Have you ever thought about how you are going to stand in the last days when the antichrist comes into the earth, and not turn away from your confession that Jesus Christ is Lord and Messiah? “What would I do in the face of the antichrist – torture, starvation, and ultimately death?” This is a question that most believers have asked themselves or have thought on at least once in their life.
Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 1 John 2:18-23 (NKJV)
How can any believer really be sure that he or she will remain in relationship with the Lord? What is it about the believers we read about in the word of God that caused them to be able to resist the temptation to denounce Christ, even in the slightest way, when they were confronted with death, torture, starvation, exile, and the like? Even our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; what caused Him to be able to continue in the will of God in the face of certain death? I’ll give you a hint…it’s not because Jesus is God.
Faith in the Lord has something to do with these Biblical example’s ability to stand, and there is more…
The key is their personalized, individual, LOVE for the Lord. They loved the Lord/Father in a real way; in a way that was just as real and tangible as, if not more so, than the love that they had for a spouse, parent, family member, friend, etc. Their love for the Heavenly Father/Lord Jesus/Holy Spirit was so real it eclipsed everything and was more important to uphold than anything else; including their own life.
Think on this for a moment…can you truly trust the Lord-to put your life in His hands-without loving Him?
Look at Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:37. Both verses are one and the same.
- “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
- ” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
Be pleased with Him, have deep love for Him, be satisfied with His presence in your life and His decisions for you. Desire Him, like Him, be fond of Him, and love Him dearly. You may be wondering, “Why include “like Him”?” Have you ever had a family member that you “loved” because they’re family and that’s what you do with family; but, you don’t like them as a person? In other words, you tolerate them because you have to, but if they weren’t related to you you’d likely never hang out with them again. A mind-set of duty can only take one so far, but genuine love will make one stick closer than a brother. Genuine, deep love for the Lord must be developed. It’s not automatic, just as it is not automatic with the human people in our lives. We must move from faith to faith in our love towards Him. And, just as a sense of duty/indebtedness toward the Lord can only take us so far; likewise the sense of euphoria that comes as a result of a recent victory or miraculous event soon dwindles and fades as well. The children of Israel, throughout the Holy Scriptures, were frequently rescued, saved, fed, delivered, clothed, watered, protected, guided, and healed by miraculous workings of the power of God through the Holy Spirit; and, despite momentary cheers, frequently returned to murmuring, complaining, and rejecting God. We love our brothers and sisters – Israel and are thankful for their example so we can avoid the same mistakes (1 Corinthians 13:8; 1 Corinthians 10:6-12).
It is only genuine love for the Lord, which will stand in the time of testing, trials, challenges, and even persecution during our time on earth. The apostle Paul writes to this exact point in Romans 8:35; 37-39 (CJB)…
Who will separate us from the love of the Messiah (Christ)? Trouble? Hardship? Persecution? Hunger? Poverty? Danger? War? No, in all these things we are superconquerors, through the One who has loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor other heavenly rulers, neither what exists nor what is coming, neither powers above nor powers below, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God which comes to us through the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus), our Lord.
Three times the love of God is mentioned in these preceding Scriptures. Often when we read these verses we think of the love God has towards us, and we don’t consider that Paul is also referring to our love towards God. We are only made capable of love towards our Heavenly Father through coming into relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:5). There is no other way that we could be able to do it! We should also understand that love is reciprocal. Love is meant to be given and received. We return to Him what He has already given to us. He loves us with all His heart, soul, mind, and strength; and He loves us as Himself (1 John 4:19; John 17:23). Let us reason together for a moment…if God’s love for anyone – whether reciprocated or not – alone was enough to cause them to endure hard times then no one would ever go to hell. We know people choose to refuse Christ every day and die in their sin, others fall away, and some remain in close fellowship with Him (John 8:24; 2 Peter 3:17; 2 John 1:9). We know Christ loves everyone equally and died for all so everyone would have the same opportunity to come into an everlasting relationship with the Lord God Almighty (John 3:15-17; 2 Peter 3:9; Romans 10:11-13). So we understand there is more to it…God’s love toward us must not only be displayed or returned from us back to Him; it must also be strengthened, increased, and grown over time.
Just as Jesus told us to have the faith of God (Mark 11:22); we are also to have, stand, walk, be immersed, and permeated in the love of God.
Each individual is responsible for growing their own, individual, real love for God in these last days. I am responsible for growing my own love towards the Lord, and you are responsible for growing your own love towards the Lord. No one else can do it for us. Look at the what the Bible states within the accounts concerning David, Joshua, Moses, Hananiah (also known as Shadrach), Mishael (also known as Meshach), Azariah (also known as Abed-Nego), Daniel, Joseph (Jacob’s son), the apostle Paul, and the Captain of all things to the Church – the Lord Jesus Christ; these are living examples for us today (Matthew 22:32).
Begin to confess your love for the Lord out loud as you go about your day. Tell Him what you think of Him and that you love Him. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). As you hear, “I love You, Lord” coming from your own mouth, little seeds of faith will be planted in your inward being. You’re inward being will begin to become persuaded of your love for the Lord, and your actions will begin to follow/reflect the love you have on the inside for the Lord (John 14:21; 1 John 5:3). Soon those seeds will become trees with deep roots. Over time the trees will begin to bear fruit. Roots are what cause a tree to stand no matter how the wind blows. Growing deep love for the Lord will cause you to stand in these last days – times of trials and hard testing. We love you. God bless you!
We bless our brothers and sisters – Israel and pray for them daily. It is not easy being an example for others. We are thankful to the Lord for them, and continue to pray for their salvation.