Pushing Against Resistance Creates Muscles

Pushing Against Resistance Creates Muscles

Resistance training is a form of strength training in which each exercise (effort, exertion, or push) is performed against the resistance of a specific opposing force (weight, wall, etc.). For example, lifting weights is pushing against the resistance of the weight’s heaviness. If there is no resistance of any kind, then there is no building or strengthening of muscles. 

We build spiritual muscles in the same way. As we push against the emotional and spiritual resistance we encounter, we will get stronger and increase our spiritual load-bearing capacity. When we know this and practice this, a deep and powerful strengthening happens in us through what we are facing. 

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4).

“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4).

These verses reveal the power of pushing against trials and tribulations with “counting it all joy” and “glorying.” The results of this pushing are incredible: perfection, completeness, lacking nothing, perseverance, character, and hope. Focusing on our spiritual muscles is more important than focusing on our bodily muscles because we are not going to make a big difference if we have “flabby beliefs.” 

One of the first steps to toning our belief muscles is to know what is happening in us is more important than what is happening through us, and that our response to something is almost always more important than the “something.” 

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14).

This verse gives us three keys for working out our beliefs:

  1. Forget emotions fueled by the past (regret, shame, disappointment, victim mindsets, hopelessness, pessimism, etc.)
  2. Reach forward to those things God has prepared for you–have vision and hope for our future. 
  3. Press through the negative emotions into joy and purpose. As we do, we will find ourselves increasing our load-bearing capacity for “those things which are ahead.” 

Here are some practical tips concerning pushing against emotional and spiritual resistance:

  1. Identify areas in your life where you do not have hope, peace, love, or joy. 
  2. Meditate on and speak God’s promises concerning these areas.
  3. Remind yourself that the joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10). We don’t need strength at the end of the battle but in the middle. Find ways to stir up joy now. 

We are all in training for our greater influence in the days ahead. As we make resistance our friend instead of our enemy, then we will create buff muscles in the spirit (and others will be glad we did).

If you are interested in finding more about Igniting Hope’s Beliefs Training Program, click here. Also, for more on this topic, please listen to the podcast which expands on what I share in this blog. 

What we are not saying in this teaching: 

  • We are not saying we are to be passive and fatalistic about what is happening in our lives. We are not called to just endure hardship and learn to cope with it. There are many things in life to be resisted through faith. My book Cracks in the Foundation gives wisdom on this. 
  • We are not saying quoting scripture is the only thing we would do concerning emotional challenges. God will at times use negative emotions to draw our attention to deeper issues of our lives which need to be addressed by changing our behavior, getting counseling or inner healing, or by forgiving others. 

For more on topics like this, listen to my podcast by clicking the link below.


Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.