Monday, July 16, 2007

Jesus' Response to Peer Pressure



by Larry Rouse


www.cvillechurch.com

The prince of this world has used his power to effectively bend the will of men since the beginning. Jesus knows the tactics of Satan, “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2), and how he uses this power. Unlike any other man before or after, Jesus faced Satan and his system of pressure and prevailed without ever giving in. Towards the end of His ministry and His life Jesus said, “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.” (Jn 14:30) We would do well to learn from the author of our salvation in these confrontations.

I am convinced that the most powerful tool that Satan uses is peer pressure. Man is a social being and as a result he has a natural desire to belong to others and to fit-in to ones surroundings. Everyone knows the power of social rejection and ridicule. In Jesus’ day the intimidating threat of social ostracism caused a mother and a father to deny knowing Him. These parents had just received a gift they likely never thought possible, that their son who had been born blind from birth could now see! Why could they not stand up for Jesus who had done this gracious, mighty deed? “His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue.” (Jn 9:22)

Satan wants you to line up with him by any means possible. Our God does not work that way. There are “carnal” tactics that are not to be used by Christians. Paul wrote: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God...” (2 Cor 10:3-4) Unlike Satan, God will not browbeat or force you into His way. God wants you to choose His way based upon the appeal of the reasonable love of God. As Christians we have two choices, to be conformed by the mindless pressures of Satan or to be transformed by “by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Rom 12:2)

Consider these attacks upon Jesus:

1. Satan offered and actually could give to Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” (Mt 4:8). Satan also offers us friendship with the world along with a good listening audience. “They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them.” (1 Jn 4:5).

2. Satan tried to break down Jesus with praise and by that attach Him to carnal men. Jesus refused to commit Himself to these believers because “He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.” (Jn 2:24-25)

3. Satan tried to intimidate Him by slander and whisperings. Since Jesus was seeking the praise of God and not men He was unfazed by it. He did however note the irrational nature of these attacks. “For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by all her children.” (Lk 7:33-35)

4. Satan tried to discourage Jesus with dwindling interest among the people and He even had an entire assembly walk out on Him. Did Jesus call them back and apologize because He told them the truth? While the apostles who remained might have felt this pressure, they knew plainly that Jesus did not by his reaction. Peter understood there was something greater than the acceptance of men. “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Jn 6:66-69)
How has Satan sought to break you down? Remember the words of our Lord, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (Jn 15:18-19)

The greatest pressure of all can come from our own brethren. There are some men and elderships that use rebuke and even the act of withdrawal as Diotrophes did, as a weapon to defend one’s personal control of people. John wrote about him: “I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.” (3 Jn 10)

Let us all learn from the faith and courage of our Lord and realize what is at stake. When we give in to these carnal pressures, we have been overpowered and enslaved to men. “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.” (1 Pt 2:19) There is neither logic nor mercy to this kind of life. There is a better way, the reasonable, principled stand by faith based upon the word of God. Where do you stand? Are you free or are you a slave of men?

“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (Jn 8:31-32)

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