As the sons and daughters of God, we are to add certain spiritual attributes of God’s “divine nature.” This is how we become “partakers of His divine nature” (II Peter 1: 4-7). This assures our inheritance as His sons and daughters. These attributes are added in sequence–in layers, if you will. To our faith we add virtue, and then knowledge onto it. Then we add temperance to that knowledge. Then we add patience onto the temperance.
Patience. Patience. Oh, how we all need patience in this hurry-scurry world! This world that careens through our conscious hours robs us of this important godly essence–patience. The swirling, rushing pace of our 21st Century lives conspire against us in our search for truth. Patience is needed to even read this simple article on patience.
For all that we see and hear is temporary. We will be able to temper the appetites of our earthly bodies more easily when we realize how transitory–how utterly perishable our bodies are. When we believe this and wholeheartedly acknowledge the need for God’s promise of our immortal house from heaven, we will more easily shift our focus from the temporary to the eternal.
The Next Step in Adding the Divine Nature
And that next step is adding patience to the temperance. But in order to add patience, which is the ability to endure the sufferings of Christ, we must understand just what those sufferings are. Paul speaks of them when he writes, “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8: 18). This “glory” is, of course, that destiny of God’s elect after they have grown spiritually to full maturity, which is the evidence of them partaking of the divine nature.
But those “sufferings” spoken of by the apostle is the sojourn we are experiencing in these mortal earthly bodies. For “we have this treasure [of the Spirit] in earthen vessels” (II Cor. 4:7). And that is the root of our current spiritual problem. Our bodies are, alas, mere temporary bottles holding the water of the Spirit.
“This present time” in which these sufferings are being endured is our time now in our earthly bodies. Our perishable fragile mortal bodies will too soon return to dust. Now is our time of waiting with long patience, trusting God will deliver us from the long sleep that awaits us, tucked in dust in the tomb of the earth.
Temporarily housed in our earthly tabernacles at “this present time,” we have a universal thirst that yearns to be quenched. And that desire is to live on. And whether cognizant of it or not, we are waiting in “earnest expectation…for the manifestation of the sons of God” (Rom. 8: 19).
And so we who have a portion of His Spirit, for a dry season at present, find ourselves trapped in a shell that will die soon. And so we wait for our forerunners, the sons of God to be unveiled first, for they are the firstfruits. And so we are waiting for these offspring of the Almighty to come onto the scene.
For they will give His other children great hope when they are seen striding this earth–a hope that they, too, can be “delivered from the bondage of corruption,” which is the cruel slavery that our present mortal bodies inflict on us in our new spiritual journey.
Slaves to Our Own Mortality
Our earthly bodies are decaying as they grow older each day, and we are not free to ascend and descend at will. We are on a timetable, slated to expire, most likely before the age of 80–whether we want to or not. That’s slavery; that’s being in bondage to our own mortality. That is the “bondage of corruption.” In the earthly sense, we are slaves to our own decay and impending death.
In our youth we were not aware of this impending decay of our earthly body. Hence, we thought ourselves invincible and immortal. But as we get older and see our bodies deteriorate, we see that we become the slaves to our own bodily limitations. We begin to admit that we cannot do what we once did. Our age, brought on by the ravages of time, becomes our master and limits us and dictates to us what we can and cannot do. This is the “bondage of corruption.”
Aging is the accumulation of many miles and years on the human body. Aging is that onerous sign announcing our impending physical passing. But this daily physical decay of our bodies does not work on our spirits. We can take heart in this, that “though our outward man perish, our inward man is renewed day by day” (II Cor. 4: 16). And this renewing is the “partaking of the divine nature,” the adding to our faith of which we speak.
So why death?
And so we ask God, Why do we have to die? Why give us a mortal body, God? Why subject us to all this suffering? The short answer: God created us “subject to vanity.” He deliberately subjected us to mortality in hope that we would be delivered into immortality. He made us to suffer this mortal existence in hope that we would seek Him, who is Life Himself, and in so doing find eternal life, which is the fulfillment of His promise to them who seek Him and love Him.
God has dangled death ever before us so that we would seek Him. He reasoned that our looming demise would spur us to seek Him for answers to our dilemma. Surely we would call on Him, the Giver of Life, to help us solve this problem of mortality if we were confronted with the sadness of first, the loss of loved ones and then, finally, ourselves.
God provided a law ingrained into the universe, as sure as gravity, that if we seek Him for the truth, we would find it. “Seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you,” Christ promised (Matt. 7: 7).
And so, confronted by the sufferings of our mortal worries, we turn to God. And His words resound through the ages to our hearts and tell us the answer to the riddle of our faint existence. He tells us that He is the Fount from which the blessing of immortality flows. And it starts with believing in the resurrection of His Son. And latching onto that faith in Him begins our own new life, ending in the complete inheritance of a new spiritual body that will swallow up this old earthly one (I Cor. 15).
He seems to be saying, Surely when they see my Son arise from the dead, they will turn to Me in great hope that My resurrection power will one day raise them up as well.
His resurrection is our hope to escape the dusty tombs of death. And yet, the sufferings continue. And as He teaches us and helps us to endure all things, we add patience. For patience is that part of God’s nature that endures. It lasts. And as we continue our sojourn in these earthly vessels, He grants to us patience by infusing us with experiences that helps us endure, that gives us rather things to endure.
Yes, “tribulation worketh patience” or “suffering produces endurance” (Rom. 5: 3). Earthly wisdom shuns all sufferings. The wisdom from above prescribes it. That is why He allows us to suffer–so that we can become like Him. For He planned those very steps of suffering for Himself, and if we want to be His sons and daughters, we must suffer with Him. That’s a tough one. That is why “few are chosen” (Matt. 22: 14). Those chosen are the elect, and they will submit to the plan along with its sufferings, much like those chosen for our Special Forces endure the sufferings that the training entails. It all comes with the territory. To reign with Him we must suffer with Him (II Tim. 2: 12). Kenneth Wayne Hancock