This is something I re-wrote five years ago from an email I received. I hope you will consider what is written here because it’s a way to view “enemies.” It is very much part of the message series, “Seven Things To Settle Before All Hades Breaks Loose” (Click Here). This was included in the manuscript titled, “God Is Love” (Click here and scroll to the bottom). It supports my view that it is God’s will for every Christian to be conformed to the image of Christ and nothing can prevent that… NOTHING (Romans 8:29 from The Message).
“Enemies As Emissaries Of God’s Grace”
If I keep a heavenly perspective and believe Romans 8:28, enemies are not really enemies… they are some of the best friends I have. What is sometimes meant by some to hurt actually helps bring about a work of grace in me that wouldn’t take place any other way. It has been said that if it takes an enemy to tell you the truth, then you have no friends (Compare with Proverbs 17:17, 18:24, & 27:6). That is a true statement.
There can be no perfection in God’s children without the chastising work of God the Father (Hebrews 12:4-11). When a supposed enemy attacks, God exposes the sinful blind spots that lie hidden in my heart. When friends extol my good virtues and praise me from their hearts of friendship, I appreciate their expressions love, but it is more important that be told the truth specially when it will wound me deeply (Proverbs 27:6). Otherwise I will not be working to become more like Christ and the blind spots I have will grow and infect my soul.
When a person I perceive to be an enemy shames me in some way, there rises up in me a defensive spirit of “righteous indignation” to refute the enemy (To my detriment). Hopefully it is then that the Spirit does His office work and exposes my sin to me in an undeniable way. Then I see the things I either did not know were present in my life or that I had ignored. Then I see my faults… failures… and short comings.
If at that point I repent, God delivers me from what has been exposed in my heart… what was hidden and lying dormant until He used a supposed enemy to expose it. Then the process of crucifying my prideful sin begins… a process that God never abandons in us as long as we live on earth. This process never takes place unless the pain of seeing my personal sin is facilitated by some kind of wound. But what is intended by supposed enemies for evil, God intends for good (Genesis 50:20).
There is residual sin in my life… sin that I enjoy and protect which are better known as idols. These are things I would never address without being forced to in some way. There are lessons I must learn that can only be learned by the crucible of adversity, pain, and difficulty. And God uses those perceived as enemies to expose the things in my life that otherwise would never be seen, much less understood or removed from my life. And so what some might call an enemy is really my best friend, a helper, an emissary from God for my good! For the way to Christ likeness is the cross and the navigator that God uses to direct me there are those who some might call enemies.
Jesus couldn’t nail himself to the cross… his friends would never have done it… his apostles would have refused to do it. So it ended up that his enemies, under the direction of Christ’s arch enemy Satan, who was under the complete control of God (Acts 4:27-28) did what no one else would do!
Had the arch enemy known that what he was doing would bring about Jesus’ glory and the way of salvation for all who’d believe… he never would have nailed Jesus to that cross! He didn’t know that what he intended for destruction was the means God used for glorification!
I am reluctant to crucify myself. Friends will not crucify me. It takes a person who is willing to be perceived as an enemy to nail me to a cross. That person has to be the one that takes action. In God’s wisdom He has determined that a cross is the only way His children will become more like His son and the holiness that is required to see Him (Luke 9:23, Hebrews 12:14).
Without people doing what they think will hurt or destroy me, I would never find the way to being more like Jesus. They are a required part of becoming holy. And because of that I must see them as my best friends!
Not to draw too close a relationship between the real cross and my piddling problems, by the same token if supposed enemies knew the renewal and strengthening their actions will hopefully have, they probably wouldn’t want to help me so much! The prayer I have is not to work against my supposed enemies, but with God.
This perspective is a great help in being able apply Jesus’ words to “love your enemies!” For in reality they are not enemies, but emissaries! Emissaries of transformation, reformation, restoration, and hope. As I look to see God’s hand in the moment (rather than in hind sight), I can come to realize that supposed enemies are unwitting professors in the school of holiness. They teach humility, brokenness, and mercy. They instruct me on righteousness, holiness, and grace. Without those some would call enemies, I would not have the opportunity to grow in my faith and share in God’s holiness (Hebrews 12:10). Without them I would continue in darkness and never move toward God’s light!
So in reality I have no enemies, except one who is called Satan. The worst attacks leveled against me… the deepest wounds to my heart… the most devastating criticisms thrown my way all fall under the providential hand of God (Romans 8:28). If I submit to the Father of Spirits, I’ll live (Hebrews 12:9). And for this reason I am working toward appreciating, loving, and being thankful for those who supposedly attempt to hurt or destroy me.
Without chastisement manifested through the work of my supposed enemies, I would not work fervently and diligently to become more like Christ. Unless there were people who were willing to fill the role of a supposed enemy, I wouldn’t see my sin nor would I do anything to address it for the purpose of crucifying it.
And so if I’ll submit to the loving hand of discipline from the Father, hopefully I’ll be more like Jesus. I’ll be one more step closer to glory. I’ll be able to move on to the next level in my walk with God. I’ll be better prepared to face the next work God has to conform me to the image of His son. I’ll be better prepared to deal with the next situation that will come, once again, from a supposed enemy. And if I’ll work with God instead of against my supposed enemy, the end result will be righteousness and peace in God’s presence (See Hebrews 12:11!).
In reality… the truth is that through persecution a supposed enemy only sets fire to the hay, wood, and stubble that would be burned up by Jesus anyway (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). And what they intend for evil is actually purifying the silver, gold, and precious stones.
So I thank God for supposed enemies… and pray that I will continue to do so. I pray that I will be willing to fan the flame that burns what can be burned so that what cannot burn will stand forever to the glory of God (See 1 Peter 5:4).