My father raised bulls at times on our farm when I was young. One in particular hated being confined to a pen, or a pasture, or multiple pastures, for that matter. When he decided that it was time to take a little walk through the fence (and I do mean through the fence), he would do so and then casually stroll wherever he might want to go. Any barrier, whether perceived or real, was seen as a threat to his freedom and would be dealt with accordingly.
One particular summer night stands out in my mind because when we discovered the bull was out again and roving about the neighborhood, we went to find him. Before the night was over, our truck got a little too close, and its grille was torn to pieces by the calmly-executed movement of a well-placed horn. The lesson learned was simple: the bull didn’t like anything that came too close. He was good-natured, as long as he had room to do just as he pleased, and as long as we didn’t invade his “space.”
I’ve seen that those things that stand in opposition to the work of God (the world, the flesh, and Satan) work in the same way. As long as you don’t “cramp their style” they will leave you alone. When you allow God to come against those towering strongholds and the unproductive ground in your life, you can count on opposition. Areas that were unthreatened will be seen by our spiritual enemies as places where the power of God is at work; Satan won’t like it, the world won’t like it, and your flesh won’t like it. I’ve talked to people who seem mystified when they try to live for Christ in the workplace and are ridiculed by people. They are stunned that a life with Christ has troubles, amazed that Satan would launch a counter-attack or attempt to undermine what God wants to do in the life of the Christian. Even more unsettling is the activity of the flesh, the habits of who you were before coming to Christ, fighting against the work of the Spirit of God.
This is why Jesus said, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19). In Romans we find the command, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:14). And Peter writes, “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). We must watch and take great care when doing the will of God. The world, the flesh and Satan will combat our every move toward obedience to Christ and anything done for God’s glory.
If you are not in the battle, you will never face the arrows. But if you are facing the arrows for Jesus’ sake, take heart in knowing that he is doing something in your life that is a threat to the enemies of God.
We will rely upon God’s power as we fight our battles. – 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.
We will remember that no matter what struggle or opposition we might face, Jesus will give the ultimate victory, and nothing will ever separate those who follow Christ from his love. – Romans 8:37-39 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We will understand more fully that our real enemies are not other people, but the spiritual forces working against the will of God. – Ephesians 6:12 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.