Prepare for Opposition

Fight - Sermon Series Graphic

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By Robert Hawes

“Now it came about that when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became furious and very angry and mocked the Jews. He spoke in the presence of his brothers and the wealthy men of Samaria and said, ‘What are these feeble Jews doing? Are they going to restore it for themselves? Can they offer sacrifices? Can they finish in a day? Can they revive the stones from the dusty rubble even the burned ones?’ Now Tobiah the Ammonite was near him and he said, ‘Even what they are building if a fox should jump on it, he would break their stone wall down!'” – Nehemiah 4:1-3

As a Christian, whenever you begin to do any kind of work for the Lord – whether it’s getting your own life together, engaging in some form of ministry that honors the Great Commission, or teaching people to follow Christ – you will inevitably come under fire. The Bible is clear that “the whole world lies in the power of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19). This world and the influences that saturate it are at war with God. As a believer, you are in occupied territory, wearing the uniform of a detested enemy. And if you take that role at all seriously, you will be attacked, just as any human army would immediately attack and to try either kill or capture the soldiers of an opposing force that had entered their territory. It’s not a question of ‘if’, but ‘when’. It will begin with ridicule and then progress to direct opposition. But then most wars of men progress in this way, don’t they? The propaganda starts long before the shooting does.

“So we built the wall and the whole wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work. Now when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repair of the walls of Jerusalem went on, and that the breaches began to be closed, they were very angry. All of them conspired together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause a disturbance in it.” – Nehemiah 4:6-8

It’s important that this be understood. Many who try to live for God often wonder why it seems that everything in their life goes wrong, and the western church as a whole has been remiss in teaching about the reality of spiritual warfare beyond one’s personal struggle against sin. Satan has been largely reduced to a figurehead, an ethereal placeholder for whatever we find disagreeable, more of an idea than an actual person. He is, in fact, intelligent, powerful, and a wonderful organizer. He was created to be one of the chief administrators of creation, and while he has fallen and evil has dimmed his understanding, he is not to be taken lightly. In the words of Martin Luther:

“His craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate.
“On earth is not his equal.”

If you’re a disciple of Christ, and serious about following Him, understand that you are in a real war with a real enemy who will attack you in very real ways, drawing on thousands of years of experience in dealing with human beings. Fully 1/3 of Jesus’ ministry involved direct confrontation with Satan’s kingdom, and are we to believe that he and his hosts have simply gone away since then?

Study the Bible to understand how your enemy works. Do not be “ignorant of his schemes” (II Corinthians 2:11). Do not think that you “wrestle” only with “flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6:12). And do not think that religious works and man-made programs are sufficient to withstand the enemy. The modern approach to spiritual warfare has largely amounted to holding self-help classes in the middle of a battlefield. No wonder we’re seeing so many casualties. Again, in the words of Luther:

“Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing…”

Christ must be our never-ending focus. We should have a proper understanding of our enemy, and maintain a healthy respect for what he is capable of, but always in light of his defeated state. As Luther put it, we have the “right man on our side, the man of God’s own choosing”:

“Dost ask who that may be; Christ Jesus it is He!
“Lord Sabaoth His Name, from age to age the same.
“And He must win the battle.”

How, then, are we to respond? How do we engage with this enemy?

“…this is the victory that has overcome the worldour faith.” – 1 John 5:4

Hold fast to Christ, no matter what. Do not let the battles you face dim your faith. An army that loses confidence in its commander and begins to fight as each soldier sees fit will be slaughtered in the face of an organized foe. This is why Satan comes against our faith, first and foremost: to separate us from Christ, whom he knows he cannot defeat.

Further, respond with the Word of God. This is what Jesus did when He was personally confronted by Satan in the wilderness. In response to each temptation, His reply was: “It is written…”

Get into the Word. Memorize those passages that have to do with victory in Christ, and repeat them often when you face hardship: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31); “We are more than conquerors,” (Romans 8:37); “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world,” (1 John 4:4); “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil…” (Ephesians 6:10-18), etc.

Learn how to apply the victory that Christ has already won on our behalf.

“That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
“The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
“Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
“The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
“His kingdom is forever.”

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” – Revelation 12:11

Robert Hawes writes primarily in the areas of politics and Christian apologetics, and is available for freelance writing projects. His theology-related articles are archived at: http://takeupyourcross73.blogspot.com/, while his political articles can be found at: http://jeffersonian73.blogspot.com.

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com <a href=”http://www.faithwriters.com”>CHRISTIAN WRITER</a>

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