Q. How do you resist evil?
The bible advises us to resist the devil (1 Peter 5:9), but it also advises us to not resist evil (Matthew 5:39). How come?
The answer is … you resist the devil by not resisting him. What do you mean? Well, first, ‘not resisting’ definitely doesn’t mean give up and become complacent and non-confrontational, or tolerant of the evil. We are called to resist evil but rarely by direct confrontation. The opposite to direct resistance against unjust attacks that somebody makes against us is …. suffer it. This means, you actually resist the devil by suffering the devil’s attacks. What do you mean? That doesn’t sound right! It’s not meant to sound right, it’s meant to be faith. The stronger resistance you wage against evil, the stronger it will resist you back. A genuine Christian actually faces the forces of evil by turning to God and suffering the injustices by trusting God’s outcome. David resisted Saul by suffering and waiting for God’s timing.
Suffering strengthens faith, prosperity generally weakens faith. Human nature likes to fight back and stand up for its rights and make judgements against those who have offended us, but God’s nature doesn’t do that, so to walk by faith you must sacrifice your natural human nature and trust God’s outcome for His higher purpose. Each time you give up your will for His, you strengthen your faith and indirectly resist evil.
You have to prove you love God
The key to the kingdom of heaven is not goodness or opposing evil; it’s faith. You learn faith through suffering, not prosperity, and faith is the ingredient that’s required for salvation. Suffering strengthens faith, suffering proves faith, suffering exposes us to our sin and our elevated pride, and suffering is necessary for salvation. You have to prove you love God; it isn’t through generosity; it’s by faith through suffering. Without evil you can’t measure ‘good’. Heaven costs everything. You can’t put a value on heaven without a choice between good and evil; so God has created evil (Isaiah 45:7) to enhance and prove the good. Yes, the bible says God created the wicked for the benefit of the good (Romans 9:21-23). This is opposite to most modern church thinking, but it’s still the truth. The church is wrong!
You fight evil by resisting it by faith. In other words you are called to fight the fight of faith by suffering under evil. This is the precedent that Jesus set for all His followers (Philippians 2:7-11). God indirectly tricks evil by letting it attack you so that you will turn to Him in your suffering and trust Him to see you through it.
Job suffered for God
When Job was attacked by Satan at God’s direct permission, Job’s suffering was to test his faith, and also to increase it. The prosperity doctrine says that Job got attacked because he opened the door to Satan because he was greatly afraid (Job 3:25). How come God called Job perfect, but the church says he wasn’t? The church’s philosophy is simply a rehash of Norman Vincent Peale’s “The power of positive thinking”; it’s not the truth. The truth is, it’s not a sin to feel fear or be afraid that something bad might happen, and it’s not a sin to say that you’re afraid; it becomes a sin when you choose the fear instead of turning to God by faith in God’s outcome. It’s not what comes out your mouth that counts; it’s what comes out of your heart. Thus, Job didn’t sin; he suffered for the kingdom of God, and it’s written in God’s Word to encourage us to respond the same.
God actually pointed Job out to Satan. It was God that allowed Job to be put in pain, and you can’t get your head around this except by faith. God allowed the suffering to draw Job closer to Himself. Job not only suffered the pain in his body but also the hurt of the blame of his so-called sympathetic friends. His friends had the modern-day philosophy of ‘sin gets bad’; that is, if bad has happened against you, then you must be in sin. This is ZOPHERISM (Job 11) and John 9 proves this philosophy wrong. Job was rude to Zopher and put him in his place Job 13:2,4,5. It’s not a sin to put someone in their place; it’s a sin when it’s not of faith.
One of the hardest forms of suffering is bearing the unjust misjudgements and reprimands of family, friends and enemies against you, especially hypocrites. This pain drove Job to curse his birth and even to wish he was dead, and even question God’s justice. God Himself challenged Job’s attitude to question Creator God, but never declared Job had sinned against Him. Through all this pain he came to an even deeper level of understanding and humility, and a stronger faith in God, and God verified this in chapter 42:8. This is the purpose of suffering: it’s to put Satan in his place, to bring honour to our Creator, and to strengthen our faith.
The modern church teaches that Job was a once-off experience for a particular man in time, but I disagree. The bible is the living word of God; it’s alive and continuous. The story of Job is Spirit. It’s written for every Christian to realise that we are all born to suffer for the kingdom of God in some form or other and at different levels (2 Timothy 3:12). Jesus suffered to show us the path to heaven. He didn’t suffer to exempt us from it.
For faith to survive it must be exercised. Faith is exercised by suffering, rarely if ever by prosperity. You won’t see the true church of God except by suffering. The ‘no hassles’ lifestyle that everyone is craving is a by-product of the world; it’s not God’s way of building His remnant by faith.
The world appeals to our human nature
If being liked is important to you, you will never find faith even if you find suffering, unless through your suffering you give up being liked; and this is the purpose of the suffering. God works in mysterious ways so that man will give up use his human logic to trust God’s illogical ways.
The two thieves
There were two thieves crucified next to Jesus. Both suffered exactly the same correction. Both were bearing the same cross for their sin. One said to Jesus “I’m suffering, so if you’re really God, fix my problem.” The other said “Ok God, I’m wrong, your will, not mine.” One went to hell, the other to heaven. It wasn’t the suffering that saved them; it was the suffering that brought them to Jesus. Suffering leads to Christ, but it doesn’t save you. The second thief found faith by surrendering to God’s way and will, and thus found salvation. You don’t get saved by meeting Jesus, nor even suffering for Him; you get saved by faith through surrender to His will. Most so-called Christians are simply chasing God so He can fix their hassles; they’re not interested in suffering.
May God work His plan of suffering for you so you will give up your ways and trust His, and thus find salvation.
Pastor Ray Burrows