Understanding Persecution

Updated: Mar 19

PERSECUTION IS A REALITY THAT IS NOT SUGAR-COATED OR HIDDEN


“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” 2 Timothy 3:12 ESV

Rather than sugar-coating one with false promises that appeal to the flesh, the Christian faith is a Truth-based religion that deals with the realities of life.

The Christian life involves persecution. Any true born again believer is promised a life of hardship, trials, and tribulation. Rather than sugar-coating one with false promises that appeal to the flesh, the Christian faith is a Truth-based religion that deals with the realities of life. It does not seek to put one to sleep thinking everything will be okay. It does not falsely mislead others into thinking that this life is to be filled with continuous happiness and excitement . Though our actions and life may be purposeful and joyful here in this life, it by no means excludes the adversity that we all are to face. For the book of Ecclesiastes reveals that there is a time for everything: “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4 ESV).


Those who desire to live godly lives are promised persecution. This persecution comes in a variety of ways. It comes through mockers and scoffers. It comes through prejudice and labels. It comes to the point of misfortune, abuse, physical and verbal pain; even to the point of death. We must hear the words of 1 John 3:13 (ESV) and “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.” For we are pursuers of Light as born again believers. Old ways are passing away. Behold, the new.


Following Christ is not easy, but it is most certainly worth it. Although it is a road of sacrifice and facing disdain, God is well-pleased as we strive for godliness. As we seek to glorify God and do the Father’s will, there will come times when we are out of our comfort zone. We will have to do and say things that are uncomfortable and are contrary to the flesh. Nonetheless, when it is done in love, it is acknowledged from Above.


We must therefore know that all that is done in this life is continually being seen, both from the seen and the unseen realm. We must allow our hearts and minds to believe and acknowledge the reality that so long as God is pleased, who cares what the world may say? Who cares if the ungodly, the wicked, and those captivated in darkness are angry with us? What does it matter if we are not friends with those who are headed down the path of damnation? For although we once were on the same path, we made a choice. The conviction and encouragement of the Holy Spirit led us to see that there is more to life than meets the eye. By taking that leap of faith, we have been moved to see, feel, and taste of the glory that is to come.


PERSECUTION SEPARATES THE WHEAT FROM THE CHAFF


“And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the Word, immediately they fall away.” Mark 4:17 ESV

You can tell whether someone is truly born again, based upon whether or not they flee from or endure persecution. Those who cowardly and submit themselves to the world are those who are not of the body of Christ.

You can tell whether someone is truly born again, based upon whether or not they flee from or endure persecution. Those who cowardly and submit themselves to the world are those who are not of the body of Christ. Those who neglect standing for Truth and the name of Christ when mocked and ridiculed, are those who have not put on the full Armor of God. Their reality of God is decrepit and weak. In return, they cannot stand against the strong winds of the world. Instead of standing for Christ and trusting He will calm the winds, they adjust their sails to wherever the wind of the world blows.

Persecution is a great test to reveal who is truly sold out for God and who is not.

Persecution is a great test to reveal who is truly sold out for God and who is not. For it is easy to accept God when blessings come and life is simple and easy. The real test, however, is in the fire. When everything could be lost. When nobody acknowledges us. When those whom we thought were friends now despise us. It is in the times when we stand alone that we either say and do what will make us accepted by the world, or we believe that God goes before us (Deuteronomy 31:8).

Those who have a soft faith will not endure persecution for Christ, but will blame Christ for not giving them an easy life. They are those who would rather appease men than appeal to God.

Those who have a high view of God will stand through the trials with a smile and their heads toward the sky. They will not waiver in their faith, for they know that all that can be given has been given, and they need not fear anything. Their boldness comes from their confidence in God. Those who have a low view of God and do not spend time with Him are those who fear men more than they fear God. They will be exposed for their soft faith when tough times come. They will not endure persecution for Christ, but will blame Christ for not giving them an easy life. They would rather appease men than appeal to God. Therefore, they will be the lukewarm Christians whom God will spew out of His mouth on that Final Day (Revelation 3:16).


Let us therefore have “a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:16-17 ESV).


May all come to stand bold in the genuineness of the faith; forever knowing and growing in God.


THE BLESSING OF PERSECUTION


““Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!”” Luke 6:22 ESV


Blessed are we when our persecution is a result of following the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. For when we are persecuted for following Truth, Life, and Love Himself, we should be encouraged; knowing that our path is upright. We must not be crushed or afflicted when persecution comes. Rather, we must see that we are blessed. ““Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you”” (Matthew 5:10-12 ESV).

The Prophets and Apostles did not allow the difficulties of the day to rob them from the promises of Eternity.

The Prophets and Apostles of the Scriptures all endured tremendous persecution. They were battered and bruised. They were mocked and ridiculed. They were hated for the Truth. Yet, they did not falter or waiver from their faith. They did not allow the difficulties of the day to rob them from the promises of Eternity. They continuously stayed the course and endured that which the Lord had laid before them.


We must look to the unseen realm, therefore, when enduring persecution. We must not let temporary moments of pain, sorrow, and hurt to deteriorate or drift us from the reality that God is in our midst. For God Almighty will have the final word. Whatever wrong was done to us will be punished if those who did the wrong do not believe and repent. Therefore, if our persecution increases with every step of faith, then we can be sure that we are walking down the righteous road. For as holiness increases, so our blessings increase. Not by or for our own merit, but by the Holy Spirit and for God's glory.


“But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled” (1 Peter 3:14 ESV). Let us not be fearful of persecution, but let us be open and accept it as it comes. For just as an elder in the prayer group I attend says, “what are you going to do, Devil? Tempt me with Heaven!?” The worst that can happen is we lose our life, but we gain glory and Eternity in the process. The sooner we leave this life, the sooner we shall be in a perfected, purified state with God Almighty.


“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Peter 4:12-14 ESV).


PERSECUTION REVEALS WHETHER OR NOT WE ARE WALKING WITH THE LORD


“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10 ESV


When we are weak and admit we are weak, we then are made strong through Christ. When life is successful and easy going, we have a difficult time building ourselves up in the faith. We tend to stray when life is not difficult. When everything is good, we have a tendency to drift.


Persecution keeps our eyes directed towards God. They help to reveal our utter weakness. They remind us to turn to God. They help us to acknowledge whether we are walking with the Lord or not. For every time persecution comes, we can acknowledge our frailty and then cling to Christ for the strength to endure.

Persecution reveals the fruits of prior preparation. For we cannot win the battle on the battlefield.

Persecution is therefore not just a blessing, but opens our eyes to what lingers in the soul. It brings recognition and contemplation on our past seasons and helps to determine whether or not we have been walking with the Lord. For we cannot win the battle on the battlefield. Persecution reveals the fruits of prior preparation. For if we have continually sought after God throughout all seasons, then we will be much more willing to endure the trials that are to come. When the world presses upon our soul and seeks to kill our faith, we will rise above; so long as the Light within shines forth.


How might we have a greater shine? It begins with the building up of our relationship with God. The more we spend time with, seek, and pray to Him, the greater the relationship we will have with Him, and the more we will recognize where God has moved and when God speaks. The more we read the Word, the more its Truths harbor within the soul. As this occurs, we will not be downcast when persecution comes. Rather, our faith will be revealed in the midst of persecution because we have taken appropriate actions and steps in previous times. We have desired God at all times and will therefore trust Him to guide us through our adversity.


PERSECUTION PROVIDES US WITH OPPORTUNITIES TO GROW IN VIRTUE


“Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” 1 Peter 4:19 ESV


If our disposition is appropriate throughout our persecution, we will grow in virtue. For virtue cannot be built without hardship. Courage cannot occur without fearful situations. Humility cannot be built when all is well. Endurance cannot occur if there is nothing to endure. Persecution must occur if we are to be tested and grow in virtue. We must be willing to labor through the pains of this life and see that our faith comes to full fruition when we are persecuted.

We cannot pray for our enemies if we don’t have any enemies; and if we don’t have enemies, we must reevaluate our faith in Christ. For the world never got along with Christ. Why in the world, then, do we think that we should get along with it?

“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44 ESV). We cannot pray for our enemies if we don’t have any enemies; and if we don’t have enemies, we must reevaluate our faith in Christ. For the world never got along with Christ. Why in the world, then, do we think that we should get along with it? ““If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you”” (John 15:18-19 ESV).


If we live an unoffensive life, then we are not living the genuine Christian life. For persecution builds up in us, virtue. It is only by having enemies that we may pray for our enemies. It is only the strong in faith who will genuinely pray for those who persecute them. They will not merely utter words, but pray from the fountain of the heart. Their prayers will be a fresh fragrance to God, for they will be genuinely spoken to by the Holy Spirit through the believer.


“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them” (Romans 12:14 ESV). As we learn to be as Christ and say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:24), we will be transformed more into Truth bearers. We will be filled with more love. We will see people as souls that are either on their way to Heaven or Hell. We will recognize that damnation or salvation is stamped upon every soul. It is our hope and prayer that all would come to Christ. This comes with a recognition of one’s own faults, sinfulness, and wickedness. Through this disposition, we begin to truly desire that all would partake in the blessed fellowship in Christ. We don’t esteem ourselves as higher than others. Rather, we hold ourselves as more vile than others. This innate understanding recognizes the barrenness within. It sees that if Christ can save us, then He can and truly desires to save all others He has created in His image.


“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:17-21 ESV).

O that we might learn to pray and bless our enemies. For this is the final state of obtaining a perfect love for all who are made in God’s image.

O that we might learn to pray and bless our enemies. For this is the final state of obtaining a perfect love for all who are made in God’s image.


PERSECUTION IS PROMISED BY GOD


““I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”” John 16:33 ESV


We must not become downcast or disheartened when we are persecuted. Christ Himself promised that it would come, but He also gave us the reminder that He has overcome the world. Nothing can trump or override what God Almighty has spoken. It is in His promise, that we understand this reality. We will not drift into a fantasy land where we think that nothing painful will ever happen. Rather, we hear the Words of Christ and we accept them. For He has triumphed over all, and all that happens is meant to bring us closer to Him.


Let the world, the enemy, and people persecute us. For the greater the persecution, the greater the glory. The more we are persecuted, the more the Scriptures validate and prove Themselves to be true. For it is through persecution that Truth is revealed. For Scriptures have noted many times that suffering and persecution is part of the Christian walk. Those who truly walk down the path of Christ will experience hardships and adversity. However, the glory that awaits on the other side does not even compare to the suffering and persecution of today. what is occurring within this life "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Romans 8:18 ESV). Let Truth be revealed through our painful experiences. Let Truth be enhanced within us through the way we are treated.

O that the bubbling brook of the Holy Spirit within would help us to remember that persecution is building Christ-likeness in us, opportunities to grow in the faith, and a greater glory to come!

O that the bubbling brook of the Holy Spirit within would help us to remember that persecution is building Christ-likeness in us, opportunities to grow in the faith, and a greater glory to come!


GOD’S PROTECTION IN THE MIDST OF PERSECUTION


“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Psalm 34:19 ESV


Come what may, persecution is only allowed to come so long as God permits. Nothing happens outside of God’s permission. If God has allowed persecution to take place, He has done so for Divine reasons. Some of these reasons have been revealed and mentioned throughout this writing. Others may never be known. The reality, however, is that the Lord promises to deliver us out of our persecution - whether in this life or (if we have truly believed and repented) in the life to come.


“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4 ESV). God will instruct us throughout our persecution and trying circumstances. He will be with us when we are labeled and falsely accused. If we will incline our ear to hearing Him, His promises and His Word will speak louder than the voices of the world. For our soul’s ears must be greater than our physical ears.


So long as our spiritual man is more directed to God than our physical man is to the world, not only will we have victory, but we will see victory. We will acknowledge that God is right beside us. His Omnipresence surrounds us and His Spirit resides within us. For the Holy Spirit endures our persecution with us. Christ relates to our persecution because His entire life was full of sufferings. Yet, He remained humble to the end for a greater cause. Likewise, we must remain humble and trust God until the very end. For we are not alone in this walk.


God is with us. He will protect us. We will see Him deliver us out of our afflictions. So long as our pursuit is upright and we have a desire to grow in righteousness, God will protect us. His Sovereign power and Omnipotence will be the wings that will ascend us to Higher Ground. They will be the wings of protection that draw us once again to a place of rest and peace.


“You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me” (2 Timothy 3:10-11 ESV).


If God delivered Paul from his persecutions, He shall deliver us, according to His will.



PERSECUTION BUILDS ENDURANCE, STAMINA, AND PERSEVERANCE


“Consider Him Who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” Hebrews 12:3 ESV


When we remember the life of Christ, we receive power from On High. The Holy Spirit breathes within us power to endure. Perseverance becomes easier when it comes from our faith. For from our faith, comes virtue, and one of those virtues is perseverance. "But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control [a]perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love" (2 Peter 1:5-7 NKJV).

The more we endure in our past, the more we shall persevere in the present.

An enhancement of virtue builds endurance to finish the race that is set before us. For the more we endure in our past, the more we shall persevere in the present. For all past trials are mechanisms by which we grow and develop. They are the building blocks of faith. If we adjust our mindset and heart and do not waiver, we will build up Holy Ghost stamina. For when more difficult and pressing times come, we will be able to reflect back and see that God was faithful. We will see that His promises came true and He protected and guided us through our persecution.

O that we would persevere in all circumstances. That we would endure the deadly arrows of the enemy, revealing the power and might of Christ to him and to the world.

O that we would persevere in all circumstances. That we would endure the deadly arrows of the enemy, revealing the power and might of Christ to him and to the world. May the world have no choice but to bow before Almighty God in this life, rather than before the Great White Throne.


PERSECUTION LEADS US BACK TO THE CROSS


“For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake,” Philippians 1:29 ESV


The most horrific and terrifying persecution took place at the Cross. There, was both suffering and death. It was Christ Who endured ridicule, mockery, torment, and torture for our sake. O that we would have an eye to see Him upon the Cross! That we would reflect on what has been done by the God-man, Christ Jesus. How much less we would complain, question, and seek to get out of our persecution when viewing His.


O what a blessing it is that God will allow persecution to draw us back to Him. Rather than living a luxurious life free from pain and trouble, God allows persecution to draw us back to Him and to the Cross. He helps us to remember the timeless Truth, not from a simple recognition, but a holy contemplation. He draws our thoughts passed mere words. He enhances the Truths of Christ’s atoning sacrifice within and enlightens us to see deeper revelations of what happened on That Day.

What beauty and awe, to see the Perfect Lamb slaughtered for our sake. Beauty in His reasoning, and awe in His willingness to endure.

What beauty and awe, to see the Perfect Lamb slaughtered for our sake. Beauty in His reasoning, and awe in His willingness to endure. If Christ was willing to go through so much; if He was willing to go from being the Incorporeal Logos to the God-man Jesus Christ; if He was willing to descend from Infinite Glory and humble Himself for a little while, then what shall we say of our temporary afflictions?

If Christ was willing to go through so much; if He was willing to go from being the Incorporeal Logos to the God-man Jesus Christ; if He was willing to descend from Infinite Glory and humble Himself for a little while, then what shall we say of our temporary afflictions?

O let us praise God when He helps us to see the Cross in our times of complacency, idleness, and laziness. May we thank God for awakening us through persecutions, that we may not merely coast on throughout this life, but that we would make the most of the times. For it is in and through persecution that we are reminded of the blessedness of the Cross and do not fall into the mindset of taking it for granted. We bring the blessed Truth of the Cross to its proper place once again.


May God forever awaken us when we slumber and fall asleep to the spiritual realities and truths of God’s Word and the Cross.


CONCLUSION


“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-12 ESV

Persecution is promised, but in it are blessings known and unknown. For it reveals that the Scriptures are True. It grows us in virtue. It blesses us with the blessings of God, both now and the life to come. It moves us towards a deeper intimacy with God and an enlightened acknowledgement of Christ and the Cross.

Let us not think it strange when the fiery trials of life come. For Christ said, “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours”” (John 15:20 ESV). Persecution is promised, but in it are blessings known and unknown. For it reveals that the Scriptures are True. It grows us in virtue. It blesses us with the blessings of God, both now and the life to come. It moves us towards a deeper intimacy with God and an enlightened acknowledgement of Christ and the Cross.

O that we may be found worthy to be persecuted! May we not live a life of luxury and ease, but may persecution bring us to our knees.

O that we may be found worthy to be persecuted! May we not live a life of luxury and ease, but may persecution bring us to our knees. May we seek God in the midst of suffering and know that He is there. May we find Him in all things and may we continually grow in Him. May we not flee from persecution, but may we stand firm on the Rock of Christ. For our Fortress is God alone. He is the One Who hides us under the shadow of His wing. We must simply trust, believe, and press on.


O saints, learn to accept persecution as it comes. Endure the trials that are set before you, for they are allowed by God. For it is “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22 ESV).


PRAYER


Heavenly Father, You are the High and Holy One. You alone permit and allow all things to happen. You do so in order for Your Ultimate Divine to be fulfilled. O God, we are guilty of seeking to be freed from persecution, not knowing that You have permitted it and are in it with us. O Lord, strengthen us in the Truth of Your Word. Help us to see that being persecuted is a blessing. It reveals that we desire holiness, righteousness, and godliness. It shows us that we are on the path of Eternal Life. O God, thank You for Your Truths and making the realities of this life known to us. Thank You for growing us through our hardships. Lord, whatever is to come, may we glorify You. Give us the strength to endure all seasons for the sake of Christ. Enhance within us Holy Ghost boldness and love to stand for Truth and to love our enemies. Only by You can we fulfill Your will. We thank You, God in Heaven, for meaning and purpose in all things. May we simply walk down the path of obedience, knowing and trusting that You have a plan and are for us. May we desire Your glory over all other things. May Thy Holy will be done. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Lance VanTine

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