11 “When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit. 12 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. 13 “You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.
If anyone ever tells you that the “Christian Life” is easy, reveal to them this passage. Our battle, because it is spiritual, is far more difficult than any physical battle we have witnessed in human history. There isn’t just a battle raging for our lives, but for our souls. This is a battle we cannot win without the help of the Holy Spirit. As Jesus is pointing out here, even our speech will need to be guided by the Holy Spirit. It is in this spirit we must remain steadfast. This is why Jesus talks about the one who endures to the end.
In recognizing that we are in a spiritual battle, we must understand that it is our faith that is our strongest asset. A gift from God, our faith is what gives us hope and our hope is which gives us life. This is why Jesus and subsequently the apostles constantly teach about standing firm in the faith. It’s like saying, “make sure you keep breathing.” Our faith is our lifeline. Our trust in God’s provision and deliverance is what helps us endure to the end. We must recognize that Jesus’ words in verse 13 refer to our temporary salvation, not our eternal salvation. He is saying that if we don’t give up our faith in His providence that He will deliver us from our struggles and difficulties. James explains this process in chapter 1 of his letter to the Christians spread abroad during times of persecution:
2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
The author of Hebrews, in chapter 10 reveals that our endurance, which perfects our faith, will then result in the fulfillment of God’s promises:
35 Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. 37 FOR YET IN A VERY LITTLE WHILE, HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME, AND WILL NOT DELAY. 38 BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM. 39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.
Our faithfulness results in a big party afterwards. There is a victory parade promised for us at the end of our trials, but if we give up too soon, we will never make it home from war and enjoy what awaits us. There are two big lies the devil continuously uses against us. First, he tries to convince us that we are not at war. If that doesn’t work, then he tries to get us to give up before we reach the end. The author of Hebrews later says in chapter 12:
1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
The author then goes into explain the importance of our discipline and obedience to Christ, at all costs, even to the point of shedding blood in our striving against sin. Have you stood so firm in your faith and fought so hard against sinfulness that you shed blood? This is a serious exhortation and it is not meant to be a metaphor. We are at war and blood will be spilt. Jesus already shed His blood for us so we don’t have to do it ourselves in our fight against sin in our lives.
How hard are you fighting?