Introduction: What should a committed Christian expect in life? The
Bible gives us all sorts of advice for living better lives.
Deuteronomy 28 promises us that if we bey God He will give us a
better life here on earth. On the other hand, if we are careless
about obeying God we will have a difficult life here. Why, then, do
we find these texts in the Bible which tell Christians to expect bad
things? Let’s dive into our lesson and see what we can learn from the

  1. Don’t Be Surprised

    1. Read Deuteronomy 28:1-8. What does God promise us if we
      “fully obey” Him? (He promises us blessings. If you read
      Deuteronomy 28:1-45 you will get the full flavor of this.
      If you disobey God, your life will be pretty terrible and

    2. Read 1 Peter 4:12. After reading Deuteronomy 28, you bet
      I’m surprised. Suffering is strange when placed against
      the backdrop of Deuteronomy 28. If God does not change,
      and His word is reliable, how do you explain these
      apparently contradictory statements?

    3. Let’s look at the context of 1 Peter 4:12. Continue by
      reading 1 Peter 4:13-16. Should we expect to suffer for
      our disobedience to God? (Yes. Peter says you can expect
      to suffer as a meddler, murderer, or thief.)

      1. What seems to be the exception to the rule of obey
        and prosper, disobey and suffer? (Peter points out
        how Jesus suffered. Jesus was leading the charge in
        the conflict between good and evil. As a result, He
        was targeted by Satan and his followers. Peter says
        we can expect the same thing.)

    4. Read 1 Peter 4:17-19. Peter continues in the vein of
      Deuteronomy 28 by comparing those who follow God with
      those who do not. Have our expected outcomes changed from
      the Old Testament to the New Testament? (No! Peter says
      “If you think you’ve got problems as a follower of Jesus,
      imagine what is coming upon the unrighteous!”)

      1. What seems to be the primary source of problems for
        the unrighteous? (The judgment of God.)

    5. Read 1 Peter 5:8-9. Will our sufferings only come from
      unbelievers who are unhappy that we follow Jesus? (No.
      Satan is looking to harm us.)

      1. If Satan is looking to harm the followers of Jesus,
        what good is it to “be self-controlled and alert?”
        (This suggests that Satan is looking to cause us to
        sin – which will then trigger our suffering.)

        1. Is it only our sin that causes us to suffer?
          (The sense of verse 9 is that our suffering
          causes us to consider abandoning our faith. It
          refers to “our brothers” undergoing the same
          kind of suffering. Thus, we are suffering
          attacks of Satan even though we are obedient.)

    6. Read 1 Peter 5:10-11. Will God return us to a state of
      blessing if we are faithful? (Yes. We suffer “a little

      1. Is this state of blessing here on earth? (The text
        does not specifically say, but it refers to us being
        called to “eternal glory in Christ.” That is a
        reference to heaven.)

  2. No Excuses

    1. Read Romans 1:18-20. Are you getting the picture that life
      might not be perfect? (Good thing we studied Psalms 23
      last week!) If we obey, Satan is prowling around to harm
      us. If we disobey, the wrath of God is being revealed to

      1. Does anyone have an excuse for disobeying God?

    2. Read Romans 1:21-24. How does this suggest that God’s
      wrath works? (That if we reject what is obvious, God
      allows us to continue in our own way and we continue to
      slip lower and lower into sinful activities.)

    3. Read Romans 1:26-31. What does this suggest about the
      penalty for sin? (That sin brings its own reward! There is
      a great truth here if we contemplate it. Obeying God gives
      us a better life. Disobeying God gives us a worse life.
      The Christian’s life is only worse because of the
      existence of sin which disrupts the natural order of
      things. This sin harms us in one of three ways: 1. Satan
      targets us; 2. General sin in the world catches us in its
      grasp; or, 3. We commit sin.)

    4. Read Romans 1:32. Is the world today in the condition of
      the world in Paul’s time? (Yes! How many today “approve”
      of the sins listed by Paul? How many today approve of the
      sin of homosexuality?)

      1. How about you? Do you approve of the sins listed by

      2. Read Romans 2:1. How do we walk the line between
        “judging” others and not “approving” of sin?

      3. Read Romans 2:2-4. What brings us to repentance? What
        brings those sinners we read about in Romans 1:26-32
        to repentance? (God’s kindness! Should we take any
        other approach?)

  3. Getting Better

    1. Read Jeremiah 9:7. We just said that Satan and sin in
      general can injure us. For what other reason can we have
      what seems to be trouble in our life? (God says He will
      “refine” and “test” us.)

      1. What kind of picture do you see in this text – that
        Joe Christian is innocently walking down the street
        when all of a sudden the refiner’s fire hits him and
        knocks him to the ground? (No. Notice the last part
        of verse 7: “what else can I do because of the sin of
        my people?” Our sin triggers the refiner’s fire.)

        1. Is anyone perfect? Since I assume the answer to
          that question is “no,” should we act surprised
          when faced with the “refiner’s fire?”

        2. What should be your attitude towards a refining
          fire? (You should be grateful. God sees merit in
          you. He sees that you can be “golden.” The goal
          is not punishment, it is your improvement.)

    2. Read 2 Corinthians 12:7-9. Paul says that he was given
      some wonderful revelations about heaven (2 Corinthians
      12:1-6), and later Satan sent him “a thorn in my flesh” to
      torment him. Why does Paul say he received the “thorn?”
      (To keep him from becoming conceited.)

      1. Paul asked God to take away this thorn from Satan.
        Why didn’t God take it away?

      2. What does God mean when He says “My grace is
        sufficient for you?” (I think of grace as Jesus’
        offer of salvation on my behalf. Thus, I read this as
        God saying “I’ll take you to heaven where you will
        not have any pain or suffering. That should be an
        adequate answer to your present suffering.)

      3. What does God mean when He says, “My power is made
        perfect in weakness?” (This is a theme of the Old
        Testament – God wants it to be clear that He is the
        Author of victory, not humans. Thus, when we do great
        work for God, He is glorified when it is clear that
        He did it and not us. When we suffer some sort of
        difficulty, that makes God’s power that much

    3. Read 2 Corinthians 12:10. What is Paul’s final attitude
      about this annoying problem? (He ends up delighting in it
      because “when I am weak, then I am strong.”)

    4. Friend, how about you? Are you suffering from some problem
      today? If it stems from your sins, then turn away. If it
      is sent to refine your character, look forward to the
      final results. If Satan is just injuring you, know two
      things: First, God’s grace is sufficient for you. Second,
      God works more effectively for His glory when we are weak.

  4. Next week: The Birdcage.