Introduction: Navel gazing is natural. It is normal to
consider how some change will affect you. Indeed, you
probably spend most of your time thinking about changes and
how they affect you. I fear that we let this seep into our
theology – that we begin to think of problems as a way to
improve us. Our goal is to be refined gold they say, so let
difficulties pour over us. Consider this, if God wanted us
to be refined by problems, why did He give us His
Commandments and His advice in the Bible? Let’s dive into
our study of the Bible and learn more about the validity of
the idea of refining!

I. God’s Rulers

A. Read Genesis 1:26-27. Why did God make humans in
His image? (He created them to be rulers. He
created them to have dominion. A goat could hardly
be a ruler.)

B. Read Romans 8:18. Does this suggest that suffering
brings glory? (It says that glory is in the
future. Glory will be revealed. But, it does not
explicitly say that glory arises from suffering.)

C. Read Romans 8:19-21. Is the creation suffering?
(Yes, it was “subjected to futility.” It is in
“bondage to corruption.”)

1. What will release the creation from suffering?
(We are told that it will “obtain the freedom
of the glory of the children of God.”)

a. Does that mean that our freedom results
in the creation being free?

b. How does that relate to our first text,
that we were created in the image of God
to rule over creation? (It suggests that
humanity in general has lost the image of
God and therefore has not been a
benevolent ruler of the creation.)

D. Read Romans 8:22-23. Most of those reading the
prior verses were probably thinking that humans
have harmed the environment. Is that what this is
about? (No. “The redemption of our bodies” refers
to the Second Coming of Jesus. When Jesus comes He
will release both us and the creation from the
bondage of sin.)

E. Let’s skip down and read Romans 8:28-30. What is
our goal? (“To be conformed to the image of
[Jesus].” Consider the logic of what we have
discussed so far. What will being “conformed” to
the image of Jesus do for the creation? (It makes
everything better. It moves us back toward our
original relationship with God.)

F. Read Romans 8:33-34. What does this tell us about
the nature of our justification? Is it something
that results from the impurities being burned out
of us? (“God justifies.” God “is interceding for

G. Read Romans 8:35-39. What does this suggest is the
purpose of suffering? (To separate us from God.)

1. What does this say about the claim that God
brings suffering to make us more like Him? (It
suggests that suffering does not come from God
and its purpose is to make us less like God,
to separate us from Him.)

H. Read 2 Corinthians 3:14-18. How does this text say
that we become transformed into the image of God?
(When we behold what Jesus has done for us. When
we live in the power of the Holy Spirit.)

I. Let’s discuss this some more if necessary. Is
returning to the image of God a good thing for us
and for the creation? (Yes!)

1. Are we returned to the image of God by
suffering? (These texts do not suggest that.)

2. Do Christians suffer? (Yes. But our goal in
suffering is to hold on to our faith in

3. We have all seen the “dummies” series of
books. “Word for Dummies.” The idea is to make
learning something as simple as possible. How
is it that we lost our perfect image of God?
(We chose to turn away from God. We brought
suffering on ourselves.)

a. If we brought suffering on ourselves,
does it make any logical sense to think
that suffering will bring us back to
Jesus? Isn’t that like whipping ourselves
to remove sin?

II. The Lesson of Job

A. Read Job 1:1. Did Job need to be refined? (No.
This says wonderful things about Job, including
that he is “blameless.”)

B. Read Job 1:8-12. This is one time where we know
precisely the reason for suffering. What is the
source of Job’s suffering?

1. Was Job being refined by his coming suffering?

C. Read Job 23:1-5. To whom is Job appealing for
justice? (God. He says that if he could find God to
file a complaint, God would listen.)

D. Read Job 23:6-9. What is the practical problem that
Job faces in filing his complaint with God? (He
cannot locate God.)

E. Read Job 23:10-12. Is Job saying that in his
suffering he will be refined like gold? (Not in the
least. He is saying that if he can get a hearing
with God, that when God tries his case he would
“come out as gold.” Job claims in verses 11-12 that
he has done everything that is right. He will be
ruled to meet the gold standard of God.)

1. Is Job kidding himself? Is he arrogant? (No.
We know from Job 1 that God considers him
“blameless” and the suffering has nothing to
do with refining Job, and everything to do
with bringing glory to God.)

F. Let’s re-read Job 1:11. What is Satan’s purpose in
Job’s suffering? (To separate him from God. Notice
that this is precisely what Romans 8:35 teaches us
– Satan’s purpose in suffering is to cause us to
let go of our faith in God.)

III. The Apostles and Suffering

A. Read 1 Corinthians 4:9-13. Is Paul suffering? Is he
rejoicing in suffering? (He is not rejoicing in

1. Why do you think that Paul is comparing other
church members to himself? (Paul seems to say
that church members should not look down on
him because of his suffering. They are not
superior to him because they are not

B. Look again at 1 Corinthians 4:9. Paul says that the
apostles have become a “spectacle to the world, to
angels, and to men.” What does this suggest is the
reason for their special suffering? (This sounds
just like Job – the universe observes the
faithfulness of the apostles.)

1. What is the result of their faithfulness, and
that of Job? (It gives glory to God. He has
certain faithful people who will stand through

a. Is there any suggestion that the apostles
are being refined by this suffering?

C. Read 1 Corinthians 4:14-15. Paul says that those
reading his letter can learn something from the
experience of the apostles. What is it? (It has to
do with selecting the correct guide. What they
should learn is that a leader who suffers may be
doing so because God is using the leader for God’s
glory. It does not necessarily mean that the leader
deserves to suffer.)

IV. How to Be Refined

A. Read Ephesians 4:11-14. What is God’s formula for
refining His people? (The church! God wants us in a
structure that teaches us and builds us up!)

B. Read Ephesians 4:15-16. How does God want us to be
refined? (By speaking the truth and listening to
those who speak the truth.)

C. Read Ephesians 4:30. What role does the Holy Spirit
play in our refining? (The Spirit “seals” us for

D. Friend, this brings us to a conclusion that every
mature person understands. There are two ways of
learning. You can bash your head on the truth, or
you can listen, learn, and follow the truth. The
texts we have studied today show that God’s way is
the smart way. However, evil exists and when we are
plunged into suffering through no fault of our own,
we have the opportunity to bring glory to God!

V. Next week: Extreme Heat.

Copr. 2022, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are
from the ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard
Version ), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing
ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All
rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within
parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail,
but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this
link: Pray for the guidance of the
Holy Spirit as you study.