In recent decades it has become common to talk of pushing back against those who impose themselves onto us. The term ‘boundaries’ is used to define our personal space and we are encouraged to push back against those who cross such boundaries.
Whatever the merit of such ideas in social interaction I want to point out some Biblical notions of Pushing Back and Standing against things that are harmful for us.
The Bible talks of us learning to ‘stand’ or stand firm. This is where we have settled our conviction and the choice of what we believe and we hold fast to that choice, even under pressure to give in.
“So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.” 2Thessalonians 2:15
“Stand firm therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1
“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.” Hebrews 4:14
In order to hold our position we will have to push back, or resist those things that press us to give in. There are three main sources of pressure that we need to resist: people, the devil and our fleshly desires.
We have to resist or push back against pressure from people who want us to conform to their ideas. Sadly, many believers are attacked by family and friends because of their faith. This creates a trial of our faith which we are to accept as a way of God deepening us in our conviction and our godly character.
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in various trials so that the authenticity of your faith, which is more precious than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire, may result in praise, glory, and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1Peter 1:6,7
“Knowing this, that the trying of your faith produces patience.” James 1:3
We do not seek strife with those who oppose us, but we need to hold to our choice to believe and trust Christ, even when people mock or scoff or make life difficult for us. We trust ourselves to God. Rather than pushing back by attacking people, we push back to simply hold our ground and be unmoved.
We are also told to resist the devil and we have even been given armour and weaponry to empower us in that battle.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
“Be sober-minded and alert. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brothers throughout the world. 1Peter 5:9,10
“Above all, take the shield of faith, by which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” Ephesians 6:16
We overcome the enemy by being washed in the blood of Jesus and by our confession of faith in Christ.
“They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives to the death.” Revelation 12:11
We also use the name of Jesus, because it is the most powerful name in all eternity.
“Therefore God has highly exalted him and conferred on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11
In New Testament times some men tried casting out a demon and they used the name of Jesus. But they had not committed their own life to Christ so they had no right to use that name against the enemy.
“Some vagabond Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches. Seven sons of a Jewish chief priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered, Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?” Acts 19:13-15
We also have to push back against our own flesh. This is the process of saying ‘No!’ to our own selfish desires. Our human nature wants to be indulged, so it lusts after anything that will please the flesh or boost our pride. We have to crucify this part of our old life.
“Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts.” Galatians 5:24
One of the purposes of disciplining children is to teach them not to give in to their selfish impulses, such as greed, retaliation and spite, self-will and self-indulgence. We all need to put aside our selfish impulses and do what is right or what our responsibilities require, before we look after ourselves.
We learn to ‘push back’ against our own impulses, and we put to death all those desires that war against God’s will and purposes.
As we push back against those who oppose us, the devil and our own selfishness, we find we have room to love and serve God and to seek God’s Kingdom with great effect. If we are double-minded about what we believe and where we stand we will be unstable, and we will be taken captive by the enemy and our own lusts.
“A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” James 1:8
“That they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” 2Timothy 2:26
Friends, don’t get distracted by pushing back against others so you can do your own thing. But do push back against things that would stop you loving and serving God and living by faith in Him. When that is your objective there is great Biblical reason and encouragement to be successful in Pushing Back.