Calvary Road Baptist Church


Luke 13.24

Part Fifteen

We previously considered opposition to striving arising from ignorance and arising from a proud resistance to the humbling effects of striving.

Third, there is demonic opposition to striving. Allow me to focus on one illustrative example found in the Apostle Paulís dealings with the Christians in the Galatian churches. While you are turning to Paulís letter to the Galatians, let me to remind you that the Galatians had a problem with Judaizers, professing Christians who distorted the gospel message. Not only that, Paulís argument to the Galatians includes a reference to how very easily even the Apostle Peter had been led to distort gospel truth. With that in mind, consider several verses with me:

 Galatians 1.6-8:  6      I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

7      Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

8      But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

 For our purposes, only two things need to be pointed out in these three verses: First, notice Paulís alarm that the Christians he is writing to were so soon led astray concerning gospel truth, showing that Christians can be suddenly duped. Second, Paul points out that no one has the authority to alter the gospel, not Paul and his colleagues, or an angel. Thus, by mentioning an angel, Paul implies a supernatural element in opposition to the truth of the gospel, and to the means employed to bring sinners to Christ with the gospel. It is an error commonly held today that the means of evangelism is separate and distinct from the message of evangelism, because the means employed to bring sinners to the brink of repentance and faith is integral to the gospel itself.

 Galatians 2.11-13:    11     But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.

12     For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.

13     And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.

Notice that this spiritual conflict believers today are still engaged in is such that even an Apostle could be temporarily drawn off course, and he in turn led others to err in the same way he erred.

 First Timothy 4.1-6:    1      Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

2      Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

3      Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

4      For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:

5      For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

6      If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.

 In these remarks to young Timothy, Paul warns of the influence of seducing spirits and the doctrines of devils (literally demons), the effect that their influence has on the lost, and the doctrines they promote (reminding us of what Peter had done that drew Paulís strong rebuke). Thus, even evil spirits can so influence Christians that they embrace wrong doctrines, as we saw with the Apostle Peter. This evokes a question. Where do you think the ultimate opposition to striving comes from, in view of the fact that the Author of striving as a remedy for the effects of gospel resistance is the Lord Jesus Christ? Insofar as demons seek to influence even Christians, one should expect serious demonic opposition to the single most effective means of grace given to humble the hardened sinner before his God, which is striving to enter in at the strait gate. The demons, like their lord the devil himself, are proud and opposed to humility. Therefore, they are certainly seeking to oppose any sinner humbling himself by means of striving.

Fourth, there is opposition to striving arising from sinfulness. This is a more general argument that even genuine Christians can sometimes align with their lost friends and loved ones in opposing efforts to bring them to Christ. Sentiment can sometimes be a very powerful motive, and it is not unusual for most Christians to be able to look back on times when their good sense was overwhelmed by sentiment. This can be especially true when a lost child or spouse stops at nothing to manipulate a Christian into believing things that are contrary to the clear declaration of Godís Word. This is especially the case when a lost loved one, shown to be lost by his fruitlessness and his inattention to church fellowship and the encouragement of Christian brethren, insists that he is a Christian and plays on a believerís sentiment to wishfully endorse his ludicrous claim. Excuse me, but such sentiment is sinful. It is just plain wrong. It displays a disheartening lack of faith in Godís Word as a reliable source of guidance in both describing and dealing with the lost. Are you a creedal and confessional Christian? Do you embrace what is held to be true by orthodox Christians down through the centuries, even what is taught in Godís Word about the spiritual condition and conduct of those who are unsaved? Unless Christians themselves are very humble, they can be misled into believing that they have superior discernment with respect to their loved ones than anyone else in the world has. Of course, such naivetť creates opportunities for terrible manipulation of the Christian by the lost loved one.

In such cases, unsaved people who simply love sin can influence believers. Some sinners love their lies more than they love their own souls, and will do almost anything to protect their pretense and to promote their proud facade. John 3.19 applies to your lost loved one as much as it applies to any other unsaved person: ďAnd this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.Ē Do you see that loved oneís evil deeds? If not, you are likely blinded by sentiment. You must have the eyes to see your loved oneís sinfulness. Take off the rose-colored glasses and observe the shades of color as they really are. In such cases, unsaved people who embrace victimhood in order to shift blame for misconduct can influence believers. Blame shifting was a pattern that began with Adam, was quickly learned by Eve, and has been passed down to every generation through the centuries. I am sometimes astonished by parents who ought to know better, but allow their unsaved children to blame others for their problems, who allow their children to shift responsibility for their refusal to embrace Christ to others, and who allow all manner of manipulative speech and conduct designed to minimize their lost loved onesí guiltiness. Can you in good conscience allow that pattern of blame shifting? You cannot, in good conscience. However, I promise you that refusing to agree with such blame shifting may result in your lost loved one turning on you, perhaps verbally attacking you and accusing you of not being loving or understanding, and of siding with your loved oneís enemies. What you need to understand is that in Romans 7.13, Paul writes, ďBut sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.Ē Adam Clarke commented, ďThus it appears that man cannot have a true notion of sin but by means of the law of God.Ē In other words, you have to be a minister of the Law to your lost loved one to help him see his guiltiness and culpability. Though he may successfully shift blame when talking to everyone else he knows, he must not be allowed to get away with that when he is around you. In such cases, unsaved people who are without faith can influence believers. Second Thessalonians 3.2 tells us, ďFor all men have not faith.Ē It takes faith to believe that God is. It takes faith to believe that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. It takes faith to strive. Of course, it takes faith to be saved from your sins. Face the possibility that your loved one does not have faith. I do not mean that he does not have saving faith, but that he does not have any faith at all, which is a terrible possibility. Faith manifests itself wherever it is found and merely attending church and behaving respectfully is no necessary sign of faith. Thus, when you consider how studiously some people avoid church, avoid listening to sermons when they do attend, and avoid being counseled for conversion, perhaps it is time you seriously consider whether your loved one is not only apart from Jesus Christ, but in the deep recesses of his mind questions whether God really is. Does that possibility trouble you? It ought to. I suggest that you not attempt to comfort yourself by naively asking your loved one, ďSon, do you believe in God?Ē Of course, he will indicate that he does, whether he does or not.

Though it is a concept the unsaved of this world do not accept, God actually displays His mercy by assigning to each sinner complete responsibility for his own sins. Here are words from a modern folks song found in Competent To Counsel, by Jay E. Adams, that characterizes sentiment of our modern age:

 I went to my psychiatrist to be psychoanalyzed

To find out why I killed the cat and blacked my husbandís eyes.

He laid me on a downy couch to see what he could find,

And here is what he dredged up from my subconscious mind:

When I was one, my mommie hid my dolly in a trunk,

And so it follows naturally that I am always drunk.

When I was two, I saw my father kiss the maid one day,

And that is why I suffer now from kleptomania.

At three, I had the feeling of ambivalence toward my brothers,

And so it follows naturally I poison all my lovers.

But I am happy; now Iíve learned the lesson this has taught;

That everything I do thatís wrong is someone elseís fault.

 I am not suggesting that your lost loved one goes so far in shifting blame that he blames others for everything he does that is wrong. He will always concede on principle that he is responsible, while insisting on the particulars that the issue for which he is now being confronted about is someone elseís fault. Where is Godís mercy in assigning blame to the sinner for every action? How can the sinner reconcile with God concerning the faults of others? How do we seek forgiveness for the sins of others? It is only by recognizing our culpability, our guiltiness, that we can seek Godís forgiveness for our sins through faith in Christís saving work on the cross. To allow a lost loved one to shift blame to another is to deny them the standing before God to seek Christ as the remedy for their own sins.

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