The tongue is a small but powerful muscle and an essential tool in spreading the gospel! Tweet this! In fact, Proverbs 18:21 tells us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Our words carry the power to bring death or life, especially when it comes to preaching the good news of Jesus Christ. The devil wants to shut us up. All the more reason to know what to do with our mouths when we face persecution! Here are three ways we can defy the devil with our tongues.
Three Ways to Defy the Devil with Our Tongues
1. Speak! Do not keep silent.
When the Jews oppose Paul in Corinth in Acts chapter eighteen, the Lord speaks to him in the night by a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city” (verses 9-10).
The Lord has people for us to reach with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ words apply to us just as much as they do to Paul. We cannot keep silent! And like Paul, we can know that no harm will come to us until our hour has come. Paul could go forward in his assignment knowing God would accomplish through him what he had for him to do, and so can we.
Jesus was with Paul, and He is with us. We have the power of the Holy Spirit, and because we do, we don’t even have to worry ahead of time what we will say. Our only job is to open our mouths and speak the words He gives us “in that very hour” (Luke 12:12). Tweet this!
2. Confess Jesus! Boldly proclaim His name from the platform persecution provides. Tweet this!
Persecution gives us a platform from which to proclaim the name of Jesus. When the high priest imprisons the apostles in Acts chapter five, an angel of the Lord opens the prison doors, brings them out, and instructs them: “Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life” (verse 20). They were given a platform from which to speak words of life. In Acts 16:25, Paul and Silas are in prison praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners are listening to them. In that moment, their prison is their platform.
When threatened, we cannot be ashamed of the gospel of Christ, “for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16). Tweet this! Therefore, we must “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:15-17). Tweet this!
The gospel is our unshakable hope. There’s no room for shame in our game when the stakes are eternal. Tweet this! No matter what happens, we must speak words of life, for Jesus warns: “Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33).
3. Praise! Offer the sacrifice of praise to God.
This goes back to the scripture we opened our series with (see Unshakable Hope in the Face of Persecution) the first time Jesus uses the word persecuted in the New Testament. Do you remember what He said? “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12).
If we adopt Jesus’ perspective on persecution, we see ourselves as blessed, and our response is to rejoice and be exceedingly glad! Tweet this! James instructs us to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4).
Trials test our faith, and it is through the testing of our faith that God completes His work in and through us. Tweet this! That work, as we’ve seen throughout our series, is for the benefit of others. Paul says it like this: “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24). Paul understands that suffering is an extension of the persecution of Christ for the sake of His body, the church – children of God anointed and appointed to continue His work here on earth – and he rejoices! Tweet this!
Let us do as Hebrews 13:12-16 instructs:
Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
Praise Jesus, because no matter what happens, He will make known to you the way of life and will fill you with joy in His presence (Acts 2:25-28). Tweet this! Therefore, as Peter insists:
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter (1 Peter 4:12-16).
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15). We must bring glad tidings of good things regardless of the risk. We must risk faith, and we may have to risk our lives, and even our lifestyles. We’ll see what the Bible has to teach us about risk in our next blog.
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Lord, by Your grace, Your holy influence on our souls, give us the boldness to proclaim Your truth whenever, wherever, and to whomever You ask. Praise is ever on our lips as we embrace You as our strength, hope, and source of joy. Use us according to Your perfect will as we become more wholly Yours.
FOR THOUGHT AND DISCUSSION:
1. Acts 18:9-10 says, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city” (verses 9-10). When persecuted, our first instinct may be to shut up and lay low. Go unnoticed so we’re not targeted. Yet, clearly scripture tells us to speak! What does this scripture tell us that can be our source of courage?
2. In Romans 1:16, Paul proclaims, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” If we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, we have been entrusted with the gospel. According to this scripture, why should we not be ashamed? What do we have to offer others and what happens if we let threats silence us?
3. First Peter 4:12-13 exhorts, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” Trials should not surprise us, as we are guaranteed a share in the suffering of Christ. What reason does this scripture give us to rejoice?