I listened to an Andy Stanley message Sunday, which prompted this post. Andy’s message was based on James’ encouraging us to be doers not just hearers, and thereby being blessed in our lives, vs. regretting who we are.
In his message he brought out the thought contained in the above title, which I chose for this post. How did Jesus love me and you, and the world, and His enemies? We need to know the answer to this in order to be not just a hearer but a doer as Jesus is asking throughout scripture. In light of what is going on in our country I want us to focus on:
Who are your enemies, and how are you to treat them?
The first thing that we need to understand is that we all began our doing in life as enemies of God, and Jesus came and He paid a debt that was intended for us; for as Paul says we were at that time all children of wrath. But Jesus said to us if you believe Me, I will give you a rebirth. It will come as a covenant in My blood, and as a result of My laying down My life for My sheep. If you believe you will then know My voice and follow Me, and I will send a teacher to be with you and in you, and if you love Me you will keep My teachings, and you will tell those who are still My enemies about Me, and if they believe; then you are to love them as your brothers. If they refuse you are to pray for them, but understand I did not come to bring peace but this message will act as a sword. It will cut and it will divide. For some of you — even the members of your own household will hate you as they have hated Me and they will persecute you. Those who love Me, you are to love as I have loved you. You are to tell them what I have told you, so that you will live in My righteousness, for I am writing My word on your heart. If you are following Me, abiding in Me in unity, then should one of you stray, know that you should do even as I and seek for that one to return him or her to the sheepfold.
Jesus has told us that in this world we will have tribulation. That tribulation comes from the enemy of our souls (the ruler of this world). Some tribulation will come through this enemy’s followers, who are your earthly enemies. They will despitefully use you. They will persecute you.
This leads to the question, how do we see our enemies? We must see them as Jesus saw them. And herein is the great dilemma for the believer. Are all enemies taught us to be the same?
All enemies begin as we do as sinners and enemies of God. Some become openly enemies of Christ and His message. Some become enemies within the brethren, and they even can evolve into false prophets, used by the enemy of our souls. Some become reprobates and are turned over by God with no hope because of their sold out condition.
Enemies are to be prayed for, but that’s not the sum total of Jesus teaching on our enemies. Once the gospel message is rejected, He stated wipe the dust from your feet. And how did the disciples respond to that teaching of His?
But they shook its dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. Acts 13:51 AMP
This was Paul and Barnabas, following after Jesus words, and doing what He said.
How did Jesus respond to the Religious enemy?
Matthew 6:2 “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. (NASB)
How did Jesus suggest we treat them?
Then the disciples came and said to Jesus, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard you say this?” He answered, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant will be torn up by the roots. 14 Leave them alone; they are blind guides [leading blind followers]. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” Matthew 15:12-14 AMP
Jesus did not only tell His followers how to interact with these, He gave us His own example:
13 “But woe (judgment is coming) to you, [self-righteous] scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven in front of people; for you do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow those who are [in the process of] entering to do so. 14 [Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you swallow up widows’ houses, and to cover it up you make long prayers; therefore you will receive the greater condemnation.] 15 “Woe to you, [self-righteous] scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel over sea and land to make a single proselyte (convert to Judaism), and when he becomes a convert, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are. Matthew 23:13-15 AMP
Jesus minced no words when dealing with these religious enemies. They are a different kind of enemy, ones that not even prayer will effect. They have refused the truth, and denied the Christ, or in some cases created a different Christ than Him of whom they had been taught.
There is a truth taught by these words of Jesus that we never hear mentioned or taught. Listen:
Jesus speaking: “nor do you allow those who are [in the process of] entering to do so.”
Folks these enemies are not just your enemies, but they are the enemy of every sinner needing Jesus. They are God’s enemies. If you are a follower of Jesus you do not stand idly by while these enemies destroy the truth of His word. Jesus did not. So why, and to whom, did Jesus speak from the cross: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”?
I don’t want to confuse you, but it would seem that He meant everyone who would seek forgiveness. His payment was for everyone, but it was a gift to only those who would believe and follow. It is only for the doer of the word. Without Jesus’ death and resurrection, and without the teaching and birthing by the Holy Spirit no one could be given this gift. No one could even begin the process of entering into the kingdom of God. Men did not change after Jesus came, they were still sinners needing a savior. Most still rejected God’s offer to save, some are still hypocrites, some are reprobate followers of Satan. If you are a follower of Christ you have at least to some degree become discerning of this truth concerning the classes of enemies spoken of in Scripture.
On no occasion are we told to hate any one of these differing enemies, but to love an enemy, does not mean the acceptance of their ways. Confrontation between us and the bearers of untruth is taught us by Jesus Himself. What He taught is confirmed by Paul:
Do not be unequally bound together with unbelievers [do not make mismatched alliances with them, inconsistent with your faith]. For what partnership can righteousness have with lawlessness? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
2 Corinthians 6:14 AMP
Much of what we see in our streets today is a refusal to follow Jesus and His teachings. These make themselves enemies of anyone not agreeing with them. They make use of violence and destruction to draw attention to their hatred of a system requiring respect for laws which are upheld by police, who are enforcers of those laws. By not using the teachings of Jesus concerning their own enemies they make themselves our enemies and partners of evil. We can and do pray for them but we cannot condone their ways. And without Jesus they will not change.