Suffering Not Always Indicative of Sin
“Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in Him.'” – John 9:3
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We’re finishing up the book of Acts which details the birth of the church of Christ, which is the body of Christ. Paul was shipwrecked with the crew and other prisoners on the way to Italy to appeal to Caesar. Now we’re in chapter 28 where they found safety on the island of Malta.
The natives there showed them “unusual kindness” and kindled a fire for them (Acts 28:2). “But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand. So when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, ‘No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow to live’” (Acts 28:4-5).
We assume here that the snake bit Paul. Of note here is that the natives believed that just because the viper fastened itself to Paul that he had committed a crime – that he was a murderer. That was an incorrect assessment.
Yet, many people make that assessment often today. People believe that because someone faces some adversity or calamity that it is because they are being punished for some sin that they committed. That is not the case with Paul and it is not always the case today.
Remember John 9 where Jesus healed the man who was blind from birth. The disciples asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind” (Jn. 9:2)?
Jesus responded, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him” (Jn. 9:3). The disciples assumed that the man was blind as a result of sin, but Jesus corrected them.
Calamity, hardship, adversity, and suffering are not always the result of some sin a person committed or their parents. We cannot presume that a person suffers because of the sins of their parents like the disciples in John chapter 9 did.
“The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.” – Ezekiel 18:20
Sometimes calamity and suffering just happen. And as Jesus said, suffering can come upon us so that the works of God can be revealed.
And remember Job. His suffering came because he was a good man who feared God and hated evil (Job 1:1, 8). Yet his friends believed as the Maltans did.
Jesus said that we will have trouble in this world, but we can be of good cheer because He’s overcome the world (Jn. 16:33).
Just because a person is going through a hard time does not mean it is some punishment for a crime or some sin. We are not God, so we are not able to rightly say so.
The natives on Malta believed that about Paul, and many others incorrectly believe that today. One thing is for sure, though. When we do sin – and we all do (Rom. 3:23) – God will forgive us if we repent (Ezek. 18:21). He will forgive us if we are baptized (Acts 2:23; Mark 16:16). We must live faithful until death – that is key.
You don’t have to suffer adversity and calamity alone. You can do it with the Lord by your side. Won’t you come to Jesus today?
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