THE TRIUMPHS OF CHRISTIANS OVER OPPOSITIONS AND DISCOURAGEMENTS IN THE LAST DAYS
Written by Samuel Idoko Abah
Christians in this Last Days are experiencing fierce oppositions and discouragement at different time and stages of their spirituality in Christ. These oppositions have adverse effect in the life of many Christians in one way or the other. Today, many Christians are on the verge of abandoning the Faith completely (1 Timothy 4:1) while others have metamorphosed into nominal Christians who do not produce any fruit of righteousness and holiness of Christ because of the fierce oppositions and discouragement from the Evil one. Second Timothy Chapter 3: 1-5 describes the Last Days as a period when evil is multiplying in the world more than the love of God. Our present age is characterized by harmful or dangerous activities ranging from suicide bomb attack, religious intolerance leading to destruction of lives and properties; political unrest, emergence of little antichrist, rampart cases of premarital sex leading to unwanted pregnancy, marital unfaithfulness leading to quarrel, divorce and broken homes, children disrespecting their parents, excessive greed and lust, etc. All these are perpetrated by Satan and his agents because Satan knows that his time to be judged is near. Secondly, he is aware of the preparations Christians are making towards the imminent coming of Jesus Christ to rapture His church. Satan does not want to go to hell alone, so he is looking for someone to accompany him to hell. 1 Peter 5: 8 tells us that “the Devil, roams round like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” Scripture also tells us in John 10:10 that “the thief comes only in order to steal, kill, and destroy but Jesus Christ have come in order that we might have abundant life.”
Consequently, Satan is very ardent to steal, kill or to destroy the precious salvation brought to humanity by Jesus Christ through His death on the cross. For Satan to effectively achieve this aim, he organizes his army, fortifies them and employs strategies to oppose, to discourage and to surmount the effort of Christians who are striving daily to live righteous life worthy of the oncoming rapture of the saints. It is this background that this article is written to draw the attention of all Christians to the ongoing battle in this last days. It will also helps to build the hope of Christians as refugees in this world and to sensitize them on the methods to be employed in order to triumph over the nefarious activities of Satan and his agents in this last days.
How does this opposition and discouragement affect our Christian Life today?
A study of the Scriptures will help us understand vividly how the opposition and discouragement from the kingdom of Satan affect our Christian lives today.
A time came that the walls and gates of the city of Jerusalem were destroyed and Nehemiah, who has a burden for the things of God, sought for permission from the Emperor Artaxerxes to go and rebuild the walls and gates of the city, which the Emperor granted him express permission, (Nehemiah 2: 1-12). When Nehemiah and his men had begun rebuilding the wall, Sanballat and his companions stood there to discourage them by saying “What do these miserable Jews think they are doing? Do they intend to rebuild the city?…”. Tobiah, another enemy of Nehemiah said “What kind of wall could they ever build? Even a fox could knock it down”, and so many other discouraging statements they said to Nehemiah and his men (Nehemiah 4:1-6). When Nehemiah and his men refused to be discouraged and were making progress in the rebuilding, Sanballat, Tobiah, and the people of Arabia, Ammon, and Ashdod resorted to attack them with another method, that is, by a threat to kill them during their work. Inspite of this fierce opposition, Nehemiah and the rest of his workers did not stop working but continued in the face of the battle. Nehemiah achieved this by instructing half of his men to work and half stood guard with weapons. “Even those who carried building materials worked with one hand and kept a weapon in the other hand”. Sometimes the workers were divided into two groups. One group worked from morning till night while the other group stood on guard with spears at night until the building was completed (Nehemiah 4: 7-23). The opposition only affected the speed at which the work would have been completed but it did not stop the work of God.
There are many Christians today like Nehemiah, who have burden for the growth of the Church as well as salvation of sinners. These Christians give themselves no rest until they have sewed seed of the word of God in the life of the ungodly. Because of their love for the sinners, they are determined to sacrifice their time, energy, money and to risk their lives in order to win sinners to Christ. In their quest to do this, Satan opposes and discourages them greatly in many ways. Today, we have Sanballat and Tobiah in our societies who are ready to go at any lent to oppose and to discourage the Christians from carrying out their religious obligations. Remember that the aim of Nehemiah’s enemies was to stop the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem (the city of the children of God) and possibly to stop the children of God from worshiping their God in the city of Jerusalem.
Today, we see similar oppositions and discouragements coming to the Body of Christ from the kingdom of darkness. For examples, the emergence of suicide bomb attack on Churches today in some part of the world is a strategy from the kingdom of Satan to oppose the Church of God and his followers in this end time. Christians in Nigeria have witnessed much suicide bomb attack on Churches between the month of October, 2011 and January, 2012. On 25th December, 2011 (Christmas day) many Christians died as a result of this suicide bomb attack on one Catholic Church in the North in Nigeria. Furthermore, there had been series of threat from some members of the non-Christians religion to the Christians in the North, that they should go back to where they come from (i.e. Christians who came from South, East and West) else, they have themselves to be blamed – (there will be a complete massacre of Christians in the North). This threat, however, was not an empty threat. Soon after this threat, some Christians in the Northern part of Nigeria were killed and many Churches in the North were burnt down. As a result of these persecutions, many Christians are now afraid to go to Church to worship God. This strategy of Satan is intended to discourage the children of God from coming together to worship their God and to make them lose focus on Christ. This ongoing malady in the world today foreshadows tribulation that the book of Revelation talked about which will come upon the people who will be left behind after the Rapture. (This information is not intended for you to hate anyone but to pray for everyone, even those who hate you and your religion. Remember, Jesus said that you should pray for your enemy, do good to your enemy, love them, by that you fulfill the law of God). Matthew 5: 43-48, 1 Timothy 2: 1-5
When Apostle Paul was preaching to the Corinthian Churches, he experienced a lot of attack from the gentiles. In the same way Christians of this age are being opposed because of the Way of Christ. The devil is strategizing to discourage Christians from preaching the word of God. If these Christians overcome one opposition the devil takes another method to oppose and discourage them just like Nehemiah. The opposition of Nehemiah by his enemies was in stages as explained above. The second stage of Devil’s opposition was the threat to kill his workers in order to stop the building of the walls of Jerusalem. The same thing is said of Christians of this age. It is worth noting here that the Devil does not give up in opposing you as a reborn Christian. If you win one battle (temptation) today, another battle awaits you as it goes in stages. The Devil is always hoping that he will win you to himself but he will not because the Scripture tells us in 1 John 4:4 that He that is in us is greater than the one that is in the world.
In Job 2:9-10, we see also that the wife of Job who should be an agent of encouragement to job during his trials become an agent of discouragement to Job. She said “You are still as faithful as ever, aren’t you? Why don’t you curse God and die?” But Job replied his wife “You are talking nonsense…”. Inspite of everything job suffered, he said nothing against God. Job further expressed that no matter the discouragement from friends and family members he will never give up his claim to right and good conscience (Job 27: 1-7).
Like Job, many Christians of this age are facing discouragement from their wives, friends, parents, in-laws or employers. Point to note here is that Christians of this age should not give up righteousness because of the negative influence of their wives, husbands, friends, and relations. Devil could afflict you with severe sickness or disease like Job to prevent you from participating in Bible studies; fellowship with brethren in the Church; unable to carry out your usual Christian routine such as visitation, evangelism, prayer meeting, etc. The situation is worse when that child of God is a leader or is holding key position in the church, which his presence in the fellowship is vital to strengthen the Faith of others. When a child of God is facing all these problems, his attention will be divided and he will lack focus to pray against the nefarious activities of the Devil. The Devil could afflict your finances, business and your academic career and ruin it to zero point but don’t give up.
Jeremiah also experienced similar opposition and discouragement from the people of Anathoth who wanted to kill him when he was determined to proclaim the Lord’s message. But Jeremiah said to God “I have placed my cause in your hands; so let me watch you take revenge on these people” (Jeremiah 11: 18-23). Brethren, your determination to embark on evangelism will attract the Devil. It calls for the forces of darkness to mark you because you are into a fierce battle to win sinners into the kingdom of God. Therefore, when you see signs of opposition from the enemy, know it that you are being opposed because of the way of the Truth and then you take up the full armour of God for complete victory over the enemies. It is better for you to suffer for doing good than to suffer for doing evil.
How can Christians Triumph over the opposition and discouragement from the Kingdom of Darkness?
Saint Paul cautioned the Ephesians Christians in Ephesians 6:10-18, saying “Finally, build up your strength in union with the Lord and by means of His mighty power, put on all the armour that God gives you, so that you will be able to stand up against the Devil’s evil tricks…”. Inability to put on the whole armour of God by Christians in this perilous time could give the Devil a chance to manipulate on the Christians, possess and even kill a Christian at the end. Saint Paul identified seven armour of God with which the Christians could use to extinguish the fire of Satan and his agents. These are (i) The Girdle of Truth, (ii) The Breastplate of Righteousness, (iii) The Shoes of the Preparation of the Gospel, (iv) The Shield of Faith, (v) The Helmet of Salvation, (vi) The Sword of the Spirit, and (vii) Prayer. It is advisable that all Christians, young and old, must put on the complete armour of God today as listed above, so as to be fortified against the arrows of the enemy that flies in the day and at night (Psalm 91: 1- ). We must, as a matter of urgency put on these armour today, not tomorrow, for tomorrow may be late, so that we can continually triumph over the Devil and his agents.
Secondly, Bible tells us in Revelation 12: 11 that “our brothers and sisters overcome the Devil by the Blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimonies”. Pleading the Blood of Jesus Christ in your life, family and business daily is an effectual means of winning the battle. There is power in the Blood of Jesus. In the time of Moses, the children of Israelite escaped death because they applied divine Blood on their door posts and the Angel of death pass by and killed every first male child of the Egyptians.
Thirdly, the Bible tells us in Proverbs 18: 10 that the name of the Lord is a strong tower, where the righteous can go and be safe. Philippians 2: 8-11 tells us that Jesus Christ was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death – His death on the cross. For this reason God raised him to the highest place above and gave him the name that is greater than any other name. And so, in honour of the name of Jesus all beings in heaven, on earth, and in the world below will fall on their knees, and all will openly proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Believe strongly on the power in the name of Jesus Christ and your desire will be established in this perilous time.
Fourth, living righteous life is a key to victory over the enemy. Scripture tells us in Ephesians 6: 14 that righteousness is a breastplate which protects a Christian from the arrow of the evil ones. Living holy and righteous life is a great weapon to win the ongoing battle. We must resist the devil so that he will flee from us. If you claim to be a child of God yet you sin perpetually God does not condone sin. God does not share his glory with Satan. We cannot serve God and the Devil. Be separated completely from sin and anything that causes you to sin. By this, you have assurance of living a victorious Christian life till Christ calls you to His glory.
Conclusively, it is true that Christians all over the world are facing one form of oppositions or the other from the kingdom of Satan. Inspite of these oppositions and discouragements, a true reborn child of God does not get weary (Isaiah 40: 33-35), neither does he become timid but put his trust on God and triumphs over every opposition and discouragement. Such reborn Christian is proactive, he knows what to do when such situations surfaces. While he is running the race of salvation, he is mindful of the fact that one day opposition and discouragement will come his way; it could be from his employer, boss in the office, friends, wife, children, mother, father, in-law or his fellow Christian. Let us device a principle to attack the enemy like Nehemiah. As the enemy of Nehemiah changes strategies to oppose him and his workers, Nehemiah in turn changes to another method to counter the attack of the enemy. Again, we see that Nehemiah did not sleep nor was he weary during the attack. Most importantly, he did not allow the attack to surmount his effort in the rebuilding of the walls of the city of Jerusalem. In the same way, you should not allow the ongoing opposition or little tribulation in this age to discourage you from serving the Living God who is our Creator and Father forever.
Finally, Scripture tells us in Revelation 2: 10 saying, “ Don’t be afraid of anything you are about to suffer. Listen! The Devil will put you to the test by having some of you thrown into prison, and your troubles will last ten days. Be faithful to me, even if it means death, and I will give you life as your prize of victory.” “If you have ears, then, listen to what the Spirit says to the churches!” “Those who win the victory will not be hurt by the second death.”
Jesus Christ encouraged us about persecution in Matthew 5: 11-12 saying “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” The point here is that if the great prophets of God of old (John the Baptist, Stephen, Apostle Paul, Jesus himself, and so many others) were persecuted, I see no reason why you should not be persecuted too. Persecution should not drive us away from Christ but on the contrary, it should draw us closer to God and have quality fellowship with Him every day. The affliction we face hear on earth because of Christ is minimal, is little, compare to the everlasting joy and happiness that awaits us afterlife. Don’t be afraid of those who can kill the body only, but rather be afraid of God who can kill the body and put your soul in hell fire. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be upon His children on earth to surmount all the power of the evil ones. As you read this article, please pray for me to be effective in the services of our Lord Jesus Christ, pray for peace in the entire world, pray also for the growth of the Churches and Christians in the world. Thank you. Remain blessed and focused in Christ.