READ: Psalm 25, Isaiah 34-36, John 18, Acts 4
A favorite tactic of the devil is to use fear to shut the mouths of Christians. Our enemy will issue threats from multiple sources in his repeated attempts to limit our verbal witness of Christ. Satan is more concerned about muzzling verbal witness than acts of compassion, because acts without words can be interpreted by the receiver as they wish. Clear, bold, unapologetic pointing to Jesus as the only means of salvation cannot be otherwise understood.
The scriptures give us very clear instruction when we are threatened:
1. Don’t dignify the threat by responding to it. Isaiah 36:21 relates the story of Sennacherib’s threats against the Lord. God’s people “held their peace and answered him not a word.” We have often received threats in the Arab world by phone, by text, in person. Our first response is to not respond, to not be blackmailed, to not change anything about who we are or what we do. We move on in life as if the threat does not exist. Bullies hate to be ignored.
2. Defuse the threat by becoming more bold. In Acts 4 Peter and John are arrested and instructed to not speak in the name of Jesus. They respond by going to prayer with friends saying: “Now Lord, look at their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak your word” (Acts 4:29). The result was a shaking, a filling of the Holy Spirit, and a renewed speaking of the Word of God with boldness (v. 31). How frustrating it is for the devil when the threat intended to silence us is what drives us to Jesus for more of His Spirit, for greater boldness.
3. Determine that obedient boldness is worth the consequences. Boldness does not guarantee immunity; it rather promises more resistance. “Jesus, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward…” (John 18:4). While we “keep our eyes ever on the Lord, who can pluck us out of the net” (Psalm 25:15), it is also true that bearing witness of Jesus always meets resistance. Jesus knew this but went forward anyway. He even said, “I spoke openly to the world…and in secret I have said nothing” (John 18:20).
The obedient follower of Jesus cannot escape threats. In the context of His public speaking, Jesus said, “For this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth” (v. 37). What is true for Jesus is true for us: For this cause we have been sent into all the world, that we should bear witness to the truth. The devil’s primary aim is to silence us. Our primary obedience is to continue boldly to verbally proclaim Jesus as Lord and Savior.