MAKING GOD AN ADVERSARY

MAKING GOD AN ADVERSARY

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

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Neal Pollard

The word frequently translated “opposed” and “resist” is a compound word that means to “arrange against” (Zodhiates, np).  It was a military term describing “to set an army in array against, to arrange in battle order” (ibid.). Louw-Nida tell us it means, “to oppose someone, involving not only a psychological attitude but also a corresponding behavior” (491). This word is found in some form five times in the New Testament. Three of the occurrences refer to a person resisting another person, when the Jews in the synagogue of Corinth “resisted” Paul’s teaching about Christ (Acts 18:6), when people resist governing authorities (Rom. 13:2), and when the poor man did not resist his rich oppressor (Jas. 5:6). The other two occurrences both quote the same Old Testament passage, Proverbs 3:34, which speaks of God opposing and resisting a man. What man? Peter and James quote the proverb, writing, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Jas. 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5). 

Perhaps you have made someone powerful your enemy–the principal at school, the boss at work, or someone else who had the power to make your life unpleasant. If you have, you know how difficult it is to thrive and succeed under such circumstances. But the Bible says it is possible to make God opposed and resistant to you. That’s unparalleled unpleasantness! Thankfully, God tells us what triggers such a response in the omnipotent God.

These two inspired writers could have written that murder, adultery, lust, lying, stealing, greed, or hatred draws His active opposition, but both single out “pride.” It goes with insolence and boastfulness in Romans 1:30, arrogance in 2 Timothy 3:2, and blasphemy and folly in Mark 7:22. Each of those passages reveals a dangerous state of mind that comes from turning away from God. 

Arrogance keeps us from admitting wrong, makes us have an inflated sense of self and a lowered view of others, leads to a feeling of self-importance, and is at the heart a self-centered point of view. All of that will damage earthly relationships, friendships, marriages, with fellow church members, and those we deal with on the job and at school. But, even beyond those negative repercussions, sinful pride makes God an enemy! Think about that. When we allow pride to take root in our lives, God arranges Himself against us. Imaging God in battle order against me conjures an image of the most uneven fight possible. Pride may cause misery and damage in my relationship with others, but more than even that it effects my relationship with Him!

The antidote is the same in both Peter’s and James’ writing–“humility.” Not pretentious, but modest and obedient to His will. It’s being lowly in heart, able to see and admit wrong and guilt, having a fair and realistic view of self that acknowledges when we are wrong. Is it easy? No! Is it fun? Not at all. But, when we actively work at being humble and eradicating pride, God will fight for us and not against us. I get to decide which way I want it! 

It is our custom for the elders to give the parents of our newborns a Bible. No wonder God uses children to illustrate humility! Here is just the latest couple of presentations, with several more to come in ’21!

Giving Up Ground To the Enemy

Giving Up Ground To the Enemy

Neal Pollard

On at least three fronts, there are major battles occurring—ISIS and the existing governments in a handful of Middle Eastern countries, Israel and the Palestinians, and Ukraine and Russian-led rebels. In each of these conflicts, both sides are trying to gain ground or at least hold onto what they already have. They are trying not only to win the actual battles they are fighting, but they also seek to win the battle of public opinion.  With the money and lives invested, neither side in any of the conflicts can bear the thought of losing.

While “our struggle is not against flesh and blood” (Eph. 6:12) and “we do not war according to the flesh” (2 Cor. 10:3), we face a deadly adversary (1 Pet. 5:8).  He is the enemy, though he has a great many who have “been held captive by him to do his will” (2 Ti. 2:26). They are fighting his battles for him of their own free will (Js. 1:13-15), and they are more than willing to engage those of us who would steadfastly resist him (1 Pet. 5:9).

In this media age, the devil’s soldiers have used means previous generations did not have at their disposal to spread his ideas across the nation and all over the globe.  But because there have been people willing to battle him, he has not gained ground all at once. The moral erosion has happened slowly over time, attitudes about foul language, alcohol, modesty, sex outside of marriage and living together, adultery, homosexuality, and much more.  Doctrinal erosion also occurs subtly and gradually, but denominationalism has given way to modernism, post-modernism, and emergent theologies.  The Lord’s church is impacted by assaults on its distinctiveness, and elderships, pulpits, classrooms, and memberships can gradually lose their militancy, courage, and resolve to stand up for God’s revealed will.  It is easy to be cowered by charges of extremism, hatred, or sanctimoniousness, especially when there are examples of such to be found.

Yet, we cannot forget that we are in a battle.  God needs us to stand in the gap and continue fighting for His truth, even in the face of opposition and resistance.  Paul reminds us that “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh” (2 Cor. 10:4). The weapons in our left and right hands is righteousness (2 Cor. 6:7).  We press on in spiritual armor (Rom. 13:12; Eph. 6:11ff).  When each of us as soldiers in the Lord’s Army arrive at the time when we must lay down our armor, may it be said that we gained ground and served the Lord’s cause successfully. May it never be that we gave up ground to the enemy!