"Yes, we did produce a near-perfect republic. But will they keep it? Or will they, in the enjoyment of plenty, lose the memory of freedom? Material abundance without character is the path of destruction"-Thomas Jefferson

Friday, February 19, 2010

Persecuted for Christ

Company girls, if you're joining me today, the following post is something that has been weighing heavily on my heart. I am not in any way authorized to speak or teach about the Bible or leading a Christian life. I'm just a Christian struggling along. Feel free to offer any insights you may have.

Recently I read a fiction novel about members of a Catholic church that were being terrorized by demons. I assure you, since that time, I have had lots of nightmares. Not a good book for a little light night time reading! If any of you have ever read Frank Peretti's novels, his books cover the same topic--demons terrorizing Christians....and hard-core, kick butt Angels that fight back!!

Reading these types of books has opened up an interesting dialogue in my heart about my relationship with Christ. One that holds special meaning in view of today's current events. Am I willing to be persecuted for Christ? Spiritually or Physically? AM I WILLING TO BE PERSECUTED FOR CHRIST?

Let's step back a minute:
I know that Christians are to be persecuted for Christ's sake. The Bible tells us this...repeatedly. Check out 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 or Philippians 1:27-30. History tells us this---just check out current events or your history books to see example after example of Christians being persecuted for their beliefs. And yes, most of those are graphic examples of Christians being persecuted PHYSICALLY for their beliefs. But Christians are also being persecuted mentally, emotionally and spiritually for their beliefs.

Let's examine that statement for a second:

Christians are being persecuted mentally, emotionally and spiritually for their beliefs. How? In most of Frank Peretti's books, you'll see him refer to demonic forces by names: despair, anger, jealousy, hatred. And I firmly believe that Satan uses these emotions to his full advantage and is unleashing spiritual warfare against Christians in order to win souls to Hell.

But Leah, are you telling us you really believe in demonic forces on earth? Here and now?

Yes. But I didn't always think that way. It's been a relatively recent development in my spiritual growth. And here's how it came to pass. I believe in God and Jesus. That much is a given for any Christian. And if I believe in Christ, then I have to believe in His Holy Spirit and his Angels. And that's a powerful thought...Angels here on earth to fight for righteousness and protect those that love the Lord. God even tells us that there are Angels among us...see Hebrews 13:2, Psalm 91:11, Psalm 34:7 and perhaps the one I find most full of joy and redemption, Hebrews 1:14.

So why is it so hard to believe then, there there are demons on earth terrorizing us and tearing away at our relationship with Christ? I had the opportunity to discuss this question with one of my fellow Christian friends. I think she thought I was a little crazy. And that's what most people would think if I said I believed in demons. But how, as Christians, can we believe in God, in Christ, in His Holy Spirit and in His Angels--and NOT believe in a Satan that has so much hatred for us that he is willing to release his minions on earth against us?

The Bible gives us example after example of demons persecuting men. I'm sure the first name that pops into any Christian's mind is Job. What about Mark 7, verses 25-30, the story about the little girl with the unclean spirit? What about Matthew 12, verses 43-45, warning us to put our house (our souls) in order so that unclean spirits do not return sevenfold? I firmly believe that not only do heavenly hosts surround us, but we are bombarded with hosts of a much more evil kind.

So while I do believe that demons can actually inflict physical terror as well, I believe that Satan is waging a much more effective war against Christians-spiritual, mental and emotional warfare. But get this...Christ has given us the eternal hope and assurance that we WILL win the battle. Check out this passage from Ephesians 6:10-20, which gives us not only that blessed assurance, but also the weapons with which to defeat Satan:

The Whole Armor of God

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 lPut on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the 2wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against mprincipalities, against powers, against nthe rulers of 3the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 oTherefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand pin the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, qhaving girded your waist with truth, rhaving put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 sand having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking tthe shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And utake the helmet of salvation, and vthe sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 wpraying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, xbeing watchful to this end with all perseverance and ysupplication for all the saints— 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, zthat I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which aI am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

And all this to bring me back to my original question: Am I willing to suffer persecution for Christ's sake? Sure, I might say I am, and even expect it. But am I TRULY willing to be persecuted for my Lord? Am I willing to face death, or even worse, the constant beating of my soul by hell's forces?

Sure this would be a nice, neat tidy package if I could just wrap it up and say YES! Of course I'm willing! But I'm a weak human and the answer is I'm just not sure. I love Christ, I want to spend eternity with Him. But am I willing to suffer to be with Him? This is a journey that is going to require so much more inside searching and outside reading and praying.

I know God will win the battle for us. I know the reward is greater than anything I can imagine. So why is it so hard to commit to a little suffering here and now?


  1. I have thought more about demonic activity, too. We are in an animistic society now, and many things are attributed to "spirits." While some of it is superstition, there is some demonic activity also. It makes you much more aware that "our battle is not against flesh and blood..."
    As for the persecution, I think that we all want to say, yes, we would be willing. But we won't really know unless we have to face it.
    For myself, I find that I let the little things slide too much (like not speaking up when I know I should, but I don't want to stand out). I need to be more faithful in the little things, or I will never be able to be faithful in the big things.

  2. I've been doing some good/hard reading with some of the Lenten devotionals I am reading. There is so much more to following Him than we seem to get as Christians in America, isn't there?

  3. I'm going to have to read this post a few times to take it all in. I've read some of the books you've mentioned and have given a fair bit of thought to spiritual warefare, but I don't think I've ever really asked myself if I was willing to be persecuted for my faith. Thanks for sharing what was on your heart- it's going to inspire some good conversation!

  4. Some interesting thots to consider to be sure. Thank you for your input in this matter that should be close to all of us.

  5. Leah, I don't think you're crazy for believing that demons do exist today. The one thing that we do need to be careful of is giving the devil too much credit for bad things that happen in our lives and around us. As Beth Moore would say, the human heart is full of deceit, so even if there weren't an enemy of our souls, we would think all kinds of bad thoughts and even do bad things. (That's my paraphrase from her talk "Do not throw away your confidence.") Jeremiah 17:9 says "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" Of course, I believe in spiritual warfare! We need to guard our hearts against the enemy. It's just my opinion that not every struggle we have is spiritual warfare. Some of it is just human nature. The trouble is, it's tough to tell the difference so it's just best to arm yourself with the Word of God and be ready no matter what comes our way.

    Great thoughts!

  6. And the blessing of persecution is that we will see God. Definitely not fun, but totally worth it!

  7. I know exactly what you mean. What a huge sacrifice that Jesus made for us, and shouldn't we willinging say YES, but it is so hard to put ourselves out there for pain and torture and suffering. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

  8. I used to worry a lot about physical pain and torture for Christ...I was raised on a lot of end-time discussion. And I was deeply afraid of demonic activity. I'm not sure when I stopped fearing those things and trusting in the power of Jesus, but I think maybe the more we incline ourselves to Him and surrender to Him, the less those things will hold us. Yes, we are in a spiritual battle, no doubt. We are taught that we should be wise to Satan's tactics. But greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. No matter what happens, we know how the last chapter turns out.

    Great discussion, Leah!

  9. Leah, first of all...Frank Peretti- not recommended night time reading! (This Present Darkness was one of the first books my friend gave me after I became a Christian-probably not the best thing for a baby Christian to read right out the gate!) But good, thought-provoking, eye-opening stuff.

    I come from the world of the occult, and I will tell you that demons do exist. In a very real and physical way. There is a battle raging for the souls of men, and anyone who chooses not to believe that is deluded. I agree that it can be tempting to blame all of the sins of man on spiritual warfare which somehow makes us feel better, but the nature of man is sinful at its core and should not be discounted.

    Have you ever read any of John Eldredge's books? They approach this topic in a very interesting way.

    As for persecution, I am with you Leah! My warrior's heart says "Bring it! I can take whatever you got for my Lord!" but my feeble human mind wonders if I will cave under the pressure. The truth is we won't know until we are tested. We just have to be prepared when that time comes. It sounds like you are doing just that! Keep up the good work! Great post!

  10. It's nice to dig deep once in a while. Thanks for bringing up this question. I've read Frank Perreti's books too. And they made the spiritual world more alive to me. When I or DH meet unsaved people, I have to remember that some if not all of them have demons controlling them one way or another. And I know demons are around me when I go to the store or even at Church. It's just that they cannot possess me but they can still oppress me.

    As far as being persecuted for Christ, we all have to remember that we CAN'T endure persecution in any form without God's help. Sometimes we can allow persecution- and it's not from God. Does that make sense? Sometimes we can have a Moses/Superman complex, like when he killed the Egyptian slave driver who was hurting the slaves. Sometimes we make a sacrifice only to find out that's not what God needed us to do. And we get ahead of God.

    I once wanted to be more like Christ for a New Year's resolution. Let me tell you, that was the hardest year of my life. God gave me lots of opportunities to live persecuted like Christ. What I got out of that is that we can't suffer through anything without God's help. In fact, we can't really "help" Him because He is in no need of help. That was the most humbling thing that I've learned.

    Thanks for letting me put in my 2 cents!

  11. We've (Matt and I) been discussing suffering and persecution quite a bit lately. I like to think that I would suffer well, but I guess we never know until we're in the midst of it. I was reading John 15 today where Jesus says the world will hate us because it hates him and to expect persecution. Hard things for our fallen human minds, but the true teaching of Christ. All we can do is pray for strength to endure.


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