Force, which can take many forms from subtle peer pressure to the direct threat of physical abuse and violence, infers control, manipulation, coercion and pressure, which produce ill feeling and resistance in those to whom it is directed because of disempowerment.

Forced conversion is the use of pressure, force, or threat to make someone abandon his or her beliefs for those of another religion. Yet it is impossible to become a true Christian as a result of force or compulsion; it must be a heart response to the gospel for a forced conversion would contradict the free will that God has given each of us. Thus God does not force people to acknowledge His Lordship

We cannot force people into the Christian kingdom

as He wants willing and devoted followers. He invites us to become His children and gives the opportunity to voluntarily follow Him and determine the level of our devotion primarily through our love for Him and obedience to His directives (Isa 1:18; Mt 16:24; Mk 12:30; Jn 1:12, 3:16, 14:15, 16:8; 2 Cor 5:15; Rev 3:20).

However, there is coming a time when everyone, including the unsaved, will bow the knee and recognise His authority and justice as they accept their sentence for the life they have lived (Isa 45:23,24; Rom 14:11; Phil 2:10). Unfortunately, many people will go to a Christ-less eternity because they refused to accept His offer of salvation and obey Him. 

As new believers continue to walk with Christ their lives will be changed, conforming to God’s Word (Mt 28:18-20; Act 1:8; Phil 1:6; 1 Thes 2:13). Then as the gospel spreads, society is changed, one heart and one life at a time – first on the inside, then to the outward visible actions as God works through His Holy Spirit. God is more interested in saving people’s souls than He is in forcing people to obey His laws. If an unsaved person is forced to obey God’s law, they would be doing so out of fear and obligation. God wants people to come to repentance and then to obey His commands out of reverence and love (2 Pet 3:9; 1 Jn 5:3). Just taking control of the political process or establishing moral laws will not effect change in people’s hearts, but a changed heart will lead to changed outward actions.

When Israel gained control of the Promised Land, God desired the nation be a physical godly kingdom, divinely instructed to outwardly subdue and even destroy opposing civilisations. However, in the NT era, He has never called His people to establish such an externally focused political kingdom ruled by His laws and commands, and taking

A person pressured against their will is of the same opinion still

authority over unbelievers in a world-conquering mission. The unbalanced belief that as believers we are called to impose godly values on the unbelieving world in seven key spheres or mountains of influence is misguided. While this is a commendable goal, God’s aim is for primarily for unbelievers to come into a vital relationship with Him. Then through the transformed lives and values of these believers they will affect society by being salt and light in the marketplace and the various areas of interaction with society (Mt 5:16). Jesus said His kingdom is not of this world and, unlike the followers of worldly political leaders, His followers do not use force to establish the kingdom (Jn 18:36).

Although David knew he was destined to be king he didn’t push his case and when presented with opportunities to kill Saul, who was standing in the way, he did not usurp his position by acting in arrogant impatience (1 Sam 16:13, 23:17, 24:10,20, 26:9-11). We must let God bring to pass what He has planned for us in His time. Meanwhile it is our responibility to concentrate our efforts in the preparation of character, training and devotion to Him. This period of grounding is the essential foundation that is required to equip us for future ministry, as otherwise a premature involement can result in our downfall.

The teaching of Jesus was, if a Roman soldier ordered a civilian to carry their gear for a mile, go twice the distance (Mt 5:41)! Instead of resentment for the imposition of doing the required order, Jesus was saying ‘willingly give up your rights and break their power over you by willingly doing more than required’. This is exactly what He did in order to release us from Satan’s power.

Our struggles in this life are against all the evil spiritual forces that oppose us because we are God’s children (Eph 6:12). Do not submit to or allow yourself to be taken captive and dominated by what is not of God (Col 2:8,20). Peer pressure is a powerful force that the enemy uses to manipulate and hold vulnerable people under his control.

Can Satan force us? Not out rightly but through irresistible temptations he bends our will and causes us to sin. Paul stated, “What I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Rom 7:15). We collaborate with the devil when we commit sin in thought or action. This is not demon-oppression/possession, rather it is Satan influencing our belief system,

The only person who can make me do anything is me

thought-life and behaviours in order to align our will with his and by yielding, we sin. Therefore, while he can’t possess the Christian, he will deceive us into agreeing with his sinful agenda. The Bible warns, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet 5:8). We fall into his trap when we spend time in his territory and so by giving attention to his activities with repeated exposure to darkness opens the door to the influence of evil in our lives.

Deliverance-counselling from oppression of evil spirits is often required to deliver a sincere person who is humble enough to admit their sin and willing to stop repeating wrong behaviour. A poor excuse is ‘I was just tempted by the evil one,’ when we’re really just tempted by our own sinful desires (Jas 1:14,15). Although the whole world lies in the power of the evil one, one aspect of salvation is we have transferred out of his domain into that of Jesus Christ; we are new creatures and by utilizing the armour of God we are victorious over all the schemes of the enemy as we fix our attention on Christ who defeated Satan for us (2 Cor 5:17; Eph 6:10-18; Col 2:13; Heb 12:2; 1 Jn 3:8, 5:19). As believers, we are to put to death the old nature (Rom 8:13; Col 3:5). We are not to give the devil an opportunity to advance his agenda through us by doing what is inappropriate for redeemed people.

Sin isn’t evidence of demonic strongholds in our lives; it is simply disobedience and this is inconsistent with our salvation in Christ. The Bible says, “Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (Jas 4:7).

While we are alert to Satan’s motives, we are no longer slaves to sin – the salvation Christ purchased has set us free from the Devil’s tyranny, and we are under the authority of God’s Spirit and bearing His fruit in our lives.

See also: abuse, compelled, control, deliverance, evil spirits, freewill, manipulation, power, peer pressure, pressure, salvation.