If a real Christian has anything at all, he or she has a backbone, and will never back down.
Why would a person surrender their very life in exchange for a belief? Why is a belief more important than one’s life? The law of self-preservation dictates that above all things we must protect and defend our greatest possession—our life—against any attack or threat of attack. Yet, real Christians have historically chosen to choose death rather than choose to discard something they believe in.
There must be something more to Christian belief.
If a parent is given a choice to lay down his life or substitute the life of his child, what should be the proper choice? Is it somehow more moral or socially acceptable to choose one over the other? The answer exists in the simple fact that many parents (I would hope every parent), would choose to die and allow their child to live because it is both the obviously correct choice and they would not be able to live with themselves if they chose otherwise. Even though they could protect their life, their life afterwards would no longer be worth living.
And this is the crux of the distinction: One’s life can be devalued and even greatly devalued by making such incorrect choices. Why? Because healthy, sane people have a conscience, and one’s conscience will put forth a prompt reminder than one has chosen incorrectly.
Otherwise, human beings could do whatever sinister thing they may wish and never be bothered by the choice they made. In the natural world, for example, animals make choices that often have bad consequences according to the moral beliefs of humans, but the animals that make the choices don’t seem to be bothered by them. If a wild animal, for example, attacks and injures a child, the wild animal probably has no moral conscience regarding the act, does not get depressed by the act, and will likely repeat the act. This can possibly be attributed to instinct or hunger, but the animal’s choice nevertheless causes an injury to a helpless child, and this cannot be construed as a good thing. So we often deem animals as innocent, in that they don’t know any better, but human animals are a different story.
Therefore, for those who have a conscience in good working order, it will override mere self-preservation, especially when it comes to one’s offspring. Using the natural world as an example once again, even wild animals will protect their offspring with their lives. Many an animal mother will protect her young using whatever extreme measures she deems necessary, and becomes decidedly ferocious in those instances.
But what is in the conscience of a real Christian that causes him to give up his life rather than surrender his beliefs? It is not so much about giving up his beliefs as it is turning his back on his best friend. The Lord Jesus claimed,
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” [John 15:13]
The word “friends” in this usage indicates the most dearly beloved in one’s life. But the absolute most dearly beloved of all people in the life of a real Christian is His Lord and Savior—the One who purchased his life—and the One who first gave His own life to save the ones He considered His most beloved. This is why a real Christian could never surrender his beliefs, because it also means betraying the One who loves him the most.
What good is life without the One who made life possible? For example, the person who betrayed the Lord to those religious authorities who intended to murder Him had been deceived into thinking he was doing the right thing. He did not know his act of betrayal would result in the Lord’s death. In fact, Satan had possessed this man and essentially blinded him and animated him to act against his conscience. And even though we know Judas was a thief, he still had a conscience in good working order, because after his diabolical act, after the devil went out from him, after clear thinking returned, and after he saw what he caused, he immediately killed himself. There was no way he could live with the knowledge on his conscience of what he had done. His life was no longer worth living. It had become greatly cheapened by his terrible choice. Self-preservation went out the window and the only salve for his horror was the opposite.
This knowledge should cause a person to immediately reflect on the great love of the Lord, in that though our conscience does the same thing to us when we sin, and though we deserve all that Judas got in the end,
THE LORD FORGIVES US AND SILENCES OUR CONSCIENCE—OUR CONSCIENCE IS APPEASED BECAUSE A SACRIFICE HAS ALREADY BEEN MADE.
We don’t have to run out and find a tree and a rope, because the Lord had already appropriated a cross!
The Lord Jesus allowed to have happen to Himself what Judas did to himself, and what we should each receive for ourselves. Our conscience convicts us as guilty, but through an act of legitimate repentance on our part, we display a contrite heart and express sorrow for our sin. We hate what we did and never want to do it again. And through this act of knowing we did wrong and being remorseful for it, and because God will not despise a broken and contrite heart,  our sin can be washed away by the miraculous cleansing power of the blood of the Lamb.
Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. [Hebrews 7:25]
The Lamb of God, through His incredible love and forgiveness, actually acts as a defense attorney on our behalf!
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. [Romans 8:31-34] 
This is why so many persecuted Christians the world over always choose to die rather than surrender their beliefs. They know they are loved by God, and they love Him—with all of their heart. He proved His love by giving His life. They prove their love by doing the same.
And it is not as if they are purposely trying to prove their love, as if they had an agenda to display to the world. No, it is simply because Jesus first showed His greatest love for them while they were yet sinners, and He pursued them, and gave His heart to them, and won their hearts, and they loved Him in return with the greatest love and gave their hearts to Him also, and could not possibly do otherwise.
Real Christians would never recant in a million years. They would never turn away from their faith because they would never turn away from their Lord. His life is infinitely more important than their own and they always choose to lay down their own life for His.
The greatest love is funny that way.
© 2014 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Psalm 51:17
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.