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The Christian way is to remain faithful at all costs. Sincere believers do not make deals with the world. We are called and empowered to live by conviction, not compromise, even amid fierce opposition. No one knew this better than Margaret Wilson and Margaret MacLachlan, two godly women who were unashamed of the gospel and loved Christ more than earthly comfort; indeed, even more than life itself.

In the spring of 1685, during times of severe persecution, the two Margarets stood trial as prisoners at Wigtown, a small burgh in the southwest of Scotland. They were unjustly sentenced to death by drowning. What were their crimes? First, they refused to publicly submit themselves to King James II and his unwarranted ecclesiastical authority. Second, they rejected the state church’s false worship. And third, they attended conventicles—illegal worship services that met in private homes and open fields. In a word, these two women, one elderly and the other a young maiden, lived by the courage of their biblical convictions. The world hated them for it, as Jesus declared that it would:

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. . . . Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.” (John 15:18, 20)

Fastened to two long wooden stakes in the rising tidal channel of the River Bladnoch, with their enemies and loved ones looking on, the two Margarets refused to recant. The younger Margaret quoted from Romans 8 as the waters swelled around them. She proclaimed: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” They held fast to God’s promises until their final breaths, passing from the deadly waters of Bladnoch to the living waters of eternal glory in the presence of God and the angels. For these two seventeenth-century saints, death was preferable to compromise.

Dear believer, as you seek to stand fast without compromise, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.

Church history is full of inspiring examples of Christians who refused to compromise in order to avoid persecution and hardship. That is why we must study church history. The same is true of God’s Word. For instance, think of Daniel and his three friends. They lived in Babylon under wicked rulers and false religion, yet they were unwilling to conform to the seductive lies of the world. By God’s grace, and with the Spirit’s abiding strength, they lived with biblical conviction and rejected cultural accommodation. For Daniel, this meant worshiping God, as he always had, when it was made illegal to do so, upon the pain of death by ravenous lions (Dan. 6:1–28). For Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, it meant courageously refusing to bow down to the blasphemous golden image at Nebuchadnezzar’s gala, even though defying the royal edict meant being burned alive in a fiery furnace (3:1–30).

The Bible is full of emboldening examples of those who held fast to the promises of God in the face of cultural lies, pressure, and persecution—men and women of whom “the world was not worthy” (Heb. 11:38) and who “rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name [of Christ]” (Acts 5:41). We must return to these examples often, for through them we are encouraged to stand fast ourselves in this present cultural moment. We must stand against the wicked trends and ideologies of our culture and stand in the true grace of God (1 Peter 5:12).

Upon honest evaluation of our lives, however, it’s clear that we don’t always exercise the blood-earnest conviction of the two Margarets or the godly courage of Daniel and his three friends. We want to, but we don’t—and they didn’t always live this way either. Affected by cultural hostility, fiery persecution, and a desire for worldly acceptance, we sometimes allow fear to cultivate a heart of compromise. It can even become a pattern if left unchecked.

But we must not despair. Giving up is not an option. Rather, we must remember the gospel—that Christ died on the cursed cross to pay the debt of all our sinful compromises. Jesus paid it all. By exercising faith in Jesus, we not only receive forgiveness and imputed righteousness, but we also receive the Spirit-wrought power that animates godly conviction amid worldly opposition. Therefore, dear believer, as you seek to stand fast without compromise, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Compromise is less likely when our precious nail-scarred Savior is in view.

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From the September 2021 Issue
Sep 2021 Issue