If our lives are effective witnesses for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we will experience criticism, opposition, and even hatred. Satan fears Christians who are influential, and will do anything to minimize our influence and dimish our effectiveness for God. Jesus said that we would experience persecution and tribulations in this life. If we are intent on spreading the Good News, then we must be prepared for what the devil does, and thwart his plans before they ever get started.
When persecuted for following Jesus and honoring His Word, we must understand that He experienced an even greater and more determined persecution. Satan was constantly trying to kill Him, using the religious as his tool of attempted murder. On many occasions the Jews tried to seize and kill Him, but He simply passed through their midst unharmed. No man or demon could take His life.
Paul was also on the devil’s hit list. He wrote “Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.”
(2 Cor 11:23-27)
Jesus, Paul, and many others experienced persecution for sharing the Gospel. We have not experienced the level of resistance they did, but the spirit of persecution is in operation in this world. In our own nation, Christians are having aonerous fines levied against them and being forced from business because they refuse to make products for or participate in gay weddings. Like Jesus and Paul, they are oppressed because they follow the highest law of all, the law of the Word of God.
Jesus spoke to this issue in Matthew 5:10-12. “They are blessed who are persecuted for doing good, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. People will insult you and hurt you. They will lie and say all kinds of evil things about you because you follow me. But when they do, you will be blessed. Rejoice and be glad, because you have a great reward waiting for you in heaven. People did the same evil things to the prophets who lived before you.” When men treat us wrongly, lie about us, and hurt us, it difficult, even seems impossible to bear, yet Jesus provides us freedom from the shackles of persecution and rejection. He has pronounced a blessing upon us!
When Jesus says you’re blessed, you ARE blessed! The byproduct of persecution for righteousness sake is the blessing! If we can believe for it, every time the Devil raises a persecution against us, we receive the blessing. The very weapon he forged against us results results in our blessing. The Lord says “But in that coming day no weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the Lord; their vindication will come from me. I, the Lord , have spoken! (Isaiah 54:17)
When people mistreat us we must declare that we are blessed! When they call us names, we must declare that we are blessed! When they tell lies about us, we must declare that we are blessed! When they try to take our businesses away, we must declare we are blessed. Jesus said it: When we are persecuted, we are blessed. He WILL vindicate us. Think about it!