Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Week Thirty-Five - Resist

 “And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.”  Zechariah 3:1  
This Joshua is not the same one that led the Children of Israel into the Promised Land.  This Joshua came years later and was a priest who administered the sacrifices. As he stands before the angel of the Lord, Satan is there as well.
To get the idea of what is happening you need to know that the high priest is standing clothed with filthy garments (verse 3).  The Israelites and their priests were not pure before the Lord.  They were in exile and captivity under the judgment of God.  But while in this state and with Satan resisting/opposing them, God is ready to show mercy.  In verse four God says to those standing around, “Take away the filthy garments from him…”  God forgives the priest and gives him the promise of a saviour (verse 4 & 8)
Satan is the accuser of the brethren.  He loves to point out our faults and failures to the Lord.  He is hungry for vengeance and destruction.  But, praise God, we have a God of mercy.  He has not rewarded us according to our sins, but is longsuffering and ready to forgive.  He will change our filthy garments and place a crown upon our heads.
Sometimes we need to be reminded that our enemy is there.  But more often than not, we need to be reminded of the grace and mercy of our Lord and Saviour.  We need to know that though Satan would oppose us, God is always ready to forgive.
Next time you go before the Lord in prayer or praise, keep your eyes on the Lord.  He will deal with the opposition!

 “For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.”  Luke 21:15

What a blessed promise for those who are willing to speak for their Lord.  God will give a special assistance to know what to say and the courage to do so.  So much so that those around will not be able to speak against it.  The definition literally means to withstand, oppose or set one’s self against.
There have been times in my life when I knew the Spirit wanted me to speak.  I felt powerless about what to say, but as I opened the conversation words came.  And, not only did the words come, but also reason and conviction.  I don’t know how many times people have come back to thank me for speaking up.  Sometimes it is for correction, sometimes for encouragement, and sometimes for a simply loving warning, but every time I have obeyed the prompting of the Spirit, God has intervened.
However, I believe the there is a qualifier.  It isn’t speaking up so you can be heard, or so your opinion can be voiced, but it is speaking the truth in love.  It is being sensitive to the Spirit’s wooing and leading then, following through with obedient faith.  Only then can the promise be claimed.  God’s wisdom and the working of His Spirit is so great that men will have to recognize it and be silenced by it.
If you are speaking and meeting with verbal abuse, then you might want to take time to consider your motives.  Even Jesus didn’t answer every provocative question raised. He knew when to speak and when to be silent.  Do you?

 “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.  Acts 7:51
This is such a sad announcement.  Imagine this condemnation being placed upon your head.  You are stubborn and willful. You are hypocritical and you resist the working of God in your life just as your father did.  This is exactly what Stephen told his persecutors just before they stoned him.
The word “resist” means to run against, to oppose or to be adverse toward.  The Jews resisted the working of the Holy Spirit.  They had a religious order and form that was opposed to the “new way”.  To yield to the Holy Spirit’s working would mean change and conviction.  This made them uncomfortable.
Sadly, there are times when even the blood-bought children of God are guilty of resisting the Holy Spirit as well.  A sermon pierces your heart.  You know you are under conviction, but to take that step toward the altar is just not something you are prepared to do.  Oh, you might weep a few tears and whisper a little prayer there in your pew, but nothing is going to persuade you to get on your knees and publically deal with God.
Or, there are the times when you know the Spirit is moving you to speak up for right, to take a politically incorrect stance.  Fear grips your heart.  Will people laugh?  Will they think you are stupid or backward?  Surely God would not want you to open such a can of worms.  So, you quench the Spirit and keep your mouth closed praying for the moment to pass.
We need to be honest with ourselves.  Are we guilty of quenching the Spirit?  Are we stubborn and willful in our service?  Are we hypocrites?

 “Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  James 4:7   
We have two polar opposites here – submission and resistance.  As Christians we are to be totally submissive to the Lord in everything.  This submission is based upon love and trust.  We believe that He has everything in control and we can surrender our lives to His care.  On the other side, we are to totally forsake Satan and his world system as they are opposed to God’s plan.  We must make the choice to resist his attempts and temptations.
Just as God, on one hand, has a plan for our good, Satan has a plan for our destruction.  Just as God can be fully trusted to work on our behalf and bring good into our lives, Satan has always proved to be ready to take good from our lives and leave us empty.
The verse is rather straightforward – Submit to God – do not submit to the devil.  If we are continually yielding to temptation the Devil will be around.  But if we stand against him, he has to flee.  It is a matter of resolution.  Like the songwriter wrote, “I am resolved no longer to linger, charmed by the world’s delights…” Submitting to God demands that we turn our back on Satan.  We cannot even claim to be in submission with our Saviour if we are courting sin on one hand and lifting the other hand toward heaven.  That is a double standard.  That is the way of the carnal Christian or hypocrite.
Resisting requires effort.  Satan will not flee easily.  That is why the Lord did not tell you to simply resist alone.  You will get weary in the battle.  By replacing temptation with submission you will find a new joy and confidence.  You will receive confirmation and strength.  Truth and grace will grow in your life and Satan will have to flee.  Not because you are such a “strong” Christian, but because as you submit to God His power takes over in your life.  He is with you in the battle – yea – he fights the battle for you.
Are you struggling with temptations?  Do you feel Satan is always on your heels?  Why not take these temptations to the Lord and submit/ agree – with him.  Bring yourself in line with God’s Word and you will not have to keep looking over your shoulder.
 “Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”  I Peter 5:9
Our accuser, the roaring lion, is walking about looking for fresh meat.  He is totally aware of our vulnerabilities.  His whole mission is to devour and destroy.  Tripping us up or causing us to fall through temptation is only a part of his plan.  Remember that we are not to be ignorant of his devices.  He will use any number of means as he prepares to attack.  But his ultimate goal is our faith.  If we can be brought to lose hope or doubt God, then Satan scores. 
I don’t know about you, but I have been in these places where my faith, my core, is under heavy temptation.  I have been so discouraged that I wanted to just chuck it all in – to quit – to hide away.  And, I have entertained these thoughts for far too long at times.  But God has always graciously brought me back to truth.  He has assured me of His love and care and forgiven me for my weakness.
The later phrase of this verse encourages me – “knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren…”  It reminds me of I Corinthians 10:13 – “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man…” Our Great Father knows that we are but frail individuals.  We are susceptible to doubt and fear.  Instead of condemning us, he assures us that we are all the same.  Everyone struggles at one point or another.  Temptations and afflictions of faith are common to all.
But instead of just allowing these to knock us down, he commands us to resist.  It means to withstand, oppose or to be set against.  Temptations may come, but I don’t have to give in.  My faith is not anchored in this world’s system.  It is anchored in Christ.  The afflictions that I might face are not to be viewed as things to fear or brought to cause me to doubt, but rather, they are messengers of God’s love - opportunities for my faith to grow.  Places where I can demonstrate and confirm my faith to my Father and to others. 

For centuries Christians have remained steadfast and resisted the enemy.  Will you stand up and be counted?

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