Are you an enemy of God? Who, even, are these difficult-to-spot individuals, identified in God’s Holy Word as those upon whom He will heap rightly deserved punishment and banish from His presence eternally? If we were to take a survey, the answers would invariably be that it is the murderer, the rapist, the crime lord–someone whose sins seem simply too large to forgive. Yet strangely enough–regardless of how big or small my concept of who the enemies of God are–there is one more individual who might belong on that list: me.
“These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:46)
As human beings, our concept of who is an enemy of God is tinged by our own condition. If I have stolen, I may not consider theft enough to make me God’s enemy; if I have been unfaithful to my spouse, I might feel adultery is insufficient to qualify me for that category.
Yet the truth is that apart from Jesus, each and every one of us is an enemy of God. In my natural-born human condition, I am born contrary to holiness–indeed, it is almost impossible for me to conceive rightly what the unapproachable holiness of God is, hence, my lax appraisal if my own condition. Comments such as, “I’m not so bad, am I?” are telling and indicative of the fact that my standard of judgment is typically those around me, rather the perfect holiness that is God Himself. We excuse ourselves, saying that none can be perfect, yet, the fact is that Someone has been. God’s Word tells us that, “He who knew no sin became sin for us, that we might become the holiness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) Jesus Christ was perfect.
Christ was, indeed (humanly speaking), an anomaly by the intent of the Father. He was fully human, yet fully God, temporarily laying aside His God-like qualities by which the world would have recognized Him as such. “In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God, and the Word was God. By Him were all things made, and without Him was not anything made at was made. In Him was life, the light of man…And the Word became flesh, and lived among us…” (John 1:1-12)
“[Jesus] who, although He existed in the form and unchanging essence of God [as One with Him, possessing the fullness of all the divine attributes–the entire nature of deity], did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped or asserted [as if He did not already possess it, or was afraid of losing it]; but emptied Himself [without renouncing or diminishing His deity, but only temporarily giving up the outward expression of divine equality and His rightful dignity] by assuming the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men [He became completely human but was without sin, being fully God and fully man].” (Philippians 2:6-7, AMP)
Jesus Christ is a mystery–identified as the Word of God made flesh supernaturally through the power of the Holy Spirit, the brightness of God’s glory and express image of His person. He was the only One in all of history without sin “…tempted in every way that we are, but he did not sin.” (Hebrews 4:15 NCV)
And it is because of this that He could take on Himself the punishment for human sin–that “He who knew no sin” could become “sin for us” so “that we might become the holiness of God in Him.” Had He not been God incarnate without sin, in dying, His death would have atoned for no one’s sin.
But how am I God’s enemy? When I reject Jesus, when I do not accept what He has accomplished in faith, when I want nothing to do with the forgiveness the Father freely gives the repentant person through Jesus’ death and resurrection, I am still in my sins, unforgiven–I am the one who is an enemy of God.
This is why hell will be populated with “good” people. It is because we humans have no ability to discern who is good and who is wicked–it is because we fail to recognize that although we rate sin on a sliding scale, any absence of perfect holiness is sufficient to qualify me as an enemy of God.
So, how does this end? Is this it? How sad if it were! But no, we don’t have to push God’s love and offer of forgiveness away. Those of us who come to Jesus in repentance and faith are transferred in status from enemies to friends, from unforgiven to accepted in the Beloved.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Romans 5:8-10)
Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for forgiving me! Amen.
(See http://www.richmondhillbaptist.org/sinners.html for more detail.)