What I am about to say may seem strange, but I hope it will allow some light to penetrate the realm of Christian theology and Christian reality.
Jesus came to sensitise man’s conscience. The bible puts it as “return the hearts of the fathers back to the sons” or similar.
Firstly, it was the habit of the Romans to attract attention to their victims by hanging them on a cross on a hill. This was meant as a warning to those who oppose their authority.
But it is also a warning to us.
In Jesus, we are meant to see the just suffer for the unjust. What this is saying is that the reality of all things is bound up in the character and nature of God being completely righteous, and anything that detracts from this is not going to be tolerated.
The SUFFERING is the order of the day for Christians. That which is at odds with and opposed to God is going to be caught up in suffering, which is the conflict between “good and evil”.
LOVE HURTS. This is the reality to which Christians are called. It is because man hurts, that he covers up his hurt and hides from emotional truth. This is called “hardening” [of the heart]. Jesus came to unharden the heart to make it sensitive to those right and wrong issues, to those things that cause hurt to the human heart, as they do to his also.
He then calls us to LIVE in that softness of heart that feels in response to hurt, because that heart has now been enlightened to the state of love through forgiveness.
“I, when I am lifted up, will draw all men to me”. Men will look, some will respond.
Knowing him who is love, we are called to suffer. This is a common theme in scripture. It means that to act in this world as those who belong to the next, will attract attention and derision and scorn. It will be hurtful, and all those who seek to do what is right will suffer for it.
The portrayal of love that forgives and seeks only to think do and act in accordance with righteousness and love will result in persecution in some form or another.
In order to realise what this means and what it WILL mean, we have to look to Jesus BEGINNING to suffer in the garden. If we want to enter into HIS world, then we must begin to appreciate that our life has to be dead in ourselves so we can be alive in him. This kind of life is going to have to take the hard knocks and will need to be resilient. We have to appreciate that we need to have our own garden understanding to see what this kind of life will be like.
Remember, love hurts, we will suffer “with him” the same things that he suffered and which ALL Christians throughout the world will and do suffer as they seek to follow him.
ENTER the “comforter”. The Holy Spirit. Christians derive comfort from the reality of the Spirit of life that accompanies the life that unfolds in them.
Little wonder when prayers are not answered and Spirit manifestations may not occur, because the state of being a Christian is not a matter of correct doctrine or the right kind of church, but is simply whether the person is indeed suffering in the Christian life.
This may sound negative, but in reality it is totally positive in the sense that love is the reality of God, and the “suffering servant” does not stop with Jesus. God wants us to be as sensitive as he is.
Now I will reproduce some notes I scribbled, so please bear with me in this, thanks. These notes may inject some ideas.
Before I start that though, it is about the cleansing of the conscience, to make it more sensitive, so we will the more be aware of what is right and wrong, so we are then able to DO it. “Eager to do what is right”.
Now, the law becomes written in or on the heart (there may be some difference there) so we have reference to that from which we have been released.
JAMES points out it is things we DO or don’t DO that is at issue. “Even the “demons” believe”. And things we do include the words that we say, and Jesus said it was by our words we will be condemned. This is because the words, coming from an unclean heart, conscience, impress DEATH upon the hearer. [Or life from the clean heart]. Whereas Jesus said “I know you always hear me, because I always do what pleases you”. Knowledge of what does or does not please God can only come from a clean heart/clear conscience. [First take the mote out of your own eye].
“If your heart does not condemn you” = if your conscience is clear. “how much more will the blood of Christ cleanse your hearts from ACTS THAT LEAD TO DEATH to serve the living God. So the cleansing is what enables you to serve God. By doing what pleases him. Because you are hearing his Spirit.
Forgiveness is to cleanse the conscience, not to ignore it. Obedience/disobedience. The “same suffering as your brethren”. And this suffering is largely through men rather than through some supernatural source. Walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
“Active” sin is that which is presently giving your conscience grief, and is called disobedience. Past sins are to be seen as forgiven.
We desensitise our conscience because we want to lessen our suffering. But we should be sensitising our conscience through the Spirit.
Jesus was made perfect through suffering. Suffering = allowing to be tormented by your sensitivity now, OR tortured by your lack of it THEN. (hell). Stand up for the truth now, or be put down by it then.
The heart/conscience that has not faced up to the reality of Christ, is unable to do his will. [The good that I want, I cannot do, the evil I don’t want, this I do.) Romans 7.