What must believers do to persevere through persecution? – Part 2

Almost every night the boys and I wrestle with one another. Apart from trying to beat me down to the ground, one of the things they like to do is run full speed down the hall, into the living room, and right into me. Thankfully, at least for now, I’m able to resist them from knocking me over by standing firm. Just as I stand firm against the kids blows, Peter tells us we must stand firm against the devil, resisting his roar of persecution.

(3) Believers must resist the devil by remaining firm in their faith

In contrast to me wrestling the kids, we learn that we aren’t to resist the devil in our own strength. Instead, we resist him by faith. In other words, resisting Satan doesn’t involve herculean acts of strength on our part. It involves continued faith in God’s mighty hand.

Admittedly, continuing in faith is easier said than done, especially when you’re staring a lion down. Peter knows which is why in the next two and a half verses he works to provide the motivation we need to stand firm. He begins in verse 9 by telling us that: Persecution is a common occurrence for the Christian. Look at what he says in the second half of the verse,

“knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” (1 Pe 5:9b)

While we might feel isolated when we are standing before the mighty roaring lion of persecution, Peter tells us that we aren’t alone. There are others all over the world experiencing persecution. The implied idea seems to be that they are standing firm, resisting Satan’s attack. If they can do it, so can we. Not in our own strength, but by humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God, trusting that He will provide us what we need in order to persevere.

After telling us we aren’t alone, Peter continues to motivate us to persevere by telling us that: Persecution will not last forever. Look at verse 10,

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Pe 5:10)

One of the ways I like to get my exercise is to run. While the part of Texas in which I live is generally flat, the area right around my house. There aren’t any mountains, but the hills right around my house are deceivingly steep. When I’m out running, I like to push myself to run those hills as fast as I can. Starting out its easy, but there is always this point about half way through where I’m ready to throw in the towel and slow down. While the struggle is real, what allows me to push through and make it up the hill is knowing that the end is near. Peter wants us to see the same. He wants us to see that suffering, though painful at the time, isn’t going to last forever. It’s going to end. We might experience the end at some point in the future.Or we might not experience it until Jesus returns. Either way, persecution is not going to last forever. God will finally and fully deal with it at Jesus’ return where we will be vindicated.

But until that time comes, God will cause to persevere. That’s what Peter is getting at with the four rapid fire verbs he uses at the end of verse 10. While each are slightly different, they all combine to make the same point — God will strengthen and fortify us so that we persevere until the end. We not only learn that in verse 10, but we also learn the same at the beginning of the letter. Starting in verse 3 of chapter 1, we read:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, [and here is what I want you to see] who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Pe 1:3–5)

Notice that God causes us to persevere through faith. Faith, He mightily works in us. That’s an important point to get because it tells us that we don’t persevere in our own strength, but through God’s strength as He works the faith needed for perseverance in us.

God is able to cause us to persevere because: God has dominion and control over this world. Look at verse 11,

“To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Pe 5:11)

This verse is a doxology — a written praise to the Lord — but Peter includes it here as a means to strengthen our faith. Knowing that God is sovereign and in control of this world, that nothing happens outside of His sovereign control, that He is not blindsided or overpowered when we face persecution, should give us the confidence we need to press on in resisting the devil by exercising faith in God.

Conclusion

So we see that persevering through persecution requires us to: humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, remain clear-headed and alert to the devil’s plan, and resist the devil by standing firm in our faith. If we do those things, we will be successful in persevering through persecution.

Continue In The Faith

Perseverance is the badge of true saints. The Christian life is more than a beginning in the ways of God. It is also a continuance in the faith as long as life lasts. It is the same with a Christian as it was with the great Napoleon who said, “Conquest has made me what I am, and conquest must maintain me.” The only true conqueror who will be crowned is the one that continues until war’s trumpet is blown no more.

The Target of Our Spiritual Enemies

Perseverance is, therefore, the target of all our Spiritual enemies.

The world does not object to you being a Christian for a time if she can tempt you to give up your journey and settle down in her Vanity Fair.

The flesh will seek to entangle you and prevent you from pressing on to glory. “It is weary work being a Christian. Come, give it up. Must I always be humbled? Am I never to be indulged? Give me at least a vacation from this constant warfare.”

Satan will make many fierce attacks on your perseverance. It will be the target of all his arrows. He will strive to hinder you in service. He will insinuate that you are doing no good. He will endeavor to make you wary of suffering. He will whisper, “Curse God, and die” (Job 2:9). He will attack your steadfastness: “What is the good of being so zealous? Be quiet like the rest.” He will assail your doctrinal beliefs: “Why do you hold to these denominational creeds? Sensible men are getting more liberal. They are removing the old landmarks. Blend in with the times.”

Conclusion

Wear your shield, Christian, close to your armor. Pray to God that, by His Spirit, you may endure to the end.

Resource

Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: May 26, Evening

Wait on the Lord Always

 

“Wait on the Lord.”

— Psalm 27:14

It may seem an easy thing to wait, but it is one of the postures which a Christian soldier learns not without years of teaching. Marching and quick-marching are much easier to God’s warriors than standing still. There are hours of perplexity when the most willing spirit, anxiously desirous to serve the Lord, knows not what part to take. Then what shall it do? Vex itself by despair? Fly back in cowardice, turn to the right hand in fear, or rush forward in presumption? No, but simply wait.

Wait in prayer, however. Call upon God, and spread the case before him; tell him your difficulty, and plead his promise of aid. In dilemmas between one duty and another, it is sweet to be humble as a child, and wait with simplicity of soul upon the Lord. It is sure to be well with us when we feel and know our own folly, and are heartily willing to be guided by the will of God.

But wait in faith. Express your unstaggering confidence in him; for unfaithful, untrusting waiting, is but an insult to the Lord. Believe that if he keep you tarrying even till midnight, yet he will come at the right time; the vision shall come and shall not tarry.

Wait in quiet patience, not rebelling because you are under the affliction, but blessing your God for it. Never murmur against the second cause, as the children of Israel did against Moses; never wish you could go back to the world again, but accept the case as it is, and put it as it stands, simply and with your whole heart, without any self-will, into the hand of your covenant God, saying,

“Now, Lord, not my will, but thine be done. I know not what to do; I am brought to extremities, but I will wait until thou shalt cleave the floods, or drive back my foes. I will wait, if thou keep me many a day, for my heart is fixed upon thee alone, O God, and my spirit waiteth for thee in the full conviction that thou wilt yet be my joy and my salvation, my refuge and my strong tower.”

Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening : Daily Readings, Complete and unabridged; New modern edition. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006), Morning, August 30.