If your leader has a Facebook page, and he (or she) posts a false statement, and someone replies by refuting it (in other words explaining why it’s wrong) — your leader is not being “persecuted” or “attacked by the devil.” Your leader is being corrected.
Persecution is when someone inflicts harm on us because we belong to Christ and strive to live godly in the Lord.
“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me.” (John 15:18-21)
“Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12)
Persecution is not when someone corrects us for sinful conduct or false teaching. Scripture calls that “reproof.”
We shouldn’t despise reproof because it is discipline from the Lord, and it brings spiritual growth. Reproof is an act of God’s love, grace, and mercy with the aim of restoring us, guiding us back on track, and producing good fruit in us.
“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.” (Revelations 3:19)
“My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights..” (Proverbs 3:11-12)
“Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” (Hebrews 12:9-11)
Persecution is very real and very serious. Down through history, people of God have been murdered, tortured, imprisoned, beaten, run out of town, dragged into court, kicked out of their homes, and had their businesses taken from them all because of their faith.
In Hebrews 11 the “hall of faith”, it says “Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.” (Hebrews 11:37-38)
Persecution is not some cheap word that we should throw around and hide behind to deflect reproof and valid concerns. We will be held accountable for every idle word that we speak, and that includes false claims of being persecuted and “attacked by the devil” when it’s actually God giving us guidance.
Religious leaders should not angrily claim that they are being “persecuted” just because someone is saying something that they don’t want to hear and holding them accountable to the word. This sort of behavior is very immature, prideful, hyper-sensitive, and even manipulative — because these leaders know that their followers will automatically take their side and defend them even when they are wrong.
Instead of looking at the issue through God’s word which is fair and objective — many professing Christians show personal bias and automatically take their leader’s side, thereby dividing themselves from other Christians and taking an on “us-versus-them” attitude which is cult behavior.
Religious leaders sit back and watch this division play out and continue to play the victim and hype up their followers with statements about “being persecuted” and “I must be doing something right because the devil is attacking my ministry, anointing, etc.” This is manipulative behavior and it is not of God whatsoever.
If your leader is so overly sensitive, paranoid, and prideful that they perceive any correction as “persecution” and “an attack of the devil” — you are dealing with a very childish and deceived person who is not qualified and mature enough to teach you and handle feedback unless it’s a “like” or an “amen.”
If it seems like every person who corrects your leader is “persecuting” them, “bashing” them, a “hater,” or “sent by the devil” — take note and be careful not to get sucked into their “the devil is attacking me” pity party.
Be a disciple of Jesus Christ and not a follower of man or a pastor-groupie who blindly goes to war against other Christians in the name of “defending the man or woman of God.”
Do not allow any leader to divide you from other Christians just because they are correcting him or her. Jesus prayed for our unity, and we are not pawns or chess pieces for leaders to divide, play against each other, and manipulate just so they can save face in front of people.
Before you automatically side with a religious leader who claims that they are being persecuted and attacked by the devil — pump your brakes. Set your emotional bias to the side and THINK for yourself first. Use discernment and test what your leader said against Scripture. Is it true? Did Jesus and the apostles teach it? Did your leader quote Scripture in context?
This is not about being for or against the “man or woman of God” — this is about your spiritual well-being and your personal relationship with Jesus. You are an individual and your emotions should never be so wrapped up in a leader that you allow them to come between you and Jesus. As Christians, we are loyal to the Lord first and foremost — not any man or woman with a title. Standing in solidarity with Jesus and His word trumps any loyalty to man and defending them when they are in error.
Some leaders claim that loyalty to them is one-in-the-same as loyalty to God. That is a lie. They are not God and they are not anywhere near on His level or equal to Him. Loyalty to God comes before loyalty to earthly leaders. This means that there will be times that loyalty to Jesus requires us to admit that a leader is wrong, and if need be, part ways and pray for their repentance. God is not going to get mad at you or punish you for recognizing that your leader is wrong and refusing to follow them so long as they are in error.
Be careful of allowing your admiration of and emotional attachment to a leader lead you to assume that he or she is automatically right about EVERYTHING and anyone who corrects them is automatically WRONG. We can all get in the flesh and speak error at times — even leaders. The question is, how do your leaders respond when they are given the truth? Do they humble themselves by praying, studying, and making necessary corrections? Or do they paint themselves as the persecuted victim and say that the devil is attacking them?
Religious leaders who teach error while living a comfortable life and enjoying great popularity do not seem to be suffering persecution at all. It’s hard for me to believe that they have EVER been persecuted for Christ’s sake. If so, they would know the difference between persecution and correction. They would know better than to think they’re being persecuted just because someone is telling them the truth.
While Christians overseas are being persecuted for Christ’s sake, these delusional narcissistic leaders in the West are crying that the “devil is attacking them” just because someone held them accountable to Scripture. They are not suffering persecution. They are suffering from a persecution-complex. Please know the difference.
“Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not.” (2 Corinthians 11:23-26)