Do Not Be Offended By Persecution

From The Heart

Publish date: 07/18/2010

“I have told you all these things, so that you should not be offended (taken unawares and falter, or be caused to stumble and fall away). [I told you to keep you from being scandalized and repelled.] 2 They will put you out of (expel you from) the synagogues; but an hour is coming when whoever kills you will think and claim that he has offered service to God. 3 And they will do this because they have not known the Father or Me.”  John 16:1-3 AMP
After Jesus has told His disciples “all these things” in John chapters 14 & 15, He tells them, in the opening verses of John 16, that He told them “all these things” so that they would not be offended by the persecution which would inevitably come. He had started off in John 14:1 AMP by exhorting them with these words, “Do not let your hearts be troubled (distressed, agitated). You believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely on God; believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely also on Me.”  
His emphasis is on trusting the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit because they will protect and provide for you–spirit, soul and body–always–no matter what you are going through. He talks to them–and us–to focus us on God and His Word and not what we are experiencing in the flesh. He talks about Himself–the Way, the Truth and the Life; about the Father–if you have seen Me you have seen the Father; about praying to the Father in Jesus’ Name; about the Comforter and Helper–the Holy Spirit–who would be in you and with you and never leave you; about what was to come–His death–the laying down of His life and returning to the Father; about the importance, and also the benefits, of obedience and keeping His commandments; about how they–and we–would be witnesses of Jesus and everything He did and said; about the persecution that would result from our commitment to Him and our preaching of the Word.
Jesus told them, “If the world hates you, know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you belonged to the world, the world would treat you with affection and would love you as its own. But because you are not of the world [no longer one with it], but I have chosen (selected) you out of the world, the world hates (detests) you. 20 Remember that I told you, A servant is not greater than his master [is not superior to him]. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word and obeyed My teachings, they will also keep and obey yours. 21 But they will do all this to you [inflict all this suffering on you] because of [your bearing] My name and on My account, for they do not know or understand the One Who sent Me.” (John 15:18-21 AMP)
Persecution will inevitably come to the child of God, who walks in obedience to His will and His Word. Jesus warns us about it so that we are not surprised and especially so that we are not offended by it. The Greek word translated “offended” in John 16:1 is “skandalizo”, which means “to stumble, to cause one to begin to distrust and to desert the one whom he ought to trust and obey.”

It doesn’t take much to offend some people. The devil has a real easy time with people who are not deeply connected into the Word of God–they immediately blame God, instead of the devil, for the discomfort they experience when the persecution starts. Mark 4:16-18 AMP says, “And in the same way the ones sown upon stony ground are those who, when they hear the Word, at once receive and accept and welcome it with joy; 17And they have no real root in themselves, and so they endure for a little while; then when trouble or persecution arises on account of the Word, they immediately are offended (become displeased, indignant, resentful) and they stumble and fall away.”   
Matthew 13:21 AMP says about the man who is not solid in the Word of God, that, “when affliction or trouble or persecution comes on account of the Word, at once he is caused to stumble [he is repelled and begins to distrust and desert Him Whom he ought to trust and obey] and he falls away.” The devil uses persecution at every level to cause people to back away from God and the Truth. Even the disciples were scattered, scared and tempted to deny Jesus when He was arrested. Jesus forewarned them in Matthew 26:31-34 NIV: Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: “’I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” 33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” 34 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
The first purpose of persecution is to get you to get mad at God and mad at the Word of God so that you will cut yourself off from God and backslide. Jesus said, in Matthew 24:9-10 AMP, “Then they will hand you over to suffer affliction and tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended and repelled and will begin to distrust and desert [Him Whom they ought to trust and obey] and will stumble and fall away and betray one another and pursue one another with hatred.”
The second purpose of persecution is to get you to get mad at your fellow Christians and even to betray them and to turn around and persecute them along with the ungodly. There are many people who will do anything to someone else if they think it will save their own skin. They would throw their own family “under the bus” to prevent any discomfort from coming their way.
It is only those who know their God and know His Word; who have committed their lives into His hands; who have given up–lost–their own lives and found His; who trust God with their life; who can say with Paul, “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain”; who will be willing to endure the hardships of persecution for the joy of what lies before them.
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.  Matthew 10:22 KJV