Acts chapter five tells the interesting account of the apostles in the early years of the church. They almost immediately suffered persecution for the stand they took for Jesus Christ and His teachings. They also healed the sick and lame publicly while preaching the Gospel of Christ. This led to their arrest and miraculous release from prison. The hostile religious Jews were surprised to find them immediately preaching, healing, and teaching again in the temple! Upon the apostles rearrest, the Jewish leaders command that they stop preaching. Peter answers by saying, "... We ought to obey God rather than men." (Acts 5:29)
The captors start speaking about martyring the apostles until one Jewish leader, Gamaliel, offers a solution. He cites several failed religious uprisings and makes this statement: "And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God." (Acts 5:38-39)
Despite the misdirected belief of Gamaliel, he was exactly right! As was the early church, our success in all areas of life corresponds to our relationship with the Lord. Are our works done in our own power and motivation - or in God's? If our enemies were to simply leave us alone, would our lives produce the fruit of a Spirit-filled Christian or a selfish, fleshly Christian? The truth is that if we live in the power of the Spirit, then indeed we cannot fail in our efforts for Christ! Romans 8:31 says, "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?"
The bad news is that if our spirit is not in harmony with God's Spirit, we are destined to fail. The good news is that if we live in the Spirit of God, we cannot fail! May we not be guilty of fighting against God, but rather enjoy the victory in fighting with God.
Written by Aaron Lanier