“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5
provocation: something that incites, instigates, angers or irritates
I’ve noticed in my walk with the Lord, when things are going exceedingly well, and I am at peace with where I am in Christ, I usually am met with a circumstance which threatens to pull the rug from underneath this confidence. Perhaps, you can relate. So, I’ve learned with every provocation to pause, pray, and respond with patience in a Christ-like manner. This non-offensive response has been a constant on-going practice of self-discipline in the area when anger suddenly takes hold of my emotions and I am tempted to react in the wrong way. (Matthew 5:38-48, Proverbs 25:21-22)
I’ve noticed politicians use accusations when they don’t want to discuss the issues and have no credible argument. They will look for ways to undermine their opponent’s position with a personal accusation, such as accusing them of being racist, sexist, etc,.
“A person who has no “leg to stand on” will look for ways to pull the rug from under those who do.” DF
When it comes to our salvation, Satan is defeated ( Romans 8:1-4 ), so he results to accusations (Revelation 12:10). When it comes to accusations, the enemy (Satan) will look to accuse the child of God, purposely, to avert the attention from Christ. Usually, it occurs though a provocation which is unexpected and catches the believer off-guard.
This is how it works. The enemy, who is Satan will interject a thought to cause anger, doubt and/or suspicion. The person who has the thought, becomes angry, reacts spontaneously and makes a hurtful remark. The one who is accused is on the defensive, and before you know it an argument infuses, and the good thing the Lord had intended, has been stopped.
We recognize this in Cain’s anger towards Abel. Abel pleased God with his obedience, whereby, Cain became jealous. God warned Cain about his anger, but Cain held onto it until it resulted in Abel’s death.
Joseph’s brothers were so jealous of him, they plotted to kill him because he found favor with their father. Their anger resulted in throwing Joseph in a pit, and then selling him into slavery. (Genesis 37)
We recognize how our thoughts can lead to good or bad in how the Apostle Peter reacted to thoughts from the Holy Spirit verses thoughts from Satan. Peter went from confessing Jesus Christ as the Son of God (Savior) to trying to prevent Him from saving the world. So, we can see, as Christians, we need to discern between the voices.
(Proverbs 14:12, Isaiah 30:21)
When Peter confessed Jesus as the Messiah, the Christ, Jesus responded:
“You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Matthew 16:17
But after Jesus explained how He was to suffer and die and then be raised from the dead on the third day, Peter’s response was:
“Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Matthew 16:22
Jesus recognized the influence behind Peter’s rebuke, and addressed it:
“Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns” vs.23
Notice, Jesus did not address Peter, but Satan.
Therefore, with every provocation, the overcomer, knows to pause, and to pray with a forgiving manner, moving forward in the things of the Lord.
I remember there were times when the Lord was working through me I was blindsided by an offense. Instead of comprehending what was occurring, I would internalize the hurt, and without praying, I would throw in the towel and walk away. I have learned the enemy’s tactic, and am not so easily caught off-guard these days. But to overcome, I’ve had to recognize my weakness, swallow my pride and pray.
I vividly remember when I was teaching a Senior High class of teenagers in Sunday School, I had overcome many obstacles with their rudeness and rejections. Things were coming together and I was even learning how to allow them to participate in leading the discussions, when suddenly, I was bombarded with the feeling of rejection Instead of praying, and taking the offenses to the Lord, I just simply threw in the towel and never returned again. I was overwhelmed later with remorse and regret, but didn’t see it as my pride at the time.
Now that my spiritual antennas are sharpened, I have also noticed other provocations or distractions such as external deliberate “noise” invasions when I am speaking about the Lord. Such as, when I get with my friend and we’re discussing how the Lord is working in our life, suddenly a noisy helicopter will fly overhead, or grass cutting machines suddenly show up beside us. In all this: I have learned there must be something the Lord is about to accomplish. If I can ignore the offense, move forward in kindness and grace, I witness the reward of seeing the Lord work or hear His awesome voice.
(Psalm 91:3, Romans 8:28)
In the circumstance of Cain, he remained a fugitive-running away from God’s grace and continued to live a violent, unfruitful life.
Joseph overcame the abuse of his brothers, trusted God, and delivered his family, Egypt and many from starvation.
Peter learned to overcome his impetuousness, think things through and pray.
Peter went on preaching repentance, the gospel of Christ’s death and resurrection for salvation, whereby, many are saved.
And presently I am learning how to overcome pride, move forward and in the process witness what the Lord will do. Which is good, it is always good. (Genesis 50:20)
Then I think how Jesus withstood the onslaught of accusations and rejections while He was speaking the Truth and healing the sick and the lame. But nothing deterred Him from saving, even His worse enemies as He was nailed on the cross. He overcame all the abuses and accusations to save the world. ( John 3:16, Luke 23:33-34)
“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” 1 John 5:4