Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.2 Timothy 3:12(NASB)
We live in a fallen world, and there are many challenges that face the believer who has not only trusted Christ for salvation, but is also ready and willing to deny self, take up his cross, follow Christ’s example, and say without compromise – Thy will, not mine, be done.
The newborn baby Christian has to grow in grace and mature in the faith over an unspecified period of time, to reach this level of maturity in his faith, while other who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ may slip in and out of carnality and worldliness for many years, stunting their growth and even regressing in their faith back to spiritual infancy.
Many, if not all believers, are called to become mature in the faith by walking in spirit and truth and living godly, Christ-centred lives, but few are willing to exchange the cosy blessings of early Christian infancy, for the difficulties that inevitably follow the mature believer. Few choose to leave behind the elementary teaching about Christ, and press on into maturity.
Sadly many believers, although saved by grace through faith in Christ, refuse to move past the elementary principles of the Christian life. They choose to lay, again and again, the early foundations of their Christian faith i.e. repentance from dead works and of faith toward God. In other words, they simply remain in spiritual infancy and keep repeating the first stage of their Christian faith, over and again, without pressing on to spiritual maturity.
Many are falsely taught that becoming a Christian will secure a quiet life and provide a ticket to prosperity, with numerous earthly blessings and a free pass from God, to prevent or remove any difficulties or dangers that may arise. But this is not what the Bible teaches. We live in a fallen world with a spiritual enemy who prowls around as a roaring lion – or appears to us as an angel of light – seeking to devour, destroy, or deceive us.
Jesus clearly told us that in this world, those who believe in Him would suffer persecution and pain, and Paul expands that truth by adding that all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. James encourages us by explaining that those who persevere under trial, on the journey to maturity, will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him, and He exhorts us to... consider it all joy, when we encounter various trials.
There is an urgency in this final letter that Paul wrote before his death, to remind us that ALL who live godly lives in Christ will certainly suffer persecution. But we have also been supplied with many precious promises which reassure us that His grace is sufficient, His strength is perfected in our weakness, that suffering for Christ's sake is a privilege for the child of God, and that no amount of trials, tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or the sword, is able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
May we grasp this truth in His strength, and remember that in this world we will have tribulation… but that if we fellowship in the suffering of Christ, we will also be glorified with Him Who loved us so much that He died for us, that we might live for Him – forever.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the privilege of being one with Christ, positioned in Him, and clothed in His righteousness. Help me to take this verse seriously, that I will suffer persecution if I live godly in Jesus Christ. Thank You that Your grace is sufficient for any attack that the evil enemy of my soul can throw at me, and that nothing can ever separate me from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.