Submission and Obedience


"Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." II Timothy 3:12.

When I used to read the above verse and others that speak about persecution of believers, I questioned how that could ever happen in America. Our laws protected everyone's right to free speech and worship as they saw fit. Our Constitution affirmed them.

What little persecution I ever met was opposition in word only when I mentioned faith in Jesus or not wanting to participate in something because it violated my conscience and what God's word said I could or should do. I never lost a job or met with any sort of violence because I claimed Jesus as my Savior.

On the other hand, I had friends or read of others whose families disowned them when they gave their lives to Jesus. That separation was hurtful and not to be minimized, but they were isolated incidents, not cultural mandates.

Sadly, the day has come and is rushing on rapidly when Christianity in the real sense is confronting all sorts of discrimination and worse. The God Whom Americans once declared is our God has been relegated to non-existence in favor of evolution, science, tolerance of all religions EXCEPT Christianity, and an avowed desire to silence any and all things that speak about God and His laws, particularly Christian churches and believers.

Recognition of what is happening in today's culture heightens our need to prepare for being persecuted and for knowing how to face persecution when we encounter it. Believers in other parts of the world have endured suffering for their faith for a long time. We are most privileged not to have suffered for our faith until now. We cannot afford to wait until we are victims of persecution in some form before we decide what to do. We cannot afford to make a mistake that costs us or others our salvation!


As I write this, I am no more experienced in meeting persecution than you are. What follows, however, is truth from God's word that is essential to our standing for and with God when we are the underdogs. Therefore, before continuing this discussion, we must establish a ground rule. It is an absolute!

"And He (Jesus) said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the great and foremost commandment." Matthew 22:37.

Obedience to God must be our indisputable intention and our code of living the Christian life. It must rule our practices NOW if it is to be our standard THEN. He comes before any other person or authority. Our allegiance to Him is first. All our actions, words and postures must originate from His word and our total commitment to it and to Him.

The first of the Ten Commandments says that we are to love Him...God's definition or practice of love is very besmirched by today's utter disregard for morals and ethics toward other people and, most so, toward Him. True love, real love puts Him first and foremost before others or ourself. That is what He demands and commands. He is King and we are His royal subjects.

To truly love and obey Him, you must fear God with honor and respect. If you do not genuinely fear God and hold Him in holy awe, that is where you must begin your preparation. Obedience is the hallmark of Godly fear.

We must LOVE God from our whole being. No idols, nothing before Him. To break the first Commandment is to sin. For that matter, any breaking of a commandment is sin. So, we must be committed to obey His Word and His Spirit immediately, unquestioningly, and wholeheartedly.


"Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." Revelation 22:14.

Lest you recoil at the thought of being commanded to love God, note two things. First, the meaning of 'commandment' in the Old Testament was 'instruction.' A commandment stated an action on our part that brought and kept the observer in fellowship with God. Second, notice God's reciprocation of our love for Him: We are blessed when we do keep His commandments. He is not a ruthless tyrant demanding our affection. He longs for it, so He may pour out on us all the riches of His kingdom! We display and walk in our love for Him by keeping His commandments, and some of those commandments pertaining to persecution follow.

""Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." Matthew 28:20.

This verse brings down to earth even more what a great promise we have when we do all that Jesus and God the Father command us to do. He Himself in the promised Presence of the Holy Spirit is with us down to the wire! We are assured of His power on our behalf when we not only obey Him but also teach others to do the same. Our hope is founded in Him and all He has promised to those who obey Him.

"Whoever has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me. The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him." John 14:21.

Ultimately, we prove our love for God by keeping His commandments. They are sweet to us. They are life to us. They are our stability in times of upset and injustice. They are our 'north star' when the lines of where to walk are blurred. His word holds us steady and on course! Fear of God keeps us from disobedience and the awful separation from God that results from breaking His commandments. Sin separates!

There is one catch, however. You can't obey what you don't know. Within the Church there is a dearth of knowledge of God's Word. Now is the time to be a student of the Bible, so you know what He desires in and from us. What you hide of the Word in your heart now will be the well from which the Holy Spirit can draw the water of life when you are desperate and in need of guidance and strength during a time of persecution for your faith.

The two verses quoted above show us that we in our obedience prove our love for God: We obey Him out of love. The Pharisees kept the commandments, all 613 of them, from a heart of legalism. They memorized all the laws, they stringently observed them out of a "have to" mentality, but it was not love for God that incentivized their hearts. They were punitive toward others, proud of their 'holiness,' and they intimidated others to do the same. Jesus rebuked them more than once for their hypocritical spirit.


"Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Revelation 14:12.

What is so interesting about this verse is that obedience to God's commandments is made equal to patience. James, Jesus' half-brother and author of the Bible book by the same name, cited all our trials as being like engineers that build patience in us. Of course, that means as we walk in obedience through those trials, our faith in God and His deliverance in and through the trials strengthens our patience and readiness to obey Him with endurance.

After all, if we walk according to our wits, we take matters into our own hands when something doesn't happen as we expect or desire. We're unwilling to wait for God's timing. King Saul did that in I Samuel 13, when, impatient for the prophet Samuel's arrival, he offered a burnt offering and peace offerings in Samuel's stead. In verses 13-14 of that chapter, Samuel said to the King:

"You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you...but now your kingdom shall not endure. The LORD has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart...", and later he anointed David to be king over Israel.

When we live by the law of obedience, we abide by what His commandments say, no matter how long it takes or where it brings us...even if that place is to suffer or even die for Him! Our patience in waiting for God's commandment/promise to happen is called obedience. Read the verse below:

"So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the Testimony of Jesus." Revelation 12:17.

From the book of Revelation that deals with the very end of time and satan's rebellion against God, we see that our very obedience to God is what enrages the devil and his henchmen! We must be determined NOW to keep all of God's commandments even when our obedience makes certain individuals angry and they retaliate against us!


What also is important to note in the verse above is that no matter what satan did or does to those who love God, they continue to confess Jesus openly to their enemies, regardless of what their punishment or suffering includes.

"But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and governors for My name's sake. It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute." Luke 21:12-15.

Your testimony that you determine to hold to and to declare to others no matter what happens is an opportunity to present the Gospel to enemies who would not hear the truth any other way. Your steadfastness in the face of even awful torture or punishment will carry the power of God to your persecutors' hearts. You will give witness for the sake of God and His glory. The consistency of your life under trial plus your words can be the avenue of salvation to one or more of your persecutors!

Too lengthy to reprint here is Acts 6:8-7:1-53. It recounts Stephen's arrest and subsequent testimony before the mob and high court of Jewry. They saw his face shine like the face of an angel! And it was for Stephen that Jesus stood up from His throne to welcome him in his martyrdom as he rose in death to the heavenly realm.

"When they had driven him (Stephen) out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!' Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, 'Lord, do no hold this sin against them!' Having said this, he fell asleep." Acts 7:58.

Notice Stephen's heart of forgiveness toward his persecutors even as he was dying. Jesus said the same thing. When we are persecuted, God will give us the grace to love our enemies, too!

Witnessing Stephen's arrest, testimony and stoning was a zealous persecutor named Saul, who became the apostle Paul, writer of much of the New Testament! His salvation resulted from what Stephen said and did in the power of God's Spirit as he faced death for his faith. Persecution of a true believer bears the fruit of salvation in his enemies!


You say obedience is a drastic measure you cannot make. Actually, Jesus said:

"Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven...He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it." Matthew 10:32-33, 37-39.

If you back down on Jesus and deny Him as your Lord and King, He also will deny you. You will lose your salvation and spend eternity in hell. Moreover, your example of cowardice will wound and even cripple the faith of your family members and others who trust your witness and spirituality. They will likely follow your example and lose their souls, as well. Heaven is eternal, but remember that hell is, too! Your influence will decide more than your eternity!

"And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me." Matthew 11:6.

Take heart, fellow believer! Years ago while I stood in my kitchen, the Holy Spirit suddenly took me with Him to simultaneously visit every prison cell or other place in the world where people were suffering for Jesus' sake. God comforted each of them. Though it was a momentary experience, God showed me He will be with me--and you--when you suffer for Jesus' sake. When you face persecution and torture, He will be with you in His supernatural Presence! You will not be alone.

Obedience is not an option we have when we are being persecuted. As soldiers of faith, we need to be faithful, regardless of our circumstances. The prophet Ezekiel wrote quoting God's own voice:

"Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman...whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me. When I say to the wicked, 'You will surely die,' and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet if you have warned the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity: but you will have delivered yourself.

"Again, when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I place an obstacle before him, he will die; since you have not warned him, he shall die in his sin, and his righteous deeds which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand.

"However, if you have warned the righteous man that the righteous should not sin and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning: and you have delivered yourself." Ezekiel 3:17-21.

God has appointed His believers to be watchmen that warn the world of God's will and judgment against sin. If and when we come under dire persecution, even to the threatening of our very life or the life of a spouse or child if we don't recant, we dare not turn on God and give a false witness about our faith in Jesus and His salvation from sin. If we do, we will lose our soul and perish in hell forever. It's that clear. Those looking on, whether fellow believers or our persecutors, will lose their souls, as well, if they don't confess Jesus as Lord, but we shall bear the guilt of not being faithful in our witness before them and we will perish in hell, too.

Therefore, teach your family and even friends ahead of time that when push comes to shove, you will be faithful to your confession of Christ as your Savior and Lord, no matter what. Regardless of the threat made against you or them if you continue to follow Him, you intend to be true and faithful to Jesus. At a time like that, you must be!

"And when the Lamb opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony they had upheld." Revelation 6:9.

"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." Revelation 12:11.

When you give a solid confession of Jesus in the face of persecution, those you love will see your example, just as you promised, and you will be the one they can follow. Trust God that He will be faithful to them, as well as to you. If you set your will like a flint to do that NOW, you will not catch your loved ones by surprise when you do not deny Christ to save their skin or your own.

Likewise, you must stress to them that they must not deny Jesus to save your neck, if that is the choice persecutors give them. They, too, must stand for Jesus first and foremost, regardless of the cost.

Speaking of your family, what will you do if you are commanded to renounce Jesus or else see your loved one(s) put to death, tortured or starved? Will you protect them by turning on Jesus and denying Him? Possibly you've never given the question much thought, but it's time to right now.

Remember, God comes first before anyone else, including your spouse and family. As a lover of God, we put Him first, our family second and ourself last. Have you taught your family that truth? Have you forewarned them that in the case of your being forced to make a choice, you will choose God first, no matter what the second choice is?

It will not be an easy decision for you to make at the time it happens---if it does. Your spouse and children need to know ahead of time that if you must make a choice between being true to God or protecting them, you will put God first. If you have taught them that truth and live like you really believe it, you will have armed them properly. That it is critical to put God before anyone else is an important principle for them to follow, as well, even if you are the one who will be killed or tortured if they don't deny Jesus.

It is time to get your house in order. If you and your spouse and/or children have difficulties with communicating with each other, make an about-face and begin talking freely about this serious matter. Preparing them for how to respond in the face of persecution for the sake of the Gospel and God's name is the best way to start talking. It is the ethical thing to do. It is a moral thing for you to take care of and protect your loved ones. We're not discussing morals here. Ethics are distinctly different from morals. Ethics define allowable or expected actions or correct behavior. Ethics are not founded on emotion. In this case they stand on the commands of God and obeying them to the letter, no matter what! That being established, knowing God's commandments, you already know how you will respond when you are challenged to disobey God.

Here I am not saying you ought not protect your loved ones in danger. Always they are your responsibility. Shield them from harm as much as is possible, unless you are given the option of saving your life or theirs through giving up on Jesus by repealing your faith in Him.


Paul admonishes us to stand for and with God against wickedness. At times of persecution and extreme hardship, how can we expect to stand strong and faithful? In so doing we shall provoke animosity from those who hate God and holiness. We cannot afford to let down our guard for an instant, because satan looks for weakness in our will and character where he can penetrate and wound us fatally. In times of persecution he will weaponize choices between sparing our families and giving our own life for Jesus, pulling at our emotions to cause us to fail by denying Jesus. Our persecutors will be cruel and demeaning in an effort to make us compromise our faith in Him. It is for such times that God has equipped us with armaments.

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm." Ephesians 6:10-13.

"Put on" is an imperative statement that is a command. If you have not yet obeyed it, begin right now. It is impossible to stand against the devilish powers set against us if we depend on our own flesh to be victorious and do not live in obedience to God to the nth degree. Our real enemies in persecution will not be the people who come against us. Rather, it will be the demon forces of hell using people as their puppets. We need the full armor of God to be victorious over the evil forces while obeying God's commandments completely.

"Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints..." Ephesians 6:14-18.

As we regularly and faithfully saturate ourselves with God's word and prayer, we will be clothed with God's Spirit, who is the armor of God!


"But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you." Luke 6:27-31.

When His servants face persecution, God expects them to represent Him well. Remember that Jesus did not retaliate when He faced Pilate. In fact, when Peter cut off the ear of the high priest's servant, Malchus, in the Gethsemane arrest of Jesus, He healed the servant's ear and did not let the man suffer. God says, "Vengeance is Mine; I will repay." Romans 12:19. He cannot bless road-rage fits or calling our persecutor every vile name in the book---like so many people do each other on social media! He cannot countenance such wicked behavior!

You may say or at least think "My persecutor is a mean individual who doesn't deserve mercy or clemency." Jesus refuted such thinking when He said:

"The second (commandment) is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" Matthew 22:39.

What does it really mean when we love our neighbor as we love ourself? It's an explanation not easily lived sometimes. Let's look at it by turning the tables:

Suppose you are the persecutor and s/he is the one being persecuted for their love for God and His holy word. As the persecutor, you have never heard the Gospel of Jesus' death and resurrection for sinners. As persecutor, you don't even know what sin is. You have never sung a hymn, you have never heard a Gospel sermon, you have never set foot inside a church. No one ever told you God loved you or said they were praying for you. You, as persecutor, are the victim of a Godless society that hates religion called Christianity.

How do you think you would react if the person you were persecuting told you that God loves you...and so does s/he, the persecuted? If you've believed all your life that there's nothing to God and the supernatural, and then you see in the person you are wounding a distinct love for you yourself in spite of the cruel blows you give his body, what effect would that have on you?

Bring the text back to right now. In effect, you are living the Gospel before your persecutor's eyes. You sowed eyewitness truth and love into your persecutor's heart that the Holy Spirit can use to convict him of his need of a savior. He cannot avoid it.

Therefore, make up your mind right now that if and when you face someone that has unjust malice toward you and is in charge, you will love him or her as much as if it were you in their place. You will give that person the opportunity to give his heart to Jesus, as well, and know the salvation found in Him alone. That obedience is what Jesus intended when He gave us the Great Commandments quoted from Matthew.


Another aspect of persecution must be considered thoughtfully. Even Jesus warned the Jews of His day that when persecution became dire, they were to flee to another city to escape and hide. That plan works as long as you can trust the people around you. But what if...?

"...you will be betrayed by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, and you will be hated by all because of My name. Yet not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives." Luke 21:16-19.

When persecution becomes so severe that we must go into hiding, even our own family members or someone we consider to be a best friend might betray our whereabouts to save their own skin. We should not be surprised if and when that happens. Wounded, yes. Hurt? Probably. But recall that it was a close friend and confidant, His own disciple Judas, who identified Jesus to the mob by kissing His cheek. Betrayal will happen in the last days. Be ready for it to happen to you!


To make you back down from your faith in Jesus, the enemy will use the fear of authority or torture or even death once you are taken prisoner for questioning and even imprisonment. Satan's greatest weapon against believers is fear and intimidation. About fear Paul says:

"For God has not given us a spirit of timidity (fear), but of power and love and discipline." II Timothy 1:7

You may be afraid that if you're called to testify or defend yourself, you'll be tongue-tied and confused. But God will be with you. Recall the Scripture quoted earlier:

"But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and governors for My name's sake. It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute." Luke 21:12-15.

No matter how threatening your enemy may be and how scared you are, the Holy Spirit will give you exactly what you are to say even as you are speaking! God will give you the words and the right attitude with which to deliver your words. Do not fear your enemies, but rather the One who can condemn both body and soul to hell:

"Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell...so do not fear; you are more valuable that many sparrows." Matthew 10:26-29.

The days of persecution will be part of the degradation of the world society and culture leading up to a one-world government ruled by the Antichrist. In spite of peoples' rejection of Jesus, God will extend mercy to those who rebel against Him:

"And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; and he said with a loud voice, 'Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.'"

"...then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, 'If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they gave no rest day ad night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.'" Revelation 14:6-11.

With respect to persecution, a final option the enemy will give believers in the Last days is to worship a great leader who rises from nowhere to become the savior of the world at a time of chaos and confusion. God's word calls him the Antichrist. He will convincingly pose as Christ and insist on being worshipped. To proclaim one's obedience to that wish, every man, woman, boy and girl will have to take some sort of chip or other technological device by which their every move and business transaction will be monitored and even permitted. The Bible calls it the mark of the Beast that will identify them as a follower of the devil, the Antichrist. Once a person receives that mark, whatever it is, they are doomed to eternity in hell. Taking the mark seals their fate forever.

So, again, consider this: even if you or your family will not be allowed to buy food or hold a job without the mark, do not consider for one minute taking the mark to save your family or yourself. The world at large will try to persuade and coerce you to take the mark and you will be called all sorts of names when you refuse. Persecution will be intense and relentless to wear down your resistance. God will strengthen you, using the words of the Bible already hidden in your heart as protection and strength for you to stand on. Remember, taking the mark of the Beast is equal to turning on Jesus and putting your trust in a false god. Once taken, you will not be able to reverse the action. You will perish eternally!


This has been a lengthy warning, but it is so necessary. Remember to fear God by keeping His commandments and obeying Him carefully and completely. Obeying God comes before any other action you may take. Prepare your family and close friends to obey Him, too, and that you expect them to obey God first, as well. Hide God's word in your heart to fortify your heart in times of persecution. Obedience is perseverance. Do not be afraid if and when your suffer for Jesus' sake. He will be with you in the hour of trials and temptation to quit. Determine now to stand for Him then! God bless you!

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Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®
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