Why Resistance to the Gospel is Ultimately Spiritual – Every Time
When sharing our faith – particularly with those who oppose our message – we must recognize the real problem; the real reason why there is resistance. Allow me to explain a bit more.
When we are sharing the gospel and someone begins pushing back, the context of the conversation may indicate their objection is only intellectual or only emotional. Or perhaps we diagnose the problem as only experiential because they’ve mentioned how they are surrounded by hypocritical Christians who do not practice what they preach.
All those explanations may have some merit, but none of them constitute the real problem. Ultimately, the reason for resistance in evangelism is spiritual. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 explains it well.
“But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”
The real problem is that they are blinded spiritually. That is why, unless the Holy Spirit works in their lives, they will not be able to comprehend the truth of the gospel. It is only as the Holy Spirit convicts them of their sin and His sin solution that they will come to Christ. Christ explained in John 16:8,
“And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.”
How does understanding the real problem help us in sharing our faith? Three ways come to mind.
Recognizing resistance is spiritual helps you realize why they say what they say
Ephesians 2 explains that nonbelievers are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1-3) and 2 Timothy states they are ensnared by the trap of the devil who has “taken them captive to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:26). The enemy is dictating what they say and even how they say it.
Recognizing that can help you avoid frustrating thoughts like, “Why can’t they see it? It is so simple. Why can’t they see I am just trying to help them?” The reason is they are Satan’s children, not God’s children. Nothing will change until they come to Christ.
Recognizing resistance is spiritual keeps you from disputes and arguments
Instead of constantly trying to counter their argument with yours, you can take 2 Timothy 2:23-25 to heart. The passage begins,
“But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.”
That phrase means one argument leads to another argument, which leads to another argument. Paul tells Timothy in that same passage,
“And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth.”
Paul’s point is that the non-Christian needs a humble attitude from us, not a hostile argument. Knowing that resistance to the gospel is ultimately spiritual helps in that area because it keeps us from entering into disputes and arguments and simply responding to them the way they do to us. Our attitude (more than are arguments) are most likely to be used of God to bring them to “repentance so that they may know the truth.”
That does not mean that we do not kindly address any argument they have. It simply prevents you from arguing with them as they desire to do with you. The problem is ultimately not their argument. Once more, the problem is ultimately spiritual. Since they are blinded spiritually, what they are saying makes complete sense to them.
Recognizing resistance is spiritual keeps you from going down unnecessary rabbit trails
When we speak to non-Christians, they often head down rabbit trails of their liking:
Do you believe in creation or evolution?
Where did Cain get his wife?
Do you think Jonah was actually swallowed by a fish?
Don’t you think that some of the miracles reported in the Bible are a bit far-fetched?
The Bible is so old. How can I trust it?
When you recognize that resistance to the gospel is ultimately spiritual, it will help you keep your conversation centered in the gospel. That is where the power lies.
Paul says in Romans 1:16,
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…”
The power is in the message, not in us as the messengers.
Over the course of 49 years in evangelism, I have seen people come to our outreaches as convinced atheists. My message that night was not designed to prove there is a God. Instead, it was simply how you come to know the God who is. God used the simple and powerful declaration of Christ’s death and resurrection to bring many to Christ. One man I am thinking of said, “I cannot explain what happened. God convinced me He is for real, and I want to trust Him as my personal Savior.”
Recognizing that resistance to the gospel is ultimately spiritual is critical in evangelism. A wrong diagnosis could cause us to spend time and conversation in areas where it may not be that helpful. The problem facing unbelievers is ultimately spiritual. They are what the Bible calls “blinded.” That is why they need our pleas for them to come to Christ, but they also need our prayers. One man said it well when he said, “I always thought the problem was my head, but I found out it was my heart.”
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