“11 Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” 2 Timothy 2:11-13 (ESV)
Throughout scripture, there is a direct connection between the difficulties we as believers face and the joy and glory that await us. In these verses we see this idea of suffering and reward explicitly in verse 12: “if we endure, we will also reign with him”. However, this is where we as followers of Christ must be very careful. It is unbiblical to understand these verses as though they mean that by our suffering and our enduring hardship that we will win the right to a crown. That is never the case in Scripture. As true believers, we do not win a reward nor do we merit anything from God ever. Nothing that we do as faithful servants puts God in our debt and obliges Him to reward us. This is made clear in Scripture (Job 41:11, Romans 9:20-21, Romans 11:34-36).
What these verses are highlighting is the testing of our faith. If we are willing to suffer with Christ and to give up our idols for Him, defying the temptations of this world for Him, then we are truly living a Christian life. If we are living for Christ, then it is certain that we will “reign” with him since we belong to Him. Paul reiterates these verses in Romans 6:7-8 and Ephesians 2:4-7 to make clear the importance of how God intends for us to live this new spiritual life that He has given to us with Christ – spiritually alive for the first time ever, and repenting and willing to live for Christ. Paul makes it very clear that there is only one option: “If we disown Him, then He will also disown us.” This is a decision of worshipping God or worshipping the world and yourself.
However, Paul ends with recognizing that we are human, and therefore, we are weak. We are tempted by this world every day. Sin is so evident here on earth, and it is idolized. We cannot do this on our own. Alike to when David committed idolatry, Peter denied Jesus, or when Samson fell into lust, we are also faithless. However, the Lord “remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself” as He will always restore us and work in ways that we cannot understand. Jesus will always lead us to repentance, to confess our sins, and ultimately, to restore us, so that by grace we rely on and walk with Him.
*Romans 6:8: “7 For one who has died has been set free[b] from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.”
*Ephesians 2:4-8: “4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”