"Be humble when you are trying to teach those who are mixed up concerning the truth. For if you talk meekly and courteously to them, they are more likely, with God's help, to turn away from their wrong ideas and believe what is true. Then they will come to their senses and escape from Satan's trap of slavery to sin" (2 Tim. 2:25-26a, TLB).
When you face opposition because of your faith, you need to recognize the source of that opposition.
It's not other people. It's not your coworkers. It's not a political party. It's not some other nation or religion. It's not a competitor. The pressure you feel to cave in or be quiet or sit down when you should stand up—that pressure isn't coming from other people. It's really coming from Satan.
In Revelation 12:10 Satan is called "the accuser of the Christians." His No. 1 job is to put you down.
There is an unseen spiritual battle going on all around you. This pressure to keep you from doing the right thing is not really coming from other people. They're just weapons. Most of the time they don't even know they're being used. The real issue is spiritual warfare.
Ephesians 6:12 (MEV) says, "For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."
Satan knows it's stupid to attack Jesus Christ directly, so instead he attacks those who follow him. Satan uses the media and music and popular culture and anything he can to ridicule those who follow Jesus. He's behind the voices saying, "Those Christians are out of date. They're on the wrong side of history. They don't know what they're talking about. They're bigots."
Here's what the Bible says you should do: "But avoid foolish and unlearned debates, knowing that they create strife. The servant of the Lord must not quarrel, but must be gentle toward all people, able to teach, patient, in gentleness instructing those in opposition. Perhaps God will grant them repentance to know the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. Don't get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. (2 Tim. 2:23-26).
If you don't have the Holy Spirit in your life, you have no defense against Satan. He can master your moods. He can lead you into depression. He can make you angry.
You may think you're strong, but you're not strong enough to fight Satan's attacks on your own. What you need to do is recognize the source—the devil, not the person—and treat the opposition the way Jesus did.
How did Jesus treat those who opposed him? Even on the cross he said, "Father, forgive them. They don't know what they're doing" (see Luke 23:34).
The people who attack you don't know what they're doing. The people who put down Jesus and church and Christianity? They don't know what they're doing.
You need to pray, too, "Father, forgive them" so that you can show love even when you're under attack. God will fill you with his love, and you'll have more energy to fight the real enemy.
Talk It Over
- If Satan is behind people's wrong actions, why does God still hold them accountable for what they do?
- What is the effect on you physically, emotionally and spiritually when you are able to forgive your enemies?
- What are your areas of weakness that Satan attacks most easily? Ask God to grow your faith in those areas and give you strength to stand firm.
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of pastors.com, a global internet community for pastors.
This article originally appeared at pastorrick.com.
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