And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight”
(Colossians 1:21-22)

I recently heard a pastor preach a message in which he emphasized the importance of separating ourselves from the world’s darkness and depravity, especially as we see the end of the age quickly approaching. He referenced the powerful and challenging words of the Lord’s half brother: “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). He then went on to draw a stunning conclusion. If the world is God’s enemy, then it is our enemy also. Not only that, concluded the pastor, but we must become enemies of the world also. Here I think we need to be careful. There is no doubt that the world is aligned against the LORD and His Christ (Psalm 2:1-3). As today’s passage reminds us, we too were God’s enemies by wicked works in our minds. There was a time when we opposed and withstood God, when we denied His supreme right to be believed and obeyed. Yes, God has enemies, all of which are being led, to one extent or another, by the Lord’s ancient enemy, that serpent of old called the devil and Satan (Revelation 12:9). The interesting thing here is that, though myriads of people throughout the ages have functioned as enemies of God, opposing His truth and revealed will for man (Philippians 3:18), I can find no place in the Bible in which God unambiguously declares Himself to be man’s enemy. God so loved the world that He gave His Son to save it (John 3:16-17; 1 John 4:14). Yes, God told Israel in Old Testament times that if they obeyed His word He would be an enemy to their enemies (Exodus 23:22), but this just means that He would protect them from Gentile aggression and attack. Job complained that God had become his enemy (Job 13:24) and Elihu reminded Job of his words (Job 33:10), but this was merely an expression of grief and perplexity, not literal truth concerning the heart of God towards His image-bearers. Jeremiah, writing about his nation’s decimation at the hands of the Babylonians, declared that God had functioned “like an enemy,” and “as an adversary.” God was never actually their enemy though He did call for their strict punishment for their sin, rebellion, and disobedience (Lamentations 2:4-5). I do not believe that we should regard ourselves as enemies of others in the world either. Were we not commanded to love our enemies (Luke 6:27)? Though we are definitely at war, our enemies are ultimately spiritual in nature (Ephesians 6:12) and must be defeated with weapons suited to the task (Ephesians 6:10-17; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5). May God help us to see this world aright, to love our fellow image-bearers of God even while waging successful warfare against our true enemies, even in the last of days.

God bless,

pastor john