Spiritual opposition is nothing new. Ever since sin entered the world, people have been tempted to rebel against God and lead other people astray. The Lord Jesus said that the church should not be surprised. If they hated Him, they will also hate those who follow Him (John 15:18-25). The Apostles warned that persecution was inevitable (2 Timothy 3:12). Often, the first weapon of persecution is psychological. Mocking and scoffing are intended to belittle the believers causing them to doubt God’s power to keep them, and so they hide through fear of presenting the gospel.
Religious leaders, who are more concerned to be popular with the world than faithful to God’s Word, will divide the church. They will carry with them the people who want to be valued by the world - spiritually shallow people who have lost sight of gospel priorities. Those people and their leaders are spiritually impotent; they cannot raise the next generation of believers. Although they bask in their own glory for a short while, they are not motivated or empowered by the Holy Spirit, and they cannot resist the tide of evil.
Today, all over the world, many leaders and congregations are tempted to follow the same disastrous track. Instead of being filled with the Spirit and strong in the Lord, they seek the approval of the world. Yet, at the same time, faithful men and women continue to serve the Lord despite the mockery of their family and friends, persecution at work and in the community. While tormented by the world, they are comforted by the Spirit; separated from religious and secular approval they persist in living a gospel life and speaking gospel words. Our response should be to consider our own hearts first, and repent of giving way to fear and choosing the ungodly easy paths offered by some teachers. We should then also pray for our brothers and sisters all over the world whose lives are astonishingly disturbed by people who hate Jesus. May God give to them and us the desire and strength to persist in doing and speaking the truth.
© Dr Paul Adams