The Power of Pressure

Under the influence this phrase describes all of us. We are all influenced by something outside of ourselves.  Sometimes this influence may be what is in our best interest (like when I listen to my wife). But at other times this influence is destructive.

  • Satan has been influencing the world we live in since the beginning.  It behooves us to pay close attention to what Jesus teaches us about Satan’s work.
  • In John 12:31 Jesus refers to Satan as the “ruler of this world”. Paul says in Eph. 2:2 that the unredeemed world was walking “according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the powers of the air..”

I.  A Subdued World:    1 John 5:1919 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. The literal translation of this verse seems to point to the position of the world in relationship to Satan (wicked one) or wickedness.  “the whole world lies in the wicked one.  The influence of Satan is so extensive that the world is considered to be positioned in him.

A.  The Greek word “lies” (keitai) means to lie down outstretched, signifying one who is either dead, or completely subdued by his enemy. (“out for the count”). Barnes says the word means, “properly, to lie; to be laid; to recline; to be situated, etc. It seems here to refer to the “passive” and “torpid” state of a wicked world under the dominion of the prince of evil, as acquiescing in his reign; making no resistance; not even struggling to be free. It lies thus as a beast that is subdued, a body that is dead, or anything that is wholly passive, quiet, and inert. There is no energy; no effort to throw off the reign; no resistance; no struggling. The dominion is complete, and body and soul, individuals and nations, are entirely subject to his will.” Our society does not struggle against Satan. He pretty much gets his way.   (the prevalence of obscene speech, and the overall tolerance of immorality.)

1.   Therefore the Christian must be careful not to simply go with the flow. He must resist the temptation to not resist. 1 Peter 5:8-9 – Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith,.. How can we be successful?

II.   The Power of Pressure: Scientifically, things respond to pressure. The entire planet in under what is called atmospheric pressure which is the amount of pressure exerted against a surface by the weight of air above it.  We measure this pressure with a barometer, and when the barometer moves, things change.  Ironically, in weather, when the pressure is high, things are generally better, but when the pressure gets low, look out!  So spiritually, pressure can change things. A person may act completely different when he is being pressured by the environment around him. Biblically, we might refer to this exertion of pressure as temptation.  It is the “sway of the wicked one”.

A.   Jesus Under the Pressure: Unlike any other man before or after, Jesus faced Satan and his system of pressure and prevailed completely. Towards the end of His ministry and His life Jesus said, “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.” (Jn 14:30) We would do well to learn from the author of our salvation in these confrontations.

1. Matthew 4:8-10 –   8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him,  “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.'”

a.   I am convinced that Satan was not offering something he could not deliver.  Jesus had the opportunity to receive the applause and glory of the world if He simply gave into the pressure to conform to the expectations of others.  Satan also offers us friendship with the world. But we must abandon God to receive it (friendship with the world in enmity toward GodJames 4:4)

b.   Even Jesus’ own disciples put pressure on Jesus to meet their expectations and abandon His mission of suffering. Mark 8:31-33 – 31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33 But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

2. Satan put the pressure on Jesus through slander and false accusations.  Intimidation is a favorite type of pressure utilized by Satan.  Jesus identified the hytpocrisy of their efforts.  “For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 But wisdom is justified by all her children.” (Lk 7:33-35)

a.   How much of this type of pressure can we handle?  Satan effectively keeps us quiet when we should speak up; He pressures us into compromising the message or evading our responsibility to discipline.

3.   Satan used the unpopularity of Jesus’ message against Him to pressure Him into accommodating the crowds. Discouragement is a real threat. Did Jesus call them back and apologize because He told them the truth?  While the apostles who remained might have felt this pressure, they knew plainly that Jesus did not by his reaction. Peter understood there was something greater than the acceptance of men.  John 6:66-6866 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” 68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

4.  Jesus promised His disciples that they would also face the pressure of the world. “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (Jn 15:18-19)

II.  The Christian Under Pressure: Rom 12:2 – And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2

A.  J.B. Phillips translates this verse as …Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould.” When you put something in a mold, you add the pressure to get it to conform.

1.   Can you discern the pressure? Do you feel the atmospheric pressure in this room?  Paul’s words assume the presence of a mold, or pattern that belongs to the world, not God.  We must be able to discern what that pattern is, and feel the pressure when it is applied.  The writer of Hebrews scolded the Christians of his audience because they were still babies when they should have grown. They were still drinking milk, rather than solid food. He was speaking metaphorically of the food of God’s word.  Heb 5:13-14For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. We need to spend time in God’s words, discerning the direct commands, as well as the sublte principles, so as to be able to see worldliness when it confronts us. At times we cannot even feel the pressure, as it mold us.

  • Can you discern the pressure of immodesty, poor stewardship of our money, filthy or suggestive speech, defiling influence of TV and movies, covetousness & discontent.. These are the mold.  The people around us apply the pressure.
  • Did Peter anticipate the pressure that Satan exerted in the courtyard of the High Priest? Was he on the lookout for cowardness?  When the time came he found himself acting “under the influence” of the world – emanating from the gentle voice of a young maiden;  “You are not also one of this Man’s disciples, are you?” (John 18:17)

Conclusion: The quality and character of a person may best be viewed when he is under pressure. (I can throw a football, but not when people are coming at me – that is the real game environment, and we must be ready.)  Do not grow weary in well doing, we shall reap if we faint not.

  • Mark 14:38Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
  • Eph 6:10-130 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

God exerts His own pressure – the influence of the Holy Spirit, exerted through the word of God.  The gospel is the power of God unto salvation.

  • Eph 5:18 – And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,

Are you under the influence of the Spirit of God?