independent, but it does not make him a boor. Many positive Christians go through the awkward, sophomoric stage of being overconfident religious zealots, bursting with answers, eagerly imposing their ideas on other people. Such arrogance is not Spiritual self-esteem. Spiritual self-esteem makes the believer a good listener; his genuine humility in Gate 3 of the Spiritual life makes him teachable. He appreciates the graciousness of other people and recognizes legitimate authorities, including the authority of the pastor who teaches Truth. Spiritual independence means the believer flourishes within God’s structures of human and Spiritual authority, (Rom 13:1-2) not outside His protocol system as a rebel, a crusader, or a self-styled free spirit. Although modern psychology cannot provide Spiritual self-esteem, it can accurately describe the lack of Spiritual and human self-esteem. 
     The two most striking characteristics of men and women who seek psychotherapy are a deficiency of self-esteem and a condition of self-alienation. In some crucial ways they do not feel appropriate to life and its requirements, and they lack adequate contact with the world within, with their needs, wants, feelings, thoughts, values and potentialities. Thus diminished in consciousness, they are estranged from their proper human estate. Large areas of self, lie undiscovered, unexpressed and unlived. They are sleepwalkers through their own existence. 
     The believer wakes up to Reality by learning Truth in the power of the Spiritual life. In studying the two punitive categories of Christian suffering, we noted that if a member of the royal family of God fails to wake up through perception and application of Truth, he will be shaken by self-induced misery and Divine discipline. 



     As THE FIRST CATEGORY of suffering for blessing, providential preventive suffering performs a dual function. Its offensive role is to accelerate the be­liever’s Spiritual momentum beyond Spiritual self-esteem into Spiritual autonomy; its defensive role is to prevent him from falling victim to arrogance.
     Spiritual self-esteem is probably the most vulnerable stage of the Christian life! As the believer begins to Think for himself with the help of God the Holy Spirit and live by the Truth in his own soul, he may distort his newfound independence. He may assume that his strength comes from self, rather than from God’s Word and the Spiritual life. As he flexes his new Spiritual muscles and enjoys the results of Spiritual growth, he may forget that God is the source of his growth. God in His grace does not wait for the believer to fail. Rather than picking up the pieces, God provides the means of keeping the believer from falling apart. In grace God takes preventive action by sending suffering for blessing. Providential preventive suffering reminds the believer of his dependence on the protocol plan of God, and leads him to use Divine assets under circum­stances that human ability cannot resolve. As an unbeliever, Paul was aware of his own genius. With concentration and self-discipline he exploited his tremendous human assets. As a young man he excelled academically in a rigorous education. He then channeled his un­usual nervous energy and extraordinary intellectual powers to rise within the religious and political establishment in Judea. Human dynamics enabled him to advance rapidly within an evil system. Paul was a man of action who was also at home in the realm of ideas. He was a master of both Jewish theology and Greek philosophy. The application of his human genius was the zealous persecution of Christians. He had the success that his human abilities had achieved; he was ambitious for further promotion. After believing in Christ, Paul had to learn dependence on Divine rather than human power. Hence, when he reached Spiritual self-esteem, he was in danger of corrupting his own Spiritual advance. He might have assumed that his own mental prowess enabled him to comprehend the deep things of Truth, when in fact metabolized Doctrine resided in his soul only because of God the Holy Spirit. (1Co 2:14) To protect Paul from his natural vulner­ability to arrogance, God sent providential preventive suffering, which Paul called his “thorn in the flesh.” 
     Because of the surpassing greatness of the Revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me--to keep me from exalting myself! (2Co 12:7
     Paul was chosen by God to serve as the apostle to the Gentiles, the Princi­pal spokesman for the Doctrines of the royal family of God. Because of God’s sovereign decision to use him in this special way, Paul had a unique ministry, and the Divine Revelations given to him exceeded those of any other apostle. Peter acknowledged Paul’s superior comprehension of Truth, recognizing that Paul’s “epistles contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort.” (2Pe 3:15-16) God gave Paul the unparalleled blessing of teaching and recording Church Age Truth, but Paul was also given another blessing called a “Thorn in the flesh.” Truth orients the believer to Reality; arrogance divorces him from Reality. Arrogance must be prevented because it neutralizes the effectiveness of Truth in the believer’s life. Truth provides Spiritual self-esteem; arro­gance is self-alienation. Arrogance is the insidious enemy of the Spiritual life, the very attitude that corrupted Lucifer, who was originally the greatest of all the angels. (Isa 14:13-14) Paul’s ministry might have been destroyed by arrogance, but the thorn in the flesh was given to him to preserve him in a period of grave danger. Bible scholars have speculated on the nature of Paul’s thorn in the flesh, but Paul deliberately omits the details to emphasize the Principle of providential preventive suffering. Paul says only that God permitted Satan to dispatch a demon to constantly torment him. The work of this “thorn demon” provided Paul with an illustration of God’s total ability to care for His own. God’s provisions are far superior to any possible challenge. He is able to make even our enemies benefit us. (Psa 76:10
      ...God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:31) 
     There is a fine irony in Paul’s suffering. The thorn demon wanted to de­stroy Paul but could only force him to rely on God’s superior provisions. God used Satan’s attack to keep Paul from falling into the same pattern of arro­gance that originally caused the fall of Satan. God has a wonderful sense of humor; with marvelous finesse! Only omni­potent God has the power to turn suffering into blessing, and this power has been made available to us, through residence and function in the Spiritual life. God can and does use adversity to our advantage, even pressures our foes designed to harm us. (Rom 8:28) While Paul was suffering intensely and wondering why God did not relieve the pain, God was masterfully demonstrating His grace to Paul. The apostle was hurting and sought relief, but “underneath [Were] the everlasting arms.” (Deut 33:27) Through this experience Paul’s personal love for God in­creased! But before he reaped the benefits of providential preventive suffer­ing, Paul applied a false solution and made a wrong application of Truth. 

     As the first stage of Spiritual adulthood, Spiritual self-esteem is still an awkward phase in which the believer has not yet developed the true instincts of Spiritual maturity. That is why Paul reacted emotionally to the pain of pro­vidential preventive suffering. In an understandable human reaction, he was momentarily affected by the discomfort before regaining his composure and passing the test. 
     Concerning this [Thorn in the flesh] I appealed to the Lord three times that it might depart from me. (2Co 12:8
     Paul’s use of prayer was a false solution to suffering for blessing; his re­quest that the suffering be removed was a wrong application of Truth. Providential preventive suffering is essential to the adult believer’s Spiritual advance. We should never ask God to remove the means of our growth. We should never pray for the removal of suffering for blessing by which the protocol plan of God is fulfilled. We think we know when we have had enough suffering, but God knows us better than we know ourselves. He never sends more pressure than we can bear, (1Co 10:13) but on the other hand He sends enough pressure to accel­erate our growth. Only when He sees that we have passed the test or that we have flunked so badly that we need time to regroup does He remove or reduce the suffering. What God does not remove He intends for us to bear. God has a unique plan for each believer. His timing is perfect for every in­dividual. He makes the sovereign decision to nurture the positive Christian’s growth with the right kind, the right intensity, and the right duration of suffer­ing or prosperity. Too much or too little adversity, too much or too little pros­perity, the wrong combination, or the wrong timing would retard the believ­er’s Spiritual progress. A believer who tells God how and when to administer suffering for blessing claims to have greater wisdom, and a better plan than God. This is blasphemy. We do not dictate to God! We are told to “come boldly before the throne of grace” (Heb 4:16) but we have no right to ques­tion the sovereignty of God, much less to ask for the cancellation of Divine wisdom. Paul made a false application of Doctrine by entreating God to remove providential preventive suffering. Worse yet, he made an even more basic error by employing prayer to accomplish what it was never designed to do. Prayer is a powerful tool that has many effective applications, but the Spiri­tually adult believer should not pray for strength or for relief under suffering for blessing. Why not? Such a prayer would violate Divine protocol. Billions of years ago God established the system for giving strength to the royal family. That system is the Spiritual life. The believer does not need to ask for what has already been provided. The utilization of Divine assets is a matter of learning and applying Truth daily, not a matter of prayer. Too often the believer does not understand his suffering because he has neglected or resisted Truth. He remains ignorant of the powerful problem-solving devices that belong to the royal family. If you need more strength, than you need more intake, (Rom 10:17) and application. (Mat 7:24-25; Joh 15:14; Jas 1:25) Frequently, believers under pressure entreat God for a miracle, but miracles are no solution to suffering for blessing. By performing a miracle involving the sudden removal of pressure, God would be canceling his own system for accelerating the believer’s Spiritual advance. For sovereign, omnipotent God, nothing is easier than a miracle! Miracles express only His sovereign decision; they do not require man’s positive volition or any function of human free will. Blessing is far more difficult for God to bestow when the Christian’s volition is involved, yet that is precisely what God has achieved by creating the proto­col plan. The believer must freely choose to reside in the palace. There he must learn and metabolize (Ingest and digest) Truth. He also must consistently apply this metabolized Doctrine throughout suffer­ing for blessing. God will terminate the test in His own perfect time. (1Co 10:13) That is a Divine Promise, so that the believer’s natural desire for relief from pressure becomes a matter of confidence in God. The believer with positive volition gains strength by using Truth, by exercising his own mind which is inculcated with the Think­ing of God. False solutions to one’s own suffering include miracles and the misuse of prayer; all true solutions are integral parts of the Spiritual life. We have already discussed these problem-solving devices for Spiritual childhood and Spiritual adulthood in chapter 1. They include rebound, the faith-rest drill, hope, Virtue-love and sharing the happiness of God.
     Obviously God did not answer Paul’s prayers. He did not remove the thorn in the flesh, nor did He respond in any way except to perpetuate Paul’s suffer­ing. Finally, after Paul had repeated his urgent request on three occasions, God reminded the great apostle of a Truth he already knew. 
     And He has said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. [Testing] Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, [People, thought, organization and disaster testing] so that the power of Christ [The Spiritual life may be perfected and] may dwell in me. (2Co 12:9
     We have already noted the pattern of achievement in this verse. What is the “power” in this context, and what is the “weakness?” The power is Divine omnipotence as it becomes available to the believer with each stage of Spiritual adulthood through residence, function, and momentum in the Spiritual life. Omnipotence operates in the adult believer, in the form of Spiritual self-esteem, Spiritual autonomy and Spiritual maturity. The weakness is the suffering for blessing which God applies to the believ­er in each of these stages of Spiritual achievement. God sends the weakness of providential preventive suffering, momentum testing and evidence testing, so man experiences the weakness in suffering that is beyond human solution! God provides the power in the Spiritual life which is employed by man in his helplessness and produces accelerated Spiritual growth. This is boasting not in the sense of glorifying self, but as a manifestation of esprit de corps. (Being enthusiastic about a group's thoughts and plan) Paul’s boasting expresses his delight in belonging to God’s protocol plan. Such boasting indicates submission to God’s system, and is the antithesis of arrogance. Thus Paul demonstrates that providential preventive suffering has been effective in his life. Divine protection against arrogance succeeded because of his positive volition in the application of metabolized Truth in his soul. Because he believed the Truth and Thought with it, in the place of his own thoughts, will and personal desires; and this applied to every Divine Thought in the Bible! Rather than being preoccupied with himself, and his problems. Paul’s suffering had not changed. His human weakness had not changed. His old sin nature had not changed. The Spiritual life had not changed. What had changed were Paul’s Thoughts. He had begun to apply the Truth he knew, to the circumstances in which he found himself. He remembered Truth, (Joh 14:26) and began to think objectively, utilized his problem-solving devices, and re­gained control of his life! THERE IS NO OTHER WAY TO REACH SPIRITUAL MATURITY!
     If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, [Human priorities] he cannot be My disciple. [Reach Spiritual maturity; God's priority] (Rev 2:4) (Luk 14:26)
     When one of those who were reclining at the table with Him heard this, he said to Him, Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God! But He said to him, A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, Come; for everything is ready now.  But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; [The lust of the eyes] please consider me excused. Another one said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; [The lust of the flesh] please consider me excused. Another one said, I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come. [The Pride of life, God is our first love] And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the [Spiritually] poor and crippled and blind and lame. And the slave said, Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room. And the master said to the slave, Go out into the highways and along the hedges, [The sinners] and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men, who were invited, shall taste of my dinner. [These are all believers, who will not go to the wedding feast, or live in the New Jerusalem] Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, If anyone comes to Me, [Is a believer]  and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross [Own plans, thoughts and sin nature] and come after Me [Use God's Thoughts and plan] cannot be My disciple. [Reach Spiritual maturity] For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? [Build the Spiritual life] Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation (1Co 3:11) and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, This man began to build and was not able to finish. (1Co 3:12-16) Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. [God has only one way for us to reach Spiritual maturity, and if we do not sign the peace treaty and obey, we will lose!] (1Sa 15:23) So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. [Preoccupation with self and others; lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life; desires, thoughts, and will] (Mat 26:39) Therefore, salt is good; [Staying in fellowship and Thinking by the Mind of Christ, holds off sin and evil in a person, and in a nation] but if even salt has become tasteless, [A believer living out of fellowship] with what will it be seasoned? It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it [Or he] is thrown out. [And no reward] He who has ears to hear, let him hear. (Luk 14:15-35)
     To fulfill this, is impossible in the energy of the sin nature. (Rom 8:12-13) But as a Spiritually mature believer who has made first priority, the daily habit, over many years; of rebounding, reception, retention, recall of Truth, resisting temptations to sin and his own will; can! (2Ti 2:4; Heb 12:1-4; Rev 3:10-13)
     Suffering in itself has no Virtue. The meaning and blessing in suffering lie in the demonstration of Divine grace and power in the believer’s life. Omnipo­tence operates through God’s Word resident in the believer’s soul. From Truth comes Personal love for God resulting in Spiritual self-esteem; and that inner strength furnishes yet greater capacity to love God. Suffering for blessing illuminates God’s grace. Suffering converts self-glorification, into glorifying God which is worship, Virtue love, and appreciation of God. (Psa 119:67; Psa 119:71) Paul’s boasting was not the loud, overt bravado we normally associate with braggarts. Instead, he was confident and sure, not of himself, but of God and His Words! (Joh 17:8) He celebrated the essence of God, His pro­tocol plan, and the fabulous assets available to every Church Age believer. Boasting, here, is an attitude of the soul that is the epitome of Spiritual self-esteem. Having been reminded of God’s grace provisions, Paul expressed his total confidence in God’s policy of suffering for blessing. Now that he was Think­ing Truth, he recalled a further point of Doctrine that motivated him to endure his thorn in the flesh. He remembered that the prototype of the Spiritual life sustained the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ during His first advent. Paul refers to the prototype Spiritual life as “the power of Christ.” In the prototype Christ attained Spiritual self-esteem, Spiritual autonomy and Spiritual maturity. (Luk 3:22; Luk 4:1; Luk 4:18-21) He perfectly fulfilled the Father’s plan, which included suffering for blessing, for “although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.” (Heb 5:7-8) The same policy of suffering for blessing that Paul was enduring is the same we endure today, and had been the means of acceler­ating the Spiritual growth of the humanity of Christ.
      Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2Co 12:10)
     “Contentment” is capacity for happiness; it is the believer’s satisfaction with the blessings God gives him. The Spiritually adult believer can share the happiness of God in all circumstances, just as the humanity of Christ in the Spiritual life, possessed inner happiness on the cross while being judged for the sins of mankind. (Heb 12:2) If God the Holy Spirit could sustain Jesus through the excruciating pain of being judged for our sins, certainly the ministry of the Spirit can sustain us in any hopeless situation in which we may find ourselves! Some Divine blessings involve prosperity; others come in the guise of adversity. The believer can be grateful for whatever he has in whatever state he finds himself. (Php 4:11-12) This tranquility of soul is derived from his Per­sonal love for God, for when a Christian loves the One who gives, he appre­ciates His gifts. “Contentment,” or sharing the happiness of God, is the problem-solving device directed toward self. This inner happiness characterizes all three stages of Spiritual adulthood, increasing in strength with the attainment of each successive stage.

     Several types of providential preventive suffering are listed in, (2Co 12:10) setting up a distinct pattern. As Paul has already stated, each category of suffering for blessing creates a situation of helplessness. The believer cannot use his human intelligence, experience, ingenuity, talent or in­fluence to resolve human reality problems or prosperity! He must rely on Divine Reality, Thoughts, Promises and assets! The word “weaknesses,” therefore, expresses this helplessness and represents the overall Concept of providential preventive suffering and sin nature testing. (2Co 4:10-11) The believer with Spiritual self-esteem has the capacity to “find contentment” whenever suffering enters his life. The next five categories of testing in, (2Co 12:10) are precursors of the four momentum tests which we will study in connection with Spiritual au­tonomy. Providential preventive suffering familiarizes the growing believer with these momentum tests in advance and at reduced intensity. God care­fully prepares the believer for the future, when more intense suffering will be needed to perpetuate his Spiritual growth. Here we discover again the Truth that God will not test the positive believer “beyond what [He is] able [To bear].” (1Co 10:13) Providential preventive suffering not only suppresses arrogance and moves the believer into Spiritual autonomy, but it also serves as a warm-up for the testing’s that will accelerate him beyond Spiritual autonomy into Spiritual ma­turity. “With insults” corresponds to people testing. “With distresses” anticipates thought testing. “With persecutions” corresponds to system testing. And “with difficulties” prepares the believer for disaster testing.
     This entire system of Spiritual advancement is said to be “for Christ's sake.” The Principle that suffering is a key element in the glorification of Christ is also stated in Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians. 
     For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake. (Php 1:29)
     How does our suffering benefit Christ? By fulfilling the protocol plan of God we glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. He is exalted in our lives as we attain Spiritual adulthood and proceed toward Spiritual maturity so that we are qualified to re­ceive maximum blessing. Christ is glorified by delivering special, tailor-made blessings to the Spiritually mature believer. We “suffer for His sake” in the sense that periodic suffering is essential to our advance. The emphasis is on Spiritual growth and on Christ’s glorification, not on suffering itself.
     Personal love for the Lord Jesus Christ motivates us to desire His glorifica­tion. Our application of Truth during providential preventive suffering ac­celerates Spiritual growth, which contributes to the demonstration of His glory. Therefore, as Paul states in, (2Co 12:9) we suffer for His sake “all the more gladly.” Our purpose in life is to utilize the assets of the Spiritual life so that we advance to Spiritual maturity! (Joh 15:8) Much of this advance is spurred by suffering for blessing. Concluding his discussion of providential preventive suffering, Paul reiterates that when we pursue our destiny, moving step by step toward the goal, “then [We are] strong.” (2Co 12:10) The omnipotence of God sustains and empowers us at each stage as we move forward in His protocol plan. Because (2Co 12:7-10) describes providential preventive suffering, the final word “strong” in this passage refers to the next stage of advance after Spiritual self-esteem. Paul has passed the test of providential preventive suffering and has attained new power. “Strong” in this context becomes a synonym for Spiritual autonomy.


PHYSICAL EXERCISE DEVELOPS STRENGTH, coordination, and stamina and is essential for good health. In the same way, adversity gives the believer the vital Spiritual exercise that builds Spiritual autonomy. According to this athletic analogy, Spiritual autonomy is Spiritual self-esteem with muscle. The experience of using Divine assets under providential preventive suffer­ing strengthens all the characteristics of Spiritual self-esteem. Success in han­dling pressure dramatically increases the believer’s confidence in God! (By trusting Him more and more) As a result, legitimate self-confidence also grows. The believer becomes keenly aware of belonging to God’s protocol plan and of possessing tremendous Divine assets that work in time of crisis or tranquility! Occupation with Christ, (Constant awareness of Christ) (Heb 11:27) and sharing the happiness of God, (Joh 17:13) cause the believer with Spiritual autonomy to conduct himself with confidence, graciousness, and unshakable poise. (Act 7:59-60) Derived from the classical Greek noun, (Autonomia) the word “autonomy” originally meant to live under one’s own laws, to live in a state of being independent. In modern usage autonomy expresses independence, self-determination and self-direction. In the Christian way of life, Spiritual auto­nomy is the freedom of exercising royal prerogatives within one’s own palace, the Spiritual life. (He has enough Truth in his soul to Think Spiritually, consistently) Spiritual autonomy is the dynamic state of Spiritual self-esteem. The Spiritually autonomous Christian knows that God has equipped him to meet the demands of life. Through his pastor’s teaching and his own experience of Doctrinal application, he has learned to utilize invisible Divine assets in his daily life. Furthermore, suffering for blessing has given him a new attitude toward other people. Spiritual autonomy gives the believer strength to love others consistently with impersonal love.
     Impersonal love is defined in contrast to Personal esprit de corps love. Personal esprit de corps love comes in two categories: 
1. ROMANCE is Personal love for a member of the opposite sex; and is defined as esprit de corps love if they are in fellowship
2. FAMILY AND FRIENDS is personal admiration for a member of the human race; and is defined as esprit de corps love if they are in fellowship
     Personal esprit de corps love is attraction or admiration for someone else based on one’s own standards. By falling in love or making a friend, however, a person cre­ates a problem. The object of his love is imperfect, and sooner or later, for one reason or another, that person will become a source of suffering and test­ing. Because no one is perfect, the object of Personal esprit de corps love will cause disap­pointment, frustration, and hurt. The problem is that no one is perfect, neither the subject nor the object. Both contribute their flaws to the relationship.
     When God commands us to love all believers, (Joh 15:12) our neigh­bors, (Mat 19:19; Rom 13:9) and all mankind, (Luk 6:27-28) obvious­ly He cannot mean Personal love. God is Commanding us to resolve problems, not to create problems. In fact, the only Personal love with inherent Virtue is Personal love for God. God is the only perfect object of love. (Deut 30:6) What category of love fulfills the Divine Command? Impersonal love direct­ed toward all mankind has inherent Virtue and problem-solving character­istics. Impersonal love is unconditional with regard to its object. This means that no merit is assigned to the object of love; the motivation for Impersonal love is not attractiveness, rapport, or worthiness. Motivated by the believer’s own Virtue, Impersonal love is, therefore, tolerant, unprejudiced, courteous, and objective in the face of hostility and antagonism. Impersonal love is the attitude of the Spiritually adult Christian resulting from the filling of God the Holy Spirit and the perception, metabolism, and application of Truth in­side the palace of the Spiritual life. (1Co 13:4-8; Gal 5:22-23; 1Jn 4:16-17)


     To understand the love that God Commands every believer to have for all people, a distinction must be made between the subject and object of love. The subject is the one who loves; the object is the one who is loved. When love emphasizes the object, Personal love is in view. When love emphasizes the subject, Impersonal love is in view. Impersonal love is unconditional, emphasizing the Virtue and Spiritual status of the subject being in fellowship, rather than rapport with or worthiness of the object. The object of Impersonal love can be known or unknown, friend or enemy, attractive or repulsive, honorable or dishonora­ble, good or evil, believer or unbeliever! Impersonal love, therefore, is defined as the Virtue of the subject resulting from residence, function and momentum in the Spiritual life! (Gal 5:22-23) Imperson­al love develops in stages, specifically the three stages of Spiritual adulthood: Spiritual self-esteem, Spiritual autonomy and Spiritual maturity. Impersonal love is a sign of Spiritual adulthood, since all three stages possess Impersonal love in some degree. The Christian’s Impersonal love is not fully developed in Gate 5 of the Spiritual life but becomes stabilized in Gate 6 and maxi­mized in Gate 8. Personal love for God, which is the source of Spiritual self-esteem, is also the source of Impersonal love for all mankind. In other words, Gate 5 of the Spiritual life precedes Gate 6. 
     If someone should allege, “I love God,” and yet he hates his fel­low believer, he is a liar. For he who does not love his fellow believer, whom he has seen, is not able to be loving God, whom he has not seen. Furthermore, we have this Command from Him, that he who loves God [Personal love for God, Gate 5 of the Spiritual life] should also love his fellow believer [Impersonal love, Gate 6.] (1Jn 4:20-21)
     The Spiritual life is necessary to the function of Impersonal love! The Command to “love your neighbor as yourself” implies that the Spiritual life is the essential foundation for Impersonal love. (Mat 22:37-39; Mar 12:30-31; Gal 5:14) Then, as the believer advances Spiritually he builds the Spiritual muscle to comply with every Divine Command regarding Impersonal love for all mankind. Increased capacity for Impersonal love is acquired through providential preventive suffering, which carries the believer into Spiritual autono­my. Impersonal love is then tested through the people test as part of momen­tum testing on the way to Spiritual maturity. Impersonal love is not indifference or a lack of compassion. It is the Virtue and the core of all successful personal relationships in friendship or romance. Impersonal love is a Virtue from God, attained in the fulfillment of the pro­tocol plan, whereas human personal love is an expression of man’s ego. Impersonal love emphasizes the Virtue, integrity and Spiritual growth of the subject; human personal love emphasizes the attractiveness and de­sirability of the object. Impersonal love encompasses the entire human race; human personal love is reserved for a few. Impersonal love is sustained by Truth; human  personal love is sustained by rapport and mutual admiration. Impersonal love is imperative, Commanded by God of all believers toward all mankind; human personal love is optional and exclusive. Impersonal love requires being in fellowship with God; personal love requires no qualifications — anyone can fall in love. Impersonal love is a problem-solving device; human personal love is a problem-manufacturing device. While personal love for members of the human race can be a distraction to the believer’s relationship with God, Impersonal love for all mankind is a manifestation of Personal love for God as the highest motivation in life. Im­personal love brings Virtue to all problems of love and hate, friendship and enmity, attraction and animosity. Impersonal love perpetuates its own honor, Virtue and integrity without retaliation, reaction, prejudice, discrimination or revenge. Impersonal love cannot be destroyed by hatred, persecution, unjust treatment, vindictiveness, or any other category of antagonism. (1Co 13:1-8) Impersonal love is the effective basis for dealing with all mankind! It is the quality of not allowing one’s personal feelings or emotions to motivate dis­courtesy and thoughtlessness. Impersonal love is the mental attitude that does not react in a personality conflict but treats others on the basis of one’s own Spiritual honor and integrity, with objectivity. Although Impersonal love begins to emerge in earlier stages of Christian growth, it is erratic prior to reaching Spiritual autonomy. In fact, the distin­guishing quality of Spiritual autonomy is Impersonal love for all mankind. An overview of the characteristics of Spiritual autonomy will describe the inner strength which animates Impersonal love.
     As the Christian advances in the Spiritual life, he utilizes available Divine omnipotence on a consistent basis in more areas of his life. When com­pared with the qualities previously listed under Spiritual self-esteem, the more powerful characteristics of Spiritual autonomy reflect this greater utilization of Divine omnipotence.

1. CONTINUATION OF CONTENTMENT. The believer possesses in­creased capacity for happiness and tranquility of soul. He can appreciate the grace of God at work in every circumstance of his life. The believer’s hap­piness increases in strength and becomes more constant in each stage of Spiritual adulthood. 
2. PERPETUATED MENTAL STABILITY. Mental attitude improves with each stage of Spiritual advance. 
     He who gets wisdom [Truth] loves his own soul; [Spiritual self-esteem from metabolized Truth] he who cherishes under­standing prospers. [Advances beyond Spiritual self-esteem to Spiritual autonomy] (Pro 19:8
     Keep on having this Thinking in you which also resided in Christ Jesus. (Php 2:5
     The believer with Spiritual autonomy is no longer as vulnerable to pressure as he was upon first entering Spiritual adulthood. He now has greater ability to concentrate so that he can apply Truth more consistently, in adversity as well as in prosperity. 
3. IMPERSONAL LOVE FOR ALL MANKIND. The consolidation of Impersonal love is the most dramatic difference between Spiritual self-esteem and Spiritual autonomy. Christian integrity enables the believer to treat all people on the basis of his own Virtue rather than borrow their strength or de­pend on their merits or attractiveness.
4. COGNITIVE SELF-CONFIDENCE. In Spiritual self-esteem the knowl­edge factor was called Epistemological rehabilitation, the process of renewing the mind by the hundreds of Spiritual Thoughts the believer metabolized in Spiritual childhood. In Spiritual autonomy the knowledge factor is cognitive self-confidence, which involves a more complete understanding of Truth from having utilized Divine problem-solving devices under providen­tial preventive suffering. The Spiritually autonomous believer knows that Truth works! He has greater confidence in God the Holy Spirit's ability to help him recall and accurately apply Truth (Joh 14:26) without distorting either the Truth or the ap­plication.
 5. GRACE ORIENTATION TO LIFE. While Spiritual self-esteem also in­cludes grace orientation, Spiritual autonomy involves a deeper appreciation for the grace policy which God administers to all believers. (Rom 5:17) Grace totally ex­cludes human effort, human strength, human merit and human ability. (Rom 8:8) Human advantages do not contribute to the execution of the protocol plan of God. (Php 3:4-6) The Christian way of life is a supernatural way of life demanding a supernatural means of execution. The Spiritually autonomous believer understands his total dependence on Divine omnipotence. (Rom 8:10-14) Orientation to God’s grace frees him from the last traces of legalism. (Mat 15:8) With Spiritual autonomy he does not abuse the freedom that grace gives him! Instead, he uses that freedom to comply with God’s will, purpose, and plan for his life! (Mat 20:26-28; Joh 12:24-26; Luk 17:10
6. DOCTRINAL ORIENTATION TO REALITY. The utilization of the Spiritual life, keeps the believer on the path of God's Reality, and avoids any arrogant drive toward human unreality. Because arrogance and subjectivity have been reduced to a minimum by providential preventive suffering, the Spiritually autonomous believer is able to habitually utilize the Spiritual life. He enjoys the full effectiveness of all Divine problem-solving devices. Spiritual autonomy is the summit of sani­ty and mental stability!     
7. GREATER DECISIONS FROM A POSITION OF STRENGTH. Right Thinking (Truth) and right motivation (Personal love for God) lead to right decisions. In each successive stage of Spiritual adulthood, the believer makes a higher percentage of good decisions. More good decisions mean more right actions, fulfilling the Principle that a right thing must be done in a right way in order to be right! In contrast, a right thing done in a wrong way is wrong, and a wrong thing done in a right way is also wrong. A wrong thing done in a wrong way obviously is wrong. Specifically, all Spiritual momentum and advance is a right thing done in a right way. This is the essence of Divine protocol. The basis for good decisions is the perception and metabolism of Truth; the good decision itself is the application of Truth! We Think with God's Thoughts, and use His will, His desire, His nature, (2Pe 1:4) not our own, this is how we serve Him, no other way! (Job 36:11; Mal 3:18; 2Co 5:15)
8. PERSONAL CONTROL OF ONE’S LIFE. The Spiritually autonomous Christian understands and accepts his own limitations. He also recognizes that the grace provision of invisible assets has removed all limitations to his ad­vance to Spiritual maturity, which is the ultimate objective. The advancing believer understands that he cannot manipulate others and at the same time maintain control over his own life. No one can tamper with the decisions of others and be objective in his own decisions. The Spiritually autonomous Christian, therefore, refrains from interfering in the lives of other people. (Pro 9:6-12) Spiritual autonomy restrains jealousy, possessiveness, defensiveness, and the inordinate desire to dominate others. Spiritual autonomy remains righteous without becoming self-righteous, and Virtuous without entering into crusader arrogance. 
9. A PERSONAL SENSE OF DESTINY. In Spiritual autonomy the Christian becomes increasingly aware of his own destiny within the protocol plan of God. God is his destiny! God has designed a powerful plan for blessing him to the maximum, a plan that enables his life to glorify Jesus Christ both now and forever! Once a believer is free from possessiveness and from seeking to control others, he can concentrate on exercising his God-given pre­rogatives within the framework of his own royal priesthood. He has learned to respect the privacy of others. (Rom 14:4) He has become tolerant of the weaknesses and flaws of those whom he would ordinarily resent. (Mat 9:10) His Impersonal love means that he can interact with others from the high ground of Christian integrity while con­centrating on the fulfillment of God’s purpose for his own life. (1Co 9:19-22) 
10. COMMAND OF SELF. As the powerful extension of Spiritual self­-esteem, Spiritual autonomy stabilizes the believer’s self-control, self-restraint, poise, and self-regulation. His soul is so inculcated with Truth that, under the filling of God the Holy Spirit, God's Thinking is sovereign over his life! (2Co 10:5) He is not controlled by emotion, the sin nature, (Mar 7:21-22; Rom 13:13-14) or by the human and satanic thinking in others! (1Ti 6:20) As a result of being in command of himself, the believer has a quality of communication with others, that avoids inordinate ambition and competition. (Col 3:12-13; 1Th 5:14)

11. QUALIFICATION FOR MOMENTUM TESTING. Because God never places more pressure on a believer than he can bear, (1Co 10:13) Spiritual autonomy is a prerequisite for momentum testing. By achieving Spiritual autonomy, the believer is ready to proceed into the next phase of his advance to Spiritual maturity. 
12. ATTAINMENT OF A NEW PHASE OF THE UNIQUE LIFE. The modus vivendi (Way of life) of the believer with Spiritual autonomy is described by the phrase “Christ [Is] at home in your hearts,” that is, in the Thinking portion of the mentality of the soul. (Eph 3:16-17


     Spiritual autonomy is not an isolated Virtue. It is an integral part of a great­er, compound Virtue, called Virtue-love, all parts of which have now been in­troduced so that the overall Concept may be presented. Spiritual autonomy marks the attainment of Gate 6 of the Spiritual life and the consolidation of Virtue-love. As the combination of Gates 5 and 6, Virtue-love creates marvelous capacity for life. Furthermore, energized by God the Holy Spirit, through the believer’s residence in the Spiritual life, Virtue-love also becomes the most versatile problem-solving device in the protocol plan of God. The system is the solution!
     But now faith, [The faith-rest drill] hope, [Confidence in prom­ised blessings] and love, [Virtue-love] these three, and the great­est of these is love! (1Co 13:13)
     Faith-rest and hope are useful methods of problem solving that become op­erational in Spiritual childhood. These two systems of applying Truth to experience continue to be effective in Spiritual adulthood. Virtue-love, however, is greater than faith-rest or hope. Because Virtue-love solves problems in the believer’s relationships with God and with others. (The believer needs to Think it: I love you Impersonally, (Under testing) until it is fully completed) In Gate 5, Personal love for God is Virtue-love directed toward God. This is the highest motivation in life! Personal love for God automatically gives the believer Spiritual self-esteem. Providential preventive suffering then strengthens Spiritual self-esteem, developing Spiritual autonomy in Gate 6. This becomes the inner strength that manifests itself in Impersonal love for all mankind, or Virtue-love directed toward others. The significance of Virtue-love can hardly be overemphasized. (Mat 22:35-40) Sustained by the power of the filling of God the Holy Spirit, fueled by a depth of Doctrinal resourc­es never available before the canon of Scripture was completed, (1Co 13:8-10) designed to follow the precedent of the glorified Christ, Virtue-love is an integral part of the operational Spiritual life. (Joh 15:9-10) More than a problem-solving device toward God and man, Virtue-love is also the believer’s capacity for life, love, and happiness. Virtue-love equips him to enjoy life while facing all categories of momentum testing. Without this tremendous system of Virtue, no member of the royal family could ad­vance the final distance into Spiritual maturity, and the maximum glorification of Jesus Christ. We will summarize and note how Impersonal love completes the construction of Virtue-love.
     Gates 5 and 6 of the Spiritual life represent a single Virtue, divided according to its objects and presented to indicate the sequence in which this overall Virtue is acquired. Personal love for God comes first. As Personal love for God increases, the believer’s attitude toward self improves: Spiritual self-esteem becomes Spiritual autonomy. Finally, as this inner strength becomes established in his soul, he is able to deal more consistently with others from Impersonal love. As previously noted, Impersonal love is defined by contrast to Personal love. Both of these categories of love can be illustrated in the sentence “I love you.” In human personal love, the emphasis is on the “you,” on the attractiveness, character, intelligence, and personality of the object of love. Personal love de­pends on rapport with the object. Obviously, personal love is exclusive. Only a few people receive any particular believer’s personal love, which requires a degree of intimacy, knowledge, trust and reciprocation. For compatibility to exist, the “I” and the “you” must perceive one another as fulfilling each other’s norms and standards. Impersonal love, on the other hand, is entirely a function of the “I,” the subject of the sentence, the one who loves. Because he is in fellowship, he possesses Virtue. The term Impersonal love acknowledges that no compatibility, familiarity, reciprocation or intimacy of any kind is required between the sub­ject and object. Impersonal love is the Spiritually autonomous believer’s un­conditional attitude toward everyone he meets. It is the expression of his use of God's gift, of the new Spiritual nature, (Eze 36:26; 2Pe 1:4) which is manifested by tolerance, patience, compassion, courtesy and generosity. Impersonal love excludes prejudice, hypocrisy, insensitivity and rudeness! The believer’s Impersonal love is inherently Virtuous because it can exist only when he has Virtue. By contrast, Personal love for another human being has no Virtue in itself. Any irresponsible fool can fall in love. Falling in love requires no intelligence, talent, ability or integrity. Personal love depends on the object rather than the subject of love; the one who loves may be deceived in his judgment of the ob­ject or may fantasize qualities in the object which do not exist. Personal love is often a problem- manufacturing device with no inherent problem-solving capability. There are two sources of Virtue in Personal love. For believers and unbelievers, adherence to the Laws of Divine establishment can support Personal esprit de corps love. For believers, attainment of Spiritual autonomy creates the Impersonal love that sustains Personal esprit de corps love. The only category of Personal love that is in­herently Virtuous and does not need to be sustained by Impersonal love is the believer’s Personal love for God. By the very perfection of His essence, God is eternally worthy of the Christian’s love! The very idea of tolerance toward perfect God is ludicrous and blasphemous. Therefore, the believer’s Personal love for God, which is inherently Virtu­ous, and his Impersonal love for all mankind, which is also Virtuous in itself, constitutes the composite strength of character which is called Virtue-love. (Joh 13:34-35; 1Jn 3:16; Joh 15:12-14)

     The value of Virtue-love becomes dramatically clear when we understand that there are three general categories of human love. 
2. VIRTUE-DEPENDENT LOVE (Personal esprit de corps love for man) 
3. VIRTUE-LOVE (Personal love for God; Impersonal love for man)
     Pseudo love is arrogance hidden behind a facade of emotion or hypocrisy of words. Pseudo love uses others for self-gratification, for personal advance­ment, or as props to hold up one’s weaknesses. Much that is passed off as genuine love is not love at all. As a notorious cause of human suffering; pseudo-love is removed by Spiritual growth in the Spiritual life, which results in Virtue-love and capacity for Virtue-dependent love. Virtue-dependent esprit de corps love includes romance and friendship. In romance es­pecially, but also in friendship, a person tends to idolize the object of love. But no one is perfect. An image of perfection imposed on anyone is certain to cause disappointment and frustration. Reality inevitably emerges. Even if the object of love is treated as a person and is not expected to meet unattainable standards, still his or her independence, vacillations, weaknesses and flaws of the old sin nature, will periodically strain the relationship. But this is only half the problem. Actually, the difficulties in personal love arise from far greater complications than those caused by the instability of one who is loved. The person who loves is also changeable and imperfect. His or her own quirks, instabili­ties, and sin nature collide with the imperfections and fluctuations in the object of love. The intimacy and honesty of personal love, by its very nature, multiply the odds against a successful relationship. In human personal love, each party’s problems are compounded by the other person’s problems. If a person cannot handle his own problems, he will never be able to deal with the problems of someone with whom he is intimate! Apart from Spiritual autono­my, personal love is an uncontrollable, unsustainable problem maker. Personal love between imperfect human beings is perpetually in a state of flux. Alterations in emotions, moods, physical health, intellectual preoccupa­tions, perceptions, misperceptions, reactions to external influences and demands all these conspire to disrupt the relationship. Petty irritations con­tinually intrude. In the eyes of the one who loves, the object of love may change from being attractive to unattractive to attractive again, from respon­sive to reactive, from charming to annoying. Beneath the emotional turbu­lence inherent in personal human love, however, Spiritual Impersonal love remains as constant as the Spiritually autonomous Christian’s own Spiritual life. The complex difficulties inherent in romance and friendship can be over­come. Wonderful relationships can be sustained, but the prerequisite is Virtue. (Gal 5:22-23) Romance and friendship are Virtue-dependent. Each individual must bring his or her own Virtue from their Spiritual growth. For the believer, God has provided the system by which to acquire and maintain this individual Virtue. The system is the Spiritual life, the be­liever’s royal palace, the protocol plan of God. The Virtue is found in Gates 5 and 6, called Virtue-love. By the time a believer reaches Spiritual autonomy, he has the full exercise of Virtue-love as the key problem-solving device of the entire Spiritual life. Virtue-love toward God and others is the strength of character that enables him to continue his Spiritual advance. With Virtue-love he can pass through the valley of momentum testing, which is the next category of suffer­ing for blessing, and advance to the high ground of Spiritual maturity.



     ALTHOUGH THIS STUDY FOCUSES ON ADVERSITY in the life of the be­liever in Jesus Christ, suffering is not the basic characteristic of Christianity. Instead, Spiritual autonomy gives the believer capacity to enjoy life in spite of any adversity that comes his way. His happiness does not depend on envi­ronment, possessions, or people! He can appreciate the pleasant details of life and cope with the disasters because he is not enslaved to circumstances. (1Ti 6:6-8) The problem-solving devices of the protocol plan of God enable the believer to equate prosperity and adversity, living and dying. (Php 1:20-21) Metabolized Truth in the believer’s soul causes him to personally love God! That ever-increasing love produces contentment and happiness, which he brings with him into every situation! Indeed, sharing the happiness of God in Spiritual adulthood is the most effective problem solving device in the pro­tocol plan of God! The believer advances by applying Truth under pressure, but it is the Truth he applies, not the suffering he endures, that causes his growth. Christianity is not a system of suffering. Truth explains suffering, and applied Truth; alleviates suffering in the soul. (Psa 119:61; Psa 119:92) There is no asceticism in the protocol plan of God, (Col 2:20-23) or Epicureanism. (Ecc 2:1-10) Suffering for its own sake is not a legitimate Christian objective. Tragically, many Christians never learn the Truth of suffering. To their way of thinking, adversity creates an aura of Spirituality. Presumptuously claiming to follow Christ in His sufferings, they attach importance to their own pain as if it brought them closer to God. They distort their lives to fit a crippling false Truth: They assume God honors self-sacrifice and Commands them to suffer. This malignant idea breeds arrogance, destroys capacity for life, and blasphemes the character of God. Legalism, asceticism, and a martyr complex impose unnecessary suffering on believers, but such self-induced misery has no place in Divine protocol. The saving work of Christ eliminates all human works for Salvation; (Eph 2:8-9) rebound by grace excludes all penance; (1Jn 1:9) the marvelous Truths of royal privilege and opportunity expose the arrogance of self-flagellation and self-mutilation. (Gal 5:12) God retains sovereign control over suffering in the protocol plan, which He will administer only to the right believer at the right time and to the right degree. God, not self, administers suffering for blessing. In other words, the be­liever must not look for trouble, it will come to him. (Act 5:17-20) On the contrary, he is to utilize Divine provi­sions for problem solving; the filling of God the Holy Spirit and Truth! Even Divine discipline exists for the purpose of blessing. A Christian may suffer for his beliefs, because Truth arouses animosity in those with hardened negative volition, (Mat 10:34-36) but the believer should not provoke animosity just to prove his loyalty to the Truth. The antago­nism a believer endures is neither an indication of Spiritual growth nor a proof of his effectiveness as a witness for Christ. Every Church Age believer is an ambassador of Jesus Christ in the devil’s world. (2Co 5:20) He is in the world but not of the world, and he is Commanded “not to love the world, nor the things in the world.” (1Jn 2:15-16) However, neither is he to cause un­necessary suffering by making himself unwelcome. The Christian’s commission as royal ambassador does not call upon him to be obnoxious and to cause resentment in order to claim that he “suffers for Jesus.” The Spiritually autonomous believer is motivated by Personal love for God, not by a desire to prove himself to God or man. Furthermore, the Truth in his soul is far too great a treasure to be flaunted before the enemies of the Truth. (Mat 7:6) He finds opportunities to present the Gospel to unbelievers and Truth to believers, in order to pass on Divine Thinking and good news. His purpose is neither to gain God’s approbation, nor to expose himself to the world’s hatred, it will happen because of growth. (Joh 15:18-21) Second Corinthians 6 teaches that we are to give “no cause for offense in anything, in order that the ministry be not discredited.” (2Co 6:3) The func­tion of the Spiritual life, (2Co 6:6-7) and the attainment of Spiritual autonomy give the believer excellence, quality and class as a royal ambas­sador of the Lord Jesus Christ. With Spiritual autonomy the royal ambassador can rise above, in “endurance, afflictions, hardships, distresses, beatings, imprisonments, tumults, labors, sleeplessness and hunger” if and when such testing’s occur. (2Co 6:4-5) Whether in prosperous or adverse circum­stances, (2Co 6:8) his love, loyalty and happiness are related to the Lord whom he represents. (Php 3:10)

     Spiritual autonomy not only gives the believer capacity for life as Christ’s representative on earth but also prepares him for the final approach to Spiritual maturity. In order to accelerate the believer’s momentum to the final ob­jective of maturity, God periodically inserts momentum testing among the ad­vancing believer’s blessings. Four categories of momentum testing characterize Christian suffering in the advance from Spiritual autonomy to Spiritual maturity: 
     The believer with Spiritual autonomy does not fear this formidable catalog of suffering. He has previously passed a warm-up exam for each of these tests. Now that his Spiritual self-esteem has become Spiritual autonomy, providen­tial preventive suffering has prepared him for the four categories of momen­tum testing he is about to encounter.
     At this stage in his Spiritual life, the believer should not be caught off guard by suffering. The pain will not be less than before. In fact, the suffering may be more intense, but he has the problem-solving devices necessary to take suffering in stride.

Selfish ambition, approval, preoccupation with others and self, as a Test of Momentum. 
     People testing challenges the believer from two antithetical directions: Bitter jealousy, antagonism and preoccupation with others, or Selfish ambition, approval, and preoccupation with self. (Jas 3:14-15) And sometimes both at the same time, in either case, the danger lies in relinquishing Spiritual autonomy and turning over control of one’s life to Satan! (Eph 6:11-12; 2Ti 2:24-26) A person the believer loves or admires may inordinately influence his life and happiness. Anyone he hates definitely usurps control. Personal love in the human race is Virtue-dependent. Lacking inherent Virtue, it relies on the integrity of Impersonal love as a problem-solving de­vice. This very dependence on Virtue-love makes every personal love relation­ship a test of the believer’s faithfulness to the Divine Command of staying in fellowship. (Gal 5:16) Will he overem­phasize the object of love to the point of compromising his personal sense of destiny in the protocol plan of God? Or will he integrate his human relation­ships into a consistent, balanced Christian life? Personal love emphasizes the object of love, but if a believer elevates the human object of his love above God, he fails the people test. In his desire to please the woman he loves, a man may turn over control of his life to her. He makes himself a slave, living by her whim rather than by the strength of his own soul. Ironically, as a slave he renounces all possibility of pleasing her. He ceases to be the man to whom she originally was attracted. The same may be true of a woman. Although a wife lives under her husband’s authority, she should not renounce her responsibility to God, out of her desire to please him. (Luk 14:26) Personal love does not require either party to surrender his or her autono­my to the other. God has a unique plan for each believer. Each is a royal priest before God and remains an individual. In a personal esprit de corps love relationship both the subject and the object must maintain integrity and contribute Virtue-love if the relationship is to have any success.
     The key to passing the people test is that people emphasis must not take precedence over God emphasis. (Luk 9:59-62) In other words, among the many legitimate activities and involvements in the believer’s life, Truth must receive first priority. (Rev 2:4) Human relationships are important in any normal life, but the Christian’s relationship with God in the Spiritual life enables human Personal esprit de corps love to succeed. Therefore, the believer must learn to say no, even to legitimate activities when they challenge the top priority of Truth, and obedience to the Truth! A believer may make his own choices in the selection of his friends and loved ones, but thereafter they will make many decisions for him unless he maintains his Spiritual autonomy.
     Be not deceived; evil friends corrupt good morals. (1Co 15:33)     
     He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the friends of fools will suffer evil. (Pro 13:20
     Personal love may not sound like an unpleasant momentum test. Everyone wants to be in love. Human personal love, however, is a problem-manufacturing device with no inherent problem-solving capability. When a person reveals his soul to someone he loves, the intimacy between one im­perfect person and another creates vulnerability to suffering. (Joh 2:24-25) Some of the greatest anguish in life comes from human personal love. Personal human love can avoid becoming misery and slavery, ONLY when accompanied by the Virtue of Im­personal love. Spiritual autonomy, therefore, is the inner strength that makes Personal esprit de corps love a marvelous blessing.  
Bitter jealousy, antagonism, and preoccupation with others, as a Test of Momentum. 
     Like  personal human love, antagonism can also cause the believer to surrender the control of his life to Satan. (1Jn 3:10) He may be driving down the freeway when another motorist cuts in front of him. The immediate reaction may be anger at that discourteous so-and-so, but anger is ridiculous in this situation. Suddenly the believer is upset and irritated; his whole attitude is distorted by this petty incident. He has turned over the custody of his happiness to a total stranger. If he refuses to recover from the mental attitude sin of anger through rebound, (1Jn 1:9) he may escalate his initial reaction into a foolish and potentially violent feud with the other driver. Any time a believer reacts to people with jealousy, bitterness, vindictiveness, or implacability, he immediately grants them control over his life. In an irra­tional attempt to regain control, he may vent his antagonism in gossip, malign­ing, false accusation, or even physical violence. (Eph 4:30-32) But by attacking the person to whom he has surrendered his happiness, the believer attacks his own happiness. Each antagonistic reaction carries him deeper into self-induced misery. When other people control a believer’s life, whether or not they want con­trol or even realize they have such influence, he blames them for his discon­tentment. But blaming others for self-induced misery, cuts off the possibility of the solution, and under the law of volitional responsibility, this intensifies the suffering. With Spiritual growth, the believer becomes aware of this pattern of unhappiness. (Pro 9:6) The specific solution to people testing is Impersonal love, in which the believer’s own inner strength is the basis for toleration of others. (Rom 12:18; Tit 3:2-3) Impersonal love is crystallized as an active component of Virtue-love only after the believer has attained Spiritual autonomy. Ultimately, the solution to all momentum testing is the believer’s happi­ness. (Neh 8:10; Psa 30:5) Happiness as a problem-solving device is the monopoly of God and His plan. The believer cannot depend on people for happiness; he must depend on God. (Pro 16:7; Joh 15:14) The believer must Think with God's Thoughts, and not his emotions, to avoid undue influence from those he loves, and to keep from falling into hatred toward those who irritate him! Spiritual momentum in the protocol plan of God will bring the believer to Spiritual autonomy where his contentment is stabilized, and where he can utilize Impersonal love as a solution to his problems with people. (1Jn 3:16)

     Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; [Not preoccupied with others] it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, [Not preoccupied with self] does not rejoice in unrighteousness, [Being out of fellowship] but rejoices with the Truth. (Joh 4:24) (1Co 13:4-6)

The Importance of Divine Thinking 
     Thought determines the believer’s life. In all stages of Christian growth the be­liever will face the pressure of Thought conflicts in his soul. Human thinking, will conflict with God's Thinking. False concepts will challenge Truth. Arrogance will intrude upon humility. Lies of all kinds will compete with the will and plan of God. Fear will paralyze rea­son. These are essentially private conflicts which the believer must resolve in his own soul. Quandaries, confusions, and unanswered questions motivate the positive believer to apply the resources of Truth he has learned. Con­centration on Truth accelerates his Spiritual growth! Thought testing also exists when circumstances are overtly prosperous and tranquil. A person is not always what he appears to be on the surface; the real person is the thought content of his soul. We either use our thoughts we received from Satan as the ruler of the world, through the sin nature, education, friends, family, movies and news, Etc. (Isa 65:2) Or from the daily transformation of our thinking into the very Thoughts Christ used to complete God's will for His life! (Rom 12:2; Heb 10:16)

     ...I am sending you, To open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness [Satan's thinking] to light [God's Thinking] and from the dominion of Satan [Satan's control] to God, [Christ's Kingdom and rule in the believer] that they may receive forgiveness of sins [Salvation] and an inheritance [Reward] among those who have been sanctified [Seated with Christ] by faith in Me. (Act 26:17-18)
     Make my joy complete by being of the same Mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. [To reach Spiritual maturity] Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, (Jas 3:14-15) but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus. (Php 2:2-5)
     For as he [A person] thinks within himself, so is he! He says to you, “Eat and drink!” but his heart [The place of thought] is not with you. (Pro 23:7
     Because a believer is what he thinks, a thought can make or break him, depending on the nature of the thought. If his thought is consistent with Truth, he advances in the Spiritual life. (Joh 15:8) If his thought is contrary to Truth, he is distracted from his true destiny in life. (1Ti 1:19-20)
     But they will say, It's hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart. (Jer 18:12)
     His mental attitude toward life is the function of his Thinking, the composite of all he knows and believes. Prayer illustrates the importance of Thought in fulfilling the believer’s private responsibilities before the Lord. Each member of the royal family is a priest with the tremendous privilege of representing himself before God. With privilege comes responsibility! God has established the protocol which the believer must follow in using prayer. The believer’s prayers must be con­sistent with God’s essence, objectives, and plan. Hence, accurate and careful Divine Thinking is the basis for effective prayer. When his prayers reflect God’s Own Thoughts and Desires, the believer can be confident of receiving yes answers! (Joh 15:7)
     Jesus explained that wrong and carnal thinking guarantees failure in prayer. 
     And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. (Mat 6:7)  
Thinking Truth or thinking Evil   
     Rational thinking is the essential human activity that distinguishes man from animals. Like the angels, man was created with a soul capable of rational thought. Therefore, the mentality of the soul is the battlefield of the angelic conflict. (Mic 4:12) When the believer thinks evil, he is evil. He resides in Satan’s cos­mic system. From evil thinking comes evil motivation; from evil motivation, evil actions. 
     For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. (Isa 64:6)
     And Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, Why are you thinking evil in your hearts? (Mat 9:4
     In contrast, Thinking that is consistent with the Truth, has enormous reper­cussions for good. (Heb 10:35) Salvation itself is received by a right Divine Thought, that we simply believe; that Jesus Christ is our Savior! 
     What do you Think about the Christ, whose son is He?... (Mat 22:42
     Mankind’s great enemy is a thought called arrogance. (Isa 14:13-14) Arrogance can in­flate or deflate man’s opinion of himself. He thinks he is better or worse than he actually is. Both self-promotion and self-condemning distort and deny Reality. God’s grace deals with us as we are, but a believer who does not live in objective Reality, (What God declares Reality to be) will never use God’s grace provisions to advance in the Spiritual life.
     For if anyone thinks he is something [Arrogance] when he is noth­ing, he deceives himself. (Gal 6:3
     Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. [Useless] Selah. (Psa 39:5)
     And again, THE LORD KNOWS THE REASONINGS [Thoughts] of the wise, THAT THEY ARE USELESS. (1Co 3:20)
     There is a grim tragic irony in arrogance. A person who thinks more of himself than he has a right to think, is actually depriving himself of his greatest advan­tages, the benefits that come with the fulfillment of God’s plan: To reach Spiritual maturity, to rule over our sin nature now, (Rom 8:12-13) and to reign for eternity with Christ! (Rev 3:21)
     For I say through the grace of God which has been given to me, to everyone who is among you, stop thinking of self in terms of arro­gance beyond what you ought to think, but Think in terms of sanity for the purpose of being rational without illusion, as God has assigned to each one a Standard [Of Spiritual Thinking] from Truth. (Rom 12:3
     Arrogance is illusion, unreality, and when perpetuated, arrogance becomes insanity. (1Sa 18:10-11) The preventive is the Truth. The Divine Commands that the believer must obey, in order to consistently pass Thought testing are summed up in Romans 12:2.  
     And do not be conformed to this world, (Jude 1:19) but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, [With the Mind of Christ] so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom 12:2
     “The renovation of thought” is accomplished over a period of time by giving Truth number one priority, by organizing one’s life around the daily perception of the Word of God. “The good, the well-pleasing, and the complete” is the protocol plan of God, executed in the palace of the Spiritual life. Only in the Spiritual life can the believer receive all the blessings God has prepared for him in prosperity or adversity. 
     Do not worry then, saying, [And Thinking] What will we eat? or What will we drink? or What will we wear for clothing? For the Gentiles[Unbelievers] eagerly seek all these things;  for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom [His Thoughts, Truth] and His righteousness, [Spiritual Maturity, being filled by God the Holy Spirit] and all these things, [Job, food clothing, transportation, Bible, Etc.] will be added to you! [Believe God's Thought's and Think with Them] (Isa 41:10-13) So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Isa 41:10) (Mat 6:31-34
Humility in Contrast to False Solutions 
     The model of right Thinking is the humanity of Jesus Christ, who con­stantly lived and functioned inside the prototype of the Spiritual life. God Commands us to Think with His Thoughts on every subject!  
     Keep on having this mental attitude in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. (Php 2:5
     Our Lord’s mental attitude of humility was manifested by His total con­formity to the plan of the Father. Humility, which is obedience to Divine authority, and orientation to God’s grace, should be the Attitude of every mem­ber of the royal family of God. (Isa 66:2)
     What are some of the false solutions which genuine humility avoids? RATIONALIZATION is self-justification; while blaming others for one’s own failures and sufferings. ANGER attacks a problem with temper tantrums, which manifest total irresponsibility. Unjustified anger ignores the problem, diverting attention in­stead to self, and attempting to cower people and control them with threats or violence. Power lust and approbation lust are often expressed through anger, which arises from feelings of inferiority that are temporarily assuaged by re­venge or by injuring those who challenge one’s inflated opinion of self. DEFENSE MECHANISMS attempt to insulate the believer’s mind from overpowering pressures. But such sociopathic functions as drug abuse, las­civiousness, and drunkenness merely compound the original problem by di­vorcing the believer from Reality. DENIAL ignores the problem in the blind hope that it will go away. Be­lievers who plead with God for miracles often fall into this false system of problem solving. SUBLIMATION OR ESCAPEISM reacts to frustration by finding a new outlet for pent-up emotions. A bored believer may seek happiness in social life, sex, or a pursuit of money. Most sublimation is directed into activities that are, “moral and normal” But which have been given a false priority above Truth and the plan of God.

Worship and Mental Combat 
     Paul depicts thought testing as a battle in the soul. But this is a battle for which God has devised brilliant strategy and tactics. He has powerfully armed, and fully supplied the believer to win this inner warfare against Satan's thinking.
     For the equipment and weapons of our warfare are not human attributes [Human thoughts] but attributes of power by means of God [God's Thoughts] against the destruction of fortifications, [Human defense mechanisms] assaulting and demolishing speculations [Satan’s multifaceted systems of false thinking] and every ob­stacle of arrogance attacking against the knowledge of God, [The Thinking of Christ] even making a prisoner of every thought [Demonic, and human] to the obedience of Christ, [The Mind of Christ] holding in readiness [Truth in the soul] to punish all deviation [False thinking] when your obedience has been fulfilled. [When we reach Spiritual maturity] (2Co 10:4-6)

     Although Divine Viewpoint Thinking searches out and destroys false satanic and human viewpoint, the destruction of incorrect ideas and attitudes is not the ultimate victory in thought testing. Victory lies in possessing the true perspective, Thinking with Divine Thoughts. (Pro 8:35)
     Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, [God's Thoughts] where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. [Satanic, and human thoughts] For you have died [To our will, desires, and thoughts] (Luk 17:33) and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, [Now] is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. [Full reward] (Col 3:1-4)
     Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, If you abide in My Word, [Learn and Think with the Mind of Christ] then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free. [From the control of the sin nature, and Satan's false reality, as the ruler of the world] (Rev 12:9) (Joh 8:31-32)
In other words, the worship of God is a mental attitude!
     God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit [The filling of God the Holy Spirit] and in Truth. [Knowing and Thinking, with God's Thoughts] (Joh 4:24)
     All aspects of worship are based upon Truth. In the Eucharist the believer concentrates on Christ, remembering the Truths that reveal His person and saving work. Music praises God in Doctrinal lyrics. Giving is a mental attitude. But by far the most important form of worship is concentrating on the teach­ing of God’s Word! As a result of victories on the battlefield of thought testing, the believer deepens his personal love for God, shares the happiness of God, and acquires inner beauty. Truth and joy always go together! (Php 2:2; 1Th 1:6; 1Jn 1:4)

Systems Defined, the Problem Stated 
     A system, as the term is used here, is an organization composed of people under the authority of other people, which functions according to a policy designed to fulfill a specific objective. Human society is a web of systems. Every individual belongs to many of these organizations, formal and informal. There are business corporations, military services, ecclesiastical organiza­tions, athletic teams, professional associations, universities, governmental de­partments, marriages, families, and many other systems. All of these are char­acterized by:
     There are good and bad systems, which may be successful or unsuccessful. The personnel — in authority and under authority — may be accomplished or incompetent. Objectives may be legitimate or doubtful, lucid or ill-defined. Policy may encourage people to excel or may oppress them. Problems inevi­tably exist in the complex of interlocking and overlapping systems that consti­tute human society. All these organizations involve people, no two of whom are alike and not one of whom is perfect. With so many old sin natures jostling against one another and expressing themselves day after day, no won­der system testing is an inescapable form of suffering that poses a major chal­lenge to the Christian’s Spiritual advance. What is a believer to do when he is treated unfairly by someone in authority over him? (1Pe 2:18) How should he respond to favoritism that promotes people who do inferior work? (1Pe 2:19) What if he has a personality conflict with his boss? (1Pe 2:23) Or how does he maintain his motivation and integrity when policies serve someone’s personal interests rather than strengthen the organization, when they conflict with normal living, or when they seem arbitrary and stupid? (1Pe 2:20) How does he cope with conflicting, vague, or impossible objectives? (1Pe 2:12) The dynamics and problems of organizations have been studied and written about by many distinguished authorities. Most problems boil down to arro­gance, expressed in incapacity, laziness, distraction by wrong priorities and ignorance. (Most people live by Satan's thinking!) The purpose of this study of Christian suffering is not to diagnose the weaknesses of particular systems and prescribe organizational remedies. Instead, the objective is to describe the believer’s mental attitude and function as a result of utilizing the Spiritual life and Divine Thinking. Spiritual au­tonomy enables him to survive and benefit from system testing.

Quit or Cope
     Two courses of action usually are open to the believer when confronted with system testing. He can quit, or he can cope with the pressure, using the Thinking of the Verses in the Bible, and available Divine omnipotence in fellowship! Certainly there are times to sepa­rate oneself from an organization. If a system’s objectives or policies are clearly evil, the believer should disassociate himself from it. This would apply to groups like the Communist Party, the Nazi Party, certain apostate churches and cults, criminal organizations, and paramilitary groups that undermine the authority of government through civil disobedience or terrorism. Separation is required in extreme cases, but quitting because of pressure is often a poor decision from a position of weakness. If the believer succumbs to the pressure, if he quits on relatively mild provocation, he has flunked the system test.
     If you falter in times of trouble, How small is your strength. (Pro 24:10)
     If the believer perseveres in a situation even when circumstances are less than perfect, and continues to do a good job, he will be vindicated and pro­moted Spiritually by the Lord! The vindication comes from residence in the power of the Spiritual life. The believer’s royal palace is strong enough to weather any storm; (Mat 7:24-25) if he will remain inside!  Spiritual autonomy gives the Christian the power to put the problem in the Lord’s hands (Psa 55:22) and continue to function without an arrogant reaction. Bitter­ness, implacability, self-pity, hatred, jealousy and revenge does not need to control the believer’s life simply because problems exist in a system to which he belongs. (Gen 50:20)

Spiritual Autonomy in System Testing 
     By remembering the component parts of Spiritual autonomy, the believer discovers the assets he needs in facing system testing. Spiritual autonomy is: 
2. Strengthened SPIRITUAL SELF-ESTEEM derived from 
3. PERSONAL LOVE FOR GOD, which is the result of 
4. TRUTH in the soul. 
     The believer will need all these qualities when confronted with system testing. In Spiritual autonomy the believer is motivated by his love for God. In any system to which he belongs, he does his job “not as pleasing men but unto God.” (Eph 6:5-8) He does not rely on the organization to furnish his moti­vation because he is self-motivated. (By Thinking with these Verses) The organization cannot destroy motiva­tion that it did not create in the first place! Only the believer can destroy his own motivation through negative volition to the protocol plan of God. (Not thinking with Truth) With Personal love for God as his motivational Virtue, the Spiritually autonomous Christian can contribute to the organization even when it may treat him unfairly. Needless to say, he does the best possible job (Rom 12:18) regardless of injustice, unfair criticism, or job discrimination. He does not complain or join in organizational conspiracies. (Php 2:14-15) Man is frequently unfair, but God is always fair. Man’s systems are flawed, but God’s protocol plan is perfect. Human beings in authority may be despic­able, but God is always worthy of respect. The Spiritually autonomous believ­er’s Personal love for God motivates Impersonal love for mankind, which en­ables him to be tolerant of the weaknesses and failures of others. When he is a victim of unfair leadership, unjust management, or an inefficient system, he deals with personality conflicts on the basis of Impersonal love. (Luk 18:27) In other words, he takes the attitude that the people who inflict system testing on him are simply contributing to his Spiritual advance. Since he loves God, God is working “all things together for good” in his behalf! (Rom 8:28) The inventory of Truth in the believer’s soul enables him to sub­mit to authority and be an asset to any organization. That same Truth strengthens him to endure system testing and through his professionalism to be a stabilizing influence for others who also may suffer from the organiza­tion’s pettiness, shortsightedness, or ineptitude.
     In the Epistle to the Colossians, Paul states the Principle, then illustrates from a variety of systems, and finally presents the correct application of Truth in system testing.
     Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart. Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, [Thinking Truth] fearing the Lord. [In fellowship] Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord, rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. (Col 3:17-24)
     The fact of God’s fairness applies to system testing. After the be­liever has used the appropriate Verses, he places his case before the Supreme Court of heaven. God is the perfect judge. (1Pe 4:19) There is no reason to complain and whine about unfairness. The believer is highly immature if he entertains the illusion that fallen, totally depraved human beings will always be enlightened and fair. This is the devil’s world. Injustice and discrimination are the norm under Satan’s administration. The Spiritually autonomous Christian will regard human weaknesses in the context of God’s plan. God is always fair to the believer. God has furnished powerful and effec­tive Divine Thoughts, and He intends for the believer to Think with Them, and bear the testing that He does not remove. (2Co 12:9-10) When separation from a flawed system is not justified, Spiritual autonomy gives the believer the strength to put the case before God, leave it there for the Divine solution, and cope with the situation as unto the Lord. (Job 5:8-9)
The Most Obvious Test 
     People testing, thought testing, and system testing may exert an insidious pressure on the believer. He must be alert to recognize these challenges to his Spiritual advance. When he has identified the nature of the test, he then can apply the appropriate problem-solving devices and pass the test. Disaster testing, however, is anything but subtle. The problem is not to identify the threat, but to endure the shock and to maintain poise for decision-making under extreme duress. There are two categories of disaster testing: 
     A personal disaster may be physical pain caused by injury, disease, handi­cap, or genetic weakness. It may be mental anguish, caused by loss of loved ones, reputation, success, employment, money or property. The privations of hunger, thirst, or exposure to heat or cold may be classified as personal dis­asters. Arrogance spawns personal disasters: Disdain for authority breeds criminals who trample the rights, privacy, and property of their victims. Those who break the law must suffer from the administration of justice. (Mat 26:52; Rom 13:4)
     An historical disaster is a situation that brings grief to many people. A large number of people may suffer from the weather, in heat and drought or in extreme and prolonged cold. Blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods cause widespread damage as do powerful earthquakes, tidal waves, or vol­canic eruptions. Insects or plant diseases may kill crops. Epidemics can decimate a population. The cycles of a free economy or adjustments in governmental policy may cause immediate hardships for large portions of society. Injustice victimizes many people where self-aggrandizement corrupts the integrity of leadership. When a nation declines, the evils of crime, terrorism, and drug abuse inflict terrible suffering upon the entire society. Arrogance, revenge, greed, inordi­nate ambition and power lust pit group against group, nation against nation, ultimately unleashing the violence of war with all its attendant suffering.

The Disaster of Economic Depression
     How does the Spiritually autonomous believer deal with a disaster that affects his entire nation? (Job 5:19) For example, how can he pass the test of economic depression? (Job 5:20-27) Throughout the centuries during which the Bible was written, the Jewish economy was agricultural. Famine was tantamount to depression. Hence, the term “economic depression” is translated “famine” in certain passages of Scripture. The economic health of a client nation to God is a rough index of the nation’s Spiritual condition. Economic prosperity is promised for nations that follow the laws of Divine establishment concerning economic freedom.
     If you walk in My statutes and keep My Commandments so as to carry them out, then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit. Indeed, your threshing will last for you until grape gathering, and grape gathering will last until sowing time. You will thus eat your food to the full and live securely in your land. (Lev 26:3-5)
     Economic recovery accompanies Spiritual recovery in the client nation. But when the economy is chronically depressed, the nation is usually in Spiritual decline. A client nation declines Spiritually when the “remnant,” the pivot of growing and mature believers in that nation, shrinks, (2Ki 19:4) while the number of believers who reject the plan of God increases. Furthermore, when the rem­nant becomes too small to counterbalance the human viewpoint influence of negative believers, God punishes the client nation with collective Divine discipline. Five cycles of discipline are administered to the client nation whose believ­ers refuse to recover their Spiritual momentum. The second cycle of discipline is economic recession; (Lev 26:18-20) the fourth cycle is economic depres­sion (Lev 26:23-26; Deut 28:15; Deut 28:23-24). The malaise (Sickness) of economic depression often is the weakness that brings on the fifth cycle, military conquest by a foreign power. (Lev 26:27-35; Deut 28:25-26)
The Advancing Believer in Disaster 
     Even while the nation suffers under Divine discipline, God never disregards the faithfulness of individual believers. (Dan 1:3-6) Under the disaster test of economic depression, the Spiritually autonomous believer uses all the problem-solving devices of Spiritual adulthood. He directs his hope toward Truth, his Per­sonal love toward God, his Impersonal love toward mankind, and his acquired Divine happiness toward himself. With these powerful Divine assets he can not only survive the storm but even enjoy it with total confidence in God’s plan for his life. Abram failed to use any problem solving devices in economic depression, but the Lord still supplied his every need (Gen 12:10; thru Gen 13:1). By neglecting to use the Truth he knew, Abram manufactured unnecessary pressure for himself and was unable to enjoy God’s provision as he could have. The proper Thoughts to think, in economic disaster is described by Peter.
     These [Momentum tests of all kinds] have come so that your faith [The application of Truth in fellowship]— of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire may be proved genuine, and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. [At the 2nd Advent, with the Judgment Seat of Christ, where eternal rewards will be based on Spiritual growth] Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him [Using the Thinking of the Spiritual life] and are filled with an inexpressi­ble and glorious joy. (1Pe 1:7-8)
     In disaster testing, the Spiritually adult believer uses the greatest of all problem solving devices, the happiness of God, which is described here as “inexpressible and glorious joy.” God shares His happiness with the believer first in Spiritual self-esteem, then more powerfully in Spiritual autonomy, and most effectively in Spiritual maturity! The believer inculcated with the Think­ing of God is happy or content in whatever circumstances he finds himself and can therefore cope with any pressure in life! (Php 4:11) Knowledge of Truth gives the believer a sense for historical trends so that he is alert to pending economic disasters. Infla­tion as a cause of depression is described as a factor in the fourth cycle of dis­cipline. (Lev 26:26) When depression is Divine discipline, only the Spiritual recovery of the believer can deliver the client nation. As go believers, so goes the nation!
     If disaster comes, whether the sword of judgment [War] or disease or economic depression, we will stand in Your presence before the temple that bears Your name [Where Truth was taught to the Jews by means of ritual] and will cry out [Pray] to You in our distress. Then You will both hear us and deliver us. (2Ch 20:9
     God protects the growing believer in disaster testing. The Spiritually au­tonomous believer has the privilege of understanding these Truths and of appreciating the One who protects and delivers him. (Jer 39:11-12; (Dan 3:25-30)
     Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall disaster or anguish or persecution or economic depression or privation or danger or sword? . . . But in all these things we win the supreme victory through Him who loves us. (Rom 8:35-37)


     When a believer suffers momentum testing, he is closing in on the objec­tive of the Christian way of life! Spiritual maturity is the next step! In people testing, thought testing, system testing or disaster testing, the Christian’s mental attitude can be characterized by eager anticipation and stimulation de­spite the pain he suffers! Metabolized Truth enables him to see how close he is to achieving maturity. Paul himself is an example of the believer's attitude when beset by momentum testing after a major personal failure. He had reached Spiritual self-esteem, (Which is vulnerable to arrogance) (2Co 12:7) and had successfully faced providential preventive suffering so that he gained Spiritual autonomy. Then, in a resurgence of sentimentality, and in defiance of the Truth he knew, (Rom 11:2-5; Gal 2:7) and the warnings of the Holy Spirit, and through others, (Act 21:10-14) and his own Spiritual common sense, Paul abandoned his thriving ministry to the Gentiles in the Aegean Quadrangle and returned to Jerusalem. Paul blended sincerity, arrogance, and sentimentality producing a disastrous result! His unbelieving countrymen were adamantly negative to the Gospel, as they had previously opposed Christ, and the legalistic Jewish Christians were negative to Truth. To gain an audience with the Jews, Paul went so far as to compromise his integrity, taking a blasphemous religious vow in the Temple. (Act 21:21-24) Beginning with a riot in the Temple and an assassination plot against him, a two-year imprisonment ensued, which carried Paul to Rome. Paul quickly recognized his failure and rebounded, (1Jn 1:9) so that the purpose of this long period of suffering changed from cursing to blessing. Paul had initiated a sequence of suffering with his own decisions, but God converted cursing into blessing as soon as Paul used rebound and reentered his Spiritual life. The apostle did not languish in his failure. He evaluated his situation long enough to learn his lesson, then gratefully pressed forward in the plan of God.
     Leaving False Confidence Behind: Paul opens Philippians 3 by repeating a warning that he himself had disregarded in his Jerusalem fiasco. Believers must beware of religion with all its emotional appeal, self-righteousness, coercion, and potential violence. (Act 14:11-19) In particular, Paul cites his own aristocratic background, zeal, and fame in Judaism. Religion had channeled his intellect and energy, had flattered and promoted him, had given him tremendous “confidence in the flesh.” (Php 3:4) Through his personal faith in Christ and inculcation with Truth, Paul had renounced his misplaced confidence in his old sin nature. (Php 3:3) Instead of self, Christ was now the focus of his attention. Personal love for God had superseded arrogance as the foundation of his attitude toward himself.
     But whatever things were gain [Profit] to me, those things [His status symbols in Israel] I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I conclude all things to be loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for the sake of whom I have suffered the loss of all things [His Jewish celebrity, will, and desires] (Joh 12:25) and conclude them [To be] human excrement, that I may gain Christ. (Php 3:7-8)
     “Gaining Christ” is a synonym for fulfilling the protocol plan of God. (Php 1:20-21) Paul expresses his desire to advance in the operational Spiritual life all the way to Gate 8, Spiritual maturity, just as the humanity of Christ set the precedent for the royal family by attaining Spiritual maturity in the prototype Spiritual life!
     That I may be found in Him [As a member of the royal family, in union with Christ] not having a righteousness of my own from the Law [Self-righteousness] but that [Divine righteousness] acquired through faith in Christ, that righteousness from God on the basis of faith. (Php 3:9)
     To “gain Christ” a person must first believe in Christ. At the moment of faith alone in Christ alone, God permanently imputes His own absolute righteousness to every believer, eliminating any need to earn God's approbation, with the human righteousness of religion or of good deeds. Man appropriates Salvation only according to Divine protocol: “by grace are you saved through faith; [In Christ] . . . not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Eph 2:8-9After Salvation the believer must continue to follow Divine protocol. Human works cannot earn Salvation, (Positional righteousness) nor can human production, “Works” earn Spiritual maturity, (Experiential righteousness) or blessings after Salvation. (Gal 3:2-3) God's grace policy is consistent. The believer lives the Christian way of life by following God's Commands. As a teaching aid, the Spiritual life consolidates God's Commands, making His grace policy understandable, systematically presenting the means by which we “grow in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2Pe 3:18)
     That I may know Him [Spiritual Maturity] and the power of His resurrection [The resurrection Spiritual life] and the fellowship of His sufferings, [Thought, people, system and disaster testing] being conformed to His death; [Experiential death, (Joh 12:24-26) to His [Christ's] human nature's will and desires] (Mat 26:39; 1Pe 4:1; Php 3:3-10)
     In Philippians 3:10 Paul emphasizes suffering, but he begins by stating the importance of post-Salvation Epistemological rehabilitation (With the Word of God) related to Spiritual self-esteem. Although Paul is in Spiritual maturity as he writes, he is giving us the benefit of his experience in Spiritual self-esteem. Therefore, he begins verse 10 with the infinitive of purpose of the verb, (Ginosko) “to know.” The infinitive of purpose indicates the objective or purpose of the action of the main verb, which is found in verse 8, “I conclude all things to be loss.., that I may know Him.” Paul reached this conclusion through understanding Truth.  Knowing Christ, or Occupation with Christ, is one of the characteristics of Spiritual self-esteem. From the Viewpoint of Spiritual self-esteem, Paul now turns his attention to the power of God, in the resurrection Spiritual life.

The Great Power Demonstration
     Jesus Christ experienced two unique deaths on the Cross. The substitutionary Spiritual death of Christ provides eternal Salvation for the human race. The physical death of Christ involved our Lord's body going into the grave, (Luk 23:50-53) And His soul and spirit, were taken by the Holy Spirit into Paradise, (Luk 23:43; Luk 23:46; Joh 19:30) and the Abyss, which is one of the compartments of Hades in the heart of the earth. (Rom 10:7; 1Pe 3:18-19) In the resurrection of Christ, from His unique physical death, three categories of Divine power were displayed. The omnipotence of God the Father became an agent of the resurrection of Christ. (Act 2:27; Act 2:24; Rom 6:4; Eph 1:20; Col 2:12; 1Th 1:10; 1Pe 1:21) The omnipotence of God the Holy Spirit also became an agent of Christ's resurrection. (Rom 1:4; Rom 8:11) And Christ also had His part in His own resurrection. (Joh 10:17-18) The power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is now available to every member of the royal family for the execution of the protocol plan of God. This magnificent grace provision is unknown to the believer until discovered in the New Testament, and communicated by the pastor under the ministry of God the Holy Spirit. The Church Age is a tangible result of policy, the unique Divine policy of making the Spiritual life totally and equally available to every member of the royal family. (Gal 3:28) One of the results of the baptism of the Holy Spirit at Salvation is the creation of a new Spiritual species, the royal family of God. (2Co 5:17) The purpose of creating this new Spiritual species is to enable the Church Age believer to utilize Divine power, which is made available in three categories:
1. The OMNIPOTENCE OF GOD THE FATHER related to providing our portfolio of invisible assets,
2. The OMNIPOTENCE OF GOD THE SON related to sustaining the universe and perpetuating human history,
3. The OMNIPOTENCE OF GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT related to empowering the Spiritual life. 
     Never before in human history has so much Divine power been made available to so many believers as in the great power demonstration of the Church Age. The utilization of the Spiritual life is the basis for the believer having invisible impact during the Church Age. There are three categories of impact:
1. PERSONAL IMPACT from blessing by association with the mature believer,
2. HISTORICAL IMPACT from blessing by association with the pivot of mature believers in a client nation to God,
3. INTERNATIONAL IMPACT from blessing by association for non-client nations through Spiritually mature missionaries sent out from a client nation.    
     This briefly explains what Paul means when he declares that his purpose is to “know Him and the power of His resurrection.” Paul now addresses the subject of suffering as he continues to describe his purpose in life: “and [That I may know] the fellowship of His sufferings,” (Php 3:10) referring to our Lord's suffering for blessing, during His first advent. (Heb 5:8; 1Pe 4:1-2)
     The Fellowship of Christ's Sufferings: As the way of growing the believer in the Spiritual life. Three categories of suffering for blessing are available to every believer who reaches Spiritual adulthood.
1. PROVIDENTIAL PREVENTIVE SUFFERING challenges the believer's Spiritual self-esteem, hinders arrogance, and serves as a warm-up for momentum testing.
 2. MOMENTUM TESTING exercises the believer's Spiritual autonomy through people testing, thought testing, organization testing, and disaster testing.
3. EVIDENCE TESTING demonstrates the Divine dynamics of Spiritual maturity and glorifies God to the maximum.
     These unique systems of suffering for blessing were first experienced by the humanity of Christ in the prototype Spiritual life. These same systems of suffering for blessing are now available to accelerate the momentum of every Spiritually adult       believer as he advances inside the operational Spiritual life. “The fellowship of His sufferings” describes the Church Age believer's utilization of Spiritually adult problem-solving devices. The consistent application of these problem-solving devices equates adversity and prosperity, living and dying. (Gal 2:20; Php 1:21) Paul cites the supreme example of our Lord's suffering when he speaks of “having become like [Christ] with reference to His death.” (Experiential death) The Greek compound verb, (Summorphizo) in the passive voice, means “growing into conformity” indicating the practical apprehension of the death of the human nature, in will, word, and thought, (Luk 22:42; Joh 8:28; Joh 12:49; Joh 14:10) and fulfilling his share of the sufferings to die to his own life, will, and word, following upon the example of Christ. (Joh 12:24-26; Rom 6:5; Rom 8:10-13; 2Co 4:10-11)
     Our Lord shows the maximum example, of positive volition: In His mind, soul, spirit, and body: In the mentality (Spiritual Thinking) of His humanity, of experiential death, to His will, desire and self-preservation. (Luk 12:50; Luk 22:44; Mat 26:38; Mat 26:53-54) In His spirit: He also died Spiritually on the cross when His soul was judged for our sins. (Isa 53:10-11; Mat 27:46; Mar 15:34; Luk 23:44; 2Co 5:21) In His body: He also was tortured, rejected, betrayed, and died physically. (Isa 53:3-9; Mar 15:15-20; Joh 18:2; Joh 19:33-34) We have nothing to complain about! (Heb 12:3-4) Blood, (Heb 9:18; Heb 10:29; Heb 12:24; Heb 13:20) sweat, (Luk 22:44) and tears; (Heb 5:7) and not a bone was broken, (Num 9:12; Joh 19:36) in the Old Testament the lamb was symbolically judged for sins, (Exodus 29:15) but literally bled to death! (Exodus 29:16) Christ was literally judged for our sins, (Rom 8:3) but did not bleed to death! (Joh 19:30) All in a days work! This is Amazing Grace! So the blood of Christ, in the New Testament represents: Spiritual death, Judgment, Salvation, Propitiation, Sanctification, Atonement, Justification Redemption, or all the above depending on the context. (Rev 1:5; 1Pe 1:2; Heb 13:12) Etc.
     The same power that sustained Jesus on the Cross is now available to every member of the royal family. As a result of Christ's strategic victory on the cross, four dynamic problem-solving devices were made available to every Church Age believer who achieves Spiritual adulthood through residence, function, and momentum inside the Spiritual life.
1. TOWARD GOD: Personal love for God as the motivational Virtue of Spiritual self-esteem.
2. TOWARD PEOPLE: Impersonal love for all mankind as the functional Virtue of Spiritual autonomy.
3. TOWARD TRUTH: hope as the goal orientation of Spiritual adulthood.
4. TOWARD SELF: sharing the happiness of God.
     While all four of these problem-solving devices were used by the humanity of Christ on the cross, sharing the happiness of God is emphasized in (Heb 12:2). When we utilize these Divine problem-solving devices, we are using the resources that sustained our Lord's humanity in purchasing our so great Salvation. (Heb 9:14)
     God was glorified by Christ's strategic victory in the angelic conflict. God is also glorified when members of the royal family win tactical victories as they utilize Divine assets under pressure en route to Spiritual maturity. (Joh 15:8) At Spiritual maturity the believer acquires capacity to receive special blessings and to pass evidence testing, both of which glorify God to the maximum. (2Ti 4:7) Confidence from the fact of the Resurrection life: The pattern of maximum glorification of God continues in every generation of the New Covenant Age, until the end of the millennium when the royal family is completely formed. (Rev 21:3
     In order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Rom 8:10-11) Not that I have already obtained it [Fully] or have already become perfect, [Maximum Spiritual maturity] but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. [To receive full reward] Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind [The victories and the failures] and reaching forward to what lies ahead, [Full Spiritual maturity] I press on toward the goal for the prize, [Full Reward] of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, [Mature believers] have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same Standard [The amount of the Thinking of Christ] to which we have attained. Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, [Carnal believers] of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, [No reward] whose god is their appetite, [Living by the lust of the flesh] and whose glory is in their shame, [Living for the pride of life] who set their minds on earthly things. [Living for the lust of the eyes, what they think is important] For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. [At the Second Advent, and at the end of the Millennium] (Php 3:13-21)
     In Spiritual adulthood, suffering for blessing accelerates growth. This does not exclude prosperity from the believer's life. Overt prosperity poses difficulties of its own and is actually a form of momentum testing. The Spiritual adult will face distractions in prosperity and in adversity, just as he will share the happiness of God through the utilization of God's Thoughts, in prosperity or in adversity. The Principle is that periodic suffering for blessing is a means of Spiritual momentum: Inner prosperity, regardless of circumstances, is a result of momentum, so keep moving!
     Sanctification is the work of God in making each member of the royal family like Jesus Christ. Paul expressed this initial stage of Positional sanctification in, (Php 3:9) “the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.” Experiential sanctification is the execution of the protocol plan of God on earth, as we follow our Lord's precedent in the prototype Spiritual life through our residence in the operational Spiritual life. This second stage of sanctification is described in, (Php 3:10) “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.” Ultimate sanctification is the possession of a resurrection body like the resurrection body of Jesus Christ. This final stage of sanctification is anticipated in, (Php 3:21) “who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory.”
     According to Paul's autobiographical retrospection, when he attained Spiritual autonomy his mental attitude was genuine humility. The great apostle did not rest on his laurels or become arrogant about his Spiritual stature. Instead, he recognized that he had not reached the final objective. He had not yet fulfilled the protocol plan of God by advancing to full Spiritual maturity. No believer attains Spiritual maturity (Maximum maturity) until in the status of Spiritual autonomy, he passes the four parts of momentum testing: people testing, system testing, thought testing, and disaster testing!

Losing and Regaining Spiritual Momentum
     Many years earlier, Paul had passed the first category of suffering for blessing: Providential preventive suffering, which is a warm-up for momentum testing. With arrogance effectively checked, Spiritual autonomy gave him the ability to accurately evaluate his own Spiritual status. Objective self-evaluation is necessary to avoid the hazard of living in the past and bogging down before achieving the goal. The danger of losing Spiritual momentum was familiar to Paul. In fact, he is describing his second attainment of Spiritual autonomy. The first time he reached Spiritual autonomy; he lost his Spiritual momentum and retrogressed in the plan of God. By learning the hard way, Paul came to understand the wisdom of the Roman maxim: Qui non proficit deficit. “He who does not go forward, goes backward!”
     Paul's failure began when he ignored the will of God and assuaged his own sentimentality by returning to Jerusalem. He compromised his integrity, incited the fanatical hatred of the religious Jews, and endured two years of incarceration in Caesarea before being transported as a prisoner to Rome. Paul suffered intensely. Initially, Divine discipline motivated rebound, followed by momentum testing which accelerated Paul's renewed Spiritual advance. As a result of suffering for blessing, Paul arrived in Rome as a Spiritually mature believer. During the two years in Caesarea and in the shipwreck on the coast of Malta, Paul passed all four parts of momentum testing. We can trace his momentum testing. People testing included the vicious attitude of Ananias, the high priest, (Act 23:1-5) Disaster testing threatened Paul's life in the assassination plot against him in Jerusalem (Act 23:12-14) and the rejection of the Gospel by King Herod Agrippa II, his sister Bernice, and the court that attended them. (Act 26:1-32) System testing frustrated Paul through the malfunction of Roman justice under Felix and Festus, the two successive procurators of the Roman province of Judea. (Act 24:22-25; Act 26:32) Thought testing challenged Paul's mental attitude when he had to face the unthinking panic of passengers and crew during the storm at sea,  (Act 27:31-44) when he was bitten by the poisonous snake after saving everyone's life in the shipwreck, (Act 28:3-6) and when he was rejected by the Jews upon finally reaching Rome. (Act 28:23-31) These tests come all at the same time, and at all times! It all comes down to this, are we going to Think with God's Thoughts and Reality, or Satan's!
     Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way [Of unbelief and or religion] And the unrighteous man [Carnal believer] his thoughts; [Satanic and human] And let him return to the LORD, [Rebound] And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. [Back in fellowship] For My Thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways [Human realities] My Ways, [God's ONE REALITY] declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My Ways higher than your ways And My Thoughts than your thoughts. (Isa 55:6-9)
     While still a prisoner in Rome, Paul wrote Philippians in the status of Spiritual maturity. This fact is implied in the increments of momentum testing that he passed prior to reaching Rome. His Spiritual status is confirmed by comparing the Greek verb, (Teleioo) translated “or have already accomplished [Spiritual Maturity]” in verse, (Php 3:12) with its cognate noun, (Teleios) translated “as many as are Spiritually mature” in, (Php 3:15). Paul had completely recovered from his failure. As a Spiritually mature believer living entirely within the will of God, he embarked on his fourth missionary journey, after his acquittal by Caesar. Paul's evidence testing began during his first Roman imprisonment and probably continued during part of the fourth missionary journey through the Roman provinces of Asia, Gaul, and Spain. (Php 2:23-24; Phm 1:22; Rom 15:24) In looking back over his recent recovery, Paul remembered that when he was still in Spiritual autonomy he knew he had not “already achieved” Spiritual maturity. He also recalled being keenly aware that he was closing in on the goal. Consequently, he took the offensive in his advance to the high ground of Spiritual maturity. “I keep on pursuing [The objective].” Refusing to be discouraged, Paul would not be hindered by past failure! He had learned to rebound and keep moving! His aggressive action in Spiritual autonomy took the form of persistence in positive volition, the accumulation of metabolized Truth, the utilization of the Spiritual life, and the use of problem-solving devices in momentum testing. He thus followed the example that the humanity of Christ had established during the Incarnation for every Church Age believer. (Heb 12:1-4)
Steadiness of Purpose
     Paul interjects a classical Greek grammatical construction as an expression of purpose and expectation. His purpose is “to overtake, to seize, to attain” the objective of Spiritual maturity, and he confidently expects to fulfill that purpose! He anticipates his advance to Spiritual maturity through the valley of momentum testing. In other words, Paul in Spiritual autonomy knows that suffering is coming. He knows the pattern! Just as Spiritual self-esteem plus providential preventive suffering equals Spiritual autonomy, so also Spiritual autonomy plus momentum testing equals Spiritual maturity. Rather than be caught off guard and victimized by suffering, he takes an aggressive approach to adversity! When Paul writes “I keep pursuing [The objective] in order that I may overtake it,” (Php 3:12) he uses military terminology. He steadily advances by his continual reception, retention, and recall of Truth. (Using rebound as needed, and resisting sin) He moves forward by using the problem-solving devices of hope in Truth, Personal love for God, Impersonal love for all mankind, and sharing the happiness of God within himself. He presses on, knowing that God will accelerate his advance through the suffering of momentum testing! No arrogant illusions remain in Paul's Thinking! He may be pursuing the goal, but he always remembers whose goal it is, and in whose power he is able to attain this goal! (Php 3:3) He returns to square one, the first step into the Christian way of life, the perspective of Salvation by grace. The objective that he concentrates on overtaking is the same goal “for which Paul also was Pursued and overtaken by Christ Jesus.” Jesus Christ's objective has become Paul's objective. That goal is the maximum glorification of God! For Paul's advantage Jesus Christ pursued and overtook Saul of Tarsus, as Paul was then known, on the road to Damascus. Our Lord's purpose in inflicting the pain of blindness on that young overzealous Pharisee; was that Saul might believe in Christ. Likewise, God's purpose in imposing momentum testing on the great apostle was that Paul might fulfill the protocol plan of God by attaining Spiritual maturity. The intended (And accomplished) result of administering suffering to Paul was glorification of God to the maximum! (Php 3:12) Documents the fact that Spiritual maturity is the objective of the Christian life! Paul is not practicing false humility by declaring that he has not reached the goal. In this retrospective verse, he recalls that when he was in Spiritual autonomy he knew that he had not yet arrived at Spiritual maturity. He possessed the strong self-esteem that belongs to the believer in Spiritual autonomy, but he entertained no illusions about himself. He accurately evaluated his Spiritual life and recognized his need to keep pursuing the objective. A believer who evaluates himself objectively perpetuates his momentum and eventually reaches Spiritual maturity!
The Basis for Objective Self-Evaluation
     Brethren, I do not regard [Logizomai] myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind [The victories and the failures] and reaching forward to what lies ahead, [Full Spiritual maturity] I press on toward the goal for the prize, [Full Reward] of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Php 3:13-14)
     The Greek verb Paul uses to describe his self-evaluation is (Logizomai) which has a prominent place in Greek philosophical discourse. This verb connotes non-emotional Thinking according to strict logical rules, apprehension of something actually present, the representation of facts as they are.
There are two objective standards for self-analysis available to every member of the royal family of God:
1. Perception, metabolism, and application of TRUTH,
 2. The Doctrine of SUFFERING.
     The believer's attitude toward Divine Thinking changes as a result of post-Salvation Epistemological rehabilitation. Truth in the soul creates a desire for more Truth. Initially the immature Christian listens to Bible teaching for a variety of motives that carry over from his life as an unbeliever, but gradually human thinking is replaced, by Divine Thinking. (Pro 11:20) The believer's academic discipline and concentration on the Word of God become stronger as he develops Personal love for God, the highest motivation in life! The Spiritually adult believer approaches the perception of Truth with a new mental attitude. He concentrates on the Mind of Christ, (1Co 2:16) because he is Occupied with the person of Christ, (Php 1:21) and has begun to share the happiness of God. (Joh 15:11) The believer knows that he has attained Spiritual adulthood because his perception, metabolism, and application of Truth cease to be a means to an end and instead become ends in themselves! He takes genuine pleasure in the Word of God. The perception of Truth is the highest form of worship! (Psa 101:6)
     The Christian's second Standard for objective self-evaluation is the Doctrine of suffering. This Spiritual yardstick must be used with caution because many variables are involved. The overt circumstances of life have a wide variety of causes. Comparing the experience of one believer to that of another is never precise. Two believers may experience similar disasters, but in one case the pressure is suffering for blessing while in the other it is Divine discipline. The difference lies in the Spiritual advance or retrogression of the believer, not in the overt circumstances of life. Therefore, no suffering in itself conclusively indicates a Christian's Spiritual status. Furthermore, the blend of adversity and prosperity is unique in every life by Divine design. Yet even prosperity can have at least three legitimate sources: blessing by association, logistical grace or escrow blessings. Of these three sources, only escrow blessings are connected with a specific Spiritual status. Blessing by association can prosper anyone in the periphery of a mature believer, (1Co 10:2) and logistical grace is guaranteed to every believer, whether winner or loser. (Luk 6:35) Neither adversity itself nor prosperity itself is necessarily a sign of Spiritual progress. In fact, Paul's self-evaluation emphasizes the stage of growth he has not attained, (Humility) rather than the stage he has attained. A believer can use suffering as a barometer of Spiritual growth only in the sense that pressure forces him to apply the Truth in his soul. His ability to utilize the Doctrinal inventory in his soul under stress indicates his level of advance! If he falls apart in every crisis, he has a long way to go before reaching Spiritual maturity. If his Occupation with Christ, reliance on Truth, and utilization of the Spiritual life enable him to take suffering in stride, he is making progress in Spiritual adulthood. From Paul's experience of the Reality of Truth under momentum testing, he knew that he had reached Spiritual autonomy, and was closing in on Spiritual maturity. The purpose of this self-knowledge is not to compare oneself with other Christians, (2Co 10:12) but to motivate continued momentum in the protocol plan of God. There is no substitute for Truth, as the only measure and standard for self-analysis in the plan of God. The successful application of Truth under pressure demonstrates the effectiveness and power of the Spiritual life, (2Co 12:9) and as a result, increases the advancing believer's Personal love for God and Spiritual self-esteem.

An Athlete's Determination! (Php 3:13)
     Following Paul's self-evaluation, he uses ellipsis in an idiom of concentration; an abbreviated interjectional clause-to eliminate the negative and emphasize the positive. “But [I concentrate on] one thing” indicates that he has blotted out, forgotten, or disregarded past failures and is pressing on to Spiritual maturity, as the final objective! Paul used rebound and rapidly recovered from his Jerusalem fiasco. By “forgetting the things which are behind,” Paul demonstrates a Principle that applies to every believer. Recalling past failures causes bitterness, self-pity, and a guilt complex, and hence further involvement in Satan's cosmic system. When remembered and pored over, failures compound current problems and hinder advance in the Spiritual life. God has a purpose for every believer, and that purpose is to rebound and keep moving! Paul's retrospective exposition is designed to encourage believers to confess their sins to God, to keep short accounts with Him, to forget past failures, to concentrate on present momentum in the Spiritual life. The Christian must not handicap himself. Past punitive suffering, whether self-induced misery or Divine discipline, must not hinder his execution of Divine protocol in present suffering for blessing. All believers periodically fail; only losers allow past failures to hinder their current progress in the protocol plan of God! On the one hand, Paul forgets past failures, and on the other hand, he “stretches out or strains forward toward the goal or finish line!” In (Php 3:13-14) Paul uses an athletic analogy. Just as an Olympic class runner maintains his form in spite of physical agony, so also the believer continues to follow Divine protocol in the midst of suffering! Paul has rounded the final turn of Spiritual autonomy and is sprinting down the home stretch toward Spiritual maturity. Just as the athlete drives for the finish line, so also the believer concentrates on the objective, unhindered by distractions, (Heb 12:1) as he undergoes momentum testing. “Straining forward” and “pressing on” portray the aggressive mental attitude of the believer who has nearly reached Spiritual maturity. His goal is the maximum glorification of God which will become a Reality in his life at reaching Spiritual maturity. God glorifies Himself, by distributing the special blessings He created for each believer in eternity past, but only the mature believer has the ever increasing capacity to receive these fabulous blessings. God has an infinite amount of Truth and Blessings, for time and eternity, and this is the prize, the goal, the purpose for which the believer was saved. To Love God, and to be loved by God! (Rev 21:7)
     The “upward call from God” refers to the ministry of God the Holy Spirit at the instant an individual first believes in Christ! (Joh 6:44-45) Every member of the human race is born Spiritually dead, unable to comprehend Spiritual Thoughts and totally incapable of a relationship with God. (1Co 2:14) We have a Spiritually dead understanding and a Spiritually dead faith. The ministry of God the Holy Spirit is necessary, first, to make the Gospel clear and, second, to make our faith in Christ effective for Salvation. In itself our faith has no power to save us; the Holy Spirit must take our faith and make it effectual or effective in establishing an eternal relationship with God. (Tit 3:5-7)
     We receive no credit even for believing in Christ; all glory belongs to God. We are saved exclusively as a gift, and all the power is from God. The “upward call” is the work of God the Holy Spirit in the lucid presentation of the Gospel. This call is designated common grace because it is extended to every individual. (Psa 19:1-4; Rom 10:18) The Holy Spirit's ministry in converting the believer's faith into eternal Salvation is called efficacious grace. (Eph 2:8-9) In every case where common grace is not followed by faith in Christ, efficacious grace does not occur. The Divine purpose in saving us is that we might attain the prize of Spiritual maturity! Spiritual maturity, Divine blessings, and the glorification of God, form the complete package awarded to the Spiritual winner! (Rev 22:12-14)
     Therefore, as many as [Are] Spiritually mature, let us keep on Thinking with the Mind of Christ, and if you think differently on some point, even this God will reveal to you. (1Co 2:9-16) (Php 3:15)
     Paul has completed his retrospective exposition and now writes from his current status of Spiritual maturity. He infers from the preceding verses, which describe Spiritual self-esteem and Spiritual autonomy, that in every generation a certain number of positive believers will continue their momentum until they attain Spiritual maturity. These Bond-servants, (Rev 1:1; Luk 17:10) represent a special group. Once they understand the objective of the Christian way of life, they do not waver. Instead, they organize their lives and priorities for the purpose of glorifying God to the maximum! As a result of passing that portion of momentum testing classified as thought testing, the mature believer has fulfilled the Biblical Command related to Divine Viewpoint mental attitude. (Rom 12:2-3; Php 2:2) “Let us keep on Thinking” refers to an action that began in the past and continues into the present. The same process of utilizing metabolized Divine Thinking in the power of the Spiritual life is what enables the believer to attain Spiritual maturity, and is the means of facing maximum suffering for blessing; after reaching maturity. Paul is urging readers, at every stage of Spiritual growth, to join him in the system of Divine Thinking that leads to Spiritual maturity. A dynamic and powerful mental attitude is required for the mature believer who is facing evidence testing!

Failing a Test
     (Php 3:15) warns the believer that even after he fulfills the protocol plan of God by reaching Spiritual maturity, he must not let up. He must continue to utilize the Spiritual life, and cognition of Truth. (Joh 4:24) The ability to Think under pressure perpetuates the believer's momentum through each stage of Spiritual adulthood. The Spiritual winner Thinks; the Spiritual loser emotes without Spiritual Thought. Courage is Thinking Spiritually under pressure; cowardice is failing to Think under pressure-and falling apart emotionally. Under suffering for blessing, the believer's content of Thought is the Divine Thoughts he has metabolized over many years. Right Thinking from metabolized Truth and the right motivation from Personal love for God create the positive determination and esprit de corps (Hoorah) needed to fulfill the protocol plan of God.
     No matter how far a believer advances in God's plan, he is still human. No believer on earth is perfect; we are all prone to failure, especially under the pressure of suffering for blessing. Failure can come from a lack of Truth, or from a particularly difficult thought test. The believer may have resisted or rejected the specific Principle of Truth that he now needs under pressure. More likely, however, he has learned the Truth but has become disoriented, motivated by fear, or by arrogance. The solution after failure is to rebound and keep moving, as (Php 3:13) Commands! Immediate rebound keeps the believer from losing ground. Although he fails to advance, he retains his current level of Spiritual growth, ready for another administration of testing at the proper time.
     The Spiritually adult believer learns quickly from failure. When his attitude has wavered or when he has made a wrong application of Truth, he uses rebound to reenter the Spiritual life. Inside his invisible palace he either draws upon the Truth he already knows to make a correct application or he is receptive to learning the Truth he previously may have resisted. “God will reveal”  Through Divine Guidance: (Act 11:5-16) Prayer, Thinking Truth, the Word, God the Holy Spirit, repetition, remembering Scripture, coincidence, comparing of events and information. In Fellowship. (Mat 7:7-11)

A Soldier's Steady Advance
     Although provision is made for failure, the purpose of momentum testing is not failure, but success. However, as a result of what we have attained, (Growth with the Mind of Christ) keep advancing in ranks by means of, [The Spiritual life]. (Php 3:16)
     Paul has shifted from an athletic to a military analogy. The verb (Stoicheo, “living”) connotes marching in ranks. Members of the royal family are executing a powerful plan when they obey the Commands of the Spiritual life. (Joh 14:15) The objective of this plan is no less than to demonstrate, (God's Thoughts and Nature) God's eternal glory. (Eph 3:10-11; 2Pe 1:4) This verse establishes that there are stages of Spiritual adulthood, stages in the fulfillment of God's protocol plan. “What we have attained” is Spiritual self-esteem when the believer is undergoing providential preventive suffering. “What we have attained” is Spiritual autonomy; when undergoing momentum testing, as is Paul in this context. “What we have attained” is Spiritual maturity when the believer receives evidence testing. The same system that the believer uses to pass providential preventive suffering and momentum testing; must also be used to pass evidence testing. “Advancing in ranks” is a most significant translation. Far too many Christians fall out of ranks and become casualties in the angelic conflict. We must remain in ranks, which is tantamount to the following:
1. Residence, function, and momentum inside the SPIRITUAL LIFE,
2. Consistent and prompt use of REBOUND to avoid prolonged residence in Satan's cosmic system,
3. AVOIDANCE OF DISCOURAGEMENT by any failure or setback in any category of suffering for blessing,
4. Consistent use of the PROBLEM SOLVING DEVICES of Spiritual adulthood, and
5. Unrelenting perception, metabolism and application of Divine Thoughts.
     The believer advances in ranks from one stage of Spiritual adulthood to the next. As he progresses, he scores tactical victories in the angelic conflict. This Spiritual warfare will come into dramatic focus in the final category of suffering for blessing. Spiritual maturity puts the believer in position for the most significant and beneficial of all suffering for blessing: evidence testing, relationship with God, and relationship with life, people, thoughts, systems, disasters, and self! The book of Job. (Job 1:1) thru (Job 42:17)


     A CATEGORICAL DESCRIPTION OF SPIRITUAL MATURITY indicates the happiness and inner strength related to this final stage of Spiritual growth. These characteristics mark the highest attainment of the Christian way of life. The purpose of this summary is not to establish a model of behavior for the immature believer to legalistically imitate. Instead, these characteristics, when compared to the previously described characteristics of Spiritual self-esteem and Spiritual autonomy, enable the advancing believer to accurately anticipate the marvelous benefits of faithful persistence in the protocol plan of God.
1. MAXIMUM CONTENTMENT. Sharing the happiness of God is the highest of all problem-solving devices in the protocol plan of God. (1Jn 1:4) The advancing believer began to share the happiness of God upon entering Spiritual adulthood in Gate 5 of the Spiritual life. Now in Spiritual maturity at Gate 8, his “happiness [Is] fulfilled” or complete. (Joh 15:11) Suffering, which would normally be difficult, becomes relatively easy through residual happiness in the soul! Happiness is a mental attitude which equates adversity and prosperity, living and dying. (1Pe 1:7-8) Maximum capacity for happiness enables the mature Christian to face every challenge in his experience. God strengthens the believer through metabolized Truth, and suffering for blessing, so that His own shared happiness may be tested, developed, and completed in the believer's soul in adversity, as well as in prosperity. God shares His happiness with the believer for the believer's own benefit; therefore, happiness is the problem-solving device directed toward self.
2. MENTAL STABILITY. Truth saturates the mature believer's Thinking. He has maximum application of Truth to every experience. Cognizance of Truth enables him to give Divine Viewpoint precedence, over empirical experience. Consequently, his mental attitude is stabilized by the Truth he knows, rather than destabilized by the circumstances of his life. The mature believer Views his life in the light of God's Declared Reality, which gives him tremendous confidence regarding time and eternity! This confidence in God's ability to provide for him, and to bless him in any future contingency, is the Biblical definition of “hope.” (Rom 8:24-25) Hope is the mature believer's problem-solving device directed toward Truth and related to his mental stability.
3. MAXIMUM USE OF VIRTUE LOVE AS A PROBLEM SOLVING DEVICE. Virtue love includes Personal love for God as a motivational Virtue (Gate 7 of the Spiritual life) and Impersonal love for all mankind as a functional Virtue. (Gate 8) The mature believer has maximum use of both categories of Virtue love. Therefore, he is Occupied with the Person of Christ. (Php 1:21) Furthermore, because Virtue-love for God motivates Virtue-love toward others, Personal love for God in Spiritual maturity becomes the dynamic basis for resolving all kinds of problems. Virtue-love is the problem-solving device directed toward God, toward self, and toward other people.
4. COGNITIVE INDEPENDENCE. The mature believer can Think and apply Truth for himself from the Truth stored within his own soul. As a result of post-Salvation Epistemological rehabilitation and persistence in the perception of Truth, the mature believer has a superior understanding of the mechanics of the protocol plan by which he attained Spiritual maturity. The mature believer understands God's plan for his life and can face his problems with clarity of Thought.
5. MAXIMUM GRACE ORIENTATION TO LIFE. Orientation to the grace of God characterizes the mature believer's Thinking, motivation, decisions, and actions. He understands that the Principle of grace in Salvation is multiplied into the policy of grace after Salvation. (Gal 3:2-3) The believer is saved under the Principle of grace; he lives under the policy of grace. He is delighted to do things God's way! He is free from being motivated by: The flaw of the twisted nature, Feminine: To be told you look good, to be stroked like a dog, to fear, be controled, to be dominated. Or Masculine: To take advantage of, to hurt, control, use, and dominate: Toward the government, employer, employees, husband, wife, self, family, friends, house, car, Etc. The flaw of the twisted nature, masculine and feminine, in every soul, male and female. (Jas 3:14-16) The pimp and hooker sin nature in all of us! Is a responder or initiator, pitcher or catcher, giver or receiver, and both at the same time! Now; the Spiritually mature believer uses God's Nature, (2Pe 1:4) God initiates and gives, we respond and receive, the perfect love relationship. Not that God is the male, and believers are the female. (Eph 5:26-27) But that God has an eternal infinite capacity to give love, happiness and Truth, Etc. And we as believers have an ever increasing capacity to respond and receive it, forever and ever! (Jas 1:17-18; Jas 3:17) The mature believer is also free from fanaticism, sincerity, tradition, asceticism, sentimentality, legalism, moral and immoral degeneracy, emotionalism, arrogance, and habitual cosmic involvement! (Rom 6:17-18; Jas 1:21-22; 1Pe 1:22)  
6. MAXIMUM DOCTRINAL ORIENTATION TO REALITY. Capacity for prosperity and the ability to apply Truth to experience, give the mature believer Spiritual common sense. Spiritual common sense is an astute (With it) outlook on life that can penetrate confusing, complicated situations and discern the key issues. The mature believer is realistic. He is not easily deceived. He has the wisdom to synthesize the situation and identify the best course of action and the courage to do a right thing in a right way.
7. THE GREATEST DECISIONS IN LIFE FROM A POSITION OF MAXIMUM STRENGTH. Every decision by a mature believer can be a great decision. He has a full, practical understanding of the mechanics of God's protocol plan so that he can relate his decisions to the invisible but real assets that God has provided. Because he has established the right scale of values, the mature believer consistently makes right decisions. For him, Truth takes number one priority.
8. MAXIMUM CONTROL OF ONE'S LIFE. No one who tampers with the lives of others can at the same time control his own. Therefore, the mature believer does not seek to coerce or manipulate others. He is not possessive with those whom he loves and thus avoids the pitfall of jealousy. He does not give expression to power lust. Instead, he fully utilizes the privacy of his priesthood; God is the focus of his life. Personal love for God motivates Impersonal love for others. He eliminates false applications from his life: no competitiveness from arrogance, no comparativeness from subjectivity, no conspiracy from inordinate ambition. In other words, he neither demands superiority over everyone else, nor derives his self-esteem from comparisons with others, nor demeans others in order to elevate himself. He controls his own life by faithfulness in the execution of God's protocol plan. God has control over his life. Because his Thoughts, motives, decisions and actions are consistent with God's Thoughts and Will, (Joh 15:7-14) the believer lives in a state of sharing the happiness of God. He makes decisions with the full understanding that he bears the responsibility for their consequences.
 9. MAXIMUM DYNAMICS IN LIVING. The mature believer has an un­wavering personal sense of destiny. He knows that God has a purpose for his life; he understands God’s purpose; he applies his understanding of God’s plan to the particular circumstances of his life, whether good or bad. Self-command, poise, self-restraint, and self-control are established traits of his character. He recognizes that he continues to fulfill his destiny by executing the protocol plan of God. This results in a life of maximum Spiritual produc­tion.
10. ESCROW BLESSINGS. The first stage of the maximum glorification of God in Spiritual maturity is the distribution of escrow blessings. In eternity past God created an inheritance of special blessings for each believer. (Eph 1:3; 1Pe 1:4) These blessings are the “prize of that upward call from God” described in, (Php 3:14). The distribution of these unique blessings demonstrates the matchless grace of God and glorifies Him in the angelic conflict. He placed this unique treasury on deposit, as if in escrow, to be distributed to the believer when he acquires the capacity to enjoy God’s “greater grace.” (Jas 4:6) The believer gains capacity to receive, utilize, and enjoy his escrow blessings through the execution of the protocol plan of God, resulting in Spiritual momentum and the attainment of Spiritual maturity. Capacity for blessing is a characteristic of Spiritual maturity; therefore, the distribution of escrow blessings is also a characteristic of maturity! 
11. QUALIFICATION FOR EVIDENCE TESTING. The second stage of the maximum glorification of God in Spiritual maturity is evidence testing. Never before in history has God made so much of His omnipotence available to the believer as in the Church Age, and never before in the believer’s life­time does he have greater exercise of God’s power as in Spiritual maturity. These tremendous Divine dynamics are necessary for the final increment of suffering for blessing. As a result of reaching Spiritual maturity and achieving maxi­mum utilization of his problem solving devices, the dynamics of the believ­er’s life are manifest in both living and dying, in both prosperity and evidence testing under the consistent utilization of Divine omnipotence. 
12. ATTAINMENT OF THE FINAL PHASE OF THE UNIQUE LIFE. Spiritual maturity is characterized by that phase of the unique life described as “Christ [Being] glorified in [The] body.” (Php 1:20-21) This glorification of Christ occurs through escrow blessings and evidence testing.

Conveyance of Escrow Blessings

     There are two stages in the maximum glorification of God by the believer on earth. Both are exclusive privileges of Spiritual maturity.
1. God is glorified when the believer attains SPIRITUAL MATURITY, Gate 8 of the Spiritual life. At this point the believer begins to receive distribution of the ESCROW BLESSINGS that God created in eternity past.
2. God is glorified when the mature believer passes EVIDENCE TESTING.
     Every Church Age believer belongs to a unique plan designed by God in eternity past. The objective of this plan includes blessing for the believer “beyond all that [He can] ask or imagine.” (Eph 3:20) God is glorified by distributing these blessings to the believer in time.
     The first thing God ever did for us is the means of glorifying Him: He created the believer’s blessings before He created the believer. “Before the foundation of the world,” (Eph 1:3-4) God the Father tailored fabulous bless­ings specifically for each individual Christian; and deposited those blessings in escrow. 
     Worthy of praise and glorification is God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who [The Father] has blessed us with every Spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. (Eph 1:3)
      God’s plan for blessing the believer may be compared to an escrow con­tract. An escrow is a deed, bond, or other agreement by which one person conveys some form of property to another person. Rather than being conveyed directly, however, the property is deposited with a third party, to be delivered when the intended recipient fulfills certain conditions set forth in the terms of the escrow agreement.
     Just as an escrow agreement has three parties, so also (Eph 1:3) men­tions three parties: God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the believer. God the Father is the grantor. In eternity past He created each believer’s blessings for time and for eternity and deposited them with Jesus Christ, who acts as a depositary or escrow officer. Each believer is the grantee of an escrow contract from God. If you have believed in Christ, you are the grantee of blessings that stagger the imagination. However, part of Divine wisdom is the Principle that capacity for blessings must precede the conveyance of blessings. God, therefore, de­signed the protocol plan to produce that capacity which makes the distribution of blessings meaningful, enjoyable, and glorifying to God. Blessing does not begin at Spiritual maturity. As part of His logistical grace policy, God has designed a system of lesser blessings which He distributes during the entire earthly experience of the believer. (Mat 5:45) This means that logisti­cal grace is not simply a vehicle for sustaining the believer’s life on earth but is a system of providing undeserved blessing, whose enjoyment can be sur­passed only by the ultimate distribution of escrow blessings for time. Further­more, whatever capacity we have for blessings in time is far exceeded by our escrow blessings for eternity. Between the logistical blessings of Spiritual childhood, and early Spiritual adulthood, and the escrow blessings of the eter­nal state, is this fantastic grace provision of God for the believer who executes His plan, purpose, and will by the attainment of Spiritual maturity. Obviously, God is glorified when any believer executes this plan, and as a sign of His pleasure He conveys escrow blessings for time! The path to these magnificent blessings involves undeserved suffering. These blessings come through suffering as well as through prosperity. (Php 4:11-13) The believer who attains Spiritual maturity is classified as a winner! The question arises as to what happens to the escrow blessings of the Christian who is classified as a loser; the believer who fails to attain Spiritual maturity. To illustrate the Biblical answer to this question, we again return to the analo­gy of the escrow agreement. In the state of Texas, escrow contracts are irre­vocable. From the date the contract is signed, the property in escrow cannot be retrieved by the grantor, and the contract cannot be canceled. Likewise, the believer’s escrow contract with God is irrevocable. (1Pe 1:4) The only rea­son a believer’s escrow blessings are not delivered to him is his failure to ful­fill the conditions of the escrow agreement. The only condition the believer must fulfill is to advance to Spiritual maturity! (Joh 15:8) When he fails, he becomes a Spiritual loser.  (Joh 15:6) The loser’s escrow blessings still belong to him irrevocably, but they will remain undistributed, on deposit in heaven forever as a memorial to lost opportunity, and as a monument to the eternal bounty of God’s grace. While the Church Age believer will not go to the Lake of Fire, he can lose the conveyance of escrow blessings for time and eternity. Escrow blessings are called “Spiritual” in, (Eph 1:3) not because they are intangible, but because God is emphasized as their source. (Joh 4:24Escrow blessings may include material prosperity and temporal success as well as invisible impact and the Spiritual strength of maturity itself. The characteristics of Spiritual self-esteem, which are strengthened in Spiritual autonomy, become stronger in Spiritual maturity and constitute fabulous blessings in the inner life. In addition to this marvelous stability and capacity of soul, Jesus Christ as the depositary begins with the conveyance of escrow blessings for the mature believer’s life on earth. A treasury of blessings for time and eternity has your name on it. Your per­sonal blessings are irrevocable, “imperishable, and undefiled and will not fade away”; neither you nor anyone else can cancel them. (1Pe 1:4) The location of the deposit is “in the heavenlies”; no repository could be more secure. (Eph 1:3) The date of the deposit is “before the foundation [Creation] of the world”; no other fortune has an older heritage. (Rom 8:17) The depositary is Christ; no one could be more personally interested in delivering your blessings to you. (1Jn 3:16) The creator and grantor of your blessings is God the Father; there is no greater giver.
     He [God the Father] who did not spare His own Son, but de­livered Him up for us all, how will He [The Father] not also with Him [Christ, the escrow officer] freely give us all things [Our es­crow blessings? (Rom 8:32)
     Because God is glorified by blessing the believer, the purpose of the be­liever’s life is to receive escrow blessings. What must he do to receive them? Grace excludes all human works. Therefore, the Christian’s responsibility under the conditions of the escrow contract is to utilize the assets of the Spiritual life and advance to Spiritual maturity. (Mat 13:8) Only in maturity does he have the capacity to receive the marvelous blessings that God has placed on deposit for him.

Evidence Testing 
     Suffering plays an essential role in advancing the believer to Spiritual maturity. After he reaches maturity, and after he has received many escrow blessings, suffering then makes a unique and specialized contribution to the maximum glorification of God. (1Pe 4:19) Undeserved suffering in the life of the mature believer furnishes evidence in a courtroom drama that has been unfolding since long before human history began. (Eph 3:10-11) In the appeal trial of Satan, (Zec 3:2) a summary of which follows, God calls mature believers to the witness stand to testify concerning His  matchless grace. Evidence testing is Satan’s attempt to discredit their testimony. (Job 2:1-10) Like escrow blessings, evidence testing is the privilege of the mature be­liever and the final category of suffering for blessing. Evidence testing follows the pattern of all suffering for blessing in that “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tested beyond what you are able to bear.” (1Co 10:13) Only Spiritual maturity has the strength, and enough Divine Thinking, and Virtue-love, to endure, bene­fit from, and even enjoy evidence testing! (Dan 6:20-23) In short, God can glorify Himself to the maximum through escrow blessings and through evidence testing only in the lives of mature believers. This is another reason Spiritual maturity is the objective of the Christian way of life. (2Pe 3:18)



     SUFFERING POSES NO THREAT to the plan of God. The pain of adversity is real, but even the most horrible suffering loses its dread in the light of the grace of God. In fact, the protocol plan of God incorporates suffering and uses adversity for the purpose of blessing the advancing believer. Suffering tests his understanding and application of the Mind of Christ. [God's Thoughts] As he passes each test, he confirms and deepens his love for the Lord Jesus Christ; and hones his use of the problem-solving devices for Spiritual adulthood. God loves every believer with His infinite, Personal love. Nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:39) God never desires any harm to come to any member of the royal family. Yet suffering exists; believers face severe pain of body and anguish of soul. This study of suffering has explained from Scripture how and why Christian suffering coexists with God’s love for the believer. Most Christian suffer­ing is self-induced misery under the law of volitional responsibility. Believers defy God’s desires and bring harm on themselves. (Pro 8:36) They ignore the precise protocol of God’s plan, and such ignorance and arrogance merely complicate the problems of living in the devil’s world. Apart from persistent self-induced misery, all suffering in the Christian way of life is designed by God for the believer’s benefit. Even unbearable Divine discipline; is a gracious attempt to restore the believer to the Spiritual life. Indeed, the fact that ignoring and violating the protocol plan of God is the cause of self-induced misery; demonstrates by contrast that learning and execut­ing Divine protocol bring blessing. No degree of suffering can destroy the blessings of life, in the palace of the Spiritual life. Through suffering; God reveals His marvelous power to sustain and bless the believer who follows Divine protocol and utilizes his royal assets. (Act 5:41) Suffer­ing focuses the attention of the believer, who is imperfect and prone to dis­tractions. Adversity and or testing compels him to remember, apply, and thus more fully understand the Spiritual Thoughts in his soul! Suffering accelerates his Spiritual growth. Suffering helps him see the essence of God.
     Suffering is inevitable for the believer on earth. Every Christian must pre­pare himself to meet and conquer adversity as part of advancing to Spiritual maturity! To be ready for suffering when it comes, (Php 1:27-29) he must give first priority to learning, metabolizing, and applying Truth, as consistently taught by a Theologically orthodox pastor. Each believer must receive, retain, and recall the Word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit in the Spiritual life. (Joh 4:24) The purpose of this book is to delineate systematically and comprehen­sively the Divine Viewpoint regarding Christian suffering. In the midst of adversity, the Spiritually adult believer shares the happiness of God as a con­sequence of Thinking with God's Thoughts and consistently utilizing the Spiritual life of God. We must Think as God Thinks; and regard adversity in the light of His marvelous objectives for our lives. By perception of the Truths perti­nent to suffering, we gain access to the problem-solving devices that convert suffering into blessing. Each problem-solving device is efficacious because of its relationship to the essence of God!
     Is based on Divine justice and faithfulness. Because God judged all the sins of the human race at the cross, (1Jn 2:2) He is always consistent in forgiving our sins, when we acknowledge them, known, or unknown, when we realize we are out of fellowship, and just want to get back in! (1Jn 1:9)
     The FAITH-REST DRILL depends upon God’s omnipotence, immutability, veracity, and faithfulness, which stand behind all His Promises. Furthermore, His integrity and omniscience guarantee that God is rational and that true Con­clusions can be reached logically from God's Thoughts, The Word. (Rom 8:28-32)
     HOPE as a problem-solving device also depends on Divine veracity. Hope is our absolute confidence that God is true to His Word! (Heb 6:18) Divine Veracity is manifested in pertinent Biblical Doctrines that cause us to anticipate future blessings that will glorify God to the maximum. Hope # 1 Salvation. Hope # 2 That we can reach maturity. Hope # 3 That we will receive rewards in eternity. God never leaves us hopeless! And hope means in every case; confident expectation!
     PERSONAL LOVE FOR GOD focuses on His absolute righteousness, the Divine attribute that is the object of His own Personal love. Only when di­rected toward perfect God does our Personal love become a Virtue in itself.
     IMPERSONAL LOVE FOR ALL MANKIND is modeled after God’s Im­personal love for the fallen, degenerate, Spiritually dead human race. God never feels threatened by sinful man. He saved us because of His own integ­rity, not because we deserved Salvation. Therefore, Impersonal love for the entire human race is based on our Christian integrity, and follows the pattern of Divine self-esteem and Divine love as expressions of the integrity of God.
     HAPPINESS as a problem-solving device is sharing the very happiness of God. The believer enjoys God’s happiness as a consequence of learning, metabolizing, and applying Truth. He Thinks with God’s Thoughts and shares His Reality concerning all things. By inculcating our souls with the Thinking of God as revealed in the Scripture, by applying His Truths to the circumstances of our lives, by execut­ing Divine protocol in the power of His Spiritual life, we come to appreciate Who and What God is! We grow in our respect for the One “worthy of praise and glorification!” Our resultant contentment is the most powerful solution to the frustrations, the difficulties and the heartaches that we cannot avoid. No suffering in life is too great for the plan of God! 
     OCCUPATION WITH CHRIST being aware of His presence, and Thinking about Him and His Thoughts. (Act 7:23; Heb 11:27)



     AN ESSENTIAL DISTINCTION must be understood concerning God’s puni­tive actions against man during the course of human history: Divine discipline is not the same as Divine judgment. Discipline is reserved for believers; judg­ment is for unbelievers (The lake of Fire) but may affect all categories of the human race and fallen angels as well. The believer suffers in time. (Rom 8:17-18) He is disciplined in time (Heb 12:7) individually and collectively but his ap­pointment with eternal judgment was canceled when he believed in Christ. (Joh 3:18; Rom 8:1) The unbeliever suffers in time and in eternity. He may face individual and collective Divine judgment in time; he will receive indi­vidual judgment throughout eternity. (Rev 20:15) Because God deals with unbelievers as well as with believers, the Doctrine of Divine judgment toward unbelievers on earth reveals God’s justice and grace and also explains a tremendous amount of worldwide suffering. Like discipline to the believer, (1Co 11:30) Divine judgment in time to the unbeliever is admin­istered in progressive stages:
     Judgment by pain and judgment by death are the progressive stages of Divine judgment in time. Finesse judgment presents a Principle by which Jesus Christ controls history despite Satan’s rule over the world. 

     The first stage of Divine judgment, judgment by pain, is an expression of God’s grace to the unbeliever, just as warning discipline expresses God’s grace to the believer. Evangelism is the objective of all judgment by pain! On the Cross Jesus Christ paid for the Salvation of every human being who will ever live, whether or not that person ever believes in Christ. (1Jn 2:2) Our Lord has accomplished completely all the work of Salvation; nothing remains for an individual to do but to accept the work of Christ on his behalf. The way of Salvation is simple and plain: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved.” (Act 16:31)
     Because God will never violate man’s free will, He must wait for positive volition before He can actually apply Salvation to any individual. In grace, God has already gone to the farthest extreme — the judgment of His own Son. With the work fully accomplished, God continues to do all that is possible to bring the unbeliever to eternal Salvation. Normal evangelism involves the presentation of the Gospel. God has an obligation to supply Gospel information to all who are receptive and desire to know Him when first they become aware of His existence. (Psa 19:1) Their positive voli­tion at the point of God-consciousness usually remains positive at Gospel hearing. (Rom 1:16) They believe in Christ with no greater stimulus than a clear pre­sentation of True Gospel information. But for others, who are indifferent or antagonistic to their first awareness of God — negative volition at God-consciousness — God still repeatedly extends the opportunity to be saved.
      But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have; “THEIR VOICE HAS GONE OUT INTO ALL THE EARTH, AND THEIR WORDS TO THE ENDS OF THE WORLD.” (Rom 10:18)
     When normal evangelism fails, God shifts gears into crisis evangelism. Crisis evangelism involves judgment by pain. (Act 9:8) As with discipline to the recalcitrant believer, judgment by pain to the negative unbeliever is designed to shock him into temporary objectivity. The pain proves his inherent weak­ness, his need of a relationship with God, and provides a lucid moment in which the Gospel can be considered.
     The Salvation of the Apostle Paul is a dramatic example of crisis evangel­ism. Saul of Tarsus, as Paul was known during his meteoric career as a Phari­see, was a zealous persecutor and murderer of Christians. Only when struck blind on the road to Damascus did he objectively consider the Gospel of Christ. Judgment by pain was responsible for the Salvation of the greatest be­liever who has ever lived. (Php 3:3)

     If repeated judgment by pain fails to bring the unbeliever to faith in Christ, judgment by death becomes the only alternative. (Act 12:23) Judgment by death against unbelievers and carnal believers, who have hardened their volition against God, is Divine protection of the human race. The evils of cosmic influence must be restrained; there­fore, following a period of grace before judgment, God removes the cancer from society in order to preserve Spiritual believers and perpetuate mankind. The Pharaoh of the Exodus, Amenhotep II, suffered increasingly intense pain in the plagues against Egypt. By persistently rejecting the message of Moses, Pharaoh “hardened his heart.” (Exodus 8:32) His obstinacy through the first five plagues locked him in the cosmic system beyond any possibility of escape so that he was incapable of right decisions. For him, faith in Christ, who is the God of Israel or His Word, had become impossible; he had shackled his own volition. (Rom 3:18; 2Co 4:3-4) When further grace becomes pointless, God normally removes the person from this life. However, God did not remove Pharaoh but “allowed him to stand . . . in order to proclaim God’s name through all the earth.” (Exodus 9:16) Following the fifth plague. “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart” by al­lowing him to continue making negative decisions. (Exodus 9:12; Rom 9:17-18) Pharaoh’s deceitful negative volition presented an opportunity for God to evangelize the world through further displays of Divine power. (Exodus 7:3; Exodus 11:9; Jos 2:9-10) In the final Divine exploitation of Pharaoh’s stubbornness, God administered judgment by death as the tenth plague. Pharaoh was not merely a private individual; he ruled an empire. His nega­tive volition represented the obstinance of many of his subjects, who shared his rejection of God and applauded his decisions to retain the Jews as a race of slaves. (Rom 2:9) The tenth plague killed the eldest son of every household in Egypt that joined Pharaoh in rejecting the message of Moses. God’s action was not indiscriminate genocide. Many Egyptian families be­lieved in the God of Israel and survived that night of judgment, and many joined the Exodus as the “mixed multitude” of Gentiles. (Exodus 11:3; Exodus 12:38) Furthermore, the Egyptian infants who died before reaching the point of God-consciousness, which is also the age of accountability, received automatic Sal­vation. (2Sa 12:23) Pharaoh himself did not die in the tenth plague but was allowed to release the Jews and then precipitate yet another crisis, at the Red Sea, which again glorified God. (Exodus 14:13-18) Judgment by death was the extreme measure taken by God to remove indi­vidual negative unbelievers and in doing so to demolish hardened opposition to the Exodus. God’s Promises to Israel, and to mankind hinged on the nation­al freedom of the Jews; through whom would eventually come all client nation Concepts, the Mosaic Law, the written canon of Scripture, and above all the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. God was protecting the human race and the Jews and advancing His plan of grace by administering judgment by death.
     The third category of Divine judgment demonstrates the genius of Jesus Christ in controlling history despite the fact that Satan rules the world. In fi­nesse judgment, our Lord uses evil to destroy evil.
     Arrogance cannot tolerate arrogance; one form of evil despises another form of evil. An intense, human-good “moral” crusader cannot abide a lazy “immoral” degenerate. The unrestrained by law or “morality”, regards the religious reformer with contempt. One form of prejudice despises another form of prejudice. The Nazi hates the Commu­nist. Each is hostile toward the other. The very multiplicity of gates into the cosmic system, which successfully appeals to the weaknesses of so many dif­ferent kinds of people, is the system’s ultimate flaw. The greatest destroyer of evil is evil!
     For the wrath of man shall praise You... (Psa 76:10)
     The sons of Sceva were sorcerers who traveled throughout the region around Ephesus discrediting Paul and promoting themselves at his expense. (Act 19:13-20) Thoroughly evil men, these exorcists claimed to cast demons out of the possessed. Although they were permanent residents of the cosmic system, these unbelievers tried to use the names of Christ and Paul in incanta­tions aimed at exorcising a demon from a young man. The evil demon perfect­ly squelched the arrogance of these evil charlatans: 
     ...I recognize Jesus and I know about Paul, but who are you? (Act 19:15) 
     The demon then attacked the Sons of Sceva so that they fled wounded from the house. As a result “the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified” (Act 19:17) in the vindicated Doctrinal ministry of Paul. The Principle of finesse blessing, and judgment applies to nations as well as to indi­viduals. An evil nation is often permitted power in history for the sole pur­pose of being used by God to judge another evil nation. Israel is God’s chosen nation, but in 721 B.C., again in 586 B.C., and again in A.D. 70, God’s client nation had degenerated into evil as its citizens lived perpetually in the cosmic system. The pivot of mature believers had shrunk; the spin-off of cosmic be­lievers was dragging down the entire nation. On each of these three occasions, God raised up an evil empire to punish Israel. Evil1 destroyed Evil2. In 721 B.C. the Assyrian Empire destroyed the Northern Kingdom of Israel. In 586 B.C. the Chaldean Empire destroyed the Southern Kingdom. In A.D. 70 the Roman Empire destroyed religious, pharisaical, rebellious Judea. Finesse judgment of collective groups is not reserved strictly for degen­erate client nations. As foretold in Prophecy, God will destroy the worldwide religion of the Tribulation, which will be sponsored by Satan, with an attack by a rival political entity, also sponsored by Satan. (Rev 17:16-17) God’s ob­jective will be achieved by Satan, when the devil betrays one part of his own cosmic system in a treacherous ploy to increase the power of another part.
     How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? [Ignorant of God's Thinking] And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing [I don't need Truth] And fools hate knowledge? [Living for what they want] Turn to my reproof, [Tells us: We are wrong] (1Jn 1:9) Behold, I will pour out my Spirit on you; I will make my Words known to you.  Because I called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention; And you neglected all my counsel And did not want my reproof; I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes, When your dread comes like a storm And your calamity comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you. Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently but they will not find me, Because they hated knowledge [The Word of Truth] And did not choose the fear of the LORD! [Living in fellowship with God the Holy Spirit] They would not accept my counsel, They spurned all my reproof. So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way And be satiated with their own devices. For the waywardness [Double-minded] of the naive [Ignorance of Truth] will kill them, And the complacency [Prosperity] of fools (Jer 17:5) will destroy them. But he who listens to me shall live securely And will be at ease from the dread of evil. (Pro 1:22-33)


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