Working All Things Together for Good

Hated and Persecuted
John 15:18-19 ESV

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

If the world (including the worldly church) hates (despises, rejects, sins against, persecutes, mistreats, abuses, falsely accuses, and/or harasses) you because you are following Jesus Christ with your life and you are doing what he says to do, then know that it hated Jesus before it hated you. And he was sinless and absolutely perfect and he did clearly no wrong to anyone and yet he was hated and harassed and falsely accused and put to death.

And who did Jesus mean by the world? Who were his greatest persecutors? They were the Jews, though not all of them, and they were the religious who appeared righteous on the outside while they were full of wickedness in their hearts. And they were leaders and rulers in the temple of God who were learned in the Scriptures and who taught the Scriptures, so this would be equivalent to pastors and elders in the gatherings of the church today.

And who else was against him? His brothers definitely were, so even his own family members who were members of his own household were against him, and they were against the things that he did and taught, too. And he said that if we follow him with our lives that our enemies will also be the members of our own households, and they will be the people of our own communities and they will be others professing faith in God/Christ, too.

So, it should not surprise us if even those of our own families, or those of our own communities, or those who also profess faith in Jesus Christ will hate, reject, ostracize, abandon, speak evil against, slander, sin against and turn against us because of our walks of obedience to our Lord Jesus, and even behind our backs while they speak well of us to our faces. Yes, they may speak one way to us in person, and speak badly about us to others.

[Matt 5:10-12; Matt 10:16-25; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 6:22-23; Lu 21:12-19; John 15:1-21; Jn 16:33; Ac 14:22; Rom 5:3-5; Phil 3:7-11; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 1 Pet 4:12-17; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; 2 Co 1:3-11; Heb 12:3-12]

Are You His Servant?
John 15:20-21 ESV

“Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.”

I know that doesn’t sound very encouraging, and it is not pleasant to be treated in this manner, especially if due to no fault of your own. But when we choose to follow Jesus Christ with our lives it means denial of self and daily dying with him to sin (and to self) and following him in obedience. And so it also means sharing in the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. For Satan is against us who follow Christ with our lives.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; Eph 4:17-24; Eph 6:10-20; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15; 1 Pet 2:24; Rom 12:1-2; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23]

Now, as servants of the Lord, which is what we are if we are his true followers (disciples), we are to be following Jesus in obedience, but we are also to be following his example to us in how to live our lives. And we are to be doing and saying the kinds of things which he did and said. And we should especially be sharing the gospel which he taught, and which his New Testament apostles taught, and with people all over the world.

[1 Pet. 2:9; 1 Pet. 2:21; Matt. 5:13-16; Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Acts 26:18; Rom. 10:14-15; Jn. 4:31-38; Jn. 13:13-17; Jn. 14:12; 1 Jn. 2:6]

So, when this says here that “If they kept my word, they will also keep yours,” for us it is not putting our own words equal with God’s. It is assuming here that we are speaking the words of God as taught in the Scriptures and as taught by Jesus and as taught us by the New Testament apostles. It is just saying that if we are following Jesus with our lives and if we are teaching what he taught that we will be treated as he was treated.

Those who truly accept the teachings of Christ, in their fulness, and who accept the teachings of the New Testament apostles, in their full context, and who apply these teachings to their lives, will also accept what we teach if we are teaching the same things. But those who cherry-pick the Scriptures they like and who reject the ones they don’t like will also reject us if we teach the whole counsel of God.

According to the Will of God
Romans 8:26-28 ESV

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

So, when we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ to follow him in his ways and we do as he says, and we say what his word teaches, we can expect to be hated and persecuted by those who are not following Jesus with their lives, but perhaps not so much by the world which makes no profession of faith in Christ but by those professing faith in Jesus but who are still living for the flesh, walking in sin, and disobeying the Lord’s commands.

For they have adopted a cheap form of God’s grace into their lives so that they can continue in their sins now without guilt and without remorse. And so they don’t want to hear messages about repentance and obedience and walks of holiness and righteousness. They want to believe that God is okay with them continuing in deliberate and habitual sin, because they want to believe that is what God’s grace is all about.

But we can be encouraged because Jesus was treated in the same way, and worse than many of us are being treated. And we can be encouraged because we don’t have to go this alone with no one on our side, for God is on our side if we are obeying him, and the Spirit helps us in our weakness when we don’t know what to pray, and the Spirit intercedes for us according to the will of God. Amen! That is so encouraging!

And we can know that for those who love God (who obey him) all things work together for good, for those of us who are called according to his purpose. And what is his purpose? It is that we should die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. And it is that we should walk in holiness and in righteousness in obedience to our Lord. So, even though people will hate and persecute us, our Lord receives us and he is working all these things together for our good and for the salvation of human lives.

[1 Pet 2:24; Rom 6:1-23; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rom 1:6-7; 1 Co 1:9; 1 Co 3:17; Gal 5:13-21; Eph 1:3-4; Eph 2:10; Eph 5:27; Col 1:22; Col 3:12; 1 Thess 4:7; 2 Tim 1:8-9; 2 Tim 2:21; 1 Pet 1:13-16; 1 Pet 2:5-9,24; 2 Pet 1:3]

Does Jesus Care?
1 Peter 5:7

Lyrics by Frank E. Graeff, 1901
Music by Joseph L. Hall, 1901

Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth or song,
As the burdens press, and the cares distress,
And the way grows weary and long?

Does Jesus care when my way is dark
With a nameless dread and fear?
As the daylight fades into deep night shades,
Does He care enough to be near?

Oh, yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares.

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