|Volume 25 Number 6 June 2023
Fighting Against God
In Acts 5, after being imprisoned for teaching Jesus, escaping from that prison by the assistance of an angel of the Lord and then being brought again before the Jewish council, the apostles were ever resolved to “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29 NKJV). At that council, one man named Gamaliel showed wisdom in reminding his Jewish brethren that others claiming to be somebody had risen to power for a short time, died and their followers consequently scattered. In stating his conclusion, Gamaliel said, “...if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it – lest you even be found to fight against God” (Acts 5:38-39).
Indeed, the book of Acts bears out over and over that the Jews did fight against God. The first century church mainly suffered persecution from Jews early on rather than from the Romans (Acts 21:27; 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16). Jesus warned of this attitude exhibited in the majority of Israel and the consequences of rejecting His will (Matthew 23-24). From the beginning of Christ’s ministry on earth to the end, the Jews continued to reject the will of God (Luke 7:29-30; 23:35). Israel did not recognize Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah of which their Scriptures prophesied. With every miracle that they saw Him do, every teaching that they heard and every prophecy He fulfilled, they turned a blind eye to it; they fought against God! The evidence that Jesus is God’s Son, Deity in human flesh, is overwhelming. (What mere man could perfectly fulfill over 300 prophecies written hundreds of years before his life?) Sadly, many continue to fight against God by rejecting Jesus as God in the flesh (Hebrews 1:1-3; 1 John 4:2-3).
There are various ways we, too, can be found fighting against God. First, we fight against Him if we reject immersion in water for the forgiveness of sins. If the Jews in Jesus’ days resisted God’s will by not submitting to John’s baptism (Luke 7:30), how much more spiritually fatal is it to reject the commandment of Christ (Mark 16:16)? Immersion is where God cuts off our sins, as we die to self, and He raises us up a new creation in Christ (Colossians 2:11-12). The Lord is doing the work! We simply submit to Him in faith. Peter, inspired by God, in Acts 2:38 clearly states: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” If baptism is not for the forgiveness of sins, then one must show where the Scriptures state that. However, the New Testament says the very opposite! “There is also an antitype which now saves us – baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21). With Ananias let us proclaim, “Why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).
We fight against God when we do not take church discipline seriously. The Lord’s church, made up of imperfect humans, will need to deal with sin. That is just a fact. It is when we do not handle those situations as God laid forth in His Word that the problem multiplies. Jesus spoke on this subject briefly, laying out the procedure to address sins (Matthew 18:15-17). The previous verses in Matthew 18:1-14 speak of the seriousness of sin (vs. 6-9 – causing others to sin and vs. 10-14 – despising the lost one). Our Lord is concerned about that one stray sheep, and so, why aren’t we? Christ wants His bride (the church) to remain pure and holy (1 Peter 1:15-16; 1 Timothy 5:22). The apostle Paul gave specific commands to congregations on how to deal with sinning brethren (Romans 16:17; 1 Corinthians 5; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14-15; Titus 3:10-11). Are we following these principles in our respective congregations? We must not think that the purity of the Lord’s body is a trivial matter. We fight against God if we do!
Another way we can fight against our Creator is when we do not submit to our God-given roles. The world, under Satan’s influence, is waging war on the roles of men and women. We must look to our authority on the subject – God’s Word. In the beginning, God created the man first (Genesis 1-2). He could have created the male and female human pair simultaneously, but He did not. There may be multiple reasons for God making man first. One of them could be that He was showing Adam (specifically at that time) and mankind (generally in the future) that the man is to be the leader. In 1 Timothy 2:13, Paul referred to this creation order (across time and culture) for the reason women are not to teach or have authority over a man (1 Timothy 2:11-12). Prior to this command for the women, Paul told the men that they are to “pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (1 Timothy 2:8). Furthermore, in Titus 2, the apostle gave instructions for men and women. Notice a reason for living in our God-given role is “that the word of God may not be blasphemed” (Titus 2:5). Many in the world have derided Paul for these statements, but Peter said the same in his epistles (1 Peter 3:1-7) – again to both women and men. Of course, Paul and Peter were both inspired by the one Author. Why do some struggle with the fact that submission is not inequality? God created both male and female in His image (Genesis 1:27), and both stand equal before their Judge in need of salvation (Galatians 3:28). God knows best, and He has told us that He desires men to lead and women to assist them – working together bringing glory to Christ. Satan wants conflict between men and women and between humans and their Creator. We are on the adversary’s side fighting against God when we do not submit to the role that He has given for us.
We fight against the Lord when we do not uphold the sanctity of marriage. Again, Satan has declared war on the home, and sadly, many Christians have invited him in to set up camp! Marriage is a beautiful picture of Christ and His bride, the church (Ephesians 5:22-33). The husband is to love his wife as his own body – nourishing and cherishing her (vs. 25-29), and the wife is to respect her husband, submitting to him (vs. 22-24, 33). This means we show love and respect to our spouse even when we don’t feel like it and during conflicts. “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4). Are we teaching young people how special marriage is? Are we teaching and helping those who are married how to stay married? A husband and wife should be a powerful team working with God against all worldliness and evil.
Another way we fight against our Maker is when we claim to love Him, but we hate our brethren (1 John 4:20-21). God has commanded us to love others. When we do not love, we are not keeping His commandments (1 John 5:2-3). Love is a distinguishing feature of Christianity to the world (John 13:34-35). The world despises Christ and His followers when they see us take our fellow brother to court (1 Corinthians 6), treat our neighbor poorly (Romans 13) or speak evil of our brother or sister. (This is a big problem on social media, James 4:11.) James further stated “that friendship with the world is enmity with God” (James 4:4). We are fighting against God when we do not love people created in His image.
God’s Word stands. It will not be made void (Isaiah 55:11). All attempts to fight against God are futile (Psalm 2). May we all “walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10) and never be found fighting against Him.