Those that do not understand the Gospel or the way of the Spirit will often use Matthew [10:22] to scare people into submission or obedience, to give the impression that Christians are on their own to endure. As Christians that understand the Gospel, we do not see it as such. John Calvin says it best, “This single promise ought sufficiently to support the minds of the godly, though the whole world should rise against them: for they are assured that the result will be prosperous and happy. If those who fight under earthly commanders, and are uncertain as to the issue of the battle, are carried forward even to death by steadiness of purpose, shall those who are certain of victory hesitate to abide by the cause of Christ to the very last?”
We’re not running and fighting for victory but [from] victory. We have been saved and will be saved. Or to put it another way, “Beloved, NOW we ARE children of God” Right now at this very moment YOU are a child of God. You belong to Him if you have the Spirit. So what’s the problem? You are not what you ought to be, not until He returns! What John is basically saying in V.3 is this: “Since you know this, since you have this hope that you are His and that one day you’ll be like Him, then work out your own salvation. Purify yourself.” What’s the standard? What is the example? What is our anchor? Answer: “just as He is pure,” so look to Him, the Author and Finisher of your faith (1 John 3:1-3).
There are trials and obstacles to overcome for God’s people. That’s why Christ’s promise to be with us always, even unto the end of the world, is there to give us hope, strength and encouragement to endure (Matthew 28:20)! By “your endurance you will gain your lives” but He promised that “not a hair of your head will perish” (Luke 21:18-19 ESV)!
Yes, we are to endure. Yes, we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. BUT GOD will carry us through. Let us not forget that. Let us not look to ourselves for endurance, but to His Spirit (Zech 4:6). For apart from Him we can do nothing. Had Peter prayed, “O Lord, grant me the grace to not deny you” instead of looking to his own strength, the outcome might have been different. Christ promises that not a hair will be lost, and exhorts us to endure (V.18-19), but then down in V.36, “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass” or as the ESV puts it, “praying that you may have strength to escape…” (Luke 21:18-19,36).
Pray and endure, for God [is with us]. Press on. He is not against us but [for us]. Our God is like an earthly father teaching his child to walk, standing afar cheering, “Come on. You can do it. I know you can!”