In his epistle to the Philippians, the apostle Paul warned:
“For many walk, of whom I told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ” (Phil. 3:18).
The term “enemy” translates the Greek word
echthros. It is a form kindred to
echthos, “hate,” hence denotes one whose disposition is hateful, hostile, or in opposition to another.
In the context of Philippians 3, it referred to certain Judaizers who were contending that salvation is obtained upon the basis of submitting to the law of Moses (cf. Acts 15:1). If that is the case, of course, then the Lord’s death upon the cross was in vain (cf. Gal. 2:20). Those who taught this doctrine were, therefore, clearly in opposition to the cross.
Nothing more terrible can be said of a person than to suggest that he is an enemy of the Son of God.
Actually, there are two categories of people who may be denominated as enemies of Jesus Christ. The first has to do with those who consciously oppose the Saviour and His redemptive system. The other is represented by those who may be regarded as unconscious enemies of the Lord. Let us briefly consider each of these groups.
Conscious Enemies of Christ
There are those who, with eyes wide open and jaw set, are confessed Christ-haters. Satan certainly falls into such a classification. In the parable of the tares, Jesus told of a malevolent being who sowed tares amongst the wheat in a certain field. Later, in explaining the story, the Lord said:
“The enemy that sowed them [the tares] is the devil” (Mat. 13:39; cf. Lk. 10:19).
With unyielding resolution, Satan is a dedicated enemy of our Lord. For a more detailed study of his diabolical efforts, see Chapter 10 in my work, The Book of Job.
Others have been equally hostile in their opposition to the Saviour. Madalyn O’Hair was once interviewed by a national news service. In an article that subsequently appeared under the title, “Atheist Speaks Out,” the viciously profane Mrs. O’Hair said: “I’d like to close down every G— d—- church in the country.” Subtle, isn’t she?
British philosopher Bertrand Russell authored an essay entitled, “Why I Am Not A Christian,” in which his opposition to Christ was made abundantly clear. James Johnson, editor of The Atheist, published in San Diego, CA, distributed an article under the title, “The Insanity of Jesus Christ,” wherein he affirmed that the Lord was a sadistic paranoiac.
Certain sensualists, who have made lust their god, have also declared their enmity for Christ. Modern advocates of homosexuality, live-in sexual relationships, “open” marriages, etc., have made no secret of their hatred for the Son of God and His lofty system of ethics.
Unconscious Enemies of Christ
There are others who must also be categorized as enemies of Jesus Christ, even though such a concept may be quite foreign to their thinking. Such folks may even speak favorably of the Lord, commending His exemplary life and benevolent influence. They have simply decided that they have no personal obligation to submit to His authority.
Or, in many cases, people have ostensibly identified with Him, while merely attaching His name to a religious system of their own design.
Who are some of these enemies?
Enemies who deny the authority of Christ
First, the Bible classifies as an enemy any person who refuses to yield to the Lordship of Christ. Speaking of our pre-Christian status, Paul declared that as “enemies” we were reconciled to God (Rom. 5:10; cf. Col. 1:21).
In Luke 19:12ff, Jesus told a parable concerning a nobleman who went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then to return. The nobleman represented the Lord Himself, the far country was heaven, the kingdom to be received was the church, and the return denoted Christ’s second coming.
During His absence, certain servants were charged with the responsibility of executing the Master’s will — some of whom were faithful and others were not. Another group, however, who “hated” the nobleman, sent him a message, defiantly exclaiming:
“We will not that this man reign over us.”
Clearly this feature of the parable depicts all those who refuse to acknowledge the authority of Christ, hence, do not obey Him. The Lord thus describes the situation:
“But these mine enemies, that would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me” (19:27).
To repudiate the reign of Christ is to spurn His kingdom. It is equal to refusing membership in His spiritual body, the church. Thus, biblically speaking, all who are outside of the body of Christ are viewed as enemies of the Savior, regardless of how sincere or “religious” they otherwise may be.
In fact, is it not the case that people will sometimes point to a good, moral person and observe: “Look at John Doe. He is not a Christian and yet he is a wonderfully nice gentleman. He is honest; he assists the needy, etc. If he can be so noble without being a part of the church, so can I.”
Hence, the rationalization is made that Christianity is really unessential. Such “moralists” are detractors; they are unwitting enemies of the cross.
Those who promote division
Even those who profess to being followers of Christ, and yet, who by attitude and action promote divisions contrary to the doctrine (cf. Rom. 16:17), stand in opposition to the Son of God.
Jesus fervently prayed for unity among those who would be His disciples, the design of which was that “the world may believe that you [the Father] did send me” (Jn. 17:21).
Sectarians who promote denominational organizations unknown to the New Testament are acting contrary to the interests of the Redeemer. And so are those within the church of Christ who peddle their own brand of divisiveness.
Modernists who deny the Scriptures
All are enemies of Christ who seek to emasculate the Bible of its supernatural elements.
For example, some would relegate the Genesis account of man’s origin to the realm of mythology in an obvious attempt to accommodate the Mosaic record to the evolutionary scheme.
Jesus charged that any such subversive procedure was in reality an attack upon Him. Listen to His words:
“If you believed Moses, ye would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you believe not his writings, how shall you believe my words?” (Jn. 5:46,47).
William Barclay’s commentaries are full of this type of infidelic approach. In discussing the miracle of the coin in the fish’s mouth (cf. Mt. 17:24-27), Barclay suggests that all the narrative means is that the Lord wanted the apostle to get back to his fishing business so that he would have the means by which to pay his debts! Hence, he declares that Peter found a stater in the fish’s mouth in the same sense that a typist will find a new coat in the keys of her typewriter, and the auto mechanic will find food for his family in the cylinder of a car! (Barclay 1975, 189-190). Such modernistic rubbish is unworthy of serious response.
Those who depart from the faith
Those who are apostates from the faith have become enemies of the Lord Jesus.
This is quite clear from the inspired statement of Hebrews 6:6. Concerning those who “fell away,” the writer affirms that they “crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”
Consider, for instance, the case of Demas. This brother is thrice mentioned in the New Testament and the testimony is one of spiritual degeneration. He is initially named in Philemon 24, where, along with Mark, Aristarchus, and Luke (good company), he is styled as one of Paul’s “fellowworkers.”
Next, he is mentioned with Luke in Colossians 4:14. And whereas Luke is complimented with the title “beloved physician,” it is just plain “Demas.” The silence is eloquent. That no epithet is attached to his name may be a shadow of that weakness which comes fully into view in 2 Timothy 4:10 where Paul writes: “Demas forsook me, having loved this present world.”
The comment of James is certainly appropriate to this case.
“Ye adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of God” (Jas. 4:3, 4).
Demas was a friend who became an enemy. And sadly, his spiritual kinsmen in today’s world are legion.
The Lukewarm Christian
There are numerous pathetic souls who, though they have not severed formal fellowship ties with a local church, nonetheless are so spiritually apathetic as to be practical enemies of the Lord.
We do not speak, of course, of those who are sincerely trying to please Christ, though struggling with personal problems (as indeed we all do to some degree or another). Rather, our attention is directed toward the listless, hypocritical child of God who mainly clings to an identification with the church as a sort of security blanket (against the fear of going to hell), but whose heart is really in the world.
This type of person attends church services randomly, he makes no effort to win the lost, his contribution would not pay for the communion bread, he constantly dabbles in questionable (if not downright wicked) activities, etc.
These people generally feel that what they do is nobody’s business. After all, they claim, they are not hurting anyone. But Christ assesses the situation differently.
Listen to his description of certain ones of the Laodicean church.
“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So because thou art lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew thee out of my mouth” (Rev. 3:15, 16).
The choice is ours. We can be a friend of Jesus Christ, or we can be the enemy. May we have the courage to identify with the former.