Though I could be quiet and reserved as a child, I wasn’t passive. I got into quite a few fights—the kind that involved punching, slapping, kicking and bloody noses. Before you form a mental picture of me as a delinquent or hooligan, I can honestly say all the incidents were me against a bully and usually on behalf of another, typically smaller, person. I even hit a girl one time (not all bullies are males). And I didn’t always come out on the winning side.
I now look back and like to think of myself more as a resister. I didn’t, and I still don’t, like to see people get pushed around by oppressors and tormentors.
The Bible tells us to resist the devil and he will flee from us (James 4:7). Whether you think about having an invisible enemy who bullies you or not, the scriptures have a lot to say about such a being. And we are instructed in more than one place to resist, stand against and wrestle the spiritual forces that are harassing, confusing and oppressing us. The Bible does not call us to be passive when it comes to spiritual opposition. It does, however, instruct us to know who our enemy is and who it is not. We are not to wrestle “flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6:12). How often I forget that people are not the ones I’m fighting, but my struggle is against evil spirits of the unseen world that seek to twist and destroy my world. Through Jesus I have been given the authority to stand against all that is thrown at me (Ephesians 6:11, Colossians 2:14-15).
But I have to continually remind myself that I must choose the attitude of a fighter. This does not mean I am belligerent and testy with anyone, for no person or group of people are my real enemies. But it means I am alert and never surprised when I experience opposition, conflict, strife, contention, animosity, disputes, hostility, hassles—you get the idea.
Though clashes may come through other people or even my own thoughts, it is the invisible enemy behind others’ behavior and attitudes or the voices in my head that I must learn to resist. As a follower of Jesus, I can expect attacks and challenges in specific areas of my life because the enemy knows well the strategic points that my life and purpose in Jesus rest upon. If he can intimidate me to back down in these crucial areas of my life, he wins. By identifying them and readying my mind and heart for battle, I can have the advantage of not being caught off guard when forces of darkness strike.
What am I fighting for?
1. My relationship with God
The number-one battle zone in which the evil one seeks to beat me down is in my walk with God. The fight is almost always centered on some aspect of knowing, believing and trusting in God’s good character. When I distance myself from my loving Creator because I’m questioning His ability to come through, suspicious of His motives, skeptical of His love and goodness, doubting His existence or am in love with something else more than Him, I’m that much more vulnerable in this cosmic struggle. When I blame God for the behavior of hurtful people or unjust circumstances, I am playing into my enemy’s hands and can expect only more confusion and a downward spiral.
I resist a subversive enemy by pursuing God with all that I have. I can choose to believe that God is good even when circumstances are rotten. The tools of prayer, praise, worship and meditation on His word have been given to me as effective weapons—if I’ll only learn to use them daily.
How do I fight here? I must pursue intimacy with God, using these tools He’s provided even when it doesn’t make sense and especially when I don’t feel like it. I must regularly remind myself that being a follower of Jesus is centered on a love-relationship with Him, not a checklist of religious duties. I must protect my belief in God’s goodness, never letting any confusing thoughts take charge. When I let my child-like faith in His blamelessness and commitment to me slip away, a knock-out blow from the enemy is sure to follow.
2. My relationships with others
How I do relationships is an indicator of how I’m doing with God. We’re told in 1 John 4:7-8 “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (NLT).
Do I understand this? My enemy certainly does. He works overtime offering me reasons to hate, ridicule, reject, marginalize, abandon, fear and accuse those around me. Love is not possible when I take the bait of any one of these seemingly legitimate attitudes. And when there’s no room in my heart for love, there’s no room for God.
How do I fight here? I must forgive—release— those who hurt, offend or annoy me (read post on Letting Go). Resentment and bitterness are my enemy’s playground. I must surrender my own ideas of what love ought to feel like and take up God’s definition pictured through Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. I must then resist the temptation to judge those who are different or disagree with me and learn to communicate in all my interactions with humility. Such a commitment to value each person that crosses my path is a powerful force in this spiritual war that hits the enemy hard. I cannot afford to underestimate its importance!
3. My part in expanding God’s kingdom
Our fundamental role as followers of Jesus is quite simple. He came to show us that we are God’s children (John 1:12). As sons and daughters of a king, our primary task is to see our Father and Sovereign’s authority and influence spread (Matthew 28:18-20). Once again, our enemy appears to comprehend this assignment more profoundly than we do. And he desperately opposes it!
One of the great temptations for many who claim to follow Jesus is to give all their energy to making their own lives better, more comfortable, more satisfying. Though natural, this objective leaves few resources of time and energy for the fulfillment of our most basic role—to be kingdom builders.
Many don’t realize that they’ve already surrendered this fight to the evil one. Our enemy is terrified of what Jesus followers are capable of when they choose to live out their calling as agents of God’s kingdom. He thus uses every bit of available logic, fear, rationalization and laziness to keep us from doing the kingdom work that God puts on our hearts.
How do we fight here? Ask God how He wants you to love your neighbor, proclaim truth about who He is, pray for His light to shine in the darkness, give of your time and financial resources and go with His love to the places where He is not yet known or worshiped. Listen to Him and then do it. And don’t give up.
We are called to be fighters. Resist the spiritual forces that are bullying, oppressing and intimidating you. Tap into the resources God has provided that empower you to take your stand. He wants to show you that anything of true and lasting value is worth fighting for: relationship with Him, relationships with those around you, His kingdom expanding in every heart.
It’s time to rise to your feet and give the enemy a bloody nose!