Have you ever had one of those days (or weeks) when everything seems to be going wrong? Sometimes it is the result of a living in this sinful world where things break and fall apart, where people get sick and hurt and where God is not honored. But at other times we are encountering resistance. Spiritual resistance from the enemy.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4, ESV
What is Spiritual Resistance?
Spiritual resistance occurs when you are in the center of God’s will for you. When we are where God wants us to be and doing (or preparing to do) what He has called us to do, the enemy recognizes this and tries to place resistance in our path in order to discourage us. When this happens we are tempted to remove our focus from what God is calling us to do in order to deal with the “emergency.” We can also be tempted to become discouraged and turn away from what God is calling us to do.
Identifying Spiritual Resistance
I’m not from a charismatic background. I rarely raise my hands during worship. I don’t see a demon behind every bush or under every bad thing. But sometimes there is a check in my spirit. The Holy Spirit is revealing to me that something significant is happening in the spiritual realm.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5, ESV
We’ve experienced it in the past. One Saturday night our children would not sleep well. We were up with restless kids, we were kept up by restless dogs, our spirits felt restless. The next day Tony was leading music for church and the pastor was planning to bring a challenging message. Resistance. We calmly dealt with our children (over and over!) and tried to sleep when we could and underlined it all with quiet, personal prayer. A word here or there in our minds. A song or scripture in our hearts as we drifted off to sleep. All seemed to go fine on Sunday morning. Nothing major happened good or bad (that we know of), but God sees more than we will ever see.
What to do When You Encounter Resistance
Know what you know
- God is all-knowing and all-powerful. Nothing happens apart from His knowledge and nothing is outside of His power.
- God is good. Whatever is happening is for His glory and my good. (Romans 8:28-30)
- God calls us to trust Him and obey Him, even when we don’t understand.
- God is more powerful than the enemy.
- The enemy only can do what God allows him to do.
About the enemy:
- The enemy is NOT all powerful and NOT all-knowing, God is.
- The enemy is against God and tries his best to thwart God’s plans, but he can only do what God allows him to do.
- The enemy cannot read our minds/thoughts.
- The enemy cannot be everywhere.
Surround yourself with truth and pray
When we are tempted to be discouraged and to give up, we need to focus on the truth. On who God is and what He has done. We need to continue in the direction He has shown us while still being open to His leading to change course.
We pray for God’s wisdom and direction (James 1:5). We pray even when we don’t know what to pray for (Romans 8:26-27). We pray boldly and we pray out loud (because the enemy can’t “hear” our thoughts). We pray for others as God brings them to mind; maybe we are feeling the resistance for someone else.
I can’t pretend to understand everything about God, the enemy, spiritual resistance and prayer. But I can act on the truth I have been given and trust God with the rest.
Have you encountered resistance? How do you deal with it?