Followers of Christ face resistance from the world. “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Jesus did not promise His disciples that everything would be coming up roses for them; just the opposite—He promised that they would have trials in this world (John 16:33). “But take heart!” He told them, “I have overcome the world.”
God’s moral laws have been written on the heart of every human – giving all people a conscience to aid them in determining wrong from right (Romans 2:14-15). When a person becomes a follower of Christ, he not only has God’s laws in his heart, but he also has the indwelling Holy Spirit to compel him toward living righteously (Romans 8:11). This in no way means the Christian will stop sinning, but it does mean the Christian will become more aware of his own personal sin and have a genuine desire to do what is pleasing to Christ (Romans 8:14-16).
In many ways, it is after a person is saved that the struggle against sin really heats up in his life. All people are born with a nature that is bent toward sin, which is why children do not need to be taught how to misbehave – that comes naturally. When a person is converted, the sin nature does not disappear – and so the internal conflict begins in the life of every believer.
The apostle Paul, who called himself a “bondservant to Christ,” writes of the struggle with his sin nature in Romans 7:14-25. In verse 15 he says, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15). Christians engaged in this battle have a true desire to avoid sin, but they also have a natural desire to indulge the flesh. They become frustrated when they find themselves “doing what they don’t want to do.” And to further complicate matters, Christians not only do not want to sin, they hate sin. Yet, they still sin.
Paul goes on to write, “It is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me” (Romans 7:17). Paul is referring to the dichotomy caused by the new birth – Paul is a “new man” through Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). But he still sins because sin is still alive in the human flesh – the sin nature survives the new birth (Romans 7:18). Paul calls the internal strife a “war,” as the new man battles the old man. Paul found the battle quite distressing because he wanted to do well (Romans 7:23). “What a wretched man I am,” Paul cries out in his distress (Romans 7:24).
Every Christian who is attempting to live righteously is called to this battlefield for his entire life. We are in a spiritual battle. But in grace and mercy, God gives the faithful believer an entire suit of armor for the fight (Ephesians 6:13).
The Christian life is never easy, but the difficulties do not negate the joy. We consider Jesus, who “for the joy set before him . . . endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). God has set us free from the slavery to sin. The victory is ours (2 Corinthians 2:14). Through the Holy Spirit, believers receive encouragement, strength to persevere, and reminders of their adoption into the family of God. We know that our “present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed” (Romans 8:18).
Matthew 10:22 And you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Matthew 5:10-12 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Mark 13:13 And you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
2 Peter 2:9 Then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment,
2 Timothy 3:1 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
Matthew 5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Romans 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
2 Corinthians 12:10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
1 Peter 4:12-14 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
Matthew 5:44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,
2 Timothy 2:12 If we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us;
John 15:20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
John 15:18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.
Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
Luke 6:22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!
1 Peter 2:16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.
Matthew 5:11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
1 Peter 3:14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,
Romans 10:13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Revelation 2:10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Revelation 1:9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
1 Peter 4:16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.
1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
1 Peter 4:19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
Acts 14:22 Strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.
John 16:2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.
Revelation 6:9-11 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.