I will be completely honest. I pray for the strength to stand in opposition to Satan. I do not want to love this life or this host body so much that I am willing to choose either over my testimony for Christ. I'm sure every Christian in this country put themselves in the place of those faithful souls in Oregon who did not deny their Savior in favor of saving themselves. I ask myself, "Could I have proclaimed my allegiance to Him when faced with certain death"? Could you?
But when I look in the mirror, is my profession of faith as sincere and genuine as that of the saints in the Middle East who are being martyred for refusing to convert to Islam? Their stories are almost too difficult to read. We hear of torture and beheadings and rapes and crucifixions... all because they are Christians who will not deny their faith. The brutality seems unreal to our Western minds; as if we are reading some ancient text of uncivilized barbarians. Yet, we must not turn away or refuse to acknowledge that 21st Century Christians are facing such opposition from Satan and his earthly soldiers. We must prepare ourselves to share our "testimony" in our hour of need, because I fear it is coming faster than we think.
We must not take lightly that the Oregon shooter was obsessed with Satan; or that he wished to "serve the darkness"; or that he stated that he "would be welcomed in hell and embraced by the devil." He is no different than satan's workers in Syria who recently cut off the fingertips of a boy and severely beat him, telling his father they would stop the torture only if he, the father, returned to Islam." The father was a ministry leader who had planted nine churches near their Syrian village, and when he refused, militants also tortured and beat him, and two other ministry workers. The three men and the boy then met their deaths in crucifixion.
But their martyrdom is not an isolated case. There are reports that nearly 11,000 people have been executed since June 2014. And their stories are far too common ... villagers praying in the name of Jesus; others praying the Lord’s Prayer; others lifting their heads to commend their spirits to Jesus. Many of the women are sold into sex slave markets, while the men are slaughtered in front of their families. I know that sounds too diabolical to happen on our soil, but before last week could you have imagined a demon-filled man asking students in a classroom if they were Christian before shooting them in the head?
I am not writing this blog post to sensationalize these atrocities. It is essential that we realize that Christianity is very near to being wiped out in Syria, and we must not be so naive as to think that satan will be satisfied with that single accomplishment. He has many instruments at his disposal. Those who adhere to radical Islam and Shariah law are threatening not only the Middle East, but Europe, and our own country. But he has also managed to infiltrate the minds of delusional people through drugs, music, and the occult. And sadly, our culture chooses to remove the Ten Commandments from the public square, while allowing Satanic Temples equal access to "believers".
So, while I am warning you that persecution is on the rise, and very likely coming to a neighborhood near you -- and sooner than you'd like to admit -- we are not to cower in a corner and hope it passes by us. We have examples before us; not only the martyrs of the Bible, but modern-day saints who suffered so that they might glorify the name of Jesus. There is power in their personal sacrifice and testimony ... Power to testify to the grace of God; the power of Christ that is made perfect in our weakness; and the power of Christ's blood that was shed for us that we, too, might rise again --- all signifying utter and complete and absolute defeat for Satan!
Never for a moment think that he is winning. We must look upon all opposition as an opportunity to stand and to glorify our Lord. Satan may come to steal, kill, and destroy, but Christ has come to give us eternal life and it is abundantly superior to anything that satan offers. Now is the time for us to build a strong foundation of faith on which to stand in our hour of trial, knowing that we can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us. I have a feeling that when the moment comes, He will be holding our mortal bodies up and we will feel His arms around us, as our spirit returns Home. That is not a day to fear. Rather, we are to strain forward for what lies ahead, pressing towards our goal of eternal life with our Savior. If martyrdom is the path I am to take, let me approach it with utter devotion to Christ and with the knowledge that Satan has met defeat.
Acts 7:55, 59: But he [Stephen], being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God .... And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”