Everyone knows what it is like to face resistance in life. Have you ever tried something new or maybe it wasn’t new at all, but was something that you had done before and you felt that everywhere you turned, roadblocks or obstacles appeared to deter you? Life is not seamless; resistance is a fact of life for many reasons. Sometimes, it is just the imperfections of our world that make things difficult. At other times, we may be doing something that is good and it is resisted by entities with opposing goals. In some instances, we may be doing something wrong and find ourselves trying to swim upstream against the flow of the Holy Spirit. When encountering resistance, it is good to stop and get the mind of God on exactly why we are encountering resistance. I know that there are theological stances out there that believe that encountering resistance means that you are definitely doing something wrong. Because of the causes of resistance we briefly spoke about, I don’t agree. If you are being resisted, it can mean that you are doing something right and the devil doesn’t like it! Beware of judging the nature of resistance by false scriptural doctrines. I have found out that the devil doesn’t deploy resources to combat something that is of no threat to him. Have you ever looked around you and noticed that it seems as if those who are not following God move seamlessly through life with little opposition while you as God’s child seem to be battling your way through? Why would the devil need to deploy resources to stop your lost friends? First of all, they are already lost! Second, their plan is not to use their resources to the glory of God! Why would the enemy want to oppose that? Okay, back to resistance. If you are encountering resistance, you need to go to prayerfully examine the Word to find out the reason for the resistance so you can confidently move to overcome it! James writes about resistance in the account we just read. Let’s look at those instances.
1. Resistance from people.
Verse 1 speaks of conflicts among people. Unity of purpose breeds teamwork while selfish desires produce conflict. It is a goal of the enemy to get the corporate entity called the body of Christ to focus on selfish desires in an effort to destroy unity and create conflict. Our greatest danger is not from the enemy but from internal selfishness. We serve a big God! Our warfare is not against flesh and blood. If you get your eyes off of God and onto people, war breaks out! To stop resistance from people you must have unity of purpose! It’s normal to be resisted for following God by those who do not. Even then, our battle is not against people but against the spirit that drives them. If your resistance from people? If the resistance is in the corporate body, make a move to restore unity! If it is from unbelievers, counter their opposition through prayer, love, and fearlessness!
2. Resistance from the devil.
Ah, this is normal and really is good! If we are doing nothing of spiritual substance, why would the devil care? But, if we’re in the game, we will encounter him at some point. Ephesians 4:27 tells us that the devil is looking for a place from which to operate. It is one thing for him to assault you, it is another for you to give him a place inside your camp from which to operate. How do we give him place? By coming into agreement with ungodly thoughts! Coming into agreement with ungodly thoughts is the same as self sabotage. Giving him a place to operate means you had to participate in his attack against you! This will require recognition and repentance to stop the attack. Ephesians 6:11 says that we must be on guard against the wiles of the devil. The Greek word used here translated as “wiles” is the word from which we get our English word “method.” methodeía (the root of the English term, “method”) – properly, a predictable (pre-set) method used in organized evil-doing (well-crafted trickery). A pre-set method! It is good to know the methods the enemy uses to attack. 2 Corinthians 2:11 says that we must not be ignorant of the enemies devices. Greed, sex, power, your weaknesses, your parent’s weaknesses; these are a few things that are a part of his evil methodology. Just being aware of his schemes can make things easier to deal with!
3. Resistance from God.
I would rather have a million demons resisting me than God Himself!!! The Bible says that God resists the proud. Who are the proud and what does it mean He resists them? (“to resist”) means to “reject the entire make-up of something,” i.e. its whole arrangement – from its very “set up” (organization) to the final way it is “ordered.” This is an old military term used to describe a soldier put in a specific troop for a specific purpose. God is not just resisting the actions here, but He is resisting the heart because it is operating in direct conflict with His. We find ourselves in opposition to Him when we are proud; that means that we think we know better than He does! The same process is happening here that we talked about earlier when we spoke of giving the devil a place to operate. When we are proud, and begin to choose alternatives other than God’s direction, we are getting into agreement with ungodly thoughts! God makes no distinction between the works of man and the works of the devil! They promote the same outcomes: deification of something other than God!
The remedy? Verses 7-10! Repentance and submission!! Remember: submit to God comes before resist the devil and he will flee! The pathway to victory over resistance is humility before God!