The Path of Least Resistance--by Kimberly B. Southall

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Throughout history, following the path of least resistance has consistently led to destruction. This is true of individual souls as well as of nations. Look at just a few of the examples given in the Bible.

Eve took the path of least resistance when Satan tempted her to eat the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. She did as Satan urged, and Adam followed her lead. Now all of mankind is doomed to live by the sweat of his brow and die the first death. (Genesis 3:1-24)

The people of Noah's time chose the path of least resistance. Little by little they accepted sin until they became completely evil. Consequently, they all died in the great flood-except for Noah and his family, of course, who stood firm in righteousness. (Genesis 6:1-8:22)

The case of Sodom and Gomorrah is one of the most well-known of the Bible. The people of these cities obviously chose the path of least resistance repeatedly throughout the years until they were completely evil. It isn't very difficult to imagine how this must have started-a little tolerance here . . . a little acceptance of wrong there . . . until every sort of sexual depravity was the norm there. Lot was the only righteous man to be found in either of the cities. God destroyed the cities, and everyone and everything in them, with burning sulfur. (Genesis 18:16-19:29)

Many nations in the Old Testament took the path of least resistance when they chose to worship idols rather than God. Many of these nations were later destroyed by God's chosen people (Exodus 23:20-33)

Aaron chose the path of least resistance when Moses was on Mount Sinai with God. He followed the wishes of the foolish people and made an idolatrous golden calf. As a result, God punished the Israelites with a plague. (Exodus 32:1-35; Deuteronomy 9:7-29)

Shammua, Shaphat, Igal, Palti, Gaddiel, Gaddi, Ammiel, Sethur, Nahbi, and Geuel, the ten men sent with Joshua and Caleb to spy upon those in the promised land, had little faith in God's power. They reported to the Israelites that the people in Canaan were stronger than they were and that they could not prevail against them. The fickle Israelites believed them instead of Joshua and Caleb and grumbled against Moses and Aaron. Consequently those ten men were struck down with a plague, and all of the other Israelites over the age of 20 were doomed to die in the wilderness. (Numbers 13:26-14:45; Deuteronomy 1:40)

King David chose the path of least resistance when he saw a beautiful woman. Instead of resisting lust, he intentionally placed one of his loyal men in battle where he was sure to be killed (and he was) so that he could have his wife, Bathsheba. God severely punished David and his family for this grievous sin. (2 Samuel 11:1-18:33)

Peter once chose the path of least resistance when, in fear, he denied Jesus Christ three times. He surely had realized that if he had admitted being a following of Jesus, he would have been killed, too. Had it not been for Jesus' earlier prayer on his behalf, he surely would have been doomed. (Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-62; John 18:15-18, 25-27)

Rather than ruin his political career, Pilate chose the path of least resistance when he washed his hands, both symbolically and literally, of the fate of Jesus and allowed the angry mob to crucify our Savior. Tradition (but not the Bible) tells us that Pilate later committed suicide. (Matthew 27:11-26; Mark 15:1-15; Luke 22:66-23:25; John 18:28-19:16)

Throughout the centuries-both in biblical and modern times-the Israelites, God's chosen people, have been carried into captivity and scattered throughout the world due to their unwillingness to stand firm for God. They turned from God and indulged in idolatry, time and time again.

It is obviously our sinful, human nature to always "go with the flow" and take the path of least resistance. But by the grace of God, we don't have to do so! Instead, God's Spirit can empower even the most weak and sinful person to stand up for God and what is right. There are many inspiring examples of this in the Bible, as well.

Joseph avoided the path of least resistance when he refused the sexual advances of Potiphar's wife. When she was rebuffed by Joseph, she framed him and had him thrown in prison. But this was all part of God's wonderful plan which resulted in Joseph being put in the position of saving his entire family from famine years later. (Genesis 39:1-47:27)

When Joshua and Caleb gave a faithful report that the Israelites could, indeed, prevail against those in the land of Canaan as God had promised, they avoided the path of least resistance. Consequently, they outlived all of their contemporaries and were permitted entrance to the promised land 40 years later when all the faithless ones had died in the wilderness. (Numbers 13:26-14:45; Deuteronomy 1:40)

Young David surely did not choose the path of least resistance when he went into battle against the giant Goliath. Many tried to talk him out of entering into the battle on behalf of his people. But because of his faith in God's protection and his willingness to serve, his people were saved from slavery. (1 Samuel 17:1-58)

Both Ezra and Nehemiah avoided the path of least resistance. Despite great opposition, they rebuilt the temple of the Lord and Jerusalem's walls. (Ezra; Nehemiah)

Queen Esther nearly gave in to follow the path of least resistance, but her compassion for her people ruled and she risked her own life and was successful in saving the Jews from certain annihilation. (Esther)

Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego were faithful and evaded the path of least resistance. When King Nebuchadnezzar ordered everyone to bow to an idol, they refused and were cast into the fiery furnace. But God was with them and they miraculously survived. (Daniel 3:1-30)

Daniel was not one to take the path of least resistance. When he wouldn't pray to the king or stop praying to God, he was thrown into a den of lions. God delivered him, though, and gave him an exalted position in the kingdom. (Daniel 6:1-28)

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, never took the path of least resistance. His perfect examples include offending the Pharisees by standing up against their man-made tradition of required hand washing (Matthew 15:1-20; Mark 7:1-23); telling the Pharisees their hearts were hard concerning divorce (Matthew 19:1-12; Mark 10:1-12); driving the money changers from the temple (Matthew 21:12-17; Mark 11:12-18; Luke 19:45-48; John 2:12-17); standing up to the Pharisees when they questioned His authority (Matthew 21:23-27; Mark 11:27-33; Luke 20:1-8); calling the Pharisees hypocrites when they questioned Him about taxes (Matthew 22:15-22; Mark 12:13-17; Luke 20:20-26); telling the Sadducees they were in error and didn't know the scriptures when they questioned Him about marriage at resurrection (Matthew 22:23-33); silencing the questions of the Pharisees when they went too far (Matthew 22:34-46; Mark 12:28-40; Luke 20:41-47); and calling the Pharisees and teachers of the law hypocrites, blind guides, snakes, and a brood of vipers (Matthew 23). Consequently, for standing up for what was right and true, Jesus was falsely accused and crucified (Matthew 26:1-5; Mark 14:1-2; Luke 22:1-2). Had He not stood firm, we would have no hope of salvation today.

John the Baptist certainly didn't take the path of least resistance when he clearly told Herod it was wrong for him to sleep with Herodias, his brother Philip's wife. Consequently, John the Baptist was beheaded. He stood firm on what was right to the end. (Matthew 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29; Luke 9:7-9) Of John Jesus had said, "Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist . . ." (Matthew 11:11 NIV)

Peter and John, filled with the Holy Spirit, were able to avoid the path of least resistance. When jailed, they stood firm and refused to stop preaching in the name of Jesus, declaring "We must obey God rather than men!" (Acts 5:29 NIV). Note that this is the very same Peter who had earlier denied Jesus three times-but this time he was filled with and empowered by the Holy Spirit! (Acts 4:1-22; Acts 5:17-42)

Stephen is well known for becoming the first Christian martyr. He steered clear of the path of least resistance when falsely charged with blasphemy for preaching the gospel of Christ. He stood firm to the end, preaching a historically-moving sermon to his killers. He saw the glory of God while being stoned to death. (Acts 6:8-7:60)

The path of least resistance is one of Satan's most powerful tools. For so often, we don't realize that we are on it until we are far from God's righteousness and truth. Time and time again throughout history, individuals and nations have succumbed to this snare of the evil one. Alas, our own blessed nation, the United States of America, once founded upon God's truth, has taken the path of least resistance too many times. The resulting crime and depravity is all too obvious for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. Even more disturbing is this tendency to follow the path of least resistance within our churches today. At our fingertips is the Bible, God's Holy and Truthful Word, which is being ignored or "explained away" all too often within the body of believers. Instead of lovingly correcting and rebuking our brothers and sisters in Christ as the Bible teaches, too many congregations are choosing to turn blind eyes to the sin which grows and prevails within the body of Christ. How long will it be before following the path of least resistance leads to the destruction so richly deserved?

The power of the Holy Spirit is available for every single Christian. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can avoid the path of least resistance and stand firm. The scriptures admonish us to stand firm to the end (Matthew 10:22; Matthew 24:12-13; Mark 13:13; Luke 21:19; 1 Timothy 4:16; Hebrews 10:36; James 1:12). Throughout all of history, most people have taken the path of least resistance, which leads straight to destruction and hell. But there have always been a few who stood firm for God, the truth, and righteousness no matter the consequences. Through the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, you can be one who stands firm. The choice is yours. What will it be?

Copyright © 1999 Kimberly B. Southall. All rights reserved.