The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here.
So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes,
and put on the shining armor of right living.
Western Christianity has gotten too comfortable. All through Church history, and even now, thousands, even millions of Christians have been, and are being martyred for Christ. Many Western Christians will boldly proclaim that they too, would gladly lay down their lives for Jesus. Yet how many have counted the cost? How many have examined and know what is really hidden in their hearts?
Think of how Peter told Jesus to His face without hesitation that he would go to prison for Him, and even die for Him (see Luke chapter 22), but Jesus already knew what was really in Peter’s heart. Peter wasn’t really prepared to suffer so for his Master. Jesus even told him exactly what he would do. We find over in Matthew’s Gospel that Peter, even being told he would later that night deny that he even knew Jesus three times, still vowed that he would not do such a thing. All the other disciples also vowed they wouldn’t deny Jesus.
However Peter did indeed deny Jesus three times, just as Jesus had told him. And all the other disciples fled in fear.
Jesus knew. He knew His disciples weren’t really ready to suffer for Him yet. They weren’t prepared to. And they didn’t have the indwelling Holy Spirit to help them, yet, either.
Modern, Western Christianity is largely unprepared to suffer for Christ, too, even though proclamations saying otherwise are being made. There certainly are those believers that are walking closely enough with their Lord to do so – I’m by no means saying no one is prepared. I’m saying most are not. Most are unprepared. Most do not spend enough time in the secret place with the Lord, and do not abide in Christ as He would have them to. And there are many that have quenched and grieved the Holy Spirit in their lives to the point that they are unable to receive direction from Him, let alone to be empowered to be bold witnesses for Christ, or endure suffering for Him. Most are too busy being entertained by the false gods and idols of the world to really hear His voice.
Today’s modern, lukewarm ‘Christianity’ has become heavily diluted, compromised, apathetic, and downright apostate. Much of it can be traced back to the false Pre-Tibulational rapture doctrine and it’s implications. So many of the Christians who subscribe to the Pre-Trib view are expecting that they won’t have to suffer much for Jesus…especially not having to die for Him.
It’s a lot easier to say you’d die for Jesus when you don’t really expect to be put in a situation that might call for it, isn’t it?
But as serious as this is, a more pressing issue, and the reason for this devotional, is the fact that there are many Christians saying they’d die for Jesus physically…but yet they won’t die for Him spiritually by dying to themselves, taking up their cross daily and truly following Him – obedience is looked at by so many as legalism. Crucifying the flesh? Most won’t do it. Ridding the world’s idols from their homes and lives? Most of them refuse to acknowledge the idolatry that has crept into their homes via television, music, and other modes and means of entertainment.
How is it someone can say they’ll gladly be martyred for Christ when they won’t even cut the cancer of filthy television shows out of their lives? When they won’t flush the deadly toxins of secular music out of their ears, minds and hearts? Especially when removing such worldly noise will greatly improve your spiritual health and help you to grow in the Lord and hear His voice more clearly!
The time may well come when you’ll have to choose to die for Christ by giving up your physical life. And it’s important to prepare yourself spiritually and mentally for that fact – don’t bury your head in the sand and pretend it’s not possible. But remember all throughout Church history many, many saints have been martyred for Christ. They considered it an honour – and it is. To die for Christ is a noble thing, actually the best way to leave this world, and the saints of old were right to rejoice that they were counted worthy to suffer so for Jesus.
But in the mean time it’s important to daily die to self. It’s important to abide in Christ and deepen our walk with Him so we will be all the more ready, willing, and eager to meet Him when the appointed time comes. That means it’s critically important to obey Him, spend time in His presence, pray and seek His face. It’s critically important to shun all sin and worldliness, because these things hinder your walk with Christ. It’s critically important to make sure that Jesus is Lord of your life…of all of it…and that there are no altars to false gods and idols in your heart or home.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.