“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. …
“Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”
Satan is the author of persecution. He tempts to the dark side. It is his goal to use the things we face in day to day life to tempt us away from faith-filled trust in God. The tempter desires to tempt us away from a life that honors God as God. He wants to ruin our testimony and rob us of peace, joy, and hope so we are ineffective as Christ’s ambassadors, the image bearers of God. In doing so, he causes us to doubt our Christian faith and walk away from God.
A man once said something ugly, condemning my Christian faith, then in one breath, quickly adding, “and no: I’m not persecuting you.” I don’t remember saying anything to him before or after. He was a passer by I did not know, nor have I seen him since. He spotted me as who I was in Christ, said whatever it was he said followed by the part I remember, and walked on, leaving me looking at him with “How rude” on my stunned face.
On one hand, he was correct. He was simply the unwitting instrument in the hands of him who was using the man to persecute Christianity. On the other hand, he was allowing himself to be that instrument, seemingly without understanding it’s source and purpose.
The same is true of a deadly diagnosis, the sudden death of a loved one, or any number of tragic events that leave us wondering where God is and how He could let such evil come upon one who loves and trusts Him. Anything that tempts us to doubt, fear, and turning from God is Satanic persecution of our Christian faith.
I believe Satan’s being the author and perfector of persecution is why God warns us to realize our battle is not against flesh and blood, but demons and principalities (Ephesians 6:10-18). Not only do we tend to focus anger toward the instruments of persecution, failing to love even our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, but we fail to realize enemy tactics of persecution through the temptation to doubt God that comes with our daily struggles.
This belief regarding tactics of persecution coming from the enemy of God has protected me from giving myself to fear, doubt, and unforgiveness. It has helped me separate the sin from the sinner so I can walk in God’s mandate regarding love and prayer. And it has kept me from allowing the fruit of God’s Spirit to be stolen and buried by the evil intent brought to life’s circumstances.
“… Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers will be cut off, But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.” – Psalms 37:1-9
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
1 Peter 5:8-11