The Bible says we are to persevere through persecution. Sadly, many people think that the Christian life is exempt from any type of persecution. However, the truth is that Christians are accused and persecuted day and night by the enemy.
“…for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night…”—Revelation 12:10
The question is not whether we will have to endure persecution but what type and how to persevere through it.
What Is Persecution?
Persecution can be described as harassing, oppressing, or killing those who do not conform. For the Christian, this means we can be persecuted for our belief in Jesus when we do not conform to the sinful and ungodly world.
Paul addressed this in his letter to the Romans.
- “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”—Romans 12:2
Paul understood spiritual warfare and the persecutions many would face because they believed in Jesus. For this reason, he wrote, “renew your mind.”
If the enemy can get you to compromise on the small things, it's not such a giant leap to compromise on the bigger things. This all starts with your thoughts, which is why we must renew our minds.
Although most of us won't be killed for our beliefs, we can expect to be dismissed, belittled, harassed, or shamed. This is why being in the Word is critical to persevering. We must know God's Word and act in alignment with it so that we are not overcome by the persecuting statements that can come against us.
The first key to persevering through persecution is to renew your mind by meditating on the Word of God.
Without knowing the Word, you don't have truth to stand on or peace in perseverance.
How Is Persecution Happening in Today's Culture?
In the Daniel series, we've discussed how today's culture tends to reflect more of Babylon than the Bible. There is a war on the things of God: prayer, our youth, parenthood, and much more.
So then, hearing about people who stand up for truth and persevere through persecution can be an encouragement to us, knowing we are not alone in this war. These stories can prompt us to pray for the Spirit to continue to turn hearts toward God.
Joe Kennedy's Example
Recently, the Supreme Court “sympathized” with Joe Kennedy, a high school football coach who prayed at the 50-yard line after every game since 2008. Throughout the years, players started to join him in prayer. The school district grew concerned, and he was suspended.
After a lengthy legal battle, the court eventually ruled in his favor.
Joe Kennedy said, “Every American should be able to have faith in public and not to be worried about being fired over it.” According to CNN, he said his prayers were meant to fulfill a covenant promise to praise God after every game, “win or lose.”
“I think it is important to keep our promises—especially to God,” he said.
Daniel prayed three times a day. Even when a new law prohibited him from doing so, he did it anyway. He got down on his knees and prayed, thanking God as he had always done. The lawmakers at the time saw this and went to the king. As a result, he was thrown into the lions' den.
Daniel knew the law and still persevered through persecution. He prayed and gave thanks, despite it being prohibited. God didn't prevent him from experiencing persecution. Instead, He equipped Daniel for it and walked with him through it.
Religious Schools in Maine Example
In another example, the Supreme Court ruled that Maine could not exclude religious schools from a tuition assistance program. This program provides financial support for parents to send their children to public or private schools.
Daniel, taken into Babylonian captivity as a young boy, was trained in the language and writings of the Chaldeans. This was King Nebuchadnezzar's attempt to indoctrinate the youth, much like today's events.
If the enemy can control the minds of youth, shaping them in such a way that pulls them away from the One True God, then it is easier for him to change the culture. Today, he attempts to inundate them with lies and keep them from pursuing truth.
It is our call and privilege to persevere through persecution and stand on what is true, no matter the cost—just like Daniel.
Daniel would have never been able to persevere through persecution had he not purposed in his heart that he “would not defile himself” (see Daniel 1:8). This is the second key to persevering.
3 Benefits of Persevering through Persecution
Romans 5:3-5 says, “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
The third key to persevering through persecution is to have an eternal perspective. Know the bigger purpose of persecution and the fruit of perseverance.
- Perseverance spreads the Gospel.
From the time of the early Church, there has been persecution of Christians. It drove many Christians underground and caused the Gospel to spread. Looking back through Church history, the message about salvation gained momentum when persecution increased.
When you are able to see perseverance through an eternal lens, you can take part in the message of salvation, touching many lives.
- Perseverance shapes your character to be more Christ-like.
As Romans 5 states, perseverance produces character and leads to hope. As you persevere through persecution in faith, you grow in spiritual maturity. You've likely heard a parent say (or said yourself), “I love you too much to let you do this.”
God, our heavenly Father, loves you too much to let you remain unchanged. He is constantly shaping and changing you to be more like Jesus. Paul writes to the Galatians, “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you…” (Galatians 4:19). He is working out your true identity in Christ through every circumstance for His glory and your good.
- Perseverance glorifies God.
As mentioned above, perseverance through persecution ultimately glorifies God. Glorifying God is your purpose (1 Corinthians 6:20).
Persecution creates a canvas for God to paint a picture of His glory through your perseverance. It testifies to His power, strength, mercy, and love. Therefore, whatever you do, do it for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
3 Bible Verses about Persecution's Reward
- “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”—2 Corinthians 12:10
- “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”—Matthew 5:11-12
- “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”—Revelation 2:10
How to Persevere through Persecution
- Renew your mind (Romans 12:2).
As Romans 12:2 says, be transformed by renewing your mind. Stay in the Word during times of persecution and trials. Ask Jesus to let His words sink deep within so that your mind is renewed by truth, and you can battle lies from the enemy.
- Purpose in your heart (Daniel 1:8).
Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself. Ask God where you have compromised or where the enemy is trying to get you to compromise. Repent or realign, asking Him to guard you and give you the strength to stand up against any pressure from persecution.
- Have an eternal perspective (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Ephesians 6 tells us that we do not war against flesh and blood but “against the rulers of the darkness of this age.” When you understand the warfare surrounding persecution and who gives the ultimate victory, you can persevere by faith. Knowing the greater purpose of persecution allows you to walk in the will of God. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”—1 Thessalonians 5:18
Persecution has a purpose, but so does persevering. Persevering through persecution spreads the Gospel, shapes your character, and glorifies God.
Many of us will endure persecution, though we likely won't be dying for our faith. However, there will be times we must choose to stand for truth and not compromise, just like Daniel did—praying without ceasing!
When we hear of people like Joe Kennedy standing up for his faith and commitment to God, it encourages us. We have to ask, are we willing to do the same? Be empowered and discover how to take your next step of faith here.