Today’s Reading: Neh 4:1–5:19, 1 John 4:16–21, Ps 109:1–15
Today’s Themes: Dealing with Opposition
Today we look at the tools God has given us to help us deal with those who oppose God’s purpose in general and specifically in our lives as individuals or as a community. These include having a mind to work, pray, act, fight and love.
A Mind to Work
So we built the wall. And all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work. Nehemiah 4:6 (ESV)
The people had set their minds to work so the insults and taunts from the opposition had no effect.
To deal with the opposition of the enemy in our lives we must set our minds to the work that God has called us to do.
In Paul’s teaching on the new life we have in Christ (found in Ephesians 4:17-32) we read that that we should put off our old self with its bad way of thinking. We should instead be renewed in our minds and put on the new self.
We also read in Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
We are called to have the same humble/serving mind that Christ had and we are encouraged that we actually do have the mind of Christ by God the Holy Spirit who brings the words of Christ to our remembrance. 1 Corinthians 2:16 and Philippians 2:5.
Having our minds set on God is a great weapon of defence while under attack.
Pray and Act
And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night. Nehemiah 4:9 (ESV)
Nehemiah and the people prayed to God and set a guard.
We need to pray and act. There is no point in praying about something that we are not willing to do anything about. Our prayers should not be said in isolation from our actions.
One of the greatest ways of dealing with the enemy (flesh, world or devil) is to pray to the Lord concerning the area of attack and act in faith according to the prayer we just made.
When we pray, God answers by his word and the Holy Spirit, we need to respond in faith and obedience. 2 Thessalonians 1:11.
If we pray for God to deliver us we should not continue to walk in sin.
If we ask God to help us with our finances we should not still spend frivolously.
If we pray that God helps us forgive someone we need to go and actually forgive them.
If we are praying for souls to be saved we actually need to go and share the gospel.
And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.” Nehemiah 4:14 (ESV)
The best defence is a good offense!
We should not be afraid of the enemy because we have a great and awe inspiring God. If God is for us, who can stand a chance against us? Romans 8:31.
One of the motivations for us to fight is for our own families and our family in Christ. Fight for the man standing next to you in the Lord’s army, fight for your children, fight for your spouse, fight for your parents, siblings, uncles, aunts and cousins.
How do we fight?
We fight by tearing down the bad thinking, philosophies, world views and teaching that keep people in bondage.
We read in 2 Corinthians 10:4–5 “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ”.
The war is spiritual and our fight is in the spirit realm. We read in Ephesians 6:11–12 “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
who were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. Nehemiah 4:17 (ESV)
We deal with opposition by working. We need to be like the rebuilders of the wall. Building with one hand and holding a weapon in the other.
The opposition of the enemy is ultimately to halt the work of God in our lives and the wider church community. We need to keep the work going to the glory of God.
Jesus said in John 9:4 “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. “
God is the one who began the good work in us and will perfect it. Philippians 1:6.
Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people. Nehemiah 5:19 (ESV)
Nehemiah was a just leader who feared the Lord and showed remarkable generosity.
We are also called to be generous. Generosity is contrary to the desires of the flesh, the ways of the world and the plans of the enemy. Just giving and serving generously serves as a blow against the enemy and a victory for the kingdom of God.
How can you be generous?
We read in 2 Corinthians 9:6–7 “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
God will reward our generosity.
1 John 4:16–21
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1 John 4:16 (ESV)
We deal with opposition by abiding (staying, living, taking up residence) in God. We abide by walking in love towards God and our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Again love is shown as the evidence of our relationship with God.
The Confidence of Love
By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 1 John 4:17 (ESV)
Faith in God’s love for us and God’s loving nature (God is love) gives us confidence and dispels all fear concerning the day of judgement. As we read in the next verse perfect love casts out all fear.
We do not need to fear the judgment to come because we are securely held in the love of God. It is through God’s love that we have eternal security and assurance.
A Weapon Against Fear
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18 (ESV)
Love is an offensive weapon in our war. We use it to cast out the fears of the enemy. God’s love is perfected in us as we walk in love and just doing this will cast out all the seeds of fear and doubt planted by the enemy.
Perfect love is perfected or worked out love. We don’t just believe in God’s love, we live it out.
And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4:21 (ESV)
We are commanded to love one another. The fact that it is a command shows us that this is not God’s decreed will but His desired will so we need to actively obey this command.
We need to get to work, the work of loving one another. This is the greatest weapon we have as we resist the enemy together.
Give Yourself to Prayer
In return for my love they accuse me, but I give myself to prayer. Psalm 109:4 (ESV)
We should follow the example of the Lord Jesus when facing opposition. We must give ourselves over to prayer and put our trust in the Lord.
This psalm is like a prayer of spiritual warfare also known as the Psalms of vengeance or Imprecatory (curses called upon the enemy) psalms.
Most of the above post is a copy of the original notes from the same date in 2014.
The Gospel Coalition on 1 John 4