Shackles or Freedom?

It should really come as no surprise. We have all heard it preached from the pulpit. We have sung about it in the songs from the hymnbook, yet when it comes we are taken aback, caught off guard and even shocked. What I am talking about is persecution. I think most believers expect it from the left-wing liberal crowd, the news media and Hollywood, but when it comes from those close to us it comes as a shock. I want to offer some insight as to why this is. Again, we know that the lost around us hate us because of our faith in Christ and our hope in Him. Jesus told us that.

John 15:18-19                                                                                      18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.                                                                                                                                                   19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

Plain and simple. If you are not of the world, the world will hate you. You will not find friendship with the world. You will not find popularity with the world. If you are going to be popular with Christ, you will be hated by the world. If you are going to be friends with Christ, you will be the enemy of this world. It’s not that we want to be hated or try to be hated, it’s because of the hatred for Christ, and our love for Him that we are hated. Let’s face it, the person that is not born-again does not want to be under the rule of God. It is a bitter rebellion. I think this all goes without saying to the average Christian, but what I am focusing on today is why some who claim to be Christians (I am not the judge of whether they are or aren’t), turn and lash out and try to defame those who want to live their lives according to the Word of God. Listen carefully to the Scripture.

II Timothy 3:12-13                                                                                                                     12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.                                                                                                                                   13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

If you make up your mind to live according to the Word of God, by God’s grace and with God’s help, if you have firm convictions and will not budge, you will be an outcast and a weirdo. You should expect to be ridiculed and called a cultist. We are living in dark days and perilous times. Christians are being seduced by the world away from Bible principles and are accepting evil practices as normal. The Bible is very clear as to how our stance should be in the midst of accusations, no matter where or who they come from.

Titus 2:11-15
11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

Notice that the Scripture tells us to live for God in this present world. Nowhere in the Word of God are we instructed to mingle with the wicked and godless. We are to be a peculiar people. That means to those who do not want to live for God we will appear to be strange, weird, or odd because we are His possession. Don’t let your pride keep you from being what God would have you to be. Don’t let fear of persecution cause you to cow down when worldly Christians mock you for your stand. We are told by the Bible to speak, exhort and rebuke with all authority. It says that we shouldn’t let them despise us. We have God to stand with us. If we are standing with God then we have nothing to hang our heads about. Realize that it is not really you that they are against, it is the God you serve and His authority.

So as to why we may be attacked by other Christians; it is a simple matter that has a simple explanation. If they are truly Born-again there was a time when they had a heart that wanted to please the Lord. A new Believer wants to do just that. There is a realization that the Christ Who saved their soul would never put them in bondage, but wants them close to His side and protected by the fence of His Word from the wolves of this world that seek to destroy them. There is a reason Christ refers to us a sheep. We are prone to wander. The problem begins when a Christian begins to backslide out of the will of God. Suddenly, there is the feeling of separation from Christ and the guilt that goes with it. They have wandered like the prodigal son and now look back to the Father’s house and assume that they will have to be a slave rather than a son. Let’s not forget that Satan relishes to have a Christian in this position. He often uses a backslidden Christian to attack those who are not. They look back at those who are close to the Lord and see that closeness as bondage. They begin to see them as crazy to live godly and see their convictions as “cultish”. The reason is that they have adopted the mindset of the world around them. Dear reader, if you are close to the Lord today, you know that there is freedom and liberty in that closeness. You do not see it as shackles and bondage. If you are in the other crowd, and have been attacking people for wanting to hold to the Word of God, ask the Lord honestly to show you what is the truth. Is it shackles or freedom? He waits for your prayer.

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