Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
– Ephesians 6:10-12
It is frighteningly easy to make assumptions in our relationships with other people.
- If he says something that hurts me – “He meant to hurt me.”
- “He’s out to get me.”
- “He wants to ruin my life!”
- “He’s purposely trying to make me as miserable as possible.”
- “If he loved me, he would…. (do what I want him to do)”
- “If he loved me, he would just know what I need.”
- “If he really loved me, he would treat me exactly the same way I treat him. He would use the words and tone of voice I do. He would want to be with me as much as I want to be with him. He would react the same way I do.” He would be … well… me! (Of course, if he doesn’t treat me the way I want to be treated, then I am totally justified to be awful to him because he “deserves” it, right?)
According to God’s Word, people aren’t actually our enemies.
You may need to read that again. It is NOT something we usually automatically “get.”
- Women are not the enemy.
- Men are not the enemy.
Men and women are very different from each other – by God’s wise design. Individuals are different from other individuals. But we are not enemies! In romantic relationships between two believers and in the body of Christ – we are teammates! We are brothers and sisters in Christ. We have one Lord and one main purpose in life – to bring honor to Jesus.
WHO IS THE REAL ENEMY?
We do have a very real enemy. In Western culture, we don’t really like to talk about Satan much. That seems too old fashioned or “mythical” or just weird. We are so much more advanced than that, right? Problem is… God’s Word is always true. Even in 2013. And He says we have an enemy. Think about the driving force behind corruption, oppression, crime, gangs, porn, greed and every evil on the planet. We all have a sinful nature – that definitely contributes, too, in massive ways. But we also have a cunning enemy whose goal is to steal, kill and destroy.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. I Peter 5:8
We don’t think we have an enemy in Satan today, many times. So we walk out into the battle field without realizing we are in a war zone. We don’t have our armor on. And we are under constant attack! But we saunter about as if we are shopping at the mall, oblivious to the bullets and missiles our enemy is launching at us. When we get severely wounded – we turn to those nearest to us and attack them.
We have to know who the real enemy is.
WHAT OUR CULTURE SAYS
Our culture gives us many ungodly messages. I think it is time to question things like:
- look out for number one
- don’t let anyone take advantage of you
- stand up for your rights
- be wise in your own eyes
- assume you are always right and others are always wrong
- if someone does something wrong, sue them
- if someone hurts you, he/she is your enemy, you are a victim
- don’t let anyone else control your life but you
- if someone is hateful to you, you are totally justified to be hateful and nasty back to him/her
What does God say about this stuff?
- As sinners, we have no “rights.” We stand guilty before a holy, omnipotent, omniscient, just God. We all deserve hell according to Jesus. He loves us so much, He couldn’t allow us to bear God’s just wrath – so He chose to bear it Himself in our place.
- we are either slaves to our sinful nature or to God’s Spirit (Galatians 5)
- 37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’c 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22
- 1 If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? 5 I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6 But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers! 7 The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. 9Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with mena 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. I Corinthians 6
- “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6
- “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5
- “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Romans 12:3
- 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”d says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”e
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12
Over 100 years ago, a small (but vocal and prolific) group of feminists in our culture decided that:
- Men are the enemy
- Men are the cause of all of women’s problems
- God is the enemy
- God’s Word is the enemy – or even worse, “God’s Word is a lie! We don’t have to believe it anymore. God can be whatever we want ‘her;’ to be.”
- God’s design for femininity, masculinity, marriage and the church are the enemy. “Patriarchy is oppressive to women.” “The Bible is oppressive to women.”
- If women could just get out from under the “oppression” of men, the world would be wonderful – perfect, even.
- being a wife is “oppression”
- being a mother at home is “imprisonment.”
- “children are a burden”
- if women were in control of families, businesses, the church and government – we would have utopia on earth.
Feminists were partly right. Men are wretched sinners. Sometimes men do evil things. Sometimes some men do oppress women.
But feminists missed a big part of the truth:
Women are also wretched sinners in desperate need of the blood of Christ. “For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. There is no distinction that one gender or one group of people are so holy and good that they don’t need the cross of Christ to bring them to God. Women are not spiritually or morally superior to men as the feminists declared.
So now, I wonder if we aren’t going too far the other way?
Now, sometimes, some women oppress men verbally, financially, emotionally, spiritually, sexually (by withholding sex in marriage, for example), and sometimes even physically with violence.
It is easy now for some men to think:
- Women are the problem
- Women are evil
- Women are the enemy
- Being married to a woman is oppression
How I pray that men will not respond towards women with hatred the way feminists responded towards men.
It is easy for us to fall into these traps in our romantic relationships, too:
- he/she is the problem
- he/she is my enemy
- I’m going to get him/her back for that
- If he/she hurt me this much, just wait until I get my revenge
People are not our enemies!
How I pray that God will raise up godly gentlemen to bless their sisters in Christ and to lead the way with love, kindness, grace, mercy, forgiveness, godliness and truth to the ladies.
And how I pray that God will raise up godly ladies to bless their brothers in Christ and to extend honor, respect, kindness, love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, godliness, cooperation and truth to the gentlemen.
Jesus Christ is the only solution here. He can bring unity in the church as a whole, including between men and women. Here, Paul is talking about Jews and Gentiles, but I believe that any group of people that are separated by hatred and division can find unity, healing and wholeness in Christ this way:
For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Ephesians 2:14-18
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:2-6
What did Jesus pray for most during His high priestly prayer for US (His believers) hours before He was crucified (John 17)?
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
There is much at stake here. Whether it is unity in the body of Christ, or unity in a romantic relationship between believers or in a Christian marriage – the world will know that Jesus is in us by our love for each other and our unity!
Let’s drop the weapons against each other.
Let’s put on the full armor of Christ. (Ephesians 6:10-17)
Let’s recognize our REAL enemy and his schemes.
Let’s work together as one body for the glory of our Lord, Jesus Christ – in our relationships one-on-one and in the body of Christ.
We plead for Your Spirit to work in our midst. Remove the divisions, the sin, the hatred and every ungodly thing that offends Your absolute holiness and purity. Cleanse us of our sin. Convict us and lead us to godly sorrow and repentance as your church and as individuals. Infuse us with the power of Your Spirit and let us be united as one in Your power for Your purposes and that we might be about Your kingdom’s work. Let us worship You with holy hands and holy hearts. Change us. Make us more and more like You, Lord! Use us to love each other and the world with Your love.
In the Name and power of Christ,