(Ver 1.1) This is Part 2 in a series of advanced Bible study lessons concerning the increasing growth of the persecution of the church today. I believe sincerely that this was a message that the Spirit of God spoke to me recently in the middle of the night. This message of warning I believe was very clearly given. Therefore, I feel led to pray for every reader to grow in spiritual discernment to be able to perceive this persecution that is already beginning to happen all around us and to stand strong in their faith in the face of it. If you have not read this series of lessons from the beginning I would highly recommend that you go back and start with “Part 1” first.
Please realize that this Bible study subject is intended and I believe that it was designed by the Lord for mature spiritual Christians primarily. It may potentially address many advanced new spiritual topics that may offend, or cause fear or confuse a new or immature Christian. It is my greatest heart’s desire above teaching what I believe that the LORD gives me to share, to never intentionally offend or cause fear to occur in any new Christian which cause them to fall away from seeking to learn more. I believe very sincerely that it is essential for any Bible message being taught to not introduce a spirit of fear into any Christian’s heart (2 Tim 1:7). I believe this even when the message concerns a coming increased level of hatred towards Christians that may occur. When reading this message, fear should not be the end result. If it is then I have failed. Therefore, please perform a self-evaluation, praying first asking the Lord to lead you if you should continue to read and study this subject before continuing. Thank you.
In the first lesson God introduced the subject matter using a message revealed within the life of a man named “Saul” of Tarsus. Saul of Tarsus was a very religious zealot that believed he was doing well by persecuting and killing Christians when in actuality he was being deceived and used by Satan to do evil. We can learn this from reading Saul’s own subsequent writings to us in the church where he describes to us that he was just the human flesh and blood game piece being played, influenced and manipulated by the evil unseen spiritual force called Satan.
As you should recall, Part 1 introduced the subject of persecution from the viewpoint of 4 different perspectives. One perspective was that of the human persecutor Saul. Another perspective was from God’s viewpoint and another was from the observation of the one in the church being persecuted. Finally, the last perspective was from Satan. Satan’s viewpoint represented his beliefs based upon his versions of truth and reality. However, I was only able to touch that part of the discussion very briefly.
Today I want to focus more in-depth on the actual spiritual enemy’s perspective and the reasoning given to us in the Bible behind why Satan is so highly motivated to persecute the church. I believe if we can understand why our enemy desires to hurt us we will better know how to resist, withstand and even overcome the attacks.
But let’s first be reminded of a good definition of what “persecution” is from the dictionary.
Persecution: hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of race or political or religious beliefs.
Persecution is the act of someone causing hurt, harm, injury or even death to another human simply because of a strong disagreement or differences between someone’s appearance, associations or beliefs. Persecution can be physical, mental or emotional and even all of the above at once. You must also know that the roots of all persecution originate from seeds of evil planted from the kingdom of darkness and we will soon learn why these occur. That was only a very brief overview of what was covered in Part 1. Therefore, let’s get started on a new lesson about the subject of “persecution”.
SECTION 1: OBTAINING A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF WHO THE SPIRIT OF SAUL REPRESENTS
It may have been difficult for a few readers to understand the stated concept of the warning that I believe was given to us by the LORD concerning “beware, the rise of the spirit of Saul”. Is it possible that this was a direct reference to the external spiritual being named Satan? This “spirit of Saul” statement could possibly be a reference to at least three different possible interpretations. Think with me logically for a moment. First, this reference could be the actual human spirit of Saul himself returning to the earth as we read about Samuel returning to the earth in 1 Samuel 28 to speak with the first Saul king of Israel. If you have studied the Bible you should already understand that man was created by God as a tri-part being; 1) man is a spirit that possesses 2) a soul (a mind, will and emotions) and this spirit lives in 3) a physical body (1 Th 5:23). That is one possible logical interpretation.
Second, a “spirit of Saul” statement could be referring to just the rise of a hostile attitude towards Christians without being related to any one person of direct responsibility. Please review this one dictionary definition of the word “spirit”:
spirit: those qualities regarded as forming the definitive or typical elements in the character of a person, nation, or group or in the thought and attitudes of a particular period.
Using this definition we could take the character, thoughts or attitudes of anyone on the earth similar to the man named Saul and say that is what is returning to the earth today and I believe that would be correct to a great extent. However, we must ask is there something or someone that is driving these things to reoccur today? Is there anyone that can be identified to be directly responsible for the evil? I believe the answer is yes. I based this belief upon two important characteristics 1) the TRUTH OF THE BIBLE and 2) God’s created laws of physics.
I would be foolish to attempt to teach the laws of physics in a Bible lesson on persecution. But you may be wise to extend some effort to study this subject to learn more about the subject of causality. This basic principle of physics teaches us for every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction. In other words even basic common sense teaches us that nothing good or evil happens without an originating cause. Simply speaking we should understand that cars do not assemble themselves. If you can see a car, you must logically assume a designer and creator of that car.
I believe this principle of causality is also the basis for the subject of persecution also. Persecution does not occur by accident or random chance. It must be directly caused by a being capable to desire it, design it, initiate it and control it for an intended purpose. This brings us to the third possible interpretation for the “spirit of Saul”.
The third possible interpretation for a “spirit of Saul” statement could be a direct reference to an independent external supernatural spiritual being influencing the natural man Saul. I believe very firmly that this was the way that it is being used by the Holy Spirit in the message. In fact I believe it was an indirect reference to Satan and can be no other possible spiritual being. If you also believe this is true then you just might wish to skip the remainder of this section of the lesson because it is going to be designed to provide other Biblical confirmations of that subject matter only. The section following this confirmation in the Bible lesson will continue to get into new material on the subject of “persecution”. You are free to move directly down to the next section if you feel led by the Spirit of God to do so now.
I will do my best to provide a couple of quick examples of this type of stated truth for the “spirit of Saul” utilizing additional associated subjects and related references in the Bible. Each new reference type given should help us establish the basic concept that the “spirit of Saul” can legally be referring us to a completely different independent responsible spirit other than the human spirit of the man being directly named.
The Bible contains multiple repeated patterns that can assist us to prove basic spiritual concepts. We can find these and use the occurrence of each Bible reality to support our understanding of possible types and examples which are similar. For example, please read this next equally patterned verse that I believe was revealed to me by the Lord very carefully and see what God is saying about a spirit and two natural men named Elijah and Elisha:
2Ki 2:15 And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him.
Here in this reference of the “spirit of Elijah” is found the exact same form of the principle and pattern as what was given within the “spirit of Saul” statement. However, in this revealed pattern there is a major difference in the transferred type of spirit that was now resting upon this man Elisha originally resting on Elijah. The major difference is between good and evil. Elijah and Elisha were men of God that do things that are good and Saul was a man guilty of doing evil. This represents an antithesis truth comparison. Both are related patterns upon opposite ends of a truth spectrum.
I believe that this shifted spirit being transferred from Elijah to Elisha must be the good Holy Spirit. I believe very firmly that the Hebrew word H7307 which was translated as “spirit” in this verse should have been translated as the capitalized word “Spirit”. Translators capitalized this word as “Spirit” in over 30 other O.T. verses. Therefore, it is a very legitimate way to use the word when it is recognized to be referring to God’s divine Holy Spirit.
This lower case translation as “spirit” just causes significant confusion and it conflicts with other verses found in the Bible. For example, I have found no verses in the Bible that reveal that a man’s human spirit can be transferred to or ever exist inside the body of a completely different named human being. We can easily observe this truth from reading a literal true story that Jesus taught to us. For example go and read in Luke chapter 16 where Jesus tells us of the natural deaths of two actual men, one an unnamed rich man and the other a poor beggar named Lazarus. Upon the death of each man, both human spirits depart their dead bodies and leave the earth immediately being carried away by the angels to two different locations under the earth’s surface. Knowing this truth alone makes it impossible for the literal stated “spirit of Elijah” to represent Elijah’s actual human spirit. The “spirit of Elijah” cannot come back or even stay on the earth to rest upon another human body named Elisha. That would be a very false teaching likened to “reincarnation”.
Also remember a related story found in Luke chapter 9 when Jesus was transfigured on the mountain top and both Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus talking. It is worthy to note that the Bible does not say that this was Elisha’s appearance. Therefore the spirit of Elijah must be separate from Elisha in 2 Kings and afterwards in Luke 9. It would be very logical to think that this is the way it was then and still is now. We can further confirm this truth seeing the departure of Elijah’s body and his spirit when he was taken away from the sight of Elisha being separated by a fiery chariot in 2 King 2:11.
2Ki 2:11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
The fact that both Elijah and Elisha appear together in repeated verses found in 1 Kings 19, 2 Kings 2 and 3 prove that both men are human and possess independent human spirits. The fact that Elijah is stated to depart the earth further proves that Elijah is no longer here to rest on Elisha. Therefore, this referenced “spirit of Elijah” in 2 Kings 2:15 cannot be a literal interpretation for Elijah himself to remain here on the earth.
There are just too many implied controversies and conflicts given to us for us to believe that the human spirit of Elijah could possibly be transferred up and away from the earth but still remain here on the earth to rest upon the human spirit of Elisha. I’ll say it again in a different way, there is just absolutely no way that this belief of a human spirit transfer can fit any type of knowledge or understanding of central truth found in the Bible. Therefore, God must be speaking of a different spirit that was transferred from Elijah to Elisha and this Spirit must be the Holy Spirit. Let’s look at another related contextual verse to help us understand this more clearly:
2Ki 2:9 And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.
Here is a great new mini lesson to help verify that the “spirit of Elijah” in 2 Kings 2:15 must be translated as the “Spirit on Elijah” in order to not conflict with contextual Bible truth. First, notice that Elijah says “He is about to be taken away”. That statement would be a clear lie if his spirit remained on the earth to rest upon Elisha. Do you understand this? A man is his spirit and a man is not his physical body. The physical body is simply the house that the man’s spirit lives within. Remember what Paul wrote us in 2 Corinthians 5:8 “to be absent from the body is to present with the Lord”. Wow, I hope you can put this verse together to see the truth with the “spirit of Elijah”.
Also, notice that there is a potential major conflict found on the surface by Elisha’s request to Elijah. Elisha asks for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. Again I believe this word should be capitalized as “Elijah’s Spirit” to be seen correctly as God’s Holy Spirit that was resting upon Elijah. You see God’s Spirit resting upon Elijah was just the unseen reality that Elijah possessed personally. Then notice what Elisha asks for more specifically. Elisha asks for a “double portion” of this spirit and again this can only be a double portion of God’s Spirit.
I have found no Bible references that infer that a man’s human spirit can increase in any measured capacity, quantity or status other than to grow in qualities like faith, strength and wisdom. I believe from years of Bible study that the human child that is formed in the womb of a woman has been given a fully formed and complete human spirit from God. I believe that this human spirit is in its full presence and measured capacity. I do believe that this spirit grows in knowledge, understanding and wisdom but I believe that this is not the increased size of the human spirit. Therefore, I believe that any stated increased “double portion” of Elijah’s human spirit presents another major Bible conflict. However, if we translate and interpret this Old Testament request in this verse using revealed knowledge of the N.T. we will quickly learn the truth. For example, read this:
Joh 3:34 For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.
As you read the context of this verse you can clearly see that this verse is speaking of Jesus. God declared in His written Holy Word that Jesus had been given the “Spirit of God” in complete fullness without any limitations or reduced amounts of capability to measure. The Greek word G3358 translated in this verse as “measure” literally means “a limited or reduced portion of the complete or total” and by God placing the negative G3756 translated as “not” before this word it changes the meaning to say to us that there can be no reduced limits to the Spirit that was given to Jesus. We could literally say God’s Spirit was given to Jesus in the fullest possible measured capacity. Therefore, Jesus had the total possible amount of God’s Holy Spirit resting upon Him. I hope and pray that you can see this truth because the unstated implications are also amazing.
This statement of truth about Jesus implies that every other human here on the earth can only possess the Holy Spirit in some much “lesser amount” or “reduced or limited portion” than what Jesus had. This truth teaches us so very much. For example if you believe that you have all of the Spirit of God that you can possibly have just because you were born-again then you are very deceived. There is always more of God that is available to come upon you, if you just ask for Him to come and receive Him by faith.
This means when Elisha asks Elijah for a double portion of his “Spirit”, Elisha could only be legally asking for a greater portioned amount of God’s Spirit than what was present on Elijah at that time. The increased amount of double of what Elijah had resting upon him was what was requested. I hope you understood this basic logical truth. I believe very clearly that God’s Spirit is the only single spirit that can be given and transferred to and from any human to another in greater amounts. However, this does get more complicated by the fact found in the Words of Jesus when He declares that a demon can exit out of man and then return with 7 other demons that are more evil than himself (Mat 12:45).
I’ll end this small part of the confirmation by proving the Holy Spirit can “rest” on humans. This will help us further support the claim that the spirit of Elijah must be the Holy Spirit and no other. And this fact will assistus to better understand how the “spirit of Saul” can also be transferred to rest upon other humans also. In Acts 2:3 when the Holy Spirit falls upon the 120 in the upper room God declares that His Spirit “Sat” upon each of them. That term “sat” is simply a synonymous way to say God’s Spirit “rested” on each human spirit present in a limited amount. This was the exact same spiritual concept being studied in 2 Kings.
Num 11:25 And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.
We can use one of the basic interpretation principles called the “law of first mention” and find that the Spirit of God rested on other people in the O.T. For example this truth is found in Numbers 11:25-26 where God clearly states using the exact same Hebrew word translated as “rest” as we have been observing in reference to Elisha. In these verses in Numbers God rested upon Moses and this same Spirit was then also transferred and given to rest upon the 70 elders that were called to help Moses govern and manage the people of the LORD. That makes it very plain to me what God was speaking of in 2 Kings 2:15.
I’ve spent more than enough time on this rabbit trail study proving that the “spirit of Elijah” can only be correctly understood to be “God’s Spirit resting on Elijah” and it could only be His Spirit that can legally be transferred in an increased portion to rest on Elisha. These truths helps to support the claim that the “spirit of Saul” can also legally be understood to be Satan’s spirit upon Saul that is being transferred from one human (Saul) to another.
I will conclude this section of our persecution lesson with one further confirmation to how Satan can use multiple humans to bring persecution upon Christ and Christians. This will help us to see how one spiritual being can be transferred from human to human. We will read four verses found in the book Luke. I’m sure you have seen these before but they do teach us plainly about the root “spirit” that is truly behind persecution:
Luk 22:2 And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people.
Luk 22:3 Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.
Luk 22:4 And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them.
Luk 22:5 And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money.
Please note in verse 2 that God says the religious leaders in Israel sought to kill Jesus. Also note that in John 10:10 Jesus claimed that Satan was the one that came to the earth to kill, steal and destroy. I find that very interesting, don’t you? It would appear to me that Satan had already entered into the hearts of these religious men in order for them to want to kill Jesus. Please recall who Jesus claimed was behind these rulers by reading these words spoken in John 8:
Joh 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
You see Jesus informs these religious leaders that they desired to kill Him and that this was the desire give to them from their father. Who did Jesus say was their father? Was it God? No it was not! Jesus was saying they were “of” their father the devil (aka Satan). Wow, that is very strong language. The root of murder according to Jesus is of the devil because he is stated to be the murderer from the beginning of the world.
Jesus was warning these religious human men concerning who birthed and controlled their 1) desires, 2) intentions, 3) thoughts and 4) their actions. But, these religious zealots completely ignored His warnings. I believe that it is quite possible that one of our main subject’s Saul was standing in their presence when these words were spoken. Wow, can you imagine that?
Go back and reread Luke 22:3 again. It is very clearly stated that Satan entered into Judas before Judas ever betrayed Jesus to the Jews. Note the important concept being taught to us. The spirit of Satan was not on or in Judas but then he came from somewhere or someone else to now be found present in Judas. This statement reveals the very important concept that is being taught about spiritual transference. The Holy Spirit, demons, devils and even Satan can be transferred from one human to another human as we have clearly observed in scripture.
The religious rulers of Israel were thrilled with this man Judas coming to help them trap, take prisoner, persecute and kill Jesus. This is no different than what Satan did through the man Saul to persecute and kill those in the church later after the death of Judas and the ascension of Jesus. What I am saying is that the same spirit of Satan that came upon these religious leaders, Judas and Saul must be the same spirit that is now coming upon people in our world today to spread the same evil upon the church.
This is such valuable information to learn from. It teaches us the root cause behind the observed effect of church persecution is spiritual in origin and nature. Judas went out and killed himself because of his great error in judgement to give into Satan and yet this did not end the persecution of believers. Therefore, Judas cannot be the root cause of the persecution to Christ or Christians. Judas was only a simple pawn chess piece that could be used to attack Christ and then be sacrificed and thrown away in a human garbage pile. Satan could easily find another human to fulfill his further evil work on the earth. Please see what Paul wrote about this unseen work of Satan:
Eph 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Paul states very clearly “what is” the root cause source of evil in this world. Paul is a very wise and learned man from things he learned from the Lord Jesus and his personal life experiences. Paul says there is a prince of the air that has the power and ability to work in men and women on the earth that willfully disobey the Word of God.
1Pe 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
We could spend a lot of time just on this verse but I want to point out just a few key points found in this great truth statement. Satan is walking the earth just as we are informed he does in the first chapter of the book of Job. The Greek word G666 which was translated as “devour” is a very interesting word to study. This word literally means to swallow up as in gulping down a large glass of a beverage. This is what Satan is trying to do to everyone in the world today. Satan is an equal opportunity destroyer and it does not matter if you are saved or not saved. He is looking for someone to drink in and use. However this is only possible for people that open the door for him to come in to consume them.
Spiritual transference and influence is still true today in our world. Human terrorists are not our real root problem. One terrorist blows himself up to kill people and then Satan has many other men, women and children to step into their role to be the next murderer. I hope and pray that you will embrace these truths and take them to heart to see how persecution and the transfer of spirits work. Let’s change the focus and learn more about why Satan wants to persecute you.
SECTION 2: ONE OF SATAN’S PRIMARY MOTIVATIONS FOR PERSECUTION
At the end of the first lesson in the series, I included a few verses from Revelation 12 that described how as the time of the end shortens, Satan’s fury and hatred increases. I believe this fury is growing exponentially as the end becomes nearer. I also believe that this rage will continue to rise until after he is thrown down to the earth the final time having lost his soon coming war in heaven with God’s holy angels. I believe these verses describe to us a spiritual being in tremendous panic mode. Let’s reread a little to refresh our memory:
Rev 12:7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
Rev 12:8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
Prior to these two verses in Revelation chapter 12, Satan (the symbolic dragon) was stated to have swept down with his dragon’s tail one third of the angels (the symbolic stars). These evil angels have fallen to the earth with Satan from heaven and that is not good news for the people left remaining on the earth. But, here in verses 7 and 8 we learn some very important information concerning Satan. First, think with me and ask why would a created being of inferior powers and ability choose to come against his all-knowing and all-powerful creator? Doesn’t Satan have any fear of God? I believe sincerely that Satan has tremendous fear of God. But, I also believe that he considers that he has no choice except to fight against God in order to try to survive what is prophesied to come. Satan knows so very clearly by reading the end of the Bible that he is going to be cast into hell very soon where he will have to spend all of eternity in punishment, anguish and torment.
Remember that Satan has been in heaven, led worship around the throne of God and has lived the best life and seen such superior things which were far better than anything we could possibly imagine here on the earth. Satan was created a model of perfection, created in a realm of perfection with the perfect association to the creator God who was and is perfect. Why he chose to willfully and purposely rebel against a good and loving God is certainly an amazing mystery to most of us Christians. Let’s review Satan’s end:
Rev 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
As you can plainly read in Revelation, Satan has a very dismal prophesied future. This is exactly why I believe Satan is highly motivated to try to find any way possible to not go there. Do not forget that when Satan was created, he was an example of perfection from God’s best and highest order of His creation. Satan continued as the model of “perfection” right up until the time that “sin’ was found in him through his pride (Eze 28:15). I believe that it was Satan’s pride that caused him to think more highly than he ought to think of himself and I believe that it is now his survival instinct that causes him to fight diligently against God and His great power here on earth and in heaven.
I hope that you understand these truths because Satan definitely does. Everything that a Christian is destined for in eternity with the Almighty God, Satan has already experienced and I believe he is not happy to say the least to lose it all. Let’s take a quick little exploration trip down a new rabbit trail on the subject concerning demons and devils to better understand Satan’s knowledge. Please, read with me in Matthew 8:
Mat 8:28 And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.
Mat 8:29 And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?
Jesus traveling through the countryside encounters men that were possessed by devils. Please notice what the devils shriek when they see the LORD JESUS coming at them. We can clearly see from their statements that these devils know exactly who Jesus is and even call Him the “Son of God”. Being the “Son of God” was certainly the truth and one of His primary given names. Did you know that devils know and can speak the truth at times? Please notice the beginning of the question asked to Jesus “What have we to do with you?” That was a question displaying their great fear of Jesus. This statements ends with still another fearful question that begins with “Have you come to torment us before the time?” Wow, what great fear these devils exhibit! Can you agree?
Reading the devil’s questions we see that these spirit beings in a human know the truth that there is coming a future “set time” that will begin their eternal never ending torment. They also speak this truth long before the book of Revelation was ever written. We also learn by their questions that the timing for this torment described in the future written Revelation 20 was not during the first appearing of Jesus the Son of God upon the earth. This extraordinary knowledge of truth was way beyond that of any human comprehension on the earth at that time except for Jesus’ knowledge. Jesus never denies these statements of truth nor does He contradict them. They are completely agreed with due to the silence of Jesus. Let’s review the facts of truth just given:
- Devils have a very great fear of being tormented.
- Demons, devils and evil spirits know that there is an appointed time of eternal torment.
- The timing of eternal punishment and torment is stated to be in the future.
All of these three observed truths declare that every devil possesses a very great fear of God and of the coming time of never ending retribution. Did you know that devils and demons possessed this very tremendous terror of God and His power even back at the appearance of Jesus the first time on the earth? If the lower levels of devils feared God’s future plans for them way back then how much more do you think their leader Satan and all of them fear these never changing plans right now? I believe that this fear is even greater today than it ever was back then.
Jas 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
Notice what the half-brother of Jesus reveals to us in his awesome letter to the church. James commends us in the church for having a holy belief in the one true God. Then James implies by his adjoining statement that this belief should cause a righteous fear of God to similarly be present in us. We can conclude this, because, James says that we are doing well to possess this belief in one God since the devils “also” believe and they tremble in fear. What I am introducing in this section of the Understanding Persecution lesson is what I believe is Satan’s number one reason for persecuting the church and it is called “FEAR”. Satan fears the omnipotent God more than I can describe in this lesson and it is primarily this great terror that causes his excessive hatred and rage against us in the church today. Please take this summary statement to heart and never forget it:
- Fear is the driving motivational evil force for everything wicked that Satan does to the church using persecution.
SECTION 3: INTRODUCTION TO SATAN’S NUMBER ONE GOAL FOR PERSECUTING THE CHURCH
Wow, if it is true that Satan is primarily motivated by the fear of God to commit persecution, what is his primary goal and objective for persecuting, killing and destroying Christians on the earth for the last 2000 years? What benefits to Satan could this evil work of persecution potentially gain him? I believe that is a great question to answer and understand. And I believe the answer has not changed ever since Satan killed Abel in Genesis.
Always, remember that Satan has been in the death business since the world began (Heb 2:14). He wants us in the church dead and not only us but also the entire nation of Israel. Why is that? If Satan is already defeated as we learn in the New Testament, why is he still fighting so hard to kill everyone that God has selected? Why does the religion of Islam call Christians in America the great Satan and the nation of Israel the little Satan? It sounds to me like Satan is afraid of us both and even our existences here on the earth. Both of these nations must possess something that Satan fears as much as God. What could this be?
Again we know from reading the words of Jesus in John 10:10 that Satan came into the world illegally to literally 1) kill, 2) steal and 3) destroy us while Jesus explained that His purpose for coming into the world was the antithesis to give us life and that life more abundantly. These were and are still two opposing forces that are fighting against each other to prevail. Satan should be viewed as our enemy trying to bring us to death but Jesus the greater one came as our provider of life more abundant. Satan is certainly evil and Jesus is so exceedingly good.
We should now know from just reading this lesson that these three evil acts of Satan were and still are “fear of God” motivated. Therefore, I’ll ask again, what possible profit does Satan potentially gain from killing Christians, stealing from Christians and destroying Christian and their works? This will become the focus of this section and we will let God’s Word answer these very important questions.
There is a really simple answer to the introduction of this section’s questions if we think about it and begin to ask some additional direct questions. Of course asking the right direct questions would certainly help us. How about beginning by asking this question, “How did you become a Christian?” I believe that if we can correctly answer that question that we will begin to travel down the right pathway to finding the truth about what is Satan’s primary benefit for the persecution of God’s people. I’ll start this section with a familiar Bible verse found in 2 Corinthians:
2Co 4:18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
God contrasts two truths and one is given to be greater than the other. These are seen things verses unseen things and the unseen things must be viewed to take priority over the sense realm things. The unseen things are clearly spiritual in nature. If you are really a Christian that has been born again, you possess two very powerful unseen spiritual realities that Satan fears tremendously. Every real Christian believer has these two unseen internal truths that speak to declare Satan’s greatest fear. What are these two unseen internal and never ending unseen spiritual qualities that any real Christian possesses? These two unseen realities in us that Satan hates and fears the most are 1) the Spirit of God and 2) the Word of God.
1Co 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
After becoming a Christian the Spirit of God dwells directly in us. That is why Satan fears you and wants to remove you from his worldly domain of darkness. If there were no Christians in the world today restraining and resisting Satan what would be the moral condition of the world today? I hate to imagine what would be happening based upon what is happening all around us already.
1Pe 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
If you were born again, it happened because you received the Word of God into your spirit. It is the presence of this powerful incorruptible Word (seed) that is one of the major factors that Satan fears you. This is so important that I can’t say it enough. The Word of God and the Spirit of God are one and if you are a real Christian you have both in you in some measured portion which can be increased and even grow but I don’t have time to teach that today. Let’s review a verse very quickly to see why the Word of God in you is so scary to Satan.
Rom 10:8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
Wow, I love this verse of Godly truth. This verse represents a foundation for the second unseen reality that Satan hates about you as a Christian. The Word of God should be in the mouth of every believer and we should be able to see that it is only this Word of Faith being in our mouth that represents our offensive weapon against Satan according to Ephesians 6:17. Every time Satan tempted Jesus, Jesus spoke the Word of Faith to him “It is written” and after three attempts to get Jesus to fail Satan left him in defeat. I believe very sincerely that this removal of the Word of God from your heart and from your mouth is the number one goal for all evil persecution. If Satan can eliminate the Word of God from your heart with external threats and pressures from this world you will become no threat to Satan.
For the exact same motivation of fear that Satan attacks the all-powerful God in heaven in Revelation 12, he is coming against any real saved born again Christian now in the church. I believe that Satan is highly driven trying to save himself from going to hell as I have previously demonstrated and that this foolish behavior will continue to increase as the time for the end of this age is growing shorter. I also believe that Satan’s chances for success are zero. Yet I believe strongly that he will definitely still try to fight to win in order to attempt to change his inevitable outcome in whatever way that he believes he can do to help him the most. If you do not believe Satan is still fighting to win over you and over God, then you may be very deceived. Verses like Ephesians 6:11-12, James 4:7, 1 Timothy 6:12, 2 Timothy 4:7, and 1 Peter 5:9 to name a few all prove that every Christian is still in a spiritual battle until Satan is completely removed from this world.
As we learned earlier, Satan is not omnipresent nor is he omniscient. Satan does not come close to knowing what God knows or even understanding why God has done many things the way that He has done them. God clearly uses seemingly foolish strategies in the eyes of Satan to defeat him (1 Cor 1:27). Satan never understood why Jesus came down from heaven to the earth to become a human man. The devils clearly thought it was to torment them before the time appointed. I believe that Satan and his devils were all in terror when Jesus began to cast them out of people here on the earth using His anointed power. Acts 10:38 says “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and Power who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil”. You see until Jesus came down to the earth, every devil practically had complete free reign to do as they pleased to humans if humans were tricked to open the door to let them in. Jesus turned the world of the devils upside down so that they didn’t know what to expect next or what to do with Jesus to stop this major change to their long existence on the earth. God reveals this to us in this truth:
1Co 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
1Co 2:8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
These two verses confirm the reality that Satan and all of his devils don’t know much about God’s ways. These two verses inform us that God had a very secret plan found within sending Jesus to the earth. This plan literally included the voluntary death of Jesus on the cross and God says if Satan would have known this no devil would have allowed this to occur because I believe it sealed their doomed fate and destiny.
What did I say earlier was one of the things that we possessed now that Satan is in great fear of? Remember one item was the “Word of God” as it is being mentioned in verse 7 of 2 Corinthians 2. I believe this is the planned motivating goal of Satan. He believes that if he can stop us from gaining any more knowledge of God’s Word that this will possibly extend, delay or even end the future plan of God to put them into hell. However, we still have the Word of God that we can read further and learn more from:
Col 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
Col 2:15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
We should be able to easily learn from reading these verses that this death that Jesus experienced on the cross caused the triumphant defeat and the downfall of Satan and all of his unseen spiritual rulers of this world. This should be very excellent news for those that are still being persecuted by Satan today and those in the days to come. It also should raise new questions in your mind. For example, if Satan is a defeated enemy why does he still exist here on the earth and how is it that he still has any power or ability to persecute anyone? I wish I had time to try to explain that completely, but I do not in this lesson. In order to understand Satan’s goal for committing persecution we need to dive much deeper into the subject of the incorruptible word of God’s seed that I just introduced into the lesson. We will do this by analyzing some familiar verses next.
SECTION 4: UNDERSTANDING PERSECUTION IN THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER
In a previous section I said Satan feared two truths, the 1). Spirit of God and the 2) Word of God in the heart of every born again believer. Then I taught that this fear was the primary motivation for all Christian persecution. Now, I’m going to continue to confirm and expand this fact in this part of the lesson to help us better understand it. We will be turning to the most important parable found in the Gospels in order to better comprehend the reason(s) why the church is being persecuted. This essential parable that I am referring to is often called the “Parable of the Sower” but we must begin to understand that it contains so much more information than just a simple message of a man coming to plant some seeds in what appears to be random types of ground.
We will soon discover by using a new look that this seed parable also contains our four perspectives concerning persecution. These were, 1) God’s perspective, 2) Satan’s perspective, and both the 3) persecuted church and the 4) persecutor’s viewpoint. I will not include every verse of this parable in order to attempt to shorten the lesson today, but I would recommend that you go and reread all of the verses for yourself to refresh your memory to confirm what is being taught.
I will inform you upfront in this section that it contains some potentially brand new ideas that I believe the Holy Spirit just gave me concerning this parable. While I was studying the subject I believe that the Lord showed me how this parable fits my life in more ways than I thought. I believe the Holy Spirit said to me in my spirit that this parable represents the ONLY true pathway to becoming a real saved mature born again believer. I believe this is described from the beginning of our salvation all the way to the best possible end result of our salvation of producing a 100 fold spiritual fruit return on God’s investment in our hearts. I will also inform you that this parable teaches us at least 6 things that Satan does to every hearer of the Gospel in order to keep that person from becoming a saved overcoming threat to his kingdom.
Let’s examine a very quick overview of the parable. In this parable a “sower” came to the earth spreading seed on 6 different types of ground (soil, hearts). Three types of ground (soil, hearts) produced no lasting fruit for a harvest and three types of ground (soil, hearts) produced increasing levels of lasting harvestable fruit. We should know from the explanation of the parable given by Jesus that the main seed being sown in heart to produce fruit represents the “Word of God”. That is very important to know since I believe this is what Satan fears. We should also know that the original man that sowed the good seed was sent down from heaven and His name was Jesus. We can further understand that the soil represents 6 different distinct states of the internal unseen spiritual human heart. Now, we should be able to logically deduce from just this amount of basic information alone that the end result of the seed (Word of God) sown is spiritual fruit and without this being found present it is impossible for us to be saved according to the Bible. I’ll repeat this very important verse for further emphasis:
1Pe 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
Jesus declared in John 3:7 “You must be born again” in order to enter the Kingdom of God. Did you notice what God says about His seed here in this verse of first Peter? God’s seed is confirmed by the inspired writings of Peter to be God’s Word and it is ONLY this successfully sown incorruptible good seed in a man’s heart that causes him to be born again. I believe this is a good time for us to get into the divinely created natural birth process in order to better understand this concept of being born again. God’s process of being “born again” spiritually is a direct parallel concept to the created natural process of being born in the natural human way.
Rom 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
God gives us great wisdom in the New Testament concerning how to understand hidden and unseen spiritual truths. God clearly says for us to look at naturally created patterns of things to see and understand hidden spiritual concepts we do not see or understand. This is why we are going to go briefly through the parallel process of human reproduction.
I will not be excessively graphic in this description because most of you should already know how human babies are made. However, for those few that don’t, the natural process takes two opposite humans to produce one new baby. These two human requirements are always one male seed provider and one female seed receiver. The human male always possesses the necessary seed for human conception and must sow it just as the sower of God’s word (a male named Jesus) possessed the spiritual seed that must be planted in a spiritual woman to cause a spiritual birth to potentially occur. Both seeds (the natural and the spiritual) are implanted internally just in two very different ways for two very different intended destinations and results. However, both successful seed processes produce the same end result called “fruit”.
Luk 1:42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
In the natural woman’s womb there is found an “egg” normally produced monthly that can be potentially implanted by the sown male’s seed. This natural sowing process to produce the human baby fruit as we just read in Luke 1:42 is a very real parallel to the parable of the sower that informs us not every seed that was sown takes root or produces fruit. Both the spiritual seeds and the natural seeds have enemies that can try to prevent the seed sown from bearing any fruit. Some human couples take great lengths of time to produce a child in the natural and so it is with the spiritual re-birth process. Some humans live all of their lives and get born again on their death beds if they are blessed to hear the gospel and receive it. Just as having sex does not guarantee human fruit, so it is with hearing the Word of God. There are so many that hear the truth of the Gospel and simply die and go to hell, not receiving it.
The womb of the woman is a direct parallel representation of the human heart (spirit). The female womb is an ever changing environment that goes in cycles of lesser degrees and greater degrees of fertilization and so it is with the human heart. A human’s heart may be very tender and fertile to receive the word of God today but tomorrow it may be completely hardened because of life’s ever changing circumstances.
In the natural the male is always the sower of seed and it is only this seed successfully sown at the perfect timing that will potentially produce any fruit of a child. However, even as the parable indicates, there can be problems that cause the termination of the pregnancy and no child/fruit is delivered. I’m sure some readers know this reality by great trial of experience.
That was only a very rapid overview of a naturally created and inspired process that was designed to be a view into the spiritual birth process. I pray that you will accept this as we continue to learn more and I encourage you to give this process some more thought and write me a good comment at the end of this lesson to share it with others.
As in the parallel of human reproduction, the “Parable of the Sower” reveals much more than just the planned attempt at producing good fruit. There is and always will be an enemy in this realm that will try to prevent the spiritual rebirth from taking place. Satan does this in at least 6 different ways in the parable of the Sower. If you allow Satan to steal the seed sown from your heart, there will be no new spiritual birth that will occur to produce any lasting or saving spiritual fruit. Therefore, it is simple to see if there is no lasting Seed of God in the human heart, there will be no end result of any eternal salvation fruit.
The Holy Spirit reminded me as I was writing this lesson that I have personally been almost every type of the 6 different soil conditions mentioned in this parable by my own freewill choices. I believe that if you are a real born again Christian, then you have chosen to be most of these soil types also and endured to make the necessary changes and adjustments to go further. I did not say you had to go through every soil type. I believe you may have been blessed to bypass one or more soil types that do not produce fruit. However, that does not mean you bypassed the attacks of Satan to try to steal the seed from your heart affecting those soil types. Please, just begin to understand that it is the human’s choice which soil type that he or she wants to be.
For example, the Holy Spirit reminded me that I was the one that chose to be hard hearted pathway soil that allowed Satan to easily steal the Word of God that was sown in my heart as a very young man. The Holy Spirit then reminded me that it was my choice later in life that allowed the Word of God to come in on my shallow stony heart when I did receive God’s seed with gladness. However, when Satan came as he does to every seed of God listener I became offended and turned away from God and produced no fruit. As a result I failed to move into salvation to produce fruit. God then reminded me of the phase of my life when I chose to receive the Word of God being more tenderhearted but I again allowed Satan’s evil seed to also enter in through the cares of this world to choke out the good seed and again there was still no Godly fruit produced for salvation.
I am now by my own determined choice, in a more lasting “fruitful” stage of my life having made the personal selections to not allow my poor past mistakes to keep me apart from producing any harvestable spiritual fruit. I am not saying that I am perfect now or that I have yet arrived at the one hundred fold return level of fruitful production but I believe that I am on the way to get there. I hope this short testimony gives you a brand new perspective on what the parable of the sower represents and further helps you to evaluate where you might choose to be in this parable being described today. I would be very excited to read your testimony of your path to salvation if you would care to share it in a comment. It would be my great pleasure to read how you overcame the struggles and attacks of the enemy in any soil type. Let’s start reading the “Parable of the Sower” in Mark chapter 4:
Mar 4:14 The sower soweth the word.
Mar 4:15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.
Ok, heart condition 1 was called the “way side soil” and this soil type represents a very hard compacted trampled on heart condition which does not allow the Word of God to even enter into it to take any root. Therefore, there is no salvation that can take place for this type of person. In this soil type the seed (the Word of God) is very easily stolen away by the enemy of God (Satan) because there can be no understanding of any of the Word that was heard. I’ll say this again using a few different words. The reasons given for the ease of seed theft is first, a hard-hearted condition by a personal choice which caused a second condition of no real hearing or understanding of the Word of God to be able to enter into it. I very firmly believe that this “way side” soil condition represents a person that has never been saved even if they went to church over and over and over. I believe that this soil type is like a man having sexual relations with his wife but the sperm sown never reached anywhere close to the egg inside her because it is blocked by some contraceptive device or substance or even by some physical condition that does not allow the seed to be implanted.
Like I said earlier, this way side soil type represented me in the early years of my life. I was raised in church but I was not really interested in hearing any of the Word of God that was being spoken. I let the words go in one ear and immediately exit out the other ear being closed minded and uninterested. I placed no value upon the Word and treated it with disdained unimportance. There was no priority of importance or value given to the message and therefore the seed being sown was very easily stolen from my hard hearted condition.
Mar 4:16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;
Mar 4:17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.
The second soil condition is called “stony ground” and this was me when I was in my teens and early 20’s. My heart had started to have a very small amount of softness on the surface to receive only some basic concepts of the Word of God but, because I lacked any deep understanding and maturity I simply fell away when Satan persecuted or afflicted me with any pressure. The main difference between the second type of soil and that of the first is that this soil has just a very small amount of loose soil (tenderness) that allows the seed to enter into it slightly. But, because of no great ability of the seed to go deeper into the heart it simply dries up and dies unborn. I believe this soil type can represent a woman that has a pregnancy occur but soon experiences a miscarriage because of some unforeseen circumstances from a natural enemy. Perhaps you have experienced this and if so I am sorry for your loss.
Mar 4:18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,
Mar 4:19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
The third condition of the soil is called “thorny ground”. I believe that this was me in my late 20’s and 30’s. I was easily distracted by the cares of this life and the pursuit of worldly things and these personal choices allowed these thorn seeds to also enter in my hear to grow and develop and their presence choked out God’s planted seed in my heart again to produce no fruit. I believe this can be many, many things. For example, reading fiction books instead of the Bible allows evil seed to come into the heart. Watching worldly movies also can bring into a heart evil seeds that choke out God’s Word. Desiring fame, riches, cars, houses, boats, etc. can all allow evil seeds into a heart that produce no fruit.
I will remind you again that this entire parable concerns the primary subject of human salvation also called being born again. It describes the process entirely from the beginning steps all the way to either a successful completion to produce some spiritual fruit or there is the other side likened to a crop failure where no lasting fruit is produced. It also reveals there are spiritual enemies and plans to abort the entire process and all of their techniques are intended to terminate God’s designed saving process. Real spiritual salvation always begins with the impartation of God’s good spiritual seed called the Gospel and ends with at least some real lasting spiritual fruit being produced. Those that produced no fruit were not saved and those that produce even a little bit of lasting fruit are saved. Remember that Jesus said “You will know them (saved or unsaved) by their fruits” (Mat 7:16).
According to the interpretation of this natural parable the sower’s goal is to plant spiritual seed that produces spiritual fruit and He does this by speaking the Word of God into all types of human hearts every chance that He has. The seed that is sown is clearly for an intended good return. Therefore, without hearing the Word of God there is no hope for our salvation and Satan knows this. Wow, we now are finally beginning to really understand the primary goal for human persecution. Satan is doing everything in his power to get God’s seed out of our hearts so that there is no fruit produced.
I would like for us to pay close attention to verse 15 of Mark 4 again. Here in this verse Jesus said when the sower’s word falls upon the “way side” type of soil that Satan comes immediately after the word was sown (heard) in order to take away the “Word of God that was planted in their hearts”. I’ll let you in on another secret. We must understand that this technique of Satan happens for every type of soil, not just the “way side” soil type. Jesus was only teaching us how easy it is to successfully steal away the seed that was sown in this soil type. But, please believe me when I say that Satan will use any and every one of his techniques to attempt to get God’s spiritual crop to fail at anytime.
Please allow me to stop and explain the parable further using some additional depth. We should be able to see that there are only two constants in the parable that never change. These two unchangeable realities are the “Seed” Word of God and the God that spoke the “Seed”. Everything else in the parable represents a variable substance or in other words a temporary or changeable reality. For example, Satan changed from a good being to an evil being. However, based upon the Bible, I do not believe that Satan can change back to be good being again.
Two other major variables given in this parable are the “soil types” and the 1) techniques used to steal away the 2) Word sown from the soil. The sower in this parable certainly has changed from Jesus to you and I, but we are all technically still the body of Christ. We can also assume that the human “persecutor” being used by Satan can change but a persecutor is just another hard hearted soil type that is clearly stated to potentially change by their own personal human choices. For example we have already seen the man Saul become converted to become a sower of God’s Seed named Paul.
I’ve already touched on this subject of the changing soil types, but let’s go deeper still into this part of the discussion. Who determines what type of soil that you are? Does God predetermine your soil type before you were conceived in the womb or maybe during the time you were growing in your mother’s womb? If you believe yes, that type of faith is very wrong. This type of false belief is based upon an erroneous extreme sovereign God predestination doctrine that preaches nothing happens expect it be the will, purpose and plan of God. In this type of extreme belief the human plays absolutely no role in being saved or being lost because that was all prearranged by God’s sovereign choice, power and divine will. However, that is not the truth but rather a deception of Satan’s design. I’ll tell you plainly again that it is you and only you that chooses to believe to be saved and you are also the only one that determines what soil type that you are represented to be from your childhood to the right now present time. Here is just one confirmation to what I just taught:
Luk 10:40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
Luk 10:41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
Luk 10:42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
I inserted these verses to help confirm the soil type is the human’s choice. Jesus clearly places all responsibility for listening and hearing the Word of God that He spoke upon the listener. Mary made the clear right choice and Martha was distracted and burdened by making the very clear wrong choice. Mary represented good ground by her wise selection and Martha in this story represents “thorny ground” because she was loaded down with the cares of this world that choked out everything that was being spoken in her house. Wow, that is very powerful.
You can be as hard hearted as you can possibly be and yet you can also choose to change immediately to become as tender hearted as God wants you to become if you will ask and allow God to help you to change. This was a perfect description of Saul. Saul encountered Jesus and from that moment forward he never looked back on who or what he had chosen to be in the past, except to regret his previous bad choices. I would highly recommend that we all choose to become the best “good ground” that produces much fruit by applying God’s Grace and Word through our faith in Him and His Word. Let’s reread some previous verses from the lips of Jesus again:
Mar 4:16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;
Mar 4:17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.
Here again are the very essential verses concerning our primary lesson subject on persecution. As I previously stated this is often called the “Parable of the Sower” but technically remember that it is the story of the successful or unsuccessful salvation process. God is using an exact matched discussion for the 4 different viewpoints that we have been studying about in this series on persecution. In this parable there is the “sower” and this viewpoint represents God Almighty’s perspective. It is God’s Word that is being directly sown into the hearts of all people on the earth by it being spoken to them. What was God’s objective for sowing His Word? The Word of God was given to mankind by God in order for them to produce fruit and the existence of this fruit is the primary recognized pattern that proves someone is a true Christian (Mat 7:20).
From God’s perspective He desires to sow His Word into the hearts of all people in order that they might be saved. Notice that I said that they “might” be saved. Even though God is not willing that anyone perish (2 Peter 3:9), God does not force His Word of truth or salvation upon anyone. Even though God desires every man, woman and child to be saved it is up to every person to choose to be a Mary type or a Martha type of hearer, deciding what type of soil that they want to be.
Satan is your stated enemy because of God’s sown Word found in your human heart and Satan causes persecution to come because of the Word of God. Maybe you have never realized this before but Satan does not fear you without God’s Seed in your heart. But, when the Word of God (the Seed) and the Spirit of God is found within your heart Satan has a major problem. It is the Word of God in your heart that Satan fears because it and it alone has the power to put Satan to flight. But, only if you know it, understand it and are willing to use it against him by speaking it, does he fear you. This is still the given number one reason found in the entire N.T. for every demonic attack on Christ followers. If Satan can take God’s Word from your heart you are “ABSOLUTELY NO THREAT” to him.
There are definitely unstated and implied symbolic human “persecutors” in this parable of the sower as related indirectly in verse 17 of Mark 4. The unstated persecutors are like the man “Saul” we have been learning from. This type of man was one of the hard hearted types of soil that failed to allow the Seed of God into his heart to produce any fruits of salvation. Saul definitely qualified as a man that the Word of God fell on by the “way side” and Satan did come into his heart to take the seed immediately upon hearing it by using thoughts, ideas and suggestions of deception to distract him from seeing any truth. I hope you understand this principle because it will be what Satan does to you also if you are not yet saved reading this lesson.
Just because “persecution” was only mentioned in one type of soil called the “stony ground” please do not get the erroneous idea that you will never be persecuted if you are choosing to be some other type of soil such as the “way side” or “good ground”. That would be very foolish to think that way. Like I taught before, Jesus was only pointing out when “persecution” could be the most effective on this one type of rocky ground. But, I believe that if you have heard and choose to continue to hear the Word of God, you should expect “persecution” from Satan to come almost immediately after hearing any new Words of God. I firmly believe that persecution will be inevitable and will not cease in this age to those that live Godly (2 Tim 3:12).
We have only briefly touched on the subject of persecution using the 4 different revealed perspectives found within the “Parable of the Sower”. God’s perspective in this parable is certainly to save and empower all of humanity by planting within us His Holy Word. Satan’s perspective was found to be fear motivated and this causes him to try to get the Word of God out of the hearts of all humans to render God’s powerful seed ineffective. Satan accomplishes this using many given plans and devices including affliction and persecution. The third perspective given is called the soil and this represents the human where the seed tries to fall to enter in after being heard. This man has the choice to become saved and fruitful by enduring the enemy’s attack plans or to remain unsaved by allowing the enemy to steal the valuable seed from his heart. The final indirect perspective was from human people being used to take the word from your heart as a pawn of Satan. Wow, I hope you are receiving all of this great information because I believe that this section of the lesson was really good and essential information for every Christian.
SECTION 6: PERSECUTION TO THE CHURCH IS INEVITABLE
Just living a Godly and Holy lifestyle will bring you the reality of persecution, God guarantees it in His Word. Whenever you do not look like those in the world, talk like them, curse like them, drink like them, party like them, take drugs like them, have sex like them, etc. it make you stand out as being strangely different and even abnormal to them. It just takes one person of light going against the entire flow of the dark world to get the full focused attention of persecution.
Joh 15:20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
In the entire life of Jesus, he did absolutely nothing deserving of ridicule, persecution and death, yet all of these happened to him. He was completely sinless in His life on the earth and yet it was this lifestyle that was hated by most of the religious leaders of the nation of Israel. According to the words of Jesus, we should be no different than Him. They persecuted Him beyond human comprehension and all of this persecution was unjust. I am definitely not greater than Jesus and therefore, Jesus guarantees me to be persecuted. He does you also if you are His.
Mat 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 5:11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
According to Jesus, not everyone is qualified to be persecuted because many are not saved even though they say they are a Christian. If you are not being persecuted, I would ask yourself why not? What am I doing or not doing before a person of the world that makes me fit into their model of normal? Notice what verse 11 says. Jesus says you are blessed “WHEN” men persecute you. He did not say “IF”.
I believe that it could very difficult to feel that you are blessed when someone is beating you, torturing you and putting you into prison for no good reason. It would be completely different if we were guilty of a crime. The thief hanging on the cross spoke to the other one and declared that they were getting what they deserved but Jesus was not. However, Jesus is still giving us some real positive encouragement to endure in verse 10. He is declaring to us that we can stand through it all, if we look at the big eternal picture and can see that this life is a very short insignificant period of time.
Rev 2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
I’ll end this section with this one verse found in Revelation. This is Jesus speaking again to the church. He tells them very plainly they will suffer persecution to the extent of jail and even death. Then Jesus says very clearly if you endure it there is a righteous reward in doing so and this is what we speak of briefly in section 7 of this lesson. However, in conclusion I want you to see what Jesus said in Revelation 2:10. Jesus is plainly informing us of the root cause of persecution. Jesus clearly says it is coming from the devil even though Jesus is speaking indirectly of natural men and natural prison buildings that are used by Satan. Wow, that is very important confirmation to the root cause of all “persecution”.
SECTION 7: THE CORRECT PERSECUTION CHRISTIAN REACTION
A Christian’s reaction to being persecuted could be many different possible personal choices. We could choose to be very angry and to even resist and fight back. That is what most people in the world would certainly do. However, that is definitely not what the higher Christian examples in the Bible teach us to do. I’m going to end today’s lesson with two very quick examples of the correct Christian response to being persecuted. I believe that if we are able to follow these two great examples, we will be significantly rewarded by the Lord in the life eternal to come as we just read in Revelation 2:10.
Luk 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
Jesus was our model of perfection that all Christian standards should be following after. While He hung on the cross He said something that goes against all human logic and reasoning. Jesus said “Father forgive them, they do not know what they are doing”. This statement proves two incredible things to us. First it proves that Jesus knew that it was NOT these people that did this to him and second he also knew that they were doing it all unconsciously being led to do it by the unseen spirit of Satan. This truth completely supports the beginning foundation of the lesson series on persecution. Remember when we learned that we (Christians) are not wrestling against flesh and blood but against principalities, powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world (Eph 6:12).
Christians often believe so very wrong. Many Christians believe that Jesus lived an unobtainable life example that was far out of their reach to achieve. However, that is just not the truth. According to the writings of Paul in Romans 8:11 a Christian has the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead living on the inside of them. This was God’s plan of salvation to come on the inside of every Christian to help them to live Christ’s example. We are not doing it all alone. We have a helper according to Jesus in John 16:7. Wow, that is great news.
The second example in today’s lesson is that of a normal man like you and I that we talked about in the first lesson. His name was Stephen. Hopefully you will recall that it was Stephen that was stoned to death as Saul watched and consented gleefully to his death:
Act 7:60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Stephen was not Jesus. Stephen was not even one of the original 12 disciples of Jesus. In fact Stephen literally came from the ranks of just basic Christian disciples like most of us. Sure Acts 6 says Stephen was chosen by the 12 to administer some affairs of the church along with six other men, but that does mean he was better than you or I.
Stephen did absolutely nothing deserving death and here he was being stoned. What was the reaction of Stephen to his unjust violent and painful persecution of death? Hopefully you can see that it was practically identical to that of Jesus’ reaction? How was this possible? How could a Christian disciple possibly ask and pray “Lord, do not hold this sin against these people” while he was being stoned? This type of reaction defies all human natural thinking.
The first time Stephen is ever mentioned in the entire Bible is Acts 6:15. There is no record that he ever walked with Jesus or even saw Him in the flesh as Jesus ministered personally here on the earth for three and half years. So who was this unknown man that had the power to follow exactly after the pattern of Jesus’ forgiving example? Wow, I believe Stephen could just possibly be one of the men that got saved when Peter stood up and preached the Gospel in Acts 2. It was probably a year or less from Acts 2 when Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit until he as stoned to death. That was a very short time of being a Christian to endure such a death.
I firmly believe that God put the example of Stephen in the Bible to prove that if he could respond correctly to persecution then anyone could do it. This includes me, you and anyone else that will get saved from now till Jesus returns for us. Do you think you will be able to do this same response when you are persecuted? Can you follow the example of Jesus and Stephen? The answer is yes, but will you choose to do so? You will if you are committed to Christ.
What is the number one factor for choosing the correct reaction to persecution? I believe the answer to that question is love. Jesus certainly had this great love and I believe Stephen had it also. It takes a great amount of love to forgive someone while they are killing you. If you don’t have this love, you can get it by asking Jesus to come into your heart, right now. I believe that this is absolutely the only way to do respond correctly during persecution. If you are not saved and believe you can die like this, please ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior right now. It will be the best decision you have ever made and ever will make. Please leave me a comment if you have enjoyed this lesson. God bless you and thank you for reading this Bible lesson.
(Ver 1.1) What a strange title for a Bible study? What could this possibly mean to us here in this modern world? Who was Saul? What is this spirit of Saul reference? I was recently awakened in the middle of the night at exactly 3 AM and suddenly these words arose up in my spirit saying “Beware the rise of the spirit of Saul”. Then Bible verses came to my memory about this actual historical man named Saul and this Bible lesson is the result of my middle of the night awakening. I believe this message was from God speaking to us all a warning according to His stated works in John 16:13. I believe God was informing us of a coming resurgence of an old spiritual force that persecuted the early church and I believe it will become as “great as” or even greater than what the early church encountered and endured. I believe that it is obvious that this is the increasing trend and movement found within the present unsaved world, all those living in darkness (Eph 2:2).
Modern unsaved people living in the world today are identical to all others that came before them. They are all opening a door to allow the repeat of a pattern of ignorance that causes them to not comprehend the difference between that which is called “good” or that which is called “evil”. In them there is no understanding or acknowledgement of who or what represents the true God of good or who or what represents the false deceiving god of evil (Satan). That which God called evil in His Word is being tremendously magnified and exalted by the unsaved world to be called normal and good and everything that God called “good” is being called evil at the same time (Isa 5:20). Anyone that speaks against what is called evil by God is being persecuted and called a bigoted intolerant hate monger. What a sad condition the world has fallen into and I believe by observation that it is getting worse.
Today Christians that are simply speaking the truth in love warning those that are on the way to hell are being labeled as evil. This must break the heart of God greatly and we will see an example of this in the lesson. If you knew that the highway that you were traveling on had a major bridge on it and that it had just collapsed, would you not try to stop everyone that was about to fall to their death because of the deep drop off? The drivers of the cars on the road at night are about to die because of their ignorance and inability to see the truth. Wouldn’t you warn them? That is what every mature believing Christian is faced with today. We can shut up and be silent or we can cry out and try to save them. It is our choice but any warning given may be ridiculed and laughed at by those being warned because probably most will not believe it.
Jesus gave us many warnings about these end times before His return to the earth. One warning to us was very clear when He said “As it was in the days of Noah and of Lot so shall it also be again in the days right before the coming of the Son of Man” (Luke 17:26-30). I am very sure that this statement describes the exact days that we live in right now. It is by no chance or accident that Jesus (God in the Flesh) chose these two biblical events to describe the times directly before His return (2 Peter 2:5-6). However, that is really not what this Bible lesson message is concerning directly. The message of Noah’s flood and Sodom’s destruction is however an indirect applicable truth to this lesson of warning about the subject of coming persecution. Noah was laughed at and the angels in Sodom were commanded to come out and have sex with the men. How appropriate are these two witnesses of truth?
Introduction to the Spirit of Saul
Let us now get to God’s basic message concerning the “spirit of Saul” warning spoken to me. The main subject of today’s lesson is concerning the theme of persecution. We will be looking at this subject from at least three or four different perspectives. The first perspective is that of the persecutor. The second perspective is that of the Almighty God. The third perspective of persecution will be driven from the one being persecuted and these are Christians. And the final perspective introduced today is that of the enemy Satan..
- The Persecutor’s Perspective
- Almighty God’s Perspective
- The Persecuted Church’s Perspective
- Satan’s Perspective
We will similarly be addressing basic definitions and questions concerning this very important and timely subject. We will also look for scriptural answers in the Bible for why persecution occurs and who is ultimately behind it all. As part of the study we will briefly introduce why God allows persecution to occur and see what His attitude and response was in the past and could be again today since we know God does not change (Malachi 3:6). As a final part of the Christian perspective discussion in today’s lesson we will introduce how a Christian’s expectations should already be preset before this persecution occurs to them. Please don’t be surprise when God warns us that persecution will occur if we are living for God and obeying His Word and boldly declaring His truth in love to the lost and dying world.
2Ti 3:12 Yea, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
God promises us that we will be persecuted if we are living for Him and following after Christ’s example. It would be wise based upon these words to check if you are being persecuted. If you are not I would then check to see if you are following Jesus. In Luke chapter 21 Jesus informs us of the coming end of the age describing wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes and famines that are already occurring and then in verse 12 Jesus said before the end of all these things you will be persecuted. Jesus’ warning to us in the Gospels is just another witness to the message that I heard from God personally.
Bible basics teach us that humans are designed by our creator God as a triune being made in the image of the Almighty God. A human is a freewill spirit being that possesses a soul (a mind, a will and our emotions) that lives in mortal human body (1 Thes 5:23). However, this spirit of Saul warning was not a warning that the natural man Saul written about in the Bible will return to the earth because that would violate scriptures and make God a liar (Heb 9:27). Therefore, we need to learn more about what the message could mean by rightly dividing the Word of Truth (2 Tim 2:15). We will however, briefly study the life of Saul to learn from it the persecutor’s perspective and I will begin by reading a verse concerning the stoning death of Stephen in the early church description found in Acts 7.
Act 7:58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.
Please allow me to provide a very quick overview of the context of this verse so we can better understand this part of the message. The context actually begins back in chapter 6 and it is a story concerning a Christian man named Stephen. He was ministering to people and doing many signs, wonders and miracles the same as Jesus did before him here on the earth. It is important to know that Stephen was not one of the original 12 disciples of Jesus yet he did the same types of miraculous works as Jesus did. I find that fact very important and fascinating as many in the church today teach miracles passed away with the death of the 12 disciples. Oh well? Oh Lord, please help us all to see the truth.
These supernatural miraculous works done by God through Stephen were not well received because of the accompanying message being preached concerning salvation only through faith in Jesus Christ who was recently condemned to death by a similar type of court with made up evidence that Stephen stood before. Men from the synagogue accused Stephen of blasphemy and soon he was on trial before the leadership of the Jewish synagogue. It is during this trial that Stephen gives a great overview of the Old Testament and how it applies to the gospel message of Jesus Christ. However, this message was not well received either. The Jewish leaders refused to listen and stopped up their ears and then took up stones to kill Stephen. Stephen sees a vision of heaven while being stoned of Jesus standing at the right hand of God as they hurl their deadly stones. That brings us now to verse 58 which was just quoted.
This verse 58 is the first time that the name “Saul” is mentioned in the N.T. The Hebrew name Saul occurs approximately 26 times in the book of Acts alone. This N.T. Saul is the exact same Hebrew name as the first king of the O.T. nation of Israel. By the number of mentions in the book of Acts we can easily see that the man Saul was a very prominent figure to learn about and learn from. We learn from reading the N.T. that Saul was a young devout religious man and a very self-righteous zealot man during this time of the birth of the church in the first 8 chapters of Acts. We can learn more about the background of this man named Saul by reading in his writings because he wrote nearly 2/3 of the N.T.:
Php 3:4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
Php 3:5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
Php 3:6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
Reading here Saul/Paul claims to be of a very noble stock of the natural nation of Israel. He was circumcised according to Mosaic Law on the 8th day after his birth. He was by no doubt raised in a very strict home that observed all of the Jewish Holy days, laws and Sabbaths. He also must have spent a very significant time in reading the Law of Moses growing up in the strict order to become a Pharisee. I can speculate that Saul must have thought very highly of himself, during this time and he must have been very proud of his learned position of authority. However, if we read in Proverbs 16:18 we see a verse that Saul appears to have possibly ignored. This verse says “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall”.
We can learn while studying his life that Saul spent a great amount of his time persecuting, hunting down, imprisoning and even killing any of those that confessed faith in Jesus Christ. However, was this natural man named Saul the actual main source of the problem of the persecution to the church? Could there have been a greater force of influential power behind this evil man persuading and even controlling his thoughts and actions? I believe according to the future writings of this man named Saul there was certainly a much greater spiritual force that helped influence him to do all this evil to other people on the earth. Let’s read one verse to confirm this reality:
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
What we must glean in the beginning of this lesson is that physical natural people that are persecuting us are not our real problem even though it looks like it on the visible surface. Saul/Paul in this verse teaches us that Christians are not at odds with anyone of the divinely created flesh and blood design order. However, he does reveal very clearly earlier in this chapter that we are at war and he names the enemy here in verse 12 of Ephesians 6 to be hidden unseen spiritual forces and the evil invisible rulers of this present world that rule the kingdom of darkness. This truth will become considerably more important as we continue this lesson to learn how we should react to persecution. This information helps to better comprehend who and what the “spirit of Saul” is referring to in the warning. I am completely convinced that the “spirit of Saul” reference on the rise in our world is a reference to Satan our adversary and all of his demonic followers. Let’s review what we should have just learned in this section:
- People Persecute Other People
- We Will Be Persecuted if We Live Right
- We are at War
- It Appears That Humans are Our Enemies
- But, Our Actual Enemy is Not a Human
- We are at War With Unseen Spiritual Beings
- These Invisible Spiritual Beings Influence Humans To Do Evil
Persecuting the Church Today is still the same as Personally Persecuting Jesus
If the naturally born Hebrew man named Saul was not the real problem being spoken of by the LORD, why would God say “Beware the return of the spirit of Saul” to us? The answer to that question is because as we should have learned that unseen spirit beings are at the root of every seen evil event occurring in the world. I am convinced that the natural man Saul was not who the early church was wresting against based upon what he later wrote in Ephesians 6. However, why would a man do something so evil and suddenly then change and not do it anymore? That is a really good and important question. I believe the answer to that is that the natural man Saul was unmistakably a very deceived man who bought into and believed in so many lies given to him from the real enemy Satan. I believe the natural man Saul was doing what he thought was right in his own blinded mind (2 Cor 4:4) and was performing what he thought was pleasing towards God even though what he was doing against Christians on the earth was very wrong and taken very personally by Jesus. Let’s continue reading additional truth in the book of Acts about the death of Stephen:
Act 7:56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
These are some of the last recorded words spoken by Stephen the first martyr of the early church to his murderers and they reveal how their wrong actions were being received by the LORD Jesus. Please notice when reading this verse that in Colossians 3:1, Paul teaches us that the LORD Jesus ascended into heaven and is now seated at the right hand of God in heaven but here in this recorded vision of heaven Jesus is intentionally standing up on his feet observing the wrong being done to his servant Stephen. Wow this verse speaks literal volumes to me. Jesus showed such great love and concern for what is happening to Stephen that He makes the personal choice to stand up from His seated position of rest and authority to welcome Stephen into His spiritual realm presence. I believe that this position of Jesus standing teaches us that Jesus wanted to do more to stop it from occurring but did not again by choice. You might remember that later Paul formerly Saul would teach us “to be absent from the body is to be present with the LORD” (2 Cor 5:8). Therefore, when Stephen was killed, his spirit immediately departed his physical body to be in the presence of Jesus where Jesus was personally standing up to observe and welcome him into heaven.
Since the murder of Stephen there have been countless numbers of other Christ followers that have been killed and have gone to be with the LORD simply because of their beliefs in Jesus. No actual crime was necessary for either Stephen or any other saint to be persecuted with evil acts. We should learn from “how was Stephen persecuted” in order to know what to expect again today. If you read the context of the chapter you will find that leaders gathered false witnesses to accuse Stephen (Acts 6:13-14). These false accusers used the semblance of law and order to justify their evil done to others. They were clearly disobeying their laws by speaking their lies and perjuring themselves before man and God but in their minds they were justified to do so. I recently learned this is taking place in people in Islam. They are taught that it is permitted for them to lie to others in the world in order to promote the greater cause of spreading Islam. This is clearly of demonic influence since the Bible teaches Christians that “all liars will have their part in the lake of fire” (Rev 21:8).
This is what is coming now to Christians here in this world whether you believe it or not. It is already occurring in many nations of the world right now. Terrorists kill many people just because they are Christian. Islamic governments and their extremist religious people of that nation are persecuting, imprisoning, torturing and killing Christians daily. Communist nations also throw into prisons people who are reading their Bibles and being a Christian that walks in love trying to save others from hell. Who could have seen all of this coming? I believe only Jesus and this is why the warning is being given to us today. Let’s please continue reading in the book of Acts:
Act 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
Act 8:2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
Act 8:3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.
Act 8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
The Greek word G4909 that was translated as “consented” in Acts 8:1 is a word that means Saul was “very pleased” by the murder of Stephen. In fact this Greek word implies that Saul took great pleasure in watching Stephen die. The zealot Saul after the death of Stephen then takes out after other Christians to do the same with them. Saul is very intent upon forcing his will and reason upon everyone that is preaching Jesus to be the only way. This is a very common motivation for persecution. The demand is frequently made to Christians to deny the Lord Jesus Christ, convert or die.
Look at Acts 8:3 and notice what begins to happen to the Church of Jesus Christ. Both men and women were taken to prison just for being a professing Christian. Also notice in this chapter the complete removal of basic human rights of privacy by the people committing these evil acts. Acts 8:3 tells us clearly that there was a house to house search for Christians done by Saul. This is exactly what is about to happen and even has started to shine on the horizon here in America. For example, there have been Christian people who refused to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples because of their beliefs in God, Jesus, the TRUTH of the Bible and they have spent time in jail. I believe the house to house search for Christians will also come as the world continues to slip into greater realms of deceived darkness. It already has taken place in other nations.
Act 9:1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,
Act 9:2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
Act 9:3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
Act 9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
Act 9:5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
Saul continued speaking his great threats of violence directed at and towards all Christians. He began moving out of the city of Jerusalem to other nearby regions. Notice that the persecution taking place was with the authority of the law givers and administrators. Wow, is this not happening now? Law givers and judges in America are making so many decisions that violate the Truth of the Word of God that it is literally shocking to me. Evil now is prevailing by the misguided interpretation of the law and the wrong definition of what is good vs. evil. Watch for laws to continue to come to support this evil behavior. Watch for the removal of basic human rights that have been guaranteed up until this point in time.
Saul was on the road to a city named Damascus in these verses of chapter 9 of Acts to bring about more evil in the name of good. However, things this time didn’t go so well for Saul’s way when the LORD interrupted his journey with a very personal touch and a very strong message of truth. Instantly a great light shown down from heaven and a powerful voice came down clearly saying to Saul alone “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me”. As in the death of Stephen again we can recognize how Jesus was taking personal notice of what was being done to Christians by this natural man named Saul. We can learn a very important lesson from these awesome words of truth. The first thing that we should have just learned from reading these verses is that coming against any Christian for any negative reason is the exact same thing as coming against the risen divine LORD Jesus Christ. The second thing that we should have just learned from this is that Jesus takes these acts of evil personally. Why does Jesus take persecuting a Christian the same as persecuting Him? Saul/Paul clearly writes to us later in the New Testament and informs us in 1 Corinthians 12:7 that “Christians here in this world are the body of Christ”. Natural people who choose to persecute Christians must learn and realize before it is too late that it is not wise to come against Jesus’ body here on the earth. Jesus Christ is a far greater Spiritual Force than the spiritual force that is tricking them to do this evil (1 Jn 4:4). Wow, I do not believe that very many people understand this truth yet.
I will go further and also say that this revealed truth is true regardless of your salvation state, being either saved or unsaved. If you are not a Christian and you are persecuting a Christian mentally, physically, emotionally, legally or verbally you are coming against the greatest spiritual force of power which is much greater than you can possibly imagine. My point is that this same message of warning is true for a Christian that comes against other Christians as it is for an unbeliever to come against a believer. This is still true even though you may believe that you are totally right and they are totally teaching false doctrines that you do not believe in. Let’s review a summary of the major points in this section of the lesson:
- Persecutors believe they are doing “good” in their own minds.
- Persecutors are very pleased when they are victorious over and even cause the death of a Christian.
- Persecutors are deceived people that believe they are good and Christians are evil.
- Persecutors obviously do not believe, know or understand that they are deceived.
- Persecutors will use the law to back their agenda of persecution.
- Persecutors love to force their will and beliefs upon others.
- Persecutors feel justified to do evil because their rule of law is in agreement with them.
- Persecutors will use lies and break laws if there is a greater good for the expansion of their beliefs to occur.
- Persecutor’s goals are the complete removal of all Christian freedoms and privacy and eventually the end of all Christians.
- God takes note and watches all persecution that occurs to the Church.
- God takes all human persecution of the church personally.
- God says to persecutors coming against the church “Why are you persecuting me?”
- A Christian is the Body of Christ on the earth.
- Anyone persecuting a Christian is persecuting the LORD personally.
- A Christian when killed by persecution goes to be with the LORD instantly.
- Christians will be persecuted falsely without doing any evil.
THE CONVERSION OF SAUL THE PERSECUTOR
God showed the evil man Saul some very great mercy by appearing to him on the road to Damascus. Paul the former Saul will forever be grateful for the exceeding great compassion given to him. While I believe it is within God’s power and ability for the Lord Jesus to do this with everyone that persecutes His body, I do not believe that He will and I may try to talk about this later but if not you will have to wait for another opportunity for me to try to explain why the Lord may not come down to save you from every evil doer on the planet personally. We should have learned this truth when reading about the death of Stephen.
Act 9:5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
Act 9:6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
I personally believe from understanding Romans 10:9-10 that Saul became a Christian falling on his knees on the road to Damascus. I hope you understand how you and I became a Christian. To be saved we must believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that God raised the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead after being crucified and buried 3 days and we must then confess Him as our LORD and Saul certainly did both of these while on the road to Damascus. We can confirm this belief simply by reading Acts 9:17 when God sends a disciple named Ananias to Saul for him to receive his sight and to be filled with the Spirit of God. Upon entering the house where Saul was waiting, Ananias calls the man Saul his spiritual brother and this is only possible and true if Saul has already received the Spirit of God being born again on the road to Damascus. Therefore, Saul became exactly what he was fighting against and persecuting and that was very fortunate for him.
1Co 15:8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
God gives us another quick confirmation for what was just taught concerning Saul’s salvation on the road to Damascus written directly from the hand of Paul. Here in this chapter and verse Paul tells us about several others seeing Jesus personally after His resurrection. Then Saul says that he also saw him providing us an incredible revelation that he was then reborn “abnormally” during this encounter. Saul was speaking of his spiritual rebirth (John 3:3) but I do not have the time to explain all of this more fully in this lesson. Please just accept the facts that 1) Jesus appears to Saul, 2) Saul asks who he was, 3) Jesus identifies Himself, and 4) Saul then believes what he heard and acknowledges Him as his LORD and that was the definition of an abnormal spiritual rebirth.
We are extremely blessed to have Saul the former evil persecutor of Christians become a Christ follower. After his salvation, Saul was given such great revelation from Jesus Christ of the Truth. Saul would go on in his life of Christian ministry to write approximately 2/3 of the New Testament. I believe that without Saul’s conversion that we would not have all of the information that we needed for us to be victorious Christians. I know that this salvation of a persecutor seems to be off the mainline subject but I believe it is very important to know as a Christian. Let’s look at some writings of Saul/Paul and learn from him what he thought of this great transformation that he experienced:
1Ti 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
1Ti 1:13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
1Ti 1:14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
1Ti 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
We can learn the most valuable information concerning a persecutor’s perspective by reading the N.T. since Paul was a former persecutor and he writes about it. As we can read in verse 12, Paul is so very thankful. Here is a man that has now realized that he was headed for an eternal existence of pain and suffering in hell but now suddenly has been given the free gift of eternal life, a purpose and a new destiny. I can identify with Saul’s heartfelt change. I know I am also eternally grateful for the free gift of God’s salvation and I know I don’t deserve it and neither did Saul. We are all sinners (Rom 3:23) and deserve hell but God paid the penalty price for our sins (2 Cor 5:21). Thank you Jesus!
Paul lists just a few of his guilty sins in verse 13 that he was personally participating in while persecuting Christians. Let’s go through these to better understand the dramatic change that took place in the heart of Saul. The first sin listed was Saul calling himself a “blasphemer” and this is a Greek word that reveals significant amounts of new information that we should learn from. According to the Strong’s definition of G989 translated as “blasphemer” it means to be scurrilous towards someone. This word scurrilous has the following dictionary definition:
Scurrilous : making or spreading scandalous claims about someone with the intention of damaging their reputation
This is exactly what Saul was doing to the early church. He used the words of his mouth to slander, accuse, condemn and judge the church falsely. But even though Saul thought he was fighting against evil human people that were deceived, Jesus informed Saul that He was blaspheming against God personally. This is pretty amazing information and I pray that it will hopefully cause someone to shut their mouth when speaking against Christians.
However, this Greek word G989 has some deeper more specific meanings for sinning against God with the words coming out of our mouths. Remember what Acts 8:1 and Acts 9:1 said that we looked at earlier? Acts 8:1 used the word that was translated as “consented”. This implies that Saul consented to words of others spoken against Stephen in addition to the actual murder of Stephen. Saul did both of these willingly, physically, emotionally, mentally as well as verbally as both a willing direct instigator and participant and as an indirect accessory that watched others cast the stones. These represent sins of both commission and omission.
Acts 9:1 is much clearer when it informed us that Saul spoke direct “threats” against Jesus and His body and this is a strong example of what blasphemy is defined to be in the Bible. I personally believe that a man or woman on the earth that speaks against a preacher or prophet of God or even just against one of God’s children is risking great consequences and danger if they do not repent like Saul did and change. Jesus will certainly take all of these words personally either now in this world or later at judgment day. Words have power and words have consequences.
The second sin that Paul lists is being a “persecutor” of the church, which is the body of Christ. This Greek word translated as “persecutor” means someone who is in pursuit of another. However, this type of pursuit can not be for the good of the individual(s) being pursued as revealed to us by God in the passages we read about Saul in Acts chapters 7, 8 and 9. Let’s quickly examine some synonyms for the word “persecute”. Persecute is the same as words like “oppress”, “abuse”, “accuse”, “condemn”, “ill-treatment”, “torment”, “torture”, “martyr” and others could be added and we get this idea of truth because these are exactly what Saul did to the Christian members in the early church. It is very important to note that Saul thought that what he was doing was what was right and good in the eyes of God and the government leadership of that day.
The third sin listed by Paul in verse 13 is “injurious” and this again is synonymous with the word persecute. Being injurious was a further explanation for what great evil sin he was guilty of. I believe this word literally means physical injuries were taking place upon men and women in the name of good. However, this word can also mean a verbal assault as well as a physical assault. I am convinced that doing any Christian hurt and harm physically, mentally or emotionally is equivalent to the abuse and persecution of Jesus Christ that the Jews did to Him personally when they crucified Him on the cross in the eyes of God.
If we continue to read past Saul’s list of sins in verse 13 we will observe Saul’s stated appreciation for the Lord’s mercy being provided to him. Saul informs us that he received mercy instead of what he should have been given. Wow, that is the amazing love of God being displayed to a very deceived and evil man.
Did you also notice in this written passage that Saul declared why he was given this great mercy from God? Why was this unthinkable mercy available to Saul even after all he had done? Why was the judgment of the Almighty God not immediately given to Saul? Why instead was mercy given? Paul tells us the answers in verse 13 that God’s mercy was available to him because of his own great “ignorance” of the truth.
This revelation of mercy based upon ignorance reveals so very much to us about God, people who persecute the church and about the Christian people who are being persecuted. According to God’s inspired Holy Word written through Paul, his ignorance and his unbelief were two of the main reasons that the church was then being persecuted and I believe these are the two main reasons the church is still going to be persecuted today.
Even though Saul was a very learned and educated man, he was extremely ignorant of the truth that really mattered. Yet Saul did not know how ignorant he was while he was sinning killing Stephen. Please understand that no one that is ever deceived believes that they are deceived. This is impossible simply because of the existence of their ignorance of the truth. That is everyone’s problem “we simply don’t know what we don’t know yet”. That is the mysterious advantage of the deceiver Satan. Satan uses the weapon of human ignorance to destroy us (Hosea 4:6). Satan can present enough lies with some basic mixed truth to allow a human to think that they are doing good for God when they are actually doing the evil plan that Satan desires them to do. Satan is a revealed master deceiver (Rev 12:9)
Persecutors justify their evil actions in their minds overruling the evidence for clear evil acts with the belief that they are doing a greater good for a higher power of authority. Recently here in North Carolina, USA we have been in the news around the world because our state passed a law that disallowed men from going into women’s restrooms and women from going into men’s restrooms. This law was designed to protect innocent children from predators. Yet, North Carolina has been accused of being biased, prejudiced, intolerant, discriminatory, bigoted and even hate filled towards a select few people who demand the right to go into any restroom that they sexually currently “identify” with. Wow, where has truth gone? Absolute truth, reason and morality have certainly passed highly over the minds of everyone that has been protesting against the law. All of these deceived people are extremely ignorant of God’s truth. We should ask ourselves a simple basic question, if truth is based simply upon how someone thinks and feels today; how and when will truth all change when they think and feel differently tomorrow? Where do we ever draw the line of absolute? It sounds like a constant moving target. If we change the line of truth drawn today that was established then tomorrow it will become even more distant away from the standard of truth tomorrow. I could teach an entire series on this but this is not the subject and I will not go there today.
Saul did such significant evil and justified it because he believed he was knowledgeable, correct and backed by the law. Saul was greatly deceived into believing in their popular religious human traditions. Satan filled the mind of Saul with replacement knowledge that sounded good to him. However, it was still Saul’s ignorance of the actual truth that caused him to carry out the will and plan of Satan. Once Saul came to the saving knowledge of the truth, suddenly the thoughts he had as a persecutor were gone. Wow, that is good news for persecutor’s today. There remains hope for everyone to be saved.
Just as Satan influenced and controlled the unsaved people like Saul nearly two thousand years ago to persecute the church, this is the same warning being given to us today. The spirit of Saul (Satan) is still at work in people today and these deceived people will rise up and begin to persecute the church with increasing enthusiasm before Jesus returns. It has already started and we can clearly learn this from the Spirit of God’s message of warning or we can remain an ostrich Christian and bury our heads in the sand and choose to ignore it pretending it is not happening. I would recommend that we do not ignore it or pretend that it is not happening already.
I personally expect some very negative comments for the truth that I published today. You will receive the same soon if you are speaking the truth to anyone in the world today concerning their life style personal choices. The spirit of Saul is alive and well on the planet.
Hos 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
Did you know that God allows people to be ignorant, wrong and to even do evil and sin? This truth has always been an extreme mystery in the minds of many Christians “Why doesn’t God stop all of this evil?” This would take another series of lesson’s to explain this to you today. Therefore, I will leave that to another day also. But we must at least first begin to understand that God does allow evil to occur in the world and is not the one that is causing it to occur and we can simply learn this truth by reading the story of the stoning of Stephen in Acts. Jesus was found standing at the right hand of God observing the evil being done and did nothing to cause it or to stop it. Wow, that boggles the mind of many religious people in the world. I believe that God’s passive observation made it appear to Saul that he was doing what God desires and that He is for them and it temporarily reinforces their wrong behavior. However, the wages of their sin will still overcome them and they will be judged for what they have done on the earth according to the truth found in the Bible. The main point in this paragraph is that God will allow this persecution to continue so we better learn it is coming.
I have talked briefly about the persecutor’s reasoning and justification for persecuting the church as well as the superior divine perspective on the persecution situation to allow it to occur. Now in conclusion I want to speak to the church’s reaction to this coming persecution. What was the reaction to this evil in the early church and what will probably happen in these end times? I believe that the early church’s reaction was both natural and supernatural.
Act 8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.
Reread Acts 8:4. God reveals to us all the two fold reaction to the great havoc being perpetrated upon the church. First notice the fact that it did not stop the Gospel from being preached. It did however cause the people to scatter. What does scatter mean? This Greek word is a based upon a farming concept of “sowing” seed. This is a great revelation since it is concerning the “Word” of God being spread to the entire world. Remember when Jesus taught the parable of the Sower in Mark 4? The sower sowed the Word of God. The seed being sown was God’s Word and this is the only thing possible today in the world that can save people and turn them from hell.
The end result of persecution in the early church was a greater spread of the Word of God, an explosion of salvations in many new locations and this is exactly what will happen today in the end of the church age.
The Greek word translated as “preaching” in this verse is a word that means “to announce good news” to someone. What kind of person would still be trying their best to preach the good news of God’s salvation to anyone that was or still is trying to imprison and kill them? The normal human tendency or reaction against persecution is for us to fight back, or to defend oneself or even to run away and hide in a cave to not be found. I have seen people plan and do all of these in this modern world. Which would you do? Wow, that is a very great question to consider. If you are a Christian would you be able to do nothing but be forgiving and loving to the persecutor and turn your other cheek? Consider the warning and then make a good choice now before being faced with it.
- Persecutors believe they are doing what pleases God and their lawgivers.
- Persecutors don’t believe they are sinning.
- Persecutors believe their words spoken against Christians are good.
- Persecutor’s goals are to damage the reputation of God and Christians.
- Persecutors believe causing physical injury to Christians is good.
- Persecutors believe they know the truth and are not ignorant.
- Persecutors believe others are deceived and they are not.
- Persecutors believe there is no God to answer to or Satan influencing them.
- God sees all of the sins of everyone including persecutors.
- A persecutor can be saved and change their evil ways.
- God says speaking against a Christian is equivalent to “blasphemy”.
- God says killing a Christian is the same as nailing Jesus to the cross.
- God will show mercy to any sinner including murderous persecutors.
- God tells us that persecutors are extremely ignorant of the truth.
- A Christian has gained saving knowledge of the truth.
- A Christian was shown great mercy by God and is thankful for it.
- A Christian desires to share this saving knowledge of Jesus with others even though it costs them their own life.
- A real and maturing Christian begins seeing things happening in the world from God’s perspective.
In conclusion I want us to see a future prophecy concerning the coming persecution of the church. Revelation chapter 4 and verse 1 God calls for John to come up to heaven so that he can be shown things that will happen in the future and this includes this prophetic chapter of Revelation 12. Let’s read just verse 12 and 13 concerning our main subject study to learn Satan’s motivating factor for increasing persecution upon the church during the end time.
Rev 12:12 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
Rev 12:13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
This chapter in Revelation 12 totally fascinates me. I could spend a long time trying to convince you who the woman in this chapter symbolically represents but I have already tried to do this in another lesson series. I will summarize briefly that lesson series by saying this woman being described can only fit the pattern of the church that is being persecuted by Satan. We learn this easily by the symbolism that she is clothed with at the beginning of the chapter and by the statements within the chapter. For example read verse 11:
Rev 12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
This is the immediate preceding contextual verse and it can only apply to those that are in the church. I have heard this verse quoted in many church services and they are applying these words to themselves and their struggles in this life with the devil. It is the Word of God and the Blood of Jesus that were given to us by Jesus in the church to insure us we will overcome Satan. If you have not read the Revelation 12 series of lessons I would strongly recommend that you do so. I do not have the time to repeat every detailed verse.
Let’s go back quickly to verse 12 and review the message from God. This is clearly a warning from God given to the inhabitants of the earth through the apostle John. In this verse Satan has been cast down from heaven after a great spiritual warfare and according to this prophecy he is in a furious way committing murder on the earth. If you look up and study the Greek word that is translated as “wrath” it comes from a root word that can mean to slaughter, kill or sacrifice someone. This sounds a lot like what Saul was doing doesn’t it? This simply confirms what we learned earlier. It was the spirit of Satan influencing and controlling Saul through his ignorance that caused the persecution of the church to begin on the earth.
As it was in the beginning of the church age so shall it also be at the end of the church age. Persecution is the key word found in verse 13 of Revelation 12. Satan in this verse is still persecuting the same woman that he was persecuting using Saul that we read about in Acts. We in the church are not a different woman; we just have newly grown members within the same body of Christ. If you are confused about what I just said I would strongly recommend you read the Bible lesson that I wrote a long time ago about “How the Church Became the Body of Christ”.
During this end-time persecution it will also be Satan using new ignorant people with the exact same spirit behind it all. If you look up the Greek word in verse 13 translated as “persecute” it is G1377 which was also the word spoken to Saul while on the road to Damascus by Jesus “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” God connects the two verses with His word selection and the message is very plain to me that God is speaking of the same subject being done to the same church body.
Today’s lesson was just a basic introduction to the broad subject of “persecution” and the spirit of Saul that is behind it. I believe God awakened me in the night to bring this message of warning to those that would receive it and learn from it. There is a rising of evil on the earth taking place. The enemy’s rage is increasing as the end of the age draws closer. How you react to it may just determine where you spend eternity. A Christian that withdraws and conforms to the world view may be greatly disappointed with their choice. However, standing up for the truth of God’s Word and proclaiming it boldly will certainly cause us to be persecuted. I will conclude today’s Bible message with these words from my Lord Jesus:
Mat 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 5:11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Mat 5:12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
I wanted to talk more about Satan’s perspective for persecution today but I will try my best (the LORD willing) to cover this part of the topic in the next lesson Part 2.
Thank you for reading and studying the Bible with me. I hope this word of warning given by the Lord Jesus will be taken to heart and it will help you to prepare for what is certainly coming. God bless you all very much and thank you for your prayers for me as I will continue to pray for you also.
If you would like to continue to read the next lesson in this series please click here “PART 2“