Many are familiar with the science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, which portrays an enemy called the Borg, a collective of cyborgs linked to a central controlling “hive” seeking to assimilate all lifeforms. Their ultimatum is, “You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.” Of course, the protagonists of the series do resist the Borg, and resistance is an absolute necessity in many areas of real life—it is not futile.
Resistance is often thought of in terms of opposing someone to prevent their intended actions against a person or group. Conflicts and wars are resistance against an invading army. There are currently 27 ongoing conflicts in the world, according to the Council on Foreign Relation’s Global Conflict Tracker. None of these conflicts are improving, and some are even getting worse, including those taking place in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Yemen, Myanmar, and Ethiopia.
On a personal level, people usually resist actions that conflict with their beliefs and values, or actions that threaten them, their families, and their communities. People typically resist someone trying to force ideas, philosophies, or ideologies upon them with which they strongly disagree. Many try to resist governmental actions they regard as morally wrong. Sometimes one must resist the temptation to eat unhealthy foods, or buy something one cannot afford, or say something in anger that should probably be left unsaid.
While Christians are not to mount physical resistances or in any way rise up against human authority (Matthew 5:39; Romans 13:1), we do have a real enemy called Satan, the devil, whom we must resist at all times. Resisting Satan is not futile. In fact, the Bible instructs us to “submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Anyone seeking to follow Christ will be ambushed and attacked by this powerful being whom God calls the “adversary.”
Resisting the devil includes resisting wrong thoughts and temptations of pride, lust, jealousy, and hatred. We must resist these—but human willpower alone is no match for such an adversarial spirit who broadcasts his attitudes 24/7 (Ephesians 2:1–2; 2 Corinthians 4:3–4). Christians need the power of God’s Holy Spirit to be able to resist. That is why the prayer outline Jesus gave us includes this request: “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13).
We are assured that God does not tempt us: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:13–15).
God does, for His great purpose, allow us to be tempted, in order to test us—to see what is in our hearts and minds and whether we will obey Him. That is why it is so important to resist evil and to prayerfully seek God’s protection and deliverance from the evil one. Then our resistance will not be futile—and God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able (1 Corinthians 10:12–13).
The Apostle Peter also speaks about the need to resist Satan in 1 Peter 5:8–9, instructing us to “be sober [watchful], be vigilant [keep awake]; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith.” Peter goes on to explain in vv. 9–10 that while this causes us pain, God uses it to perfect, strengthen, establish, and settle us in Christ. Like the hard work of exercise strains muscles and leads to discomfort and soreness, but ultimately makes us grow stronger bodies, resistance to evil makes us spiritually stronger.
The Apostle Paul also spoke of putting on the armor of God to withstand (resist) the wiles or trickery of the devil (Ephesians 6). Resistance to Satan’s temptations is never futile.
There are helpful tools available for overcoming self, society, and Satan—and the temptations these things bring. Watch the telecasts “Will You Overcome Satan?” and “Six Myths About Angels & Demons,” and be sure to order your free copy of the booklet What Is a True Christian?