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Persecution Explained
Among the spiritual principles in the Bible, there are many statements made about the laws of sowing and reaping, the results or end punishment of wicked living, and the results or rewards of righteous living. The Word of God speaks truth to our hearts about every avenue of living so that we will not be shocked or surprised by anything that confronts us.

We know that we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus; but occasionally we fail to realize that in order to be a conqueror, there must be something or someone to conquer and overcome

One of the areas in life that we must learn to overcome is persecution. Of course, I recognize that there are different degrees of persecution. Here in the United States, for instance, we do not know the kind of persecution experienced by Christians in other lands. But the Word of God does not give us different principles for overcoming these varying degrees of suffering by persecution.

Jesus suffered much persecution in His ministry, even to the point of being executed by His enemies. But was He overcome by it? No! He arose victorious over death, hell, and the grave. Neither did He let it affect His life and attitudes. Even at the cross, He cried out for forgiveness for His enemies.

How did He do it? Let's look at some statements Jesus made early in His ministry. "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake" (Matt. 5:10).

Jesus always said what He meant and meant what He said. After all, He spoke only the words He heard His Father speak. He said, Blessed are they which are persecuted. Blessed. How could He say that? How could a person be blessed by being persecuted?

Certainly the person who is persecuting another is not pronouncing blessing on him! The word blessing means favor, benefit, and fortunate.

If you are being persecuted, you must be in favor with God because of righteousness. Those who persecute are not in favor with God because of their unrighteousness.

Jesus continues: "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake" (Matt. 5:11).

Before we continue, we need to take note of this verse. You are blessed when people speak evil against you falsely. Jesus did not say you are blessed when they speak the truth about you.

Only a person who is living righteously can truly be persecuted in the manner Jesus taught, i.e., for righteousness' sake. If you are living unrighteously and are guilty of the accusations, then you are simply reaping what you have sown. So living righteously will bring persecution.

The Nature of Persecution
Most people approach the subject of persecution from a very negative standpoint. They say, "I'm just suffering for Jesus."

But persecution is not a negative subject. The Word of God tells us that godly living will cause us to suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12). To make such a statement is not anti-faith; it's just a fact. (Some Christians have been persecuted without even knowing it.) However, the Word of God also says that faith overcomes persecution.

To be persecuted for righteousness' sake means for being righteous and for walking uprightly in the uncompromising Word of God.

Jesus did not say, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for unrighteousness' sake." You are not blessed for living unrighteously, nor are you blessed when rebuked for sin. You are blessed when men revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for Jesus' sake.

You can still overcome persecution suffered because you sinned, but the Word of God says that you are blessed when men speak all manner of evil against you falsely.

Why Persecution?
There are several reasons for persecution:
- Righteousness
- Pride
- Jealousy
- Religious Spirits

Understand that persecution will be a reality for any Christian living righteously before God. However, remember that through Christ we can overcome all things, including persecution by our spiritual enemies.

Source: Understanding Persecution by Annette Capps
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers

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