Responding to the Opposition

Responding to the Opposition
July 10, 2022

Responding to the Opposition

Service Type:

Title: Responding to Opposition


Responding to Opposition

We can respond rightly to opposition when we see three tactics of the enemy.

  1. The enemy will try to distract us. (v.1-4)
  2. The enemy will try to accuse us. (v.5-9)
  3. The enemy will try to scare us. (v.10-19).




"When I was a boy, my father, a baker, introduced me to the wonders of song," tenor Luciano Pavarotti relates. "He urged me to work very hard to develop my voice. Arrigo Pola, a professional tenor in my hometown of Modena, Italy, took me as a pupil. I also enrolled in a teachers college. On graduating, I asked my father, &ls;Shall I be a teacher or a singer?' "&ls;Luciano,' my father replied, &ls;if you try to sit on two chairs, you will fall between them. For life, you must choose one chair.' "I chose one. It took seven years of study and frustration before I made my first professional appearance. It took another seven to reach the Metropolitan Opera. And now I think whether it's laying bricks, writing a book&md;whatever we choose&md;we should give ourselves to it. Commitment, that's the key. Choose one chair."

"Golf immortal Arnold Palmer recalls a lesson about overconfidence: It was the final hole of the 1961 Masters tournament, and I had a one-stroke lead and had just hit a very satisfying tee shot. I felt I was in pretty good shape. As I approached my ball, I saw an old friend standing at the edge of the gallery. He motioned me over, stuck out his hand and said, "Congratulations." I took his hand and shook it, but as soon as I did, I knew I had lost my focus.

On my next two shots, I hit the ball into a sand trop, then put it over the edge of the green. I missed a putt and lost the Masters. You don't forget a mistake like that; you just learn from it and become determined that you will never do that again. I haven't in the 30 years since."


  • Tonight I want to talk about what it takes to honor God by staying focused on God's mission for your life even with opposition.
  • I'm going to talk a bit about staying focused as a church, but the application to your life is key as well.
  • So much of life is about keeping the main thing the main thing.
  • We can see this in the life of a man named Nehemiah.

Nehemiah 1:1-5

(1)  The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace,

(2)  That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.

(3)  And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.

(4)  And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,

(5)  And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:

Nehemiah 1:11

(11)  O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king's cupbearer.

Nehemiah 2:1-8

(1)  And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence.

(2)  Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid,

(3)  And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?

(4)  Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven.

(5)  And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may build it.

(6)  And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.

(7)  Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah;

(8)  And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.

Nehemiah 2:17-20

(17)  Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach.

(18)  Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king's words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.

(19)  But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king?

(20)  Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 3:1-3

(1)  Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests, and they builded the sheep gate; they sanctified it, and set up the doors of it; even unto the tower of Meah they sanctified it, unto the tower of Hananeel.

(2)  And next unto him builded the men of Jericho. And next to them builded Zaccur the son of Imri.

(3)  But the fish gate did the sons of Hassenaah build, who also laid the beams thereof, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof.

Nehemiah 4:1-3

(1)  But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews.

(2)  And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned?

(3)  Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall.

  • Here are a cast of characters.
    • Sanballat
    • Tobiah
    • Geshem the Arabian
    • "the rest of our enemies"
  • Let me say out loud that you and I have enemies.
  • I often take new believers through two different books. One is called 7 steps to Joy, and the other one is called Victorious Christian Living.
  • In the second book there is a lesson on this idea: Ever Christian has 3 enemies.
  • What are they?
  • The world, the flesh and the devil.

1 Peter 5:8

  • (8)  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:


We can respond rightly to opposition when we see three tactics of the enemy.

  1. The enemy will try to distract us. (v.1-4)

Nehemiah 6:1-19

(1)  Now it came to pass, when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had builded the wall, and that there was no breach left therein; (though at that time I had not set up the doors upon the gates;)

(2)  That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief.

  • The enemies of Nehemiah wanted to meet with him.
  • They wanted on his calendar.
  • They wanted to take his time, and his attention.
  • For some reason, Nehemiah knew their intention. "But they thought to do me mischief."
  • They had already proved themselves to be enemies.
  • He already knew what they wanted. They wanted him to stop.  They did not want the work to get done.
  • They wanted to distract him from his leadership.
  • So, his answer was simple, but not always easy to do.

(3)  And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?

  • What an incredible answer.
  • "I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down."
  • It comes from an incredible question:
  • "Why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?"
  • They didn't stop with this attempt.

(4)  Yet they sent unto me four times after this sort; and I answered them after the same manner.

  • The fact that they did this four times shows that they were persistent in their desire to destract.
  • Nehemiah had value what he was doing so much that he would not get distracted by what was unessential.


  • There are some things that you and I could do.
  • There are some things that you and I must do.
  • There are some things that are optional. There are some other things that are essential.
  • There are some things that you cannot delegate.

You cannot delegate being daddy or mommy.

You cannot delegate being husband or wife.

There are always optional things that can distract us from the essential.  One of Satan's tactics is to keep us distracted.

At Trinity Baptist Church we have one job.

Our job is to glorify God by reaching people, teaching people, and sending people out to minister.  That is called Disciple making- Evangelism and Discipleship.

We help people take the next step in their walk with the Lord.

If we do not make disciples it doesn't matter what else we do.

One of the most essential things I do is to help us keep the main thing the main thing.

And that means that there are things that I am going to have to tell you "no" about.

That means there will be things we do not end up doing.  They may be good things.  But often the essential gets sacrificed on the altar of the good.

Satan wants to get us distracted, and fighting, and dividing, and off mission.

We are doing a great work.  We cannot come down.

We can respond rightly to opposition when we see three tactics of the enemy.

  1. The enemy will try to accuse us. (v.5-9)

(5)  Then sent Sanballat his servant unto me in like manner the fifth time with an open letter in his hand;

  • The fact that it was open showed his intention.
  • Trying to include a bunch of people who were not a part of the problem would create division and doubt in the Nehemiah's leadership.
  • This was the point.

(6)  Wherein was written, It is reported among the heathen, and Gashmu saith it, that thou and the Jews think to rebel: for which cause thou buildest the wall, that thou mayest be their king, according to these words.

(7)  And thou hast also appointed prophets to preach of thee at Jerusalem, saying, There is a king in Judah: and now shall it be reported to the king according to these words. Come now therefore, and let us take counsel together.

  • "Here is what people are saying..."
  • We know his heart...
  • We know his motives...
  • We know what he wants.
  • And all these people are saying this.
  • And so we want to talk. Come meet with me about it.
  • Now remember, he has already told him no 4 times.

(8)  Then I sent unto him, saying, There are no such things done as thou sayest, but thou feignest them out of thine own heart.

  • I know you are saying, "People are saying..."
  • Essentially Nehemiah says, "I don't believe you."
  • You say that there a bunch of people saying, but you just really came up with that out of your own heart.
  • Your making it up.
  • The problem I have when people tell me, and it has happened my whole ministry, there are people who are saying... Is that people are appealing to an unnumbered group of people who are talking to others about a problem and not trying to solve it.
  • If there is a problem and genuine concern then just go talk to the person. If you really want to solve the problem then go solve it.
  • But that is not what is going on here.
  • What is happening here is that Sanballat is making accusations without witnesses.
  • He is making accusations in a public way and wants to divide Nehemiah from his people.
  • And we know the motivation of it...

(9)  For they all made us afraid, saying, Their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it be not done. Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.

  • Look at their motives revealed in their words.
  • I love the flare prayers in Nehemiah.
  • What is that they said? "Their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it be not done."
  • So what did Nehemiah say? "Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands."


  • If you are working on the essential, and saying no to distractions, then the enemy may use another tactic.
  • He may accuse you.

Revelation 12:10

(10)  And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

  • Satan wants to accuse, and he will use that tatic.
  • Now sometimes we deserve to be accused.

1 Peter 2:20

(20)  For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

We can respond rightly to opposition when we see three tactics of the enemy.

  1. The enemy will try to scare us. (v.10-19).

(10)  Afterward I came unto the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah the son of Mehetabeel, who was shut up; and he said, Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple: for they will come to slay thee; yea, in the night will they come to slay thee.

  • There is deceit this time.
  • There was a prophet of Nehemiah's own people.
  • It says here, "He was shut up".
  • But look at what he said here: "Let's go to the house of God, within temple..."
  • Let's go into the forbidden part of the temple, because they are going to kill you.
  • Notice he says it twice.
  • The tactic here was to scare Nehemiah.
  • Early on in my ministry at Canton Baptist Temple, I dealt with fear in a big way.
  • Expound on it....
  • Fear can motivate you to the right thing...
  • Fear can also make you do the wrong thing...
  • I love Nehemiah's simple fortitude of character. Look at his answer.

(11)  And I said, Should such a man as I flee? and who is there, that, being as I am, would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in.

(12)  And, lo, I perceived that God had not sent him; but that he pronounced this prophecy against me: for Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.

(13)  Therefore was he hired, that I should be afraid, and do so, and sin, and that they might have matter for an evil report, that they might reproach me.

  • The tactic here was fear. The antitode to it was not being afraid and keeping it simple.
  • Doing the right thing is normally simple, but often not easy.
  • Now look at Nehemiah's prayer about his enemies:

(14)  My God, think thou upon Tobiah and Sanballat according to these their works, and on the prophetess Noadiah, and the rest of the prophets, that would have put me in fear.


Now here is the cool part.

We can respond rightly to opposition when we see three tactics of the enemy.

  1. The enemy will try to distract us. (v.1-4)
  • When we stay focused and keep the main thing the main thing....
  1. The enemy will try to accuse us. (v.5-9)
  • When we stay clean and close to the Lord, and be wise and discerning knowing that we will be accused...
  1. The enemy will try to scare us. (v.10-19).
  • When we have more fear of God than fear of man, and just do the right thing....

...Eventually what God calls us to can be accomplished.


(15)  So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days.

(16)  And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God.

(17)  Moreover in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters unto Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came unto them.

(18)  For there were many in Judah sworn unto him, because he was the son in law of Shechaniah the son of Arah; and his son Johanan had taken the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah.

(19)  Also they reported his good deeds before me, and uttered my words to him. And Tobiah sent letters to put me in fear.

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