My wife and I were casually walking through the local markets when all of a sudden, a woman stood next to us and demanded that we shop on the other side of the street. We somehow ignored her intimidation and moved on. Later that day a man confronted my wife with swearing when she politely asked if he could move to let her pass. Then later-on, an incidental incident happened that resulted in us being distant from each other.
Whenever the demonic is active, there is division
I stopped what we were doing and suggested that the demonic was taking advantage of us. Now, my wife trusts me, but still defended herself by saying that she couldn’t recall any incident that had offended her. I suggested her defence was further evidence that the demonic was active. She reluctantly agreed, and then began the search for where pride had entered and made her susceptible to the demonic.
What happens when someone has a go at you?
Demons very often use people to stir your emotions. The defensive feelings such as fear, guilt, and being bossed or manipulated, start taking over. We then try to solve our feelings so we feel ok again, and once we do that we’re caught in Satan’s snare.
Before any feeling, there’s always a voice … something like … you’re an idiot, or, you’re rude, if you don’t do what I say. The voice is always designed to get you to react in fear so you do what it wants. We usually don’t hear the voice because we’re absorbed with our emotions; so, we fail to realise that we respond to the voice with something like … don’t tell me what to do. In other words, we speak self-defensively to the voice, yet often in fear we end up doing what the voice wants. Why? Because, we don’t like looking bad.
What’s really happening?
What we’re really doing is defending our pride by protecting our reputation. Jesus said you can’t be a disciple unless you die to yourself. Perhaps the best way to understand dying is to look at the opposite to dying; and that is … to defend your reputation. If you’re always looking to defend your reputation, then you’ll never find death, and thus, Satan will keep you from heaven. Salvation is via death to self, and access to hell is via preservation of one’s reputation.
That’s the very reason that we read in Philippians 2 that Jesus made Himself of no reputation. He set the example. In fact, if you open your heart to death-to-self, you’ll begin to see that the whole of the Word of God teaches this truth. The modern religious system is into life and happiness through grace, but grace is just the easy path that avoids the revilings for standing up for God and His principles and His Ten Commandments when everyone else is compromising them and tolerating people’s sin and falsely calling it love.
Without faith it’s impossible to please Him
God plants the seed of faith, but it’s the disciple’s responsibility to water it. Faith doesn’t grow through the comforts of wealth and prosperity and things always working out; it grows through revilings. Jesus said, woe to you when everyone thinks well of you (Luke 6:26), but blessed are you when men revile you for the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad for great is your reward in heaven (Matthew 5: 11 & 12).
Jesus isn’t preaching this lightly. It’s not just an instruction to try and honour; beside, you can’t do it without faith. He’s actually teaching you the path to salvation.
The man born blind
In John 9 we read the story of the man born blind. Jesus healed the man on the sabbath by spitting in the dirt and making clay and putting it on the man’s eyes. In envy, the Pharisees are offended. The Pharisees refused to believe he was really blind so they questioned the parents. In fear, the parents said he was blind but their son was old enough, so confirm it with him. The Pharisees take on the man whose sight is restored and threaten him with being an idiot.
In this story, Jesus is reviled, the blind man is reviled, and the parents are threatened with being reviled. Jesus suffered their reviling. The blind man suffered their reviling, but the parents protected their reputation and passed the buck.
The point is, the blind man could have gained his sight by interacting with Jesus, but he would not have gained his salvation without the reviling. It was the reviling that forced him to decide whether he would believe in and walk the way of Christ, or simply take the gift of sight and be cooperative with the demonic-inspired Pharisees.
Reviling is God’s way to strengthen your faith. Reviling is God’s way to save you. If you’re not being reviled then you’re comfortable with protecting your reputation and you’re not saved, no matter how much you pray, no matter how much you give, no matter how much you help. This is confirmed in 1 Corinthians 13.
The other point is, it’s more likely that the ones who have the problems will seek out Christ. The son had the problem. He needed Christ. The parents and the Pharisees didn’t need Christ, they were only interested in protecting their reputation. Problems from Satan are a gift from God.
Address your pride vs fix your feelings
Most people get hurt and try to fix their feelings, but Christians should use both their hurt feelings and their puffed-up feelings to put their pride on trial.
If you want to grow in faith, then take a pen and write down your feelings when someone offends you. You need to write it down otherwise your feelings will over-ride your spirit. Then write down what they’re really saying to you. Then, write down what you’re saying back to them. Ask yourself … is my reply, Holy Spirit or am I protecting my pride? Then repent, by transferring you trust to Christ with … ok, God, if they call me stupid, I’ll trust you. This is how you reinforce your faith. If you don’t practice faith, you’ll lose it. It doesn’t work by technique alone; it requires God’s faith, but God’s faith will grow if you water it, by trusting Him in the face of revilings.
May God strengthen our faith by helping us to be willing to suffer for His sake.
Pastor Rick Ramsley