God typically gets the credit for things He has nothing to do with.
- “The storm was God's judgment.”
- “What kind of a God would cause a child to be born that way?”
- “God told me to leave him.”
- “Why did God take that sweet couple, and let the drunk driver live?”
After hearing enough of these comments, our real motivation begins to surface: We want to be the ones to decide if something is God's doing or not—in a way that suits our own purposes.
But this is a hard way to live. To set our own course using God to suit our own purposes is a perverted pursuit of God—a hostile pursuit of God. Jesus told Saul (Paul) that to do so is to be like a donkey doing its own thing—kicking against the goad (the rod of correction and direction). It's no fun to offer vain and perilous or ruinous resistance to God's direction for our lives. (See Acts 26:14 in KJV.) To do so is to invite the resistance of God to come against us.
We've already talked about four sources of resistance we can't avoid, but that we can learn how to overcome:
2. Other people
When these forms of resistance push against us, we can and should push back in the opposite direction.
God is also a source of resistance—but not the kind of resistance we overcome in the ways we've previously discussed. This kind of resistance is overcome by changing direction. Instead of pushing against Him, He wants us to turn around and move with Him. God opposes us in order to get us to turn around and go in the same direction He's going.
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5 ESV)
God stands right in the middle of our efforts to move in our own strength. There is no happiness in moving in our own strength. He wants us to stop pushing against Him, turn around, and move close to Him where there is “fullness of joy (see Psalm 16:11).”
Every single day, all over the world, people breathe their last breath still refusing Jesus—this being their last and their ultimate act of pride. They die not knowing God had opposed them in an effort to get them to move in a different direction. God opposes the proud—with no exceptions. Sick or healthy, poor or rich, illiterate or educated… no condition provides an exception.
But God also opposes proud Christians. By definition, we are proud when we put ourselves above other people. We are proud when we put our own desires and opinions first and foremost—ignoring what God has to say.
I can hardly believe the report about the sexual immorality going on among you—something that even pagans don't do. I am told that a man in your church is living in sin with his stepmother. You are so proud of yourselves, but you should be mourning in sorrow and shame. And you should remove this man from your fellowship. Even though I am not with you in person, I am with you in the Spirit. And as though I were there, I have already passed judgment on this man in the name of the Lord Jesus. You must call a meeting of the church. I will be present with you in spirit, and so will the power of our Lord Jesus. Then you must throw this man out and hand him over to Satan so that his sinful nature will be destroyed and he himself will be saved on the day the Lord returns. (1 Corinthians 5:1–5 NLT)
This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. (1 Timothy 1:18–20 ESV)
In these two accounts God, in His mercy, is directly opposing these men so their sinful natures will be destroyed. And He will do the same for you and for me if necessary.
Again, we have another very fine line that should not be crossed. Everything that happens to us isn't always God's doing. When a preacher thunders: “If you don't pay your tithe, God will take it out in car repairs, doctor bills, and other trouble,” and you believe your extra expenditures last month were because you didn't pay your tithe… then you've crossed that line. If you believe your illness is because God is trying to teach you something… then you've crossed that line.
Please note: Just because God will use about any opposition coming against us for our good, does not mean He necessarily started it.
It is important to be very thoughtful in discerning just what part of the opposition you face is from God. And it's certainly helpful to have your head in the Word as often as possible. Otherwise, you will be second‐guessing every obstacle in your path: “Is this from God…? Is this from the devil…? Is this from God…?” And you will be black and blue from beating yourself up.
During a time once, when money was going out faster than it was coming in, Sherrel and I wore ourselves out with the question: “Is the devil stealing from us... or do we need to be giving even more?” One Sunday afternoon we had turned to a channel where a really good fundraiser was at work for a church or some other ministry. As if it was a sign from God he said something like, “Whoever calls in the next ten minutes will receive a ten‐fold return from the Lord.” We looked at each other, nodding our heads… but just before I reached for the phone something caused me to click on the program information. And we both began laughing as we realized this particular program was about two years old.
I'm telling you… this kind of back and forth crap will steal every single bit of your joy. Sherrel and I used to be so bad about this “is it God or the devil” stuff in almost every area of our lives that God, in His mercy, intervened. He spoke to me in the middle of the night several years ago and said, “Mike, if you are doing something wrong, I will tell you.”
Before closing today, I want to mention one more way that God resists us. Life on this earth has rules established by God—rules that cannot be changed. When we play by those rules, life is good. When we go against those rules, life is hard.
As much as we might try, we cannot add, delete, or change those rules. No matter how authentic‐looking my Robin Hood costume is, I can't steal without eventually facing resistance. If I am miserable because I'm breaking the rules, it doesn't matter how much I dress it up, or how many “likes” it has on Facebook, I will remain miserable as long as I am going against God.
Have a good day,