We have been talking about how God does not call us to avoid conflict at all costs, and that people pleasing is idolatry. It is putting the approval of people above the approval of God. I shared verses about what the Bible has to say about people pleasing. We talked about how it is ungodly to avoid necessary conflict and how trying to never let anyone be upset with us can be a very unhealthy and destructive way to approach relationships.
But now, I want to take us a bit deeper, my dear sisters:
Jesus tells us – over and over again – we will be persecuted if we live for Him.
We are at peace with God once we yield to Christ as Savior and Lord of all. So we are no longer enemies of God. However, our joining with Christ puts us into conflict with Satan and his forces every moment.
- Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12)
- If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. (John 15:18)
- But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44)
- 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)
There were a few decades where things were pretty peaceful for believers in the Western world. We got kind of spoiled – and maybe a bit superficial and lazy spiritually in all of our prosperity and peace. The dynamics in our world are changing quickly. Let’s be willing to lay down our lives to live for God – whether that means we are willing to die as actual martyrs, or we are willing to lose our jobs for Christ, or we are willing to lose our homes, and even our families if necessary – for Christ. He is worthy of any suffering we may need to endure. Let’s pray for and seek to financially help our precious brothers and sisters around the world who are facing intense persecution.
- The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Acts 5:41
- For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. Luke 9:24
Certainly, we can be willing to lose the approval of people in order to gain the approval of Jesus. He alone is LORD!
When we stand firm in Christ, we don’t have to be shaken by the hatred of the world and those who don’t know and don’t live for Christ. We can see them with His eyes and love them with His love even as they hate us. (Let’s be sure that the only reason they could hate us is because of Christ in us – not because of any sin we commit. May God empower us to live holy lives, pleasing to Himself, that will put those who oppose us to shame.)
We are not going to fit into the world if we live fully for Christ. That is a guarantee. In fact, we CAN’T fit into the world! God says that friendship with the world is enmity toward Himself.
This is a raging spiritual war that is going on, my dear sisters (and brothers)! The bullets are flying from the enemy. The fiery darts are raining down on us. This is not a luxury cruise. It is not peacetime – no matter how much we want it to be. It is wartime. Priorities must shift dramatically in wartime (David Platt). We have an enemy who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy us, our families, our marriages, the gospel of Christ, the church, our children, and everyone on the planet. We don’t run away from the battle. We are God’s soldiers. We are to be prepared and equipped to run into the fray in response to His command!
Many people are ensnared by the enemy and have been taken captive to do his will. The things they say and do come directly from him because they are Satan’s slaves when they cherish sin and self. Those who live for the flesh/pleasure/sin are controlled by the enemy to do his bidding. Those who are controlled by God’s Spirit do His will When God draws lost sinners to Himself, He transforms their hearts, minds, and souls so that they begin to follow Him and act like Him instead of like Satan.
- You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. John 8:44
- For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. Galatians 5:17
- Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24
- Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. John 14:23-24
There are only two sides.
Let’s put our armor on each day and connect closely with our Commander. Let’s not take the attacks of others personally but understand who the real enemy is. Let’s pray for those who mistreat us to be set free by the power of Christ and to experience the salvation and regeneration of God. Their eternal souls and destiny are at stake.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:10-17
Life is not really ultimately about worldly things! I am writing with tears, my dear sisters. Our lives are about so much more than things like:
- getting what we want in the moment
- our temporary happiness
- our feeling loved by our husbands today
- whether we live in the house we would prefer
- whether we are married or have children or not
- what our husband’s feelings are about our marriage today
- what we eat, what we drink, our appearance, or what we wear
Time is short! Each moment is a gift. I want to see us live without regrets, focusing on heavenly things not earthly things.
This is war. There are thousands and thousands of demons and angels battling over us, our families, our cities, and our countries. There is a sovereign God who is over it all. People’s precious souls hang in the balance. This world is not our home. We are strangers and aliens passing through.
Our home is in heaven! We will experience luxury, comfort, and all the emotional/spiritual intimacy we desire for billions upon billions of years when we are finally Home. Right now our job is to abide in Christ, to be filled with His Spirit, to be available for use in His kingdom, to rescue the captives, to be available to Christ to set people free from sin and the enemy.
It is true that the closer we are to Christ, “the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace” (Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus).
We can have confidence in conflict and in persecution because we have the Holy Spirit filling us, empowering us, and guiding us. We don’t have to fear the enemy or his tactics. Let’s be vigilant and prayerful! Praise God with me that greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world! (1 John 4:4)
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. 1 John 4:4-6
We can be bold for Christ as His Spirit empowers us and fills us. We have no good or power in ourselves. We are totally dependent on Christ. We must be absolutely submitted and yielded to His control. Then it is ALL HIM working in us. We must get rid of all self, self-effort, and self-will.
God promises that we will have trials, suffering, and persecution. He also promises to be with us through all of it and to use it all for our ultimate good and His ultimate glory (Romans 8:28-29). God’s perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).
May God open our eyes to see as He sees! May He empower us to be warriors in His kingdom to bring many to Himself. May we stop shrinking back in fear as if mere men are worthy of our fear and let us have healthy fear and awe for God alone. May He empower us with His love to overcome the evil in the world and to bring great glory to His Name! May He cause us to rise to become a holy generation, set apart to accomplish His purposes in this dark world. May He use us to rescue the perishing and save the dying. May we set aside our own agendas and desires and embrace God’s agenda, His plan, His will, His purpose, and His desires!
Voice of the Martyrs – information about how to pray for and support our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ around the world
www.radical.net – David Platt