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May Newsletter: Resist

(This is not a catch-all formula for all events that believers may experience.  It’s just a conversation, a refreshing generated from some things Jane and I have had to face over the years, especially with spiritual pressure on our family or pressure on this WBVN ministry.  It’s simply an expression of what I try to do many times in these letters: just a different way of looking at moments when our Faith is being challenged.  It obviously is not the only way and I don’t presume to cover all bases.  It’s just a conversation about what Jane and I have come to trust about God that changed our lives for the good.  Years ago, J.B. Phillips wrote a book entitled Your God Is Too Small, and over the years Jane and I have learned that many times we were guilty of that in our lives.  Here, we’re attempting to enlarge our thinking about what Christ accomplished on the cross and with His resurrection.  We’ve learned you can never overestimate or exaggerate the greatness of God.)

Recently, in a conversation with friends, we were discussing some characteristics about having Faith in God.  In that conversation, a scripture came flying across my mind, almost like I could see it instead of thinking it.  It was unrelated to the discussion we were having.  ‘Resist the Devil and he will flee’ comes from James 4:7.  But, in this conversation, the central theme had been about God’s Rest.  When that happened, it was like where did that come from?  Rest in God and resist the devil both in the context of that moment!  It was an interesting contrast to me.  At first that appears to be two contradictory concepts.   Rest in our minds generally means do nothing.  Resist generally means give it all you got.  It occurred to me that those responses are not necessarily opposites at all.   From Jane’s and my experiences, Rest has become a powerful tool of Resistance.

As usual after such meetings, I picked up E.W. Bullinger’s New Testament Lexicon and revisited some of my thoughts during those conversations.  Apart from the Bible itself, that book has been one of the most important books that I’ve ever purchased.  As with all Greek Lexicons, Bullinger gives you a detailed breakdown of the original language of the New Testament.  In my opinion, it’s impossible to study the Bible without some look at the uniquely specific, accurate, definitely more complex, Greek word definitions.  For example, in 2Cor. 11:2, Paul writes of a jealousy for us.  The Greek word qualifies that with a kind of Godly jealousy.  Because of our human experience, we sometimes read Scripture and our minds default to thinking about our human jealousy that’s interpreted as an angry jealousy.  We can easily think God is jealous because of some slighting of our faithfulness or devotion.  But, looking closer, we learn from Bullinger that Paul’s jealousy is more correctly associated to God’s ‘eager vehement passion’.  That’s a bit different than our first response hearing about God being jealous. Actually, using the Greek definition, that’s the kind of God we want on our side.  It’s good news that our Father is aggressively passionate about us.  Profoundly, He’s so passionate that He sent His Son to be abused by His creation and topped that with the entrance and continuous presence of His Spirit into our darkness; a Holy companion to comfort and guide us in the middle of all this mess.  That’s by definition a vehemently passionate God for His people.

Smith Wigglesworth was an English plumber.  Because of the great witness of God in his life, Wigglesworth was forced to give up his plumbing business to do God’s business.  A healing evangelist who sometimes was controversial, he’s well known for his book called Smith Wigglesworth on the Holy Spirit.  There’s a story attributed to him that goes something like this.  Awakened out of a deep sleep, Wigglesworth sat up in bed and, according to the story, is to have seen the very presence of evil standing at the foot of his bed.  Wigglesworth is said to have simply addressed the image with these words,’ Oh, it’s only you’; and laid down and went back to sleep.  I know there’re many ways to approach trouble in our lives.  I know there are numerous suggestions on how we should act and do when we face crisis and grief.  But for this conversation, I’m going to think a little differently about resisting the devil.  Simply said, we don’t need to enforce the Gospel, we need to believe the Gospel.  For the most part believing it enforces it.  Believing, according to Jesus teaching, is the very work we’re to do.  We’re to labor to believe in Him and in His Victory.   Believe He has already won the necessary Victory. (John 6: 28-29)  Believing that, we find that Christ, not us, is The Enabler of the Gospel.

Could Rest be evidence of a steadfast Faith?  Instead of yelling, instead of raising our fist and mustering up all the energy we can, what if we remained in our chairs and simply told the darkness, ‘take that up with my brother, Jesus Christ.  He’s the sheriff here, He’s laid down the law here and He’s here to enforce your great defeat in my life’.  What if we acted like that?  I have to be a little careful here because to resist with calm is not about looking to physically show some imaginary confidence, but a real expression of having grown in confidence so much that we actually believe He’s The Enabler.    Being physically demonstrative isn’t necessarily the same as being convinced.   I’m not saying there aren’t times of joy and praise when we just can’t contain ourselves.  That’s very appropriate.  I am saying that there are times when just standing with a quiet affirmation, knowing God, is simple enough and is strong enough that just standing with assurance is to be appropriate.  A calm assurance can be a heavier weight, a more sufficient weight, to crush the kind of evil that visits most of us, most of the time.

Resisting doesn’t mean that we overcome evil with our ability but we simply have a confidence that he has already been overcome by Jesus Christ.  I’ve heard it said that we must win the victory, when in some sense, that Victory has already been enforced and established in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  Ours is to believe that what Jesus teaches about that Victory is true.  That it’s true even when it might not look like it in our life at that moment. Sometimes, our physical warring is characteristic of trying with our ability to re-take or defend His Victory as though that Victory was ever at risk.  Rather the faithful, confident knowing that that Anti-Christ dude is a toothless lion is the simple place where we’re to dwell.  We’re not in the middle of a war between two gods that tear at each other’s kingdoms as much as we’re a people that have been given a Kingdom and we learn to live inside that Kingdom while at the very same time hear the roar of that lion.  No weapon formed against that Kingdom will prosper.  According to what Jesus believed, that devil has no stuff anymore, he’s been made powerless.   That resistance doesn’t require us to puff up or muster up a response.  We simply know that it’s Oh, it’s only him and roll over and go back to Rest.

Look at how Jesus responded in those kinds of situations.  He calmly quoted scripture.  He prays with a knowing Peace.  He does not raise his voice in the street or proclaims anything other than he knows exactly Who his Father is and He trusts Him for every minute.  Was that confidence established in knowing something about evil?  Did it come by establishing or leading a physical rebellion?  In his responses was Jesus teaching us how to resist or just simply being passive?  Was he at Rest because he was just that kind of person he was or did he really know deep in his heart that his foe was a defeated foe?

Again, let me assure you I didn’t write the letter to suggest that there’s only one way to think about Resisting and it just happens to be my way.  My intent is only to try and help believers relax and give them a new way to express their ‘believe’ in tough times.  There’s a Rest that should be common to people having come into Faith in Christ.  The serpent has no ‘voice’ in us, we have nothing to fear.   However, we can be confused and persuaded away from our confidence in Christ.  There’s a ‘calm down’ in knowing and believing in Christ’s Victory.  And, just as with Jesus in that boat, knowing that allows us to roll over and calmly snore away in the storm.  This is not a letter about ‘doing nothing’.  It’s an active, aggressive knowing when Jesus commanded the storm to be Peace.  That Peace is based on knowing something about Whose hands we are in, Whose passion for us is without a shadow or turning.  Possibly, Faith can be measured as much in that confidence as our effort at strength.  I think this is my shortened version:  ‘I agree with what Jesus said about you, your history in my life, you’re over in my life’.  Knowing that, believing that, stating that truth is resisting the devil.  In Ephesians 4:27, Paul taught us not to give place to the devil, encouraging us not to give him a place to dwell in our lives; darkness has no claim or any authority in our lives, not because we’re super Faith people, but because we are His people.  All authority has been given by the Father to the Son.  That’s a transformation of our minds required to begin thinking like Jesus thinks.

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters

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