But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.
[Matthew 5:39 NKJV]
Jesus tells us in Matthew 5 — a chapter which reads as a “Guide to The Kingdom” — that we should not resist or stand against an evil person; instead, if someone hits out at us, we should offer to be the recipient of another blow. Is that really what He is saying?
In the book of James, the apostle says Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. [James 4:7 NKJV]; and Peter echoes this line with Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. [1 Peter 5:8-9 NKJV]
On the face of it, Jesus is saying ‘do not resist’, and the disciples are saying ‘resist’. How do we see a way through this conundrum? The only clear difference is that James and Peter are speaking of the devil, and Jesus talks of an evil person. When we look at the translation of ‘person’, we find that it is variously shown as ‘time’ ‘by’, ‘to’, ‘upon’, ‘against’, ‘at’, ‘over’, ’in’, and a number of other prepositions.
It would seem — and I am open to any better explanation — that Jesus’ meaning is that when one is dealing with a person, who at that moment, is consumed by or overcome by a spirit of evil, then do not resist, but show love instead of offence.
Interestingly, a few verses later, Jesus says But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. [Matthew 5:44-45 NKJV]
Thus, we can say that we must ‘stand against’ the accuser and adversary, the devil, but not stand against a brother/sister, who has been unable to stand, for he/she could easily be me/us.
Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. [Ephesians 6:13 NKJV]
Resist The Devil Jabin Mills
Beware of blaspheming the Creator by calling the natural sinful. The natural is not sinful, but un-moral and un-spiritual. It is the home of all the vagrant vices and virtues, and must be disciplined with the utmost severity until it learns its true position in the providence of God.