Don't resist an evil person. (Matthew 5:29) This scripture hasn't made sense to me for so long. Coupled with Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7), it can be even more confusing! Mostly it irritates my personality because I'm an extrovert and I want to loudly stand on my soapbox for what is right. But why did Jesus say not to resist an evil person?
The important difference is the word "person". We can resist the devil without resisting the person the devil is using. Mankind can come after us and strip us of dignity, comfort, and even our bodies. But the devil cannot take our lives because they are hidden in Christ.
I've been baited by evil people. There was a time when I took the bait, hook, line, and sinker. I'd fall prey to the devil's plan to break me down and destroy my faith in God. I was giving in to the devil's schemes by resisting the people he used against me. It caused raging fights that burned and created painful scars on our hearts. I just wanted the anger and confusion to stop! So I'd go to war against the person in front of me. Little did I know that in fighting against them in this way, I was taking the bait of Satan. One can almost feel his sick happiness when people are at war against each other. But we are still unable to resist him alone.
It takes invincible strength to resist the devil. Jesus had a couple of His most challenging earthly moments when the devil was tempting Him. If ever the Lord was physically vulnerable it was after not eating for over a month. And yet this same powerful Lord submitted to crucifixion on a cross at the hands of mankind. By not resisting them, His perfect plan was played out. He subtly and quietly won the war. The enemy was defeated by Jesus's dying breath.
Meekness and gentleness. They respond to an approaching army by kneeling down and praying. Meekness looks anger in the face and answers with loving silence. Gentleness waits patiently for her rescuer because the damsel in distress knows she is no match for the dragon. We are lowly in heart when we recognize our need for a savior and we submit to His protection first.
So how can we resist the devil and not resist the evil person at the same time? We do both things by doing one thing: believing in Jesus. We believe that He is strong enough to fight the angelic forces for us and we believe that against mankind He protects what matters most about us: our eternal selves. If by submitting to the evil person we find our bodies tortured and maimed, we can still consider ourselves victorious in Christ. Because the evil person can't torture us into submitting to the devil. God's Holy Spirit dwells within us and He is in control. Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. (Job 13:15)
I no longer fear what man can do to the body (Matthew 10:28). If I am going to fear anyone it will be He who can throw my body and soul into Hell. By His grace He tells me, "Fear not" and all that's left is the perfect balance of trusting Jesus Christ.