Every Christian—at some time in his life—will face opposition from the ungodly (2 Tim. 3:12). It may raise its head due to some religious error. It may appear in the form of persecution at work or school. It may exist as the very environment of the society in which you live. This makes it essential that every Christian prepare to recognize the tactics consistently used by Satan’s minions as well as how best to respond. When Nehemiah led the inhabitants of Judaea in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, he encountered significant opposition from Sanballat and Tobiah who led a faction of those who had taken ownership of the land during the captivity of Judah and its aftermath. Both their tactics and Nehemiah’s response in turn prove very educational.
Opponents of truth will become angry with any success made by God’s people (Neh. 4:1a). They will make fun of our efforts using every possible means available to trivialize a righteous undertaking that they oppose (Neh. 4:11b-3). They will not stop when first rebuffed but will redouble their efforts to make our work increasingly difficult (Neh. 4:7). They will attack, time and time again, hoping to create confusion and disarray among God’s people (Neh. 4:8).
There is nothing we can do to prevent spiritual opposition, but there are important steps we can take to prepare ourselves and respond positively for God.
- We can recognize the attack for what it is: an attack on God and His will (Neh. 4:4-5). Far too often we allow ourselves to be caught up in the emotion of the moment and take such opposition personally, when in fact its motivations run far deeper than that.
- We should focus on the work God wants us to do even more than before (Neh. 4:6). Since the purpose of opposition is to demoralize us in our work, the best response is renewed vigor and zeal for God in what we do for Him (1 Cor. 15:58).
- We should bow before God and pray about the situation while remaining constantly vigilant, combining faith with action (Neh. 4:9).
- We must recognize our own weaknesses, both individually and congregational, and address them (Neh. 4:10-13). The threat of an attack is real, which means that fear is real. Therefore, we must strengthen our faith in God while realizing what is at stake (Neh. 4:14).
- While opposition will exist, we cannot afford to let it become our focus. To the contrary, we must continue our work even while preparing to fend off ungodly attacks (Neh. 4:15-18).
- When we recognize the ruthlessness of Satan and his attacks, we will unite together with our brethren and aid one another whenever necessary to fight off his incursions into our lives (Neh. 4:19-20).
- We must accept that this is now simply part of life. We cannot afford to let our guard down at any moment. We must always be ready because an attack can come at any moment (Neh. 4:21-23).
We live in a world hostile to God in multiple ways. Therefore, it should not surprise us when people attack us for our stand for God, whether our stand for morality in life, our stand for truth in doctrine, or our stand for integrity in behavior. We should expect us much. Throughout the ages this is what the faithful have faced. While the difficulties and challenges surrounding us can wear on our very souls, we can look in faith to the many who have gone before us and anticipate the joys of victory when we see the rewards of their perseverance. We cannot escape the attacks from Satan while upon this earth. That is part of what this world brings. But we certainly can prepare ourselves for them—and must.