Don’t you just love it when you can’t get something out of your head? That’s what happened when I started to study out “resist” for this study of 1 Peter 5. I could hear her voice in my head, the woman in my pilates workout video as we do leg presses, “Resist. Resist. Resist.” It was rather humorous at first, then the light bulb came on.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. 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 brotherhood throughout the world.” 1 Peter 5:6-9 (ESV)
In the Greek manuscript, the word resist is anthistémi; which means to stand against, oppose, withstand, strongly resist and opponent. It’s a classic Greek military term, and comes from two other words. Anti, which is opposite, instead of. And histémi, which is to stand, appoint, establish, set (up), steadfast. The idea behind anthistémi, resist, is that we are in an upright and active position, we aren’t prostrate.
How do we resist our adversary? If we are going to resist our adversary, it’s going to take some practice and endurance. It’s not something we can do laying down, but up and ready. This is where the light bulb went off for me, as the “Resist. Resist. Resist.” looped on repeat in my head. Resistance training.
Resistance training is a form of exercise. During a resistance workout, you utilize gravity, body weight, bands or weights as you move your limbs to improve muscular strength and endurance. During one of my pilates workouts, in the comfort of my living room, gravity and my own body weight provides a gentle yet effective workout. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like much is happening, but with persistence and patience the work becomes evident.
So in order to resist our adversary, I think some spiritual resistance training is necessary. Personally, when I’m struggling and haven’t been doing spiritual resistance training, I can spiral down emotionally and it’s hard to get out of the pit. As opposed to when I have been doing some “training”; I may spiral down, but getting up and back on track is so much easier and faster.
One day last week, I had one of those days that I just needed to cry. I couldn’t pin point exactly what was going on, perhaps a concoction of different things which had piled up and I felt a bit overwhelmed. It’s been a full summer and maybe it was just a let down of emotion and release of passing some significant dates in our family. Whatever it was, I just needed to be sad and cry, and I went down fast. However, after being sad for a bit, talking, releasing some emotion and a good nights sleep I was rejuvenated and energized the next day. Even though I was sad that day I went down, it felt good to write and release, and spend some time with the Lord. Through the chaos of summer, I have not let my quiet time be optional each day (for the most part). It’s time I’m not willing to let go of or compromise, it may be shorter some days but it happens. Distractions abound, and sometimes its hard. But for me, that time with Jesus is life giving, spiritual resistance training.
1 Peter 5 gives us a lot of ideas for exercise in resistance training. Humbling ourselves, casting our cares and anxieties, and being watchful. Watchful of our words, actions, thoughts and judgmental attitudes, or areas the enemy is sneaking in. Some other things we can practice to build our endurance and resist is to draw near to God (James 4:11), pray, and put on God’s armor. Putting on God’s armor in Ephesians 6:10-20 is an endurance workout for sure, constantly ready for battle.
Thanksgiving is another great resistance training exercise. Philippians 4:6 tells us, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (ESV) When my prayers are steeped in thanks, I am practicing my trust in the Creator and not just asking for things. The prayer and supplication are a humble begging with a thankful heart, not a heart that is unsatisfied. When life gets hard, choosing to be thankful each day builds up endurance and faith.
Something else about resistance training is that with each workout, you tend to focus on one part of the body. A long time ago, in a far away land, when I was in training as a long-distance runner, we would do weights a couple times a week. Focusing on legs one day, arms the next and constantly working on core strength with each work out, doing sit-ups or similar exercises. But, we could never do them all at the same time. Could you imagine?! Push-ups and sit-ups at the same time? An athlete focuses and builds each part of the body, knowing that it’s all interconnected, relying on each part. If it feels overwhelming, or like I’m not in shape, I can pick one spiritual training exercise at a time. The training room is always open, and there are lots of choices. Read my bible, pray, or write a note of thanksgiving to name a few. One thing, that’s all it takes to get moving into an upright and ready for action position.
Resist, resist, resist. (I so wish you could hear her voice on the video!) Start with small increments, getting into and staying in shape for the challenges the enemy presents. Time for a little resistance training?!