Summary: Jesus promised us persecution, though we have not experience a great deal in the US. But those days will change. How should we respond?
Passage: Matthew 10:17-33
Intro: Wartime is different than peacetime.
1. war has it’s rules, but when the purpose is killing the enemy, the rules only limit the how.
PP Geneva Convention
2. terrorism has introduced a whole new element of modern warfare.
3. use of civilians as shields, purposeful killing of civilians. Car bombs, etc.
4. and the warfare we observe today has much in common with the kind of warfare described in this passage.
5. what Jesus hinted at earlier in Matthew 10 is fully described in vv17ff
6. he is fully disclosing the tactics of the enemy of our souls so we can expect it, so we can correctly respond to it, and so we can remain faithful in the face of fear.
7. the battle we are in is not with a humane, relatively righteous enemy who fights by the rules.
8. our enemy hates his own soldiers as well as those he is fighting against.
9. and like a terrorist, Satan uses the tactics of fear to try and defeat us
I. Why Are We Persecuted?
1. a number of places in NT that promise persecution
PP Matthew 5:11
2. but we didn’t do anything wrong?
3. and why does God even allow it?
4. no doubt the theme intensifies in v17
5. the resistance is official, governmental,
6. here it is specifically Jewish, but later we will see it is universal.
7. but notice two answers for the “why?” question in v18
8. “on my account”, and “as witnesses”
9. persecution, then, is an opportunity for God’s light to shine where it is needed most.
10. it is a gracious act of God to let the captives of Satan to come face to face with God’s people who are experiencing trying circumstances.
11. don’t get much worse than v21, where normal family relationships are destroyed in this war.
12. persecution gives an opportunity for God to speak thru His people, as He has done.
Il) Peter, Paul prime examples. Words preserved in Scripture.
13. God uses persecution to give power to His revelational plan
13. certainly we see this in great detail in the book of Revelation.
14. in this war, Satan fights with intimidation and fear, while God uses grace and truth and love.
15. so this then tells us how we are to respond to it.
II. How Should We Respond to Persecution?
1. the critical verse that answers this question is v23
2. but we need to see it in context.
3. we are told to go when we are arrested and be witnesses.
4. but then in v22 is this description of terrible family destroying murderous persecution.
5. not just being arrested or tried or beaten, but turned in to be killed by ones own family.
6. this kind of hardened persecution indicates that the message has been absolutely rejected and it is time to pick up our pearls and leave.
Il) the average number of Christian martyrs per year throughout history is 171,000
7. but the task is to keep preaching until the resistance is so great we have to flee.
Il) in the Great tribulation, there will be no place to flee, no city to run to.
8. end of v23 very difficult, but I believe it means that evangelism among Jews will continue until Jesus comes.
9. the Holy Spirit is critically important to the evangelistic enterprise.
PP John 16:8-10
10. and when there is this kind of hardened resistance, the Holy Spirit has been rejected.
Il) believers in Mongolia eager for the gospel
11. keep in mind that Jesus was persecuted to death, so we should expect nothing less.
11. expect it, but when it becomes murderous, it is a statement from God to move on if you can.
III. How Do We Handle Our Fear?
1. clearly Jesus recognizes that these will be fearsome times.
2. v26, we are commanded not to give in to fear.
3. there will be ultimate righteous judgment.
4. we fear the lack of justice, the loss of our rights
5. yet Jesus gave up his rights, did he not?
PP 1 Peter 3:21
6. we trust not in our rights, but in the final righteous justice of God Himself.
7. our rights are tied to our physical bodies, our earthly existence.v28
8. Satan and his hordes cannot take away what is real, what is eternal.
9. so a key in living without fear is to make the eternal and spiritual your priority.
10. and in that, remember that God Himself is sovereignly in control of everything that is happening to us.
11. we are never and will never be under the control of Satan, even though he take our physical freedom or our homes or our lives.