The Futility of Fighting against God

The Futility of Fighting against GodText: Acts 5:38-39

Early on in the history of the church, the Jewish council tried to stop the apostles’ preaching. They threatened them, but the apostles continued to teach anyway. As the rulers thought of killing them, Gamaliel offered some wise counsel – if it was of men, it would die; if it was from God, it could not be overthrown. Why? Because it is futile to fight against God. This is not the only time this idea is found in the book of Acts. Not only do these examples show us that this is futile, they also show WHY it is futile.

Man Wants to Rebel against God

  • This has been true throughout history – those before the flood (Genesis 6:5); the nations (Psalm 2:1-3); others
  • NT prophecies about this – man of lawlessness (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4); war against the Lamb (Revelation 17:14)
  • All of us have done this (Romans 3:10-18, 23)

Examples in Acts Show the Futility of This

  • The Jewish people (Acts 2:22-24) – they thought they defeated Jesus by crucifying Him, yet this was part of God’s plan; it was prophesied that this would take place (Psalm 22:1, 11-18; Isaiah 53:3-12; Matthew 16:21)
  • The Jewish rulers (Acts 5:38-39) – they had seen the efforts of men come to nothing (Acts 5:36-37); Gamaliel knew God’s work could not be defeated; history also showed this (Exodus 14:13-31; Numbers 16:25-33)
  • Saul (Acts 26:14) – he was trying to destroy the church (Galatians 1:13); yet the Lord’s kingdom would never be destroyed (Daniel 2:44; Matthew 16:18)

Why It Was Futile to Do This

  • Because God is omniscient, we cannot outsmart Him (Acts 2:22-24) – proven by His foretelling of Jesus’ death hundreds of years beforehand; God knows everything about us (Psalm 139:1-6); nothing is hidden from Him (Hebrews 4:13)
  • Because God is omnipotent, we cannot overpower Him (Acts 5:38-39) – Gamaliel recognized they could not fight against God; He created the universe (Romans 1:20) and formed each of us (Psalm 139:13-16); it is laughable for us to rebel against Him (Psalm 2:4)
  • Because God is omnipresent, we cannot outrun Him (Acts 26:14) – persecution was against Jesus, wherever he went; there is nowhere we can go to escape from God (Psalm 139:7-12)

Instead, We Must Submit to God

  • Three thousand did this on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41)
  • Saul did this in Damascus (Acts 9:8-18; 22:16)
  • Will we do this? – if we submit to God, we will be victorious with Him (Revelation 17:14; Romans 8:37)


  • We have a choice – we can fight against God OR we can submit to God
  • One is hopeless, leads to certain defeat
  • The other is full of hope, leads to certain victory
  • Each one of us gets to make this choice – let us be sure we choose wisely

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