I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and how thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith….
— Revelation 2:13
Today I want to encourage you from the words Jesus used to address the believers in the first century who were also experiencing pressure to bow to society and its demands. Christ commanded the early believers to remain faithful in the face of opposition. It is the same message that He is speaking to Christians today!
Early believers were bombarded daily with opportunities to deny their faith. Yet, even in the face of these immense external pressures, there was always a core group of steadfast individuals who refused to waver in their commitment to Christ — and the same is true today. This company of believers simply would not cave in to the unrelenting intimidation brought against them. It was for this reason that Jesus declared, “…and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith”
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The words “hast not” in this verse are a translation of the Greek word ouk, which essentially means no. However, the form of the word used in this verse is an exclamatory word expressing a strong, emphatic no. Thus, we see that the King James Version does not carry the full weight of the message conveyed in the Greek text, which actually reads as if Christ raised the volume and tone of His voice in order to make a resounding proclamation of these early believers’ commitment.
Christ continued by saying, “thou…hast not denied my faith…” The word “denied” is the Greek word arneo, which is usually translated to deny, to disown, to reject, to refuse, or to renounce. This word arneo commonly referred to a person who had become unfaithful in a relationship and subsequently disavowed, forsook, walked away from, and washed one’s hands of that other person. The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology offers insight into the reasons behind such a total rejection: “The motive for denial is usually fear of others, fear of suffering ridicule or persecution, or anxiety about what others will think.”
As persecution intensified during the latter years of the First Century, some believers chose to deny Jesus and abandon their faith in order to escape tribulation. Fear of other people’s opinions and ridicule, fear of persecution, and even fear of death were all factors that contributed to this decision. Jesus, however, chose not to address these defectors in Revelation 2:13. Instead, He raised His voice to affirm the faithful core who did not disavow Him in their time of struggle. When Jesus said, “…thou…hast not denied…,” He was essentially saying, “When you had the opportunity to break your vow and walk away, you did not do it.”
Notice that Christ specifically said, “thou…hast not denied my faith…” In the Greek text, there is an emphasis on this phrase “my faith” that reveals how Jesus truly feels about the message of the Gospel. These words are the Greek phrase ten pisten mou, which could literally be translated the faith of me. Of course, in English, the order of these words doesn’t make much sense, but in the Greek, this phrasing is deliberate and logical.
The first word in the phrase ten pisten mou is the word ten, which simply means the. This word is a definite article, which always points to something very specific. In this instance, it appears directly in front of the word pisten, which is the Greek word for faith. Therefore, when these two words are used in conjunction with one another, they denote a specific set of beliefs, a specific doctrine, a specific creed, or a specific faith. It clearly refers to the faith or the body of truth comprising the New Testament. It was this truth that Satan hated and wanted to destroy, and it was this truth that these dedicated believers refused to deny.
In order to convey how personally He feels about the faith, Jesus followed the word pisten (“faith”) with the word mou, which is the Greek word for “my.” Like its English counterpart, mou always denotes ownership and possession. When mou is used in conjunction with the phrase ten pisten, an accurate translation could read my faith, the faith that belongs to me, or the faith that I hold closely.
The Gospel not only comes from Christ, but it is also firmly in His possession. Jesus is the Originator, the Giver, and the ultimate Supervisor of the faith; therefore, it is incredibly precious to Him.
We are the recipients of the truth of the Gospel and its amazing benefits, but Christ is the One who paid for it with His blood to make it available. What One bleeds for, another lives for — and Christ shed His own blood for the truth of which we freely partake.
Even if the spirit of our age tries to lure us into modifying the message of the Gospel to pacify the shifting whims of our society, we must firmly proclaim the faith in its purest form. The faith didn’t originate with us, and we don’t have the right to modify it in any way.
You are destined to live as a shining light in the midst of a lost generation. But that destiny can only be fulfilled as you hold fast to the truth of Jesus Christ and refuse to compromise your stance or conform to the world, regardless of any pressure you face to do otherwise. THAT is something for you to think about — and to make a rock-solid decision about TODAY !
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I want to be a part of the remnant that refuses to bend to the pressures of society in these last days. Although there is pressure to modify what we believe and to be less committed, Your Word has never changed; therefore, I know that You have not asked me to change my position or what I believe. Please help me to be strong in these times and to impart strength to others who are feeling the same pressure to conform to the dictates of society in these last days.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I declare that neither society nor the courts will determine the standard by which I live and that I will live according to the teaching and dictates of the Bible. There is no doubt that society is trying to force me to change the way I think and believe, but I hold fast to the name of Jesus and to the teaching of the Word of God. It has been correct for thousands of years, and it remains the unerring guide for my life. I recommit myself to living according to the teaching and the standards of God’s Word, even if it puts me at odds with what society is trying to tell me to do.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Describe some opportunities that you see presented for believers to deny their faith in society today.
- The Gospel is Christ’s message and no one has the right to change it. In what ways are society and even the courts attempting to change and twist the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
- Give some examples in which your life is in direct contrast to the way the world encourages people to live and to believe.