What Saith the Scripture?
No More Pain
Or, The Instructive Past and Hopeful Future Concerning Pain, Suffering,
"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more
death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the
former things are passed away"
by Tom Stewart
Pain is something that we all desire to avoid because we are human. "For no
man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the LORD
the Church" (Ephesians 5:29). However, pain, suffering, and even death are often
unavoidable, when we seek to accomplish the will of God. "Though He were a Son,
yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered" (Hebrews 5:8). Instead
of running to the extremes of seeking to embrace pain as a constant companion, or
running from pain at all costs, we need to understand the wisdom of how God uses
pain in our lives. "I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound:
every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both
to abound and to suffer need" (Philippians 4:12).
Sin: The Origin of Pain
Though we may have wondered if a newly created Adam could experience everyday pain,
we can be certain of what Scripture records as the occasion for the beginning of
pain-- SIN. "Unto the woman He said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow
and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall
be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam He said, Because thou
hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I
commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake;
in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles
shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat
of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it
wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return" (Genesis
- God's command was plain. "And the LORD God
commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But
of the Tree Of The Knowledge Of Good And Evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the
day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:16-17). Satan's
temptation questioned the very essence of the Truthfulness and Love of God to man.
"And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth
know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall
be as gods, knowing good and evil" (3:4-5).
- Adam and Eve's first sin brought forth the by-product of
pain, which is the condition of separation from the Living God. "And when the
woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes,
and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did
eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them
both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together,
and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the
garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence
of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden" (Genesis 3:6-8).
This condition of separation from the Living God yields pain, while union with our
LORD yields joy. "But your iniquities have separated between you and your God,
and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear" (Isaiah 59:2).
Compare that to this. "Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in Thy presence is
fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Psalm 16:11).
Punishment and Reformation: The Purpose of Pain and Suffering
Though pain and suffering seem only to have a negative purpose, as Christians, we
can be sure that it is entirely untrue. "And we know that all things work together
for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose"
(Romans 8:28). The God of Wisdom and Love must have a deeper purpose than simply
to watch His people suffer. "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and
knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!"
God's punishment of Adam and Eve's sin was not only punitive, but it was reformative
for the promotion of Godliness, i.e., "cursed is the ground for thy sake"
(Genesis 3:17). The punishment of Adam and Eve was the All Wise God's method of securing
their salvation and sanctification. "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the
LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them" (Genesis 3:21). This was the
beginning of salvation in mankind. "Without shedding of blood is no remission"
(Hebrews 9:22). Eve was punished with sorrow in childbearing and the necessity for
submission to her husband. "Unto the woman He said, I will greatly multiply
thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy
desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee" (Genesis 3:16).
Eve was established as the pattern for even the women of today. "Notwithstanding
she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness
with sobriety" (1Timothy 2:15).
Adam was punished with the pain, toil, and sorrow of physical survival for himself
and his family. "And unto Adam He said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the
voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying,
Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou
eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth
to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt
thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken:
for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return" (Genesis 3:17-19). Though
neither Adam's toil nor Eve's childbearing could in itself have saved them, it was
necessary (where appropriate) for their acceptance by faith with God. "But if
any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied
the faith, and is worse than an infidel" (1Timothy 5:8).
Clarification: Physical Pain Does Not Necessarily Imply Sin
If pain is the result of sin and sinning, then is physical pain sin? No. If physical
pain indicated that you were in a sinful condition, then how could the Sinless Son
of God-- "Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth" (1Peter
2:22).-- have lived as a human being, suffering the human condition, and not have
sinned? The LORD Jesus was always the Perfect "Lamb of God, which taketh away
the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
Remember what the disciples asked the Master concerning the man born blind. "And
His disciples asked Him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that
he was born blind?" (John 9:2). Jesus clearly indicated that the man's form
of suffering, i.e., blindness, was not due to any wrong doing on the man's part or
his parents' part. "Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents:
but that the works of God should be made manifest in him" (9:3).
Even Jesus-- the Perfect Man-- Was Not Exempt
- Jesus is Actually Both Man as Well as the Living God.
Though the Old Testament Scriptures predicted the miracle that God would appear on
Earth as a real man-- "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given:
and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful,
Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah
9:6)-- how startled our predecessors must have been to discover that Jesus of Nazareth
was THE Living God! "And without controversy great is the mystery of Godliness:
God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached
unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory" (1Timothy
- Jesus is the Example. The value of the doctrine
of the humanity of the LORD Jesus Christ can be seen in the wonderful example that
He has given as to how to live our lives. "For even hereunto were ye called:
because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow
His steps" (1Peter 2:21). Yes, we have been commanded by His Word concerning
our conduct, i.e., "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in
Heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48), but just as significantly, the Master leads
us by His example. "He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His Name's
sake" (Psalm 23:3).
- The LORD Jesus Experienced the Human Condition.
A mistaken notion is that the LORD Jesus Christ somehow extinguished the sin out
of the human flesh, when He became a man-- "And the Word was made flesh, and
dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten of the
Father,) full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). Actually, there was no such necessity,
because physical human flesh does not metaphysically transmit sin like a modern virus.
Sin is only an act of the human will against the known and understood will of God.
"Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the Law: for sin is the transgression
of the Law" (1John 3:4). Also, "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good,
and doeth it not, to him it is sin" (James 4:17).
- It is appropriate then to identify the act of sinning as
moral depravity, and the resulting sinful condition as being morally depraved. "Either
make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit
corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit" (Matthew 12:33). We are only sinful
(or, morally depraved) when we are in the condition of not having repented of known
sin. But, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our
sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1John 1:9).
Since the LORD Jesus Christ never committed sin before, during, or after He became
a man in human flesh, He never can be said to have been morally depraved (or, sinful).
"For He [the Father] hath made Him [the Son] to be sin for us, [Jesus] Who knew
no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him [Jesus]" (2Corinthians
5:21). How unlike the rest of us! "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have
turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on Him [Jesus Christ] the
iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6). Who can truthfully deny that we have all
sinned? No one. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God"
(Romans 3:23). [For a more developed discussion of moral depravity compared to a
less understood concept of 'physical depravity'-- yes, that's a term from Charles
G. Finney's "Systematic
http://WhatSaithTheScripture.com/Voice/Systematic.Theology.html -- see
the sub-point "(4)
Physical depravity is the physical consequence of sin" -- http://WhatSaithTheScripture.com/Fellowship/Exposition.Perf.III.html#PHYSICAL
DEPRAVITY -- of the sub-section "Back to the Basics:
The Principles of the Doctrine of Christ" of our article, "An
Urgent Call to Christian Perfection" -- http://WhatSaithTheScripture.com/Fellowship/Exposition.Perf.I.html
- Jesus Knew Pain, Suffering, and Death in His Earthly
Life. "And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterward
an hungred" (Matthew 4:2). "After this, Jesus knowing that all things
were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst"
(John 19:28). "Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh,
arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh
hath ceased from sin" (1Peter 4:1). "And being found in fashion as a man,
He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the
Cross" (Philippians 2:8).
- Our LORD Was Born to Die. The LORD Jesus obviously
knew what He was getting Himself into long before He came to Earth as a man. "Let
this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God,
thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and
took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men" (Philippians
2:5-7). Understanding perfectly the suffering and death He would experience on a
Roman cross; still, He manifested Perfect Love by enduring it. "Who for the
joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame, and is set down
at the right hand of the Throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2). Thank you, LORD Jesus,
for your Magnificent Love!
The Apostle Paul: A Notable Example
- A Thorn in the Flesh. "And lest I should be
exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to
me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted
above measure" (2 Corinthians 12:7). The Apostle Paul seems to be describing
some kind of physical affliction from which he requested deliverance from the LORD.
"For this thing I besought the LORD thrice, that it might depart from me"
(12:8). Finally, Paul arrives at the conclusion that obtaining God's grace simply
to sustain him in his need, was as important as taking away the "thorn in the
flesh"-- in this particular instance. How did he know this? Because the LORD
gave him a special revelation to tell him that he would not receive the normally
expected healing or deliverance, i.e., "My [the LORD's] grace is sufficient
for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will
I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me"
(12:9). As a consequence, Paul learned to rejoice even in his distresses, knowing
that God's power was resting on him. "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities,
in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake:
for when I am weak, then am I strong" (12:10).
- That I May Know Him. Paul demonstrated to us the
value of knowing the LORD Jesus Christ. "That I may know Him, and the power
of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made
conformable unto His death" (Philippians 3:10). To know the LORD
Jesus Christ means to know the "power of His Resurrection" as well as the
"fellowship of His Sufferings". If you get to know one part of the LORD
Jesus, you will get to know the other part-- as well as "being made conformable
to His Death".
Suffering: The Secret of Personal Sanctification
- Need for Sanctification. Though we were made holy
in Christ when we first believed-- "Who gave Himself for us, that He might
redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous
of good works" (Titus 2:14)-- that holiness must be maintained by our continual
abiding in Christ by faith. "Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not" (1John
3:6). Also, the same confidence that the LORD would save us in the first place, is
the confidence that He will continue to sanctify us to the end. "Being confident
of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until
the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).
- God only gives holiness to those who ask Him for it in
faith-- "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins,
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1John 1:9). Similarly, we
cannot pretend to be walking in faith while walking in disobedience. "And why
call ye Me, LORD, LORD, and do not the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46). Holiness
must be in our conduct, if it has truly been given to us by the LORD. "Follow
peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the LORD" (Hebrews
The secret to our personal sanctification or holiness is found in our suffering.
"Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves
likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from
sin" (1Peter 4:1). Even as the Apostle Paul knew the "fellowship of His
sufferings" (Philippians 3:10), he understood the Entire Sanctification available
to all the Saints. "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray
God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of
our LORD Jesus Christ" (1Thessalonians 5:23). Only those who have "suffered
in the flesh" have "ceased from sin" (1Peter 4:1). God intends that
the result of suffering would be our ceasing from sinning. This must be possible,
or else, why does Scripture place such an emphasis upon Not Sinning for all those
who are Born Again? "We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but
he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not"
Medieval monasticism is not to be confused with our ceasing from sin through suffering.
"Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility... Touch not;
taste not; handle not... after the commandments and doctrines of men?... Which things
have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the
body" (Colossians 2:18,21,22,23). The monastic error was to place the emphasis
upon the man gaining mastery over the human will through his suffering, i.e., "will
worship" (2:23). However, the Spirit taught Saint understands the necessity
of his own sufferings, but also acknowledges the necessity of God's mastery of his
will for that suffering to bring forth the "peaceable fruit of righteousness"
(Hebrews 12:11). "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do
of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).
- Value of Pain, Suffering, and Death. Again, it is
entirely appropriate to avoid pain, suffering, and death; but, not at all costs.
The Apostle Peter's First Epistle speaks at length concerning the Christian's Suffering
and the Glory that will follow. "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the
fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened
unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings;
that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If
ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and
of God resteth upon you: on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He
is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or
as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. Yet if any man suffer
as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf"
- How often have we seen ourselves partake of suffering.
i.e., because we were doing right, while we see the unrighteous prosper-- fully engaged
in their sin? John the Baptist was imprisoned and executed, while the ungodly banqueted.
David ran like a hunted animal, while Saul enjoyed the throne of Israel. The Psalmist
recounts his struggle-- and ours-- with the paradox of our suffering and the ungodly's
prospering. "I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the
wicked... Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish.
They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression... these are the ungodly,
who prosper in the world; they increase in riches... all the day long have I been
plagued, and chastened every morning... When I thought to know this, it was too painful
for me; Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. Surely
Thou didst set them in slippery places: Thou castedst them down into destruction...
So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before Thee... Thou shalt guide
me with Thy Counsel, and afterward receive me to glory... But it is good for me to
draw near to God: I have put my trust in the LORD GOD, that I may declare all Thy
works" (Psalms 73). Christian, take heart. Our suffering is but momentary, compared
to our "exceeding joy" when Christ's "glory shall be revealed"
- When Death is Unavoidable. Life is the normal and
expected thing for the child of God. "I am come that they might have life, and
that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). However, there does come
a time when the LORD may specially reveal to His people that death-- and not life--
is to be expected. This is exactly what will happen during the Tribulation Week.
"Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall
cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation
ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a Crown Of Life"
(Revelation 2:10). In this instance, suffering and death are only a gateway to a
"Crown Of Life".
- Abundance of Difficulties, But More Abundance of Grace.
God's Overcoming Grace has been the experience of the Saints down through the ages.
"Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:20). It has
rightly been said that our difficulties are God's opportunities. "For the eyes
of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew Himself strong in
the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him" (2Chronicles 16:9). Our
pain, suffering, and dying are opportunities to see God's power manifested on our
behalf. Unfortunately, it seems to have been necessary to experience pain, suffering,
and dying, for us to be properly motivated to seek the LORD-- and His holiness. "When
He slew them, then they sought Him: and they returned and enquired early after God"
(Psalm 78:34). True, we should seek Him anyway, but that is the track record of man.
What the Future Holds for Pain, Suffering, and Death
- No More Tears and Pain. Though tears and pain will
no longer be part of the lives of those Saints who are Raptured Home to the LORD,
Scripture indicates that rebellion will occur on Earth after the Millennium is completed.
"And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth,
Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand
of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp
of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven,
and devoured them" (Revelation 20:7-9). As dramatic an event as this will be,
the LORD only gives three short verses to accomplish the necessary description. The
sin that brought us pain, suffering, and death will be summarily brought to a conclusion--
"and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them". None of
the Godly will mourn at the outcome; instead, they will rejoice!
- Only after this fiery conclusion will there be the "New
Heavens and a New Earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2Peter 3:13 cp. Revelation
20). This is where we have the description of the LORD wiping away "all tears
from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither
shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (Revelation
21:4). The LORD God Almighty will no longer have any more need for pain, suffering,
and death in His creation. It is ashamed that we made it necessary for God to have
had to use them at all. "Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee: the remainder
of wrath shalt Thou restrain" (Psalm 76:10).
- No More Sting of Death. One of the most triumphant
passages of the New Testament, is the conclusion of the 15th chapter of Paul's First
Epistle to the Corinthians. "Death is swallowed up in victory" is the LORD's
way of telling us that no more righteous people will die after the Last Trump-- which
is the 7th Trumpet Judgment. [See our article about the Seven Trumpet Judgments,
Timeline: When Shall These Things Be? (Part 3)" -- http://WhatSaithTheScripture.com/Timeline/Timelin_Trib_Timeline_Pt_3.html
-- to get a better appreciation of when death
will be swallowed up in victory.] "Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not
all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,
at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised
incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption,
and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put
on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought
to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death,
where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin;
and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory
through our LORD Jesus Christ" (1Corinthians 15:51-57).
We all have probably concluded long ago that pain, suffering, and death will have
no part of the future for the Righteous, i.e., in Heaven. The ultimate victory of
the Righteous over death is a recurrent theme throughout the Old Testament Scriptures.
The Apostle Paul cited Isaiah 25:8 when he wrote, "Death is swallowed up in
victory" (1Corinthians 15:54). But, the prophet Hosea gave us the most sublime,
direct quotation from the lips of Jehovah concerning the Righteous and the destiny
of death. "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them
from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction"
(Hosea 13:14). Hallelujah!
What we may have neglected is the value of pain, suffering, and dying in our own
sanctification. "It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might
learn Thy Statutes" (Psalm 119:71). Much of the progress we have made in our
walk with the LORD has come because we have been subjected to pain, suffering, and
even dying. "For I will shew him [the Apostle Paul] how great things he must
suffer for My name's sake" (Acts 9:16). Only Eternity will tell all the good
that has come from these Unsought For Companions, i.e., pain, suffering, and death.
"Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because
it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort
it is" (1Corinthians 3:13). Certainly the Tribulation Week will afford the Body
of Christ more opportunities to be sanctified through contact with these Companions.
"But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth
as gold" (Job 23:10).
May God alone receive the praise for what you accomplish by your pain and suffering--
and even dying. "That God may be all in all" (1Corinthians 15:28).