“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like unto whitewashed sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outwardly but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.“ – Matthew 23:27
Most believers in Jesus Christ are well aware of the fact that if we are truly living for God and pursuing a godly life, the unbelievers and the evil world system will persecute us. This type of persecution doesn’t usually take us by surprise. But when the persecution comes from within the Church and our own Christian brethren, it can be devastating. Oftentimes we stand in amazement and even shock. We reason to ourselves, “How can someone who professes to be a Christian be so cruel, judgmental or hateful towards another brother or sister in Christ?” Furthermore, this kind of attack is even more devastating when it comes from a pastor or other religious leader.
If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you.
“Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my teaching, they will keep yours also. “ – John 15:20
No matter how much it might hurt to be persecuted, misunderstood or even maligned by your own Christian brethren, we must remember that Jesus experienced the same. So many of the “religious types” were opposed to His teachings and godly example. Instead of praising Messiah Jesus for teaching the truth and exposing religious error, many of the Jews turned on Him. They went out of their way to oppose Him and discredit Him. They slandered His ministry and accused Him of serving the devil (Beelzebub).
The majority of the Jewish religionists that Jesus confronted with the truth of the gospel and His Messiahship didn’t want to hear Him because they were evil and religious hypocrites. Jesus described the religious leaders and the people who were following these blind leaders of the blind as “white-washed tombs.” They appeared righteous on the outside, but their hearts were full of deceit, hypocrisy, lust, and all manner of wickedness.
Modern Day Pharisees
Sadly, the Christian churches today are full of the same religious hypocrites and white-washed tombs (you know who you are). Many will write me hateful emails for speaking the truth. These modern-day Pharisee are always busy doing the work of their father the devil instead of the work of Christ. They love to criticize instead of encourage, to tear down instead of build up. They attend our Christian churches and prayer meetings right alongside of us, but they are not our true brethren. They are imposters that Satan has planted within the church – whited tombs which appear to be beautiful and attractive on the outside, yet filled with foulness and corruption inside. The “act” they put on in church is only a pretense; their religious appearance is only a mask that conceals their spiritual blindness. They are the “Tares” that Jesus spoke about in Matthew 13:40-43. He said these Tares would grow among the Wheat. But in the end, they would be plucked-up and thrown into the fire to be burnt.
“As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” – Matthew 13:40-43
The Lord Jesus shares the pain of the righteous.
When you’re persecuted for righteousness by religious hypocrites, remember that Satan and his followers (within the Church) delight to persecute those who truly love the Lord Jesus Christ and follow His principles of truth and righteous living. Stand firm in your commitment to God; persecution is a sure indication that you’re on the right track and living a life that God is well pleased with. Commit your hurt, pain and suffering to Him who judges justly.
“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” – 1 Peter 2:23
Finally, do not forget that the Lord Jesus loves and cares for you deeply, and shares your pain. We have a sympathetic High Priest who Himself experienced the same religious persecution, trials and tribulations (Hebrews 4:15). Go to Him in prayer and you will receive grace, mercy, strength and comfort to help you cope and remain victorious.
– Pastor Luis Yosefus