When I think of God’s enemies, I often get these sorts of ‘loud’ pictures in my mind:
The Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus.
The Pharisees and other religious leaders of the day who rejected Jesus as the one and only Son of God.
People who drive around with Darwin emblems on their cars.
But did you know that the Bible says it is impossible to be neutral about Christ (Matthew 12:30)? Those who are not actively following Jesus have chosen to reject him. In fact check out the Bible’s definition of God’s enemies:
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
So, we see here that those who have not been reconciled with God through faith in Jesus are also considered God’s enemies. I have been a believer in Jesus now for about 7 years. When these verses hit me the other day, I realized that to this day, I have literally lived more years of my life as an enemy of God than as a follower of Him.
When I was younger I went to a church where it was continually highlighted that God is love and that God loves us. Personally, I think this is a great thing to understand after you realize you have a sin condition that separates you from a Holy God. I don’t ever remember hearing anything about the judgment and eternal punishment I was storing up for myself as I lived how I wanted (Romans 2:5). Would I have told you I believed in God? Of course. Did I understand that my sin broke this relationship with this God that I said I believed in (Romans 3:23)? No. I always just thought that God loved me, and so, I didn’t really see a problem.
But there was a problem. I didn’t know Jesus. I didn’t know that as I continued to live my life my way, walking in sin, covering it up, feeling sorry for a time – but never coming into repentance - that I was really living as God’s enemy. I didn’t know Jesus. Sure I knew right from wrong. Sure I felt bad when I did wrong things, but only because of the possibility of getting in trouble, or of messing up my life, or of the general consequences that come from making bad choices. I didn’t know Jesus. I didn’t know that this God I said I believed in could only be accessed in One Way. I didn’t know that as I lived my life my way, that I really was continually sinning against a Holy God without care. I didn’t understand the seriousness of this. I thought ‘bad people’ went to hell. Surely not good people who just messed up every once in awhile would ever need to worry about that. But I didn’t know Jesus. I thought fulfillment and purpose came from living a good life – relationships, friends, a good job, a good income, kids, a family. I didn’t know there was more. I didn’t know Jesus. I didn’t know that I walked in condemnation (John 3:18) each day of my life as I gave no thought to the idea of needing a Savior. BUT, thankfully Jesus didn’t let this cycle continue. Jesus says in John 15:22, “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin.” And God intersected my life on a day in college, at church, over 7 years ago - and I was confronted with TRUTH. For the first time I understood what it meant that Jesus was the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). And I put my faith in Jesus. Was it uncomfortable realizing that I was a sinner? Yes. Did it hurt when I finally understood that all those years I really didn’t know God after all? Yes. Did I get offended a time or two leading up to this day in church as people shared these truths with me and helped me to understand that my beliefs didn’t match up to what the Bible said? Yes.
But this was what I needed. For me, personally, I didn’t need to be told God is love anymore. At this point in my life, I needed to be brought to my knees in recognition of my sin condition. It was only then that I realized ‘believing’ in God was not enough. I needed to know that my sin caused me to fall short of a relationship with God. And then, I needed to know that my Savior died on a cross to set it straight for me, to fully give me that relationship with God that I thought I already had. And now it’s different. Now I have ABSOLUTE ASSURANCE that I really know God because I feel Him living inside of me. I never felt this before. Putting my faith in Jesus has led to a personal relationship with Him. I had no idea this was possible. Before I understood the gospel, I thought God sort of hovered above us, and that the closest I could get to him would be on the day that I would die. I didn’t know there was so much more. So much more for this life. But now I do. And now I will aim to pursue Him with all my heart. I have some lost time to make up for.