DEFINITION: Persecution is the act of subjecting someone to cruel and unfair treatment because of their ethnic origin, political views, or religious beliefs. The biblical definition includes harassing, punishing, oppressing, or even killing those who serve God and refuse to deny Him.
FACTS ABOUT PERSECUTION:
The targets of persecution. The Bible reveals that true believers–those who proclaim God’s Word and live by His commandments–are the targets of persecution.
All who live godly will suffer persecution. The Apostle Paul warned: “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:;12).
Reasons for persecution include misunderstanding, jealousy, revenge, opposition, hatred of God and His Word, and Satanically-inspired motives.
The root causes of persecution in a biblical sense are wicked men who are motivated by Satanic powers to oppose God, His Word, all that is good, and believers who choose to follow the Lord. The world hates believers because they are not of this world (John 17:14-18).
You are actually blessed when you are persecuted. Matthew 5:11-12 says: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
DEALING WITH PERSECUTION:
Pray that you will be delivered from persecution. “Deliver us from evil” is part of the model prayer (Matthew 6:13). Paul said to “…pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith” (2 Thessalonians 3:2). David prayed “save and deliver me from all who pursue me” (Psalm 7:1).
Forgive those who persecute you. You must extend to those who persecute you the same forgiveness that you have received (Matthew 6:12).
Love those who persecute you. Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies…”(Matthew 5:43).
Pray for your enemies. Jesus said: “…pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45). You are to pray blessings over those who persecute you (Romans 12:14).
Know that nothing can separate you from God’s love–not even persecution or death (Romans 8:35-39).
Keep your focus on eternity. If you suffer with Him and in His behalf, you will be glorified with Him (Romans 8:16-18)
Know that God’s grace is sufficient. No matter what you suffer, His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). You will have sufficient grace to help you in times of need (Hebrews 4:16).
Do not back down. If you are suffering because of your Christian witness, do not back down. The disciples suffered in this way, but they determined to continue to minister the Gospel and to obey God rather than man (Acts 4:18-20; 5:28-29).
WHAT GOD’S WORD SAYS ABOUT PERSECUTION:
O Lord my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me. (Psalm 7:1)
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12)
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:43-45)
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (Matthew 6:12)
But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life. (Luke 21:12-19)
If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me (John 15:18-21)
All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you. (John 16:1-4)
I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. (John 17:14-16)
Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:18-20)
“We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men!” (Acts 5:28-29)
They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. (Acts 14:21-22)
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written:”For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. (Romans 12:14)
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2)
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12)
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. (Hebrews 11:24-26)
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. (1 Peter 4:12-16)