By Bill Randles
And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say. (Luke 12:11-12)
Notice that Jesus says “when they bring you before” not if they bring you before.
Sooner or later, every Christian, on some level, will be called upon to make the good confession. The setting is never a favorable one; it will range from either mildly hostile to absolutely death-dealing hatred, but we are being and will be called upon to make our confession.
We don’t have to rehearse our confession. The Holy Spirit will give us what to say when we are called up before various human tribunals. It will just come out of us naturally, this good confession of truth, in the day of our own trial.
This blessed promise of the Holy Spirit’s help presupposes that we are in a vigorous spiritual war and that all of us are participants, wittingly or unwittingly.
The Spirit will help us, whether we are brought to account in the synagogue or before a secular judge or in the presence of hostile friends and relatives or perhaps at human resource offices at work. We will know what to say and have the power to say it boldly.
The further assumption of this promise of the Lord Jesus is that the nature of the battle in the spiritual realm is in large part confessional. The Holy Spirit will empower us to confess, to affirm the truth of God even in the face of hostility. God wants a witness—people who will stand up and bear witness to the truth in the day of the Lie.
This is why we, the church, remain in this world which is so hostile to Christ.
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
It so happens that in the day in which we now live, the lie of Satan is the prevailing wisdom, embraced by virtually the entire earth. “[T]he whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19).
Spiritual warfare includes both exposure of error and affirming the truth in the day of the Lie.
But the promise of Luke 12:12, about what to expect when called upon to testify before hostile authorities, also presupposes the faithful witnesses have saturated themselves with biblical truth beforehand. In this brief passage, Jesus is teaching us how to prepare for spiritual warfare.
In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. (Luke 12:1)
First of all, some issues have to be settled in our own hearts—
Jesus would have us beware of the influence, inside of us, of hypocrisy.
What does hypocrisy mean? To practice hypocrisy, one has to pretend to be what one is not, or to pretend not to be what one is. The spiritual warfare we are already engaged in demands that we root out pretense in every form. Away with trying to be anything anymore, whether it be trying to be a “cool Christian,” or a “relevant Christian,” or to be seen as a “loving and nonjudgmental Christian” in comparison with the rest of the church. Away with all pretense! It is time to make a new commitment to be genuine.
A genuine person is not pretending. He is able to face himself and to be known by others as he really is—nothing more and nothing less.
The only one who is ready for the Holy Spirit to give him the power to make the “good confession” without rehearsal is the one who has already broken off with hypocrisy. He is the one who needs not “rehearse” anything in that hour because he can be himself (a self that is truly reliant on the Lord and is so influenced with the Word of God buried in his heart), which is the most convincing testimony. God will give him wisdom in his speech in that very hour.
After all, Jesus teaches us, hypocrisy is shortsighted, because sooner or later everything is going to be seen for what it truly is.
For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. (Luke 12:2-3)
Next, Jesus would have us decide once and for all, who it is that we truly fear.
And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. (Luke 12:4-5)
The real spiritual warfare demands that we figure out who we are going to ultimately fear. Remember that fear in this sense is not limited to dread, angst, or fright; fear also refers to regard. To which audience do you play? Whom do you fear most, God or man? What can man do to you, beyond death?
The one who settles this issue of fear doesn’t need to rehearse what he is going to say when he is called up to make the good confession. He knows who it is that he answers to, fears, and regards. He says God has power to cast body and soul into Hell, whereas all man can do is kill the body.
Though this sounds gruesome, Jesus goes on to assure us that it is all right to fear God, for He is good, righteous, kind, and attentive to us.
Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. (Luke 12:6-7)
We can only fear one master; we cannot have dual fear.
Finally, we have to really know what it means to confess Jesus before men, for the spiritual warfare is confessional.
Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God. (Luke 12:8-9)
What does it mean to confess Christ before men? What does it mean to deny Christ?
A very basic and intuitive understanding of this Scripture would say that if a Christian is captured by atheists or other agents of antichrist and demanded, “Deny Christ or die!,” to confess Christ would be to admit you are Christian, even if it costs you your life. We would all hope that in that moment, we would confess Christ and love not our lives even unto death as countless martyrs through the centuries have done.
This is a true and a valid understanding of this verse, but not a complete understanding of it.
Confessing Christ is not limited to merely admitting to being a Christian. To confess Christ is to identify with all that Christ stands for, represents, and has taught.
It is confession and not profession. Confessing Christ presupposes that to do so would be to expose the soul and possibly the body to difficulty and opposition. In our setting here in the West, it is not enough merely to say “I am a Christian”; there is little or no danger in that because the word Christian has undergone radical broadening to the point that it means little or nothing.
Remember that we live in the day of the lie, and each of us will be called upon to confess to the truth in various settings. Confessing Christ means to confess the truth of Christ.
Truth, even the truth of Christ and the Gospel, is vast. We must ask ourselves: which truth?
The answer is, whichever truth the spirit of antichrist is currently contesting, distorting, and outright denying.
In the 1500s and earlier, the truth of justification by faith was being denied. Thus, the warfare was carried forward by the reformers who re-emphasized this vital truth, even in the face of persecution by the organized church with its power to burn whom it deemed heretics at the stake.
What truths are being contested today? Confessing Christians today are in a battle of multi-level attacks. Biblical teachings on marriage, sex, gender, and homosexuality are being assaulted in the face of the rapidly changing worldly consensus. From within, confessing Christians are being challenged on essentials of the faith such as the atonement, the deity of Christ, the Trinity, and the validity of the Bible. Christians who do stand for and confess these truths are often ostracized, ridiculed, and marginalized, both in the secular media and much of mainstream Christian leadership. This is the spiritual warfare.
If the Lord would have a people who would confess Christ in the day of the Lie, what is the other side of the war?
Satan would pressure Christians to not only shut our mouths about the teachings of Christ, he would also pressure us with incredible force to confess that which we know in our hearts isn’t true at all.
The article above is an extract from Bill Randle’s book, War Against the Saints: A Biblical Insight Into Our Spiritual Battle.
Other Articles by Bill Randles
(photo from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission)