And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

Matthew 11:12

There are without a doubt many instances of violence against the Lord’s people and His church perpetrated over nearly 2,000 years since the ascension of our Lord. Violence against the church cannot be denied. However, this passage does not speak about the times after Christ’s earthly ministry. Also, there are very few instances recorded in the New Testament times that match up to the atrocities of the subsequent centuries. Jesus says this violence takes place between the time of John the Baptist’s ministry in the wilderness and the time of his imprisonment. Therefore, I think Jesus is referring to a different form of violence.

Luke records a statement by Jesus that sets the timing of our passage as well:

The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.

Luke 16:16

The kingdom of heaven began to be preached when John preached in the wilderness.

This verse also uses similar language. The word “presseth” and “suffereth violence” come from the same original word.

When a child of God is born again, his old nature is not replaced with the new. Both natures are present together and there is a continual violent struggle.

For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

Galatians 5:17

In order to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ and walk in the kingdom here, the child of God must violently press against his old nature.

Further, the prophecy of the coming of John (Isaiah 40) said that he would make the crooked straight and the rough places plain. His message was going to turn the world upside down and cause great people to renounce their previously held scriptural misunderstandings taught them by the Scribes and Pharisees. So, there is also a struggle against our will and desires of how we think God should treat us and how we should worship Him.

Jesus Himself taught regularly that to be His disciple would be a struggle:

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

Matthew 10:34-39

And finally, here we see that just about every aspect of the life of a child of God is going to be a violent struggle to not be pulled away from His following His Lord.

In order to truly dwell in the kingdom of God (and not just visit from time to time), we need to understand what things, situations, relationships, etc. work against our discipleship. When we have identified those, we need to treat those things like the enemy they are and turn away from them to follow Christ.

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