Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Enemies, Part One


When you think of an enemy, especially from the point of view of a Christian, what do you think of?

We think of enemies usually first as satan and his demons. When anything bad happens such as difficulty, sickness, pain, hardships, they are usually attributed first and foremost to satan. And satan and his demons are enemies that do seek to do us harm. We see it first in the Garden of Eden. In fact, there he is the prime component to introducing sin to the human race. He is the open, declared enemy of God and thus the enemy of whoever God sets his affections on. He is described as accusing the saints before God and one who walks around like a lion seeking whom he may devour. And he does set his sights on the followers of Christ. Christ told Peter that satan desired to sift him like wheat. And we are told to resist the devil. So he is a very real, very dangerous, very persistent enemy of the Christian.

What about other specific enemies? Look at Romans 8:35-39

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Notice the quote in verse 36 from Psalm 44 where the psalm writer knew no answer for the nation’s position before God and their persecution than the sovereignty of God. But Paul applies it here as a prophetic statement that describes the church. And these things are accomplished through the enemies of tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, and the sword, or violence. We also get a clue as to the goal of these enemies in verse 35. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Paul answers in verse 39. Nothing, he is persuaded, can separate us from the love of Christ. But, can we be separated from experiencing the love of Christ? Can tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril or sword prevent us from experiencing his love?

Let me give you an example of an enemy that sought to sever me from experiencing my Savior. I had a task to do. It was one that seemed simple enough, but something that took a great deal of carefulness and attention to detail in order to complete. I accomplished it, and soon discovered that something wasn’t right. There was an unnoticed mistake somewhere that I could not identify. I may have failed at my task making a situation that was already bad even worse. The problem could have been very costly and would inconvenience many people, possibly making someone angry with me. What immediately followed the realization of these facts was the average human response. You get that sinking feeling in your gut when anxiousness sets in. There is distress. And in the anxiousness and distress and worry, I become separated from experiencing the love of Christ. Did he still love me? Of course! But that experience wasn’t there, and it was something I had to fight for. I had to fight for my joy in him.
So verse 35 has helped me tremendously with dealing with enemies by seeing that any enemies’ goal is to separate me from the love of Christ. They cannot do that positionally, but can disrupt my experience of it.

So if we look an enemy as anyone or anything that wants to separate us from the experience of Christ, we can also see that temptation and sin are our enemies. And certainly satan and his demons can be very active in this, but we know that in a war against them that they have an ally on inside of the camp, and succumbing to temptation is an inside job.

James 1:14-15 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

If you have a MacArthur study bible, look at the note on verse 14 under the words “his desires.” The strong desire of the human soul to enjoy or acquire something to satisfy the flesh. Mans’ fallen nature has the propensity to strongly desire whatever sin will satisfy. On down it says that the Greek grammar also indicates that these desires are the direct agent or cause of one’s sinning.

So innate, internal, fleshly desires are defaulting toward sin, wanting to fulfill their passions, thus cutting us off from experiencing the love of Christ. And we often think of these things such as sexual lusts, anger, selfishness, greed . . . things we know are bad.
Tomorrow, we shall look at an enemy that may not seem so vindictive at first glance.

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