When I was in the Oklahoma Army National Guard I was a recon scout. As a recon scout my main job was to go forward of friendly lines and find out all we could about the enemy. Some of the information we were supposed to gather was what kind of weapons they had, the type of positions they were in, how well supplied they were, how many of them there were and what type of soldiers they were. Once we gathered the intel we were to pass it back to the bigwigs at headquarters.
They would then use this information to try and determine what kind of tactics the enemy would most likely use. The information we gave them would help them to determine how the enemy might attack, what they would use in the attack and how strong the attacks could be. Knowing this information about the enemy allowed the ground troops to be better prepared to face and defeat the enemy while taking minimal casualties themselves. The intel we gathered was crucial to keeping the ground troops from being blindsided by the strength and capabilities of the bad guys.
One of the ways the Christian life is described in the Bible is that of a soldier. It is never the picture of a peacetime soldier but that of a wartime soldier. The life of following Jesus and doing the work of God is not the life of shiny brass buttons, spit-shined boots and marching in parades. Instead it is the life of knowing that there is a very real enemy that will do whatever it can to destroy me or dissuade me from following Jesus and doing the work of God. If we are going to follow Jesus and do the work of God then there is information about our enemy that we need to know. One of the things we will need to know about is the many ways the enemy can oppose us as we seek to follow Jesus and do the work of God.
I do want to point out that not all opposition comes from our enemy. There is a spiritual opposition that comes because we have gotten off the right track and others are seeking to help us get back on the right track. An example of this is when Paul opposed Peter for separating from Gentile Christians after Jewish Christians had come from Jerusalem (Gal 2:11-14). While this type of opposition may not be enjoyable, it is necessary at times and for our spiritual good.
The opposition that comes from our enemy is very different than this. The unspiritual opposition that comes from the enemy usually rises out of jealousy and selfish ambition. The book of James tells us that this kind of opposition is demonic and where it exists you will also find confusion and ever other kind of evil work (James 3:13-16).
There are two main differences between spiritual and unspiritual opposition. The first is the motive of the opposition. The goal of spiritual opposition is help and restoration. Really this shouldn’t even be called opposition because that’s really not what it is even though that is what it feels like. Despite this we should see it as something that is Biblically right and good. Unspiritual opposition on the other hand has a much different goal. The goal of unspiritual opposition is hurt and hindrance. The ultimate goal of unspiritual opposition is to hurt someone bad enough that they are hindered from following Jesus and doing the work of God.
The second difference between spiritual and unspiritual opposition is the method of the opposition. Spiritual opposition will always follow Biblical guidelines on how to deal with conflicts and unspiritual will not. One of the things that I love about the Bible is the honesty in the Bible. The Bible readily admits that there will be personal conflicts in our lives and so we are given principles on how to handle these things. The Bible teaches us how deal with personal conflicts ranging from you offending me to me offending you. The Bible also gives me guiding principles on how to approach and deal with someone who has strayed in an effort to help them be restored. Those seeking to help and restore will always follow Biblical principles while those seeking to hurt and hinder will not. This week I am going to blog about some of the methods and tactics that the enemy uses to oppose us.
For further study read Nehemiah 6.
Who were the main people opposing Nehemiah and the work of God?
What kinds of actions did they take to oppose Nehemiah and the work of God?
How did Nehemiah respond to this opposition?
What can you learn about how to deal with opposition from Nehemiah’s example?