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Bible verses about Struggle for the Truth
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Matthew 5:10-12

This beatitude presents us with yet another paradox. The other beatitudes show that a Christian can be filled with a joy that he cannot fully express, yet lament over things that the carnal consider as insignificant. He has a deep and abiding sense of satisfaction, yet groans daily and sincerely. His life-experiences are often painful, yet he would not part with them for the great wealth, acclaim, and ease that the world offers. Though the world exalts those filled with pride, self-esteem, and assertiveness, God exalts the humble and meek. The world displays its approval for war-makers by giving them ticker-tape parades, putting them into high office, and remembering their achievements by naming streets, cities, parks, and schools after them—yet God blesses peacemakers. In line with these other paradoxes, this last Beatitude also states a paradox: All we receive for well-doing is to earn the antipathy of our fellow men.

We need to understand the connection between righteousness and persecution because not every sufferer or even every sufferer of religious persecution suffers for righteousness' sake. Many suffer persecution for zealously holding fast to what is clearly a false religion. Often, a rival religious group or civil authority—just as ignorant of God's truth—are the persecutors. At any given time, persecutions of one form or another are taking place. In the recent past the Japanese persecuted the Koreans, the Chinese, and the Nepalese. In Africa, the Moslem Sudanese are persecuting nominal Christians, while in Europe, the Slavic Eastern Orthodox are persecuting Moslem Kosovars. In the history of man, this familiar beat of persecution continues endlessly with nary a connection to righteousness.

Some people become victims of their own character flaws and personality disorders. They foolishly take comfort in Matthew 5:10-12, claiming persecution when others merely retaliate against their displays of evil speaking, haughtiness, or self-centeredness. Such people are just reaping what they have sown.

Psalm 119:172 says, "My tongue shall speak of Your word; for all Your commandments are righteousness." This is a simple, straightforward definition of righteousness. It is rectitude, right doing. God's commands thus describe how to live correctly. They teach us how to conduct relationships with Him and fellow man. This beatitude is written about those who are truly doing this. They will receive persecution because they are living correctly—not because they have irritated or infuriated others through their sins or because they belong to another political party, religion, or ethnic group.

Does anything illustrate the perversity of human nature clearer than this? We might think that one could hardly be more pleased than to have neighbors who are absolutely trustworthy; who will not murder, commit adultery or fornication, steal, lie, or covet one's possessions; who rear respectful children; who are an asset to the neighborhood; who so respect God they will not even use His name in vain; who submit to the civil laws and do not even flaunt the codes and covenants of the neighborhood.

However, this description does not mention the relationship to God that really brings the persecution. These are things moral people of this world might do, yet they lack the true God in their lives and are not regenerated by His Spirit. An element of righteousness is still missing. Paul writes in Romans 8:14-17:

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by which we cry out, "Abba, Father." The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

The source of true persecution is Satan, and his target is God. Satan not only hates God, but he also hates all who bear His holy image in them by means of His Spirit. Satan works in and through people just as God does, and he incites them to do all in their power to vilify, destroy the reputation of, put fear in, or discourage God's children to cause their disqualification. He will do anything to get us to retaliate as worldly people do, because then we would display Satan's image rather than Jesus Christ's. Satan knows those who have the Spirit of God, and just as he tempted Jesus, he will also single out His brothers and sisters for persecution.

The righteousness needed to resist these pressures and respond in a godly manner goes far beyond that of a merely moral person. This righteousness requires that one be living by faith minute by minute, day by day, week by week, month by month, and year by year. It is a righteousness that is ingrained into a person's very character because he knows God. He is intimately acquainted with Him and His purpose rather than merely believing academically that He exists.

Following on the heels of this beatitude is another statement by Jesus on righteousness: "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:20). He focuses on a righteousness that is not merely legal, resulting from God graciously justifying us by Christ's blood, but one inculcated within the heart and mind by constantly living God's way. Such a person's righteousness comes through sanctification. He is striving to keep all the commandments of God, not merely those having to do with public morality. He has made prayer and study a significant part of each day, along with occasional fasting to assist in keeping humble. He is well on his way toward the Kingdom of God.

These are not normally things that one does publicly; his neighbors may never know much of this person's life. Nonetheless, Satan knows, and this person's living faith will attract Satan's persecution, the Devil's attempts to derail him from making it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part 8: Blessed Are the Persecuted


 

Matthew 6:30

This verse really gets down to the nitty-gritty of daily living. What is Christ saying? We have to live our lives, working, saving, paying bills, buying food and clothing—all of those things that occupy our time virtually every day. What is He trying to encourage us to do? Look to the end! He says, "Don't get so bound up and distracted by the struggle of daily life."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Guard the Truth!


 

Matthew 11:12

Christ was perhaps recalling His wrestling match with Jacob, centuries earlier, when He commented that "the violent take [the Kingdom] by force". J. B. Phillips has it: "The Kingdom of heaven has been taken by storm and eager men and forcing their way into it." It takes sweat.

Charles Whitaker
The Israel of God


 

Matthew 11:12

The Kingdom of God will be the recipient of slings and arrows and wars and temptations, and its own people will need to be violent in return. He means "forceful." It will take a titanic struggle to enter it because so many things are acting against us. Jesus warns us it will not be easy. We are going to have to work vigorously and "violently" at times, to force ourselves to do what is right, because the Kingdom of God is now under siege in so many ways. Therefore, we have to fight as warriors in battle and violently engage the enemy.

From John 17:11-18, we know that the Kingdom functions in the world, and Jesus is not going to take us out of it. But He asks His Father to give us His protection from the Evil One so that we can at least have that added strength. We must constantly deal with the world, human nature, and the Evil One himself, as well as his demons.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Parables of Matthew 13 (Part 2): Leaven


 

Galatians 6:16

Characteristically, God's true church is a spiritual organism whose members, with God's help, will ultimately prevail over their own sinful natures, over the world, and over Satan. The Israel of God, like Jacob, prevails with God. Christ certainly remembered His wrestling match with the unrelenting Jacob when He inspired Paul to call His church "the Israel of God."

Charles Whitaker
The Israel of God


 

Galatians 6:16

As members of the God Family—children of God, we will be God, ruling as He would rule. Spiritually speaking, we will be the kings God promised would descend from Jacob (Genesis 35:12). Yes, Israel is an apt designation for God's church; the Israel of God will rule as God.

Viewed in the present tense or in the future, we in the true Israel of God have a great deal in common with our patriarch Jacob. Like him, we will eventually have a new name (Revelation 3:12). Like him, we struggle to overcome. And like him, those who remain faithful among us will someday prevail, qualifying to rule as God—princes forever with Him.

Charles Whitaker
The Israel of God


 

Philippians 3:12-15

Though Paul urges us on to perfection, he was admittedly not completely there himself. He struggled to leave the past in the past and pursue the future. He shows that part of the process is maintaining a perfect attitude—a mind ready, willing and seeking after the prize of the high calling of Christ.

Martin G. Collins
Basic Doctrines: Going On to Perfection


 

Philippians 3:12-14

Clearly, Paul was not perfected at the time he wrote this, and neither have we been perfected as we read it. But God in His merciful grace has judged and now "sees" us as He would see Jesus Christ in order to give us time to become perfected through being created in His image.

Paul expresses His determination to do whatever it takes to attain this glorious goal. It is interesting that "laid hold" (verse 12) more literally means "grabbed." It is almost as if Christ grabbed him by the scruff of the neck out of the herd of humanity, jerking him out to be perfected and become an apostle. At the very least, this suggests God will take determined, even stern measures to give us this wonderful opportunity. In no way is He passively just letting things happen as He observes His creation, and Paul reflects the same sense of strenuous action to fulfill his part.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Nine): Conclusion (Part Two)


 

1 Timothy 6:11-12

Flee from these vain arguments and attitudes! Press on for righteousness! The Greek literally reads, "agonize the good agony" through the struggles involved in a Christian life (verse 12).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Guard the Truth!


 

Jude 1:3

Following his opening, he begins his letter by saying, "I really wanted to write something theological to you, something about our salvation, but this matter came up, and I feel that it is more necessary to write to you about this more pressing problem."

In the strongest possible terms, he tells them to fight, to strive, to struggle for the truth as it had been given to them by the apostles, who in turn had been taught by Christ Himself. The word translated "contend earnestly," epagonizomai, is very interesting and picturesque. We have a word in English that derives from its root: "agony." Epagonizomai means literally "to agonize about," thus "to contest" or "to contend." It describes the efforts of an athlete to win his particular competition in the midst of the games, whether it was running, javelin throwing, discus, or whatever the particular sport. An athlete who is truly devoted and focused on winning gives his every ounce of strength to come out on top. Jude uses epagonizomai to demonstrate how we should be exerting ourselves in keeping the truth pure and practicing it. It suggests a person straining for all he is worth to ensure the faith's purity in both its principles and practices. This struggle is hard and painful at times—sometimes even deadly—but the truth is that important to God and to our brethren, the church.

Jude also affirms in this verse that the truth we need for salvation has already been given once for all. This is a very important distinction because it lays the foundation for what he writes later. The truth was given—and that is that! There is no continuing revelation, no evolution of truth. It was closed by the passing of the apostles, specifically the Twelve.

We could paraphrase this with, "Beware of those who say they have 'new' truth." Refinements of or gleaning deeper meanings from an "old truth" are fine, but claims of new truth should raise red flags. They should sound sirens and flash lights in our mind. The truth, the faith, has been delivered once for all. We should cling for all we are worth to the Scriptures and should not listen to those who claim to have special revelation. The Bible should always be the basis of our belief in anything spiritual. If a teaching does not square with the Bible, we should reject it; anything contrary to the faith once delivered should be thrown out as soon as possible.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Jude


 

 




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