Chapter 3 - A Reason for Adversity

A Reason for Adversity

Mankind without adversity is
mankind without relevance

God places us in a world where He is not immediately evident. He obscures Himself1 and makes Himself known only to those who love Him and obey His commands.2 Why?

We live our life and during the process we discover things like honor, love, charity, goodness, righteousness and wisdom. Gradually we perceive that there is a spiritual side to life, a spiritual plane that is superimposed upon the physical. We live in both of them. Why has He created us in this way? What does He accomplish with this obscurity and why the pain?

He has created us the way we are for good reason. For good reason He has placed fallible man into a world of crumbling virtues and sin, ecstasy and pain. The reason for this and the reason why He permits (and creates) adversity is because He is using it to create eternal value and that eternal value is called righteousness.

And we are the vessels that He has chosen to house it.

We are His chosen agents, chosen to express and to create things like honor, fidelity, honesty, kindness, forgiveness, acceptance and integrity. We are His chosen ones, chosen to express the essence of what God is: love.3

The gripping irony of this magnificent goal is that the virtues that express righteousness and love cannot exist in a vacuum. They must have their counterparts. Honesty cannot exist without dishonesty; fidelity is vapid without the existence of betrayal; and in order for kindness to exist, cruelty must be possible. And what inherent good is honor if one is not free to choose dishonor?

Adversity creates the background for righteousness, for spiritual strength, patience and love. Like a white ferret invisible on a snowy hill, righteousness is invisible without its opposites and where righteousness and unrighteousness inevitably intersect lies adversity. Ultimately it is adversity that engenders righteousness; and righteousness is eternal. Adversity is the fire that forges eternal value.

Righteousness is not possible without choice and choice is irrelevant without adversity. Mankind without adversity would not be man Man must be free to sin if his choice not to sin is to have relevance. If man is free to give, he must also be free to take. If he is free to love, he must also be free to reject. He must have free will to be real. The man who is free to give must also be free to take or his giving has no intrinsic value. He must be free to sin. He must have free will.

Of all of the miracles that Christ performed, not one of them altered the free will of anyone. Nowhere does scripture make this more evident than in the case of John the Baptist. When the Baptist was imprisoned, Christ was beginning His ministry and performing miracle after miracle. Christ changed water into wine.4 He healed the sick5 and gave sight to the blind6 and paid the temple tax from coins taken from the mouths of fishes,7 but He left John the Baptist to die in prison. The Baptist fell victim to a tyrant and the whim of a depraved young girl. The soldiers of Herod came to the Baptist's cell and cut off his head and presented it to the girl on a platter.8 Christ did nothing to stop it because He would not interfere with either the free will of Herod or the adversity of the Baptist. Herod defined himself by what he did, and so did the Baptist. Each of them defined who he was by the choices he made and both of them faced their God and His eternal judgment exactly as they chose.

God has a reason for creating a world in moral free-fall where young girls and potentates can place the heads of prophets upon platters. There is a reason why we live in a world where free will is unrestrained and crooked politicians, tyrants, criminals and sin blossom like spring weeds. It is no accident.

The Creator has placed us in a fallen world where the only currency of true value is righteousness and virtue, coins of honesty and honor, truth and wisdom, justice and mercy, fidelity, diligence, reliability, generosity, service, sharing, giving, loving of others. These are the only things that can produce real value. We define ourselves by these things-or by their opposites.

God has created us to live in a world that is devoid of its own moral compass and He has given us a blank check called life so that we can invest in good or evil or in nothing at all. And when it is over, He will ask us what we did with what He gave us. He will ask "Who are you?"

We are born to sin, and we are destined to encounter the refiner’s fire. It has to be like that because fidelity rises from temptation and generosity is engendered by want. Faith comes from fear and uncertainty. Our Father takes sinners and turns them into gold. He uses the fires of this world to create beauty from ashes.

To give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD9

Behold, I have refined theeI have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.10

And I will refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ And they will say, ‘The LORD is my God11

Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the Lord have created it.12

It will come about in all the land,” Declares the LORD, “That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; But the third will be left in it.”And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ And they will say, ‘The LORD is my God13

God is in the business of transforming bad to good, tragedy to ecstasy and the internal void filled with the presence of God Himself.

In us, He has taken a step beyond simple creation and created a living being that can itself create good. And He has imbued us with all of the elements necessary to do this. He has given us both free will and a sin nature so that when we choose right it is significant. He gives us opportunity to choose the right and shun the wrong and thereby create an instance of righteousness-a commodity which is of immense value in His eyes. We are the instruments of good, the vessels of His righteousness. We are the beauty that He has created. We are the gold that has been purged from the dross.

It is difficult to understand this when we experience heat of the refiner’s fire. But we are told not to question His wisdom:

Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherds strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to Him that fashioneth it, what makest thou? Or Thy work, He hath no hands?

Woe unto him that saith unto his father, what begettest thou? Or to the woman, what hast thou brought forth?14

The concept of righteousness may seem obscure to many, but to God, it is massive. God values righteousness exceedingly,15 and He hates unrighteousness.16 Righteousness, or rather the lack of it, was the reason for the fall of man; it is the reason for eternal judgmenteternal life or eternal death-and it is the reason for the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

When He looks upon us, He does not see our body, but our heart. He sees our intent and our sincerity17 and He understands that He has created us as imperfect beings.18 And He searches our heart and deals with us according to what He sees19 and He is patient with our failings.

Anyone who does not recognize how important righteousness is to God does not know God.20 Righteousness now, in this life is overwhelmingly important. The decision to accept the righteousness of Christ results in eternal life,21 and the decision not to accept the righteousness of Christ results in eternal death.22 Obedience to God’s Word may seem irrelevant to this fallen world, but in reality it is everything.

God intends righteousness to be obscured with the temptations of the world.23 Without obscurity there is no issue to wrestle with; there is no choice, and without choice there is no righteousness. Righteousness is making a free choice to hear and to obey His words in the face of adversity, rather than choosing not hear and not to obey and capitulating to sin.24

God has created us so that we ourselves can create righteousness and become the vessel of God Himself25 and become both righteous and eternal. He has not created us to spend a lifetime churning self-aggrandizement like a mouse running in a golden spinning wheel. We were not created to wander through this world in search of wealth, power and pleasure-or stoicism. We were created in His image. We are created to create. We were created to be branches of the vine of Christ, creating the fruit of righteousness.

I am the vine. You are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.26

The impact of the scripture quoted here does not strike the reader until the reader understands that vines do not bear fruit. Only branches bear fruit. We can do nothing without Christ, but it is we who bear the fruit. We are the fruit-bearers created in His image.

We have been gifted with the inestimable honor of being able to create instances of good that would not exist without our choices. And, unlike sin which results in spiritual death,27 the righteousness that we create results in life and peace.28 It is eternal:

As the whirlwind passeth, so is the wicked no more: but the righteous is an everlasting foundation.29

the righteous [shall go into] life eternal.30

as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.31

Within scripture’s continually reiterated concept of righteousness and obedience, God weaves numerous and specific facets. Among these facets are love (God is love32), honesty,33 integrity,34 fidelity,35 courage,36 diligence,37 love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, humility, temperance [self-control]38 kindness,39 and others.

As we assimilate these qualities, they become consistent patterns of behavior within us and we become that person. These patterns of behavior are called virtues. Virtues are expressions of righteousness. These virtues are life40 and they are eternal. 41 But they cannot exist without their counterparts.

Righteousness and virtue are by far the most prevalent aspects of all scripture. In the Old Testament, righteousness permeates the scripture from Cain and Able42 to Judges;43 it stretches from the Ten Commandments44 to the prophet Malachi.45 Righteousness is the reason for the Old Testament law. It flows through Psalms like a river of purpose46 and forms the bedrock of Proverbs.47 It is the reason behind all of the prophets and it is the light of their prophecies.48

In the New Testament, Christ was crucified to give the gift of righteousness49 to those who undeserving in order to make them righteous.50 Righteousness is the core of Christ's ministry and teachings; it is the reason for His death on the cross51 and one of the goals of the resurrection is for us to made in the righteous likeness of Christ.52

Behind all the lessons, the themes, the drama, the history and all the teachings in all of scripture stands righteousness as a silent giant.

It is no wonder that God has placed the apple of His eye (man) into a world where man himself can become the author of this eternal jewel.

It is for this reason that the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden was the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.53 For without the knowledge of good and evil, there can be neither good nor evil. But when man ingested this fruit, the knowledge of good and evil became part of an imperfect being who would inevitably use it for both good and ill, for life and for death. But without ingesting the fruit, choice is irrelevant. Without the fruit man is morally neuter. Without the fruit, man would not be man. God created man exactly the way he is-and permitted him to fall-for a reason.


1. John 3:6 " Truly, truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh is born of flesh, but spirit is born of the Spirit. Do not be amazed that I said, ‘You must be born again."

2. John 14:21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him."

3. First John 4:8 "God is love."

4. John 2:8 "Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. Now draw some out, He said, and take it to the master of the banquet. They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine."

5. Matthew 8:3 "Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” He said, “be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed"

6. John 9:6,7 "Jesusspat on the ground, made some mud, and applied it to the man’s eyes. Then He told him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came back seeing."

7. Matthew 17:27 "Go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee."

8. Mark 6:20-28

9. Isaiah 61:3

10. Isaiah 45:6-10

11. Zechariah 13:8

12. Isaiah 45:8

13. Zechariah 13:8

14. Isaiah 45:6-10

15. Proverbs 21:21 He who pursues righteousness and loyalty finds life, righteousness and honor." Psalm 89:14 "Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne." John 14:23 "Jesus answered and said to him, 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him." Here Jesus is saying that those who obey His commands (righteousness) will enjoy the presence of God. Also see John 14:21.

16. Ezekiel 18:4 "The soul who sins will die." Ezekiel 3:20 “When the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.” Also see Revelation 21:8.

17. First Samuel 16:7 “for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”

18. First John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousnessMy little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

19. Jeremiah 17:10 “I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” See also Isaiah 64:4-6 where God states that He meets with him that works righteousness, but in one sense our righteous acts can be as “filthy rags.”

20. First John 3:9 “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

21. John 10:28, 29 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: and I give them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.”

22. Revelation 21:7,8 “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the cowardly, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

23. Isaiah 6:9,10 “And He said, Go, and tell this people, hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert and be healed.”

24. Matthew 13:15 “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear..”

25. John 14:23 (quoted above)

26. John 15:5

27. Romans 5:12 “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned.” Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

28. Romans 8:6 “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded [oriented toward righteousness] is life and peace.”

29. Proverbs 10:25

30. Matthew 25:46

31. Romans 5:21

32. 1 John 4:8 “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” The love in this passage is “agápe,” which means a love that is wholly unconditional.

33. Romans 12:17 “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.”

34. Psalms 25:21 “Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait upon thee.” Proverbs 11:3 “The integrity of the upright shall guide them…”

35. Titus 2:2,10 “That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience … shewing all good fidelity

36. Psalms 27:14 “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart…”; Psalms 31:24 “Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.”

37. 2 Peter 1:5 “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge…”

38. Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering [patience], gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness [humility], temperance [self-control]…”

39. 2 Peter 1:7 “And to godliness [add] brotherly kindness…”

40. Proverbs 12:28 " In the way of righteousness is life, And in its pathway there is no death."

41. Romans 8:10 “And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”; Romans 8:6 “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

42. Jude 1:11 “Woe unto them! for they have gone the way of Cain...”

43. Judges 21:25 “In those days...every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”

44. Exodus 20

45. Malachi 2:17, 3:5“Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied Him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good...I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those who oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless...”

46. Psalms 1:1 “Blessed is the man who walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful, but his delight is in the law of the Lord and in His law doth he meditate day and night.” Psalms 11:7 “For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.”

47. Proverbs 21:12 “He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness and honor.”

48. Isaiah “Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness; let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it.” Isaiah 32:17 “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever.”

49. Romans 3:22 “the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe

50. Second Corinthians 5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Romans 5:8 “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

51. First John 2:2 “And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

52. Romans 6:5 “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.”

53. Genesis 2:17 “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.”