When you think of the word “defense” what comes to mind? Perhaps you’re a sports fan and you think of your favorite football team … or perhaps you’re working at a government agency that deals with defending the rights of others. Maybe you’re in an abusive relationship that you’ve been trying to get out of for quite some time and, to you, defending yourself has become a way of life. Whatever the case, there will always – somehow – be a need for defense. With both good and evil in the world, someone, somewhere will always need to be defended against the “bad guys.” Fortunately, for someone who is a Christian, we don’t have to go it alone. We can fully rely on Jesus to be our Defense. Psalm 118:14 (NIV) says, “The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” Also, Romans 8:31-34 (NIV) tells us, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” So, here we can see that we only need to look to Jesus to help us and defend us in our time of need – in whatever it is we may be going through. Practically speaking, maybe you were talking to someone in your household and you were (innocently) making a request for them to help you with housework. All of a sudden – seemingly out of nowhere – they get all bent out of shape and get irritated at you. Wanting to “defend” yourself against their anger, you start to explain why you need the help. However, you quickly realize they aren’t open to listening to your explanation. Instead of continuing to try to defend yourself, you leave the area and go to a private place to pray. You lift up the situation to the Lord. You ask Him to defend you against the other person taking your request the wrong way. You know in your heart, your attitude was not one of trying to control them, but, rather, was simply a humble request for help. You also remember that (according to Ephesians 6:12 (NIV), “… our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”) Because of that, you are aware that it is actually a spiritual battle and it must be fought with spiritual weapons. These “weapons” are listed in Ephesians 6:13-18 (NIV) as we read, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” Therefore, when you are in the midst of the battle, you can be praying and asking the Lord to help you and defend you, but you also must be “in agreement” with Him (meaning that you also need to be exercising faith that He will defend you… you also need to be holding up the “shield” of faith so that the other person’s implied accusation doesn’t penetrate your heart, but, rather, is deflected off (since you know that it’s not really the other person you have an issue with, instead, it’s really the “spiritual forces of evil” that are trying to pit you and the other person against each other.) When you let your own “defensiveness” go and give it to the Lord and allow Him to defend you and you remember His faithfulness in the past as well as a way to exercise your faith now, you can expect Him to work it all out for you – on your behalf – as you do your part in trusting and believing in Him and His power to come to your defense. So, the timeless truth for today is to allow the Lord to come to your defense – no matter what you may be facing. All you need to do is take your situation, your issue with someone else, or whatever it may be to Him and trust and believe He will come to your defense!
Resistance … not the most “feel good” word out there is it? I’m sure all sorts of pictures could come to mind. A child disobeying a parent in public, refusing to cooperate; a fierce wind blowing across an open field… the same field that was calm only moments before as you had been enjoying a leisurely stroll to get out of the house and get some fresh air … and now, as you strain to walk against the wind you suddenly find yourself getting the cardio you hadn’t realized you’d been needing; an argument with a friend when one of you disagrees about the lifestyle choices of the other; vandalism of a church building when the vandal opposes the religious teachings of the pastor … because his words hit a little too close to home. Resistance … it’s a common, everyday issue we all need to face … in one way or another. The question is, how will we deal with it (in regards to our faith) when we suddenly find ourselves in the middle of it? Ephesians 6:10-13 (NIV) says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” So, how does this play out in reality? Well, let’s suppose you had a friend who disagreed with your Christian lifestyle choices because they thought your choices were harmful, even radical. And let’s suppose when you courageously, lovingly, and gently tried to explain things to reassure them (with humble confidence) let’s say you faced resistance. Let’s say they became angry with you because they didn’t understand, they couldn’t comprehend your faith, and they just thought you were being stubborn and didn’t want to change. What would you do? Would you cave in and come into agreement with them … compromising your true beliefs and convictions … in effect, “watering down” the fire of the way the Holy Spirit had led you to live your life for Him … would you do that just so that your friend would get off your back and continue to like you … or would you come into agreement with God and His Word and realize that your friend wasn’t, in reality, the one angry with you … in reality, it was the “resistance” inside them … it was anything that was opposed to God and His loving ways … as Ephesians mentioned, it was things like the spiritual forces of evil … the forces that actually want to keep you down and defeated rather than up and victorious … would you realize this timeless truth and would you understand the need to fight the battle spiritually by using the spiritual weapons of the full armor of God (such as the shield of faith – see Ephesians 6:14-18 for the complete list). Would you make the choice to honor God above all? If you answered yes then you can be assured He will give you the strength you need to deal with any resistance His way. This means you can choose to not take your friend’s anger personally, but, instead, can choose to love them unconditionally even as you continue to stand your ground, keeping true to your convictions, believing that their resistance will eventually be dissolved … and when that happens, you will find that your faith has been strengthened as well. You will realize that it was only when you had been put to the test that you were able to find out how to lean on God’s power within you, then, from first-hand experience you will have realized how great and mighty His power really is … so great that whatever resistance you need to face in the future you can believe and have confidence that God will enable you to stand your ground!