Every genuine and faithful Christian is clothed with the glory of God, and this glory shines better in the sufferings and tribulations. A pastor was invited to do a series of sermons in a church in the north of Brazil. This church took him to preach in a leprosarium. This happened in the 60’s. The pastor preached in a room that was filled with lepers. Afterwards he was taken to a bedroom where a middle-aged woman was laying on a bed, in terminal state. Her hairs were almost all gone, the body covered with dark spots and wounds, the extremities of her fingers and ears had come apart. The pastor, seeing the horror of that sight, hesitated, and thought: “What am I going to preach? Me, who am so healthy…” The woman noticed it, and taking a Bible from under her pillow, said: “Pastor, do not feel sorry for me, and do not get disturbed. My body is rotting on the outside, but my soul is full of health, and my spirit is getting renewed moment by moment. I am a happy woman because I belong to Jesus. I will soon leave this house in ruins to live eternally in the glory with Jesus. The Holy Spirit comforts me with dreams and heavenly visions, and I go to sleep reading the word of God.” This pastor said to me: I went over there to preach, but the one who had a message of God was that leprous patient. This is why Peter said: “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed; because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you” (1 Pet. 4:14). Christians may suffer offenses, that is — insults, outrage, bashing, defaming and ignominious accusations, and harmful degradation. They can suffer all of this for the name of Christ, because their glory mounts before God (Heb. 13:12-13).
Speaking of the glory of God that is in us, Christians, Peter gave the following warning: “For what glory is it if, when you sin, you patiently endure beating?” (1 Pet. 2:20). How can Christians suffer beatings for Satan if they are covered with the glory of God? Well, Peter is making the declaration that, if Christians do sin, Satan will beat them, even if they are filled with the glory. In the 50’s I used to take my guitar to a public square in São Paulo and preach the Gospel. A young man of about 20 years of age grew fond of my work and asked if he could preach, too. I sang a few Hymns, and a group gathered around us. I left the opportunity to preach to him, and he began to preach, full of vigor. Then two young ladies approached us and pointed their finger at his face and said: “Who are you to speak of Jesus, you shameless guy?” He lowered his head, beaten by Satan. I know worse stories than this. I will tell you one more. A pastor friend of mine preached at his church’s pulpit, when another voice suddenly began to speak in the audience. He thought: “I am a servant of God and I am qualified, therefore this voice must be of the devil.” He, then, called from the pulpit: “Satan, shut up.” The voice answered: “Alright, but you should know that the vice-president of the church has an affair with the wife of Dr. so and so. The deacon so and so steals money from the offering plate. And the voice of the demon that took hold of the mouth of a visitor exposed various members of that church. Satan had beaten them all. Nowadays, newspapers and magazines, sent by Satan, have been slapping great leaders of large denominations.
Satan slaps the faces of the Christians using various methods. Some are attacked on the streets and do not have authority to bind the devil. Others are dying of cancer as if Jesus did not heal any more. Other ones, to their shame, see their children yield to drugs. Others, still, helplessly watch their dear daughter’s prostitution, as f Jesus did not keep. What misfortunes are befalling Christian homes! And Peter goes on to say: “For what glory is it if, when you sin, you patiently endure beating?” (1 Pet. 2:20). What sins are so lethal as to bring such serious consequences? They can be sins of perpetration, that is, to do things that a Christian should not do. They can be sins of omission, that is, not to do what every Christian should be doing, that is, to be a testimony to those outside, forgive a debtor, share with the poor, care for the orphans and widows, visit the sick, and also pray for the enemies. There is a third sin that opens the door to Satan — it is the sin of intention, that is, the one that we are the only ones to know, for it is in our thoughts and our heart. You should be aware that Satan knows them, and will beat us publicly. Do not feel miserable, Christians. Paul, the greatest of all apostles, and the greatest of Christians, said: “Be imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). But Satan also beat him. Let us hear his own words: “By reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelations, that I should not be exalted excessively, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, that I should not be exalted excessively” (2 Cor. 12:7). Some think that Paul’s thorn was the problem in his eyes (Gal. 6:11). Some others think that it was the fact he did not have a companion, that is, a wife (1 Cor. 9:5). The fact is that Paul had a thorn in the flesh. He confessed: “But you know that because of weakness of the flesh I preached the Good News to you the first time. That which was a temptation to you in my flesh, you didn’t despise nor reject; but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus” (Gal. 4:13-14). Paul was a victim of a temptation in the flesh. This was the thorn through which Satan used to beat him. But Paul resisted that temptation, and would say: “I therefore run like that, as not uncertainly. I fight like that, as not beating the air, but I beat my body and bring it into submission, lest by any means, after I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected” (1 Cor. 9:26-27).
Christ knows our weaknesses, though, and was beaten in our place when he stood before the Sanhedrin to be judged by the priests. When he confessed to be the Son of God, he was condemned to death. The High Priest tore his garments and shouted: “What do you think? They answered, ‘He is worthy of death!’ Then they spit in his face and beat him with their fists, and some slapped him” (Matt. 26:62-68).
Concluding, I tell you another true story: A humble Christian worker was invited to preach to a certain congregation. In the course of the message that was full of power a woman got up screaming and blaspheming, and left the church stomping her feet. The whole congregation looked at the preacher in silence. He then said: I want you all to know that this problem is on me. The woman came to the church to hear the message of God, and I do not admit that Satan drives her out from the House of the Lord, for she might be saved. Now, so that you may know that I am a servant of God, I am going to issue a command: “Satan, in the name of Jesus Christ, wherever you are, you are rebuked and is going to bring the woman back to hear the Gospel. And so that everyone knows that I am a servant of God, you are going to kneel down before the pulpit.” The preacher crossed his arms and did not continue preaching. There was a great silence in the church. Five minutes went by. Then the woman came slowly down the aisle to the pulpit, and knelt. The glory of God over that Christian filled with the Holy Spirit was visible. And what happened to the woman? She was delivered and saved.
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira