Who are the enemies of God? If you’re anything like me, you may not quite know who those nefarious individuals identified Scripturally as the enemies of God are–the ones whose destiny is eternal punishment–but you’re quite certain it’s not you, because, after all, you’ve accepted Christ. You go to church. You pray. You read the Bible. But…have you–really–accepted Jesus? And what does “accepting Him” (or alternately “being saved”) actually mean, Biblically?
“Surely God will crush the heads of His enemies, the hairy crowns of those who go on in their sins.” (Psalm 68:21 NIV)
The funny thing about us human beings is that we rarely think of ourselves as the wrongdoers–in fact, we almost never do. And that’s understandable. We try our best, so whether or not we give the other guy the benefit of the doubt, we almost certainly always do for ourselves. Yet where our relationship with God–our eternal destiny–is concerned, this isn’t enough; we need to be sure! We need to know we are among those who are saved, who really belong to Jesus–not just assume we are because we were once led in a prayer to “accept” Him.
So, let’s clear our mind of any preconceived notions of what “being saved” means, and instead, let’s look at what the Bible actually says it is.
First, we can see that today’s verse clearly identifies as unsaved--as the enemies of God–those who go on in their sins. It doesn’t say it’s the people who go on in really bad sins–just sins. So, I don’t have to be continuing an extramarital affair to be an enemy of God–I can be habitually disregarding the speed limit when I’m late. And any pattern of rebellion against God–any habitual sin–is continuing in sin.
John wrote the same thing to the New Testament church:
“But you know that He [Jesus] appeared so that He might take away our sins. And in Him is no sin. No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as He is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.” (1 John 3:5-9 NIV)
So, we see again that continuing in sin–not a one-off mess-up, but again, to borrow the words of Psalm 68:21, “those who go on in their sins”—is identified as evidence of someone who is not born of God, who does not know Him.
Of course, all Scripture is God-breathed, but what about Jesus? What did He say?
“You will know these people by what they do. Grapes don’t come from thornbushes, and figs don’t come from thorny weeds. In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit. Every tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. In the same way, you will know these false prophets by what they do. Not all those who say ‘You are our Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven. The only people who will enter the kingdom of heaven are those who do what My Father in heaven wants. On the last day many people will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, we spoke for You, and through You we forced out demons and did many miracles.’ Then I will tell them clearly, ‘Get away from Me, you who do evil. I never knew you.’ Everyone who hears My words and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. It rained hard, the floods came, and the winds blew and hit that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on rock. Everyone who hears My words and does not obey them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. It rained hard, the floods came, and the winds blew and hit that house, and it fell with a big crash.” (Matthew 7:16-27 NCV)
“The only people who will enter the kingdom of heaven are those who do what My Father in heaven wants.” This is not works-based salvation; it is not “I do good works in the hope of getting into heaven.” Rather, trusting God enough to do what He wants, to live our lives His way, is the evidence of genuine belief–of having really accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior!
You know, Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. The gate is wide and the road is wide that leads to hell, and many people enter through that gate. But the gate is small and the road is narrow that leads to true life. Only a few people find that road.” (Matthew 7:13-14 NCV) I am afraid that there are far too many who feel secure based on a supposed one-time “decision for Christ” who continue in sin, and are therefore, in fact, still very much on the wide road that leads away from Christ to their ultimate destruction.
Believing Jesus was a historical figure isn’t saving faith. Even thinking He really might have been the Son of God who paid for our sins is questionable if we don’t believe enough for our lives to be changed. The letter of James tells us, “You believe there is one God. Good! But the demons believe that, too, and they tremble with fear. You foolish person! Must you be shown that faith that does nothing is worth nothing?” (James 2:19-20 NCV) Believing Jesus is the Son of God who paid for our sins, and then trusting Him enough to actually deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Him–and say no to ourselves and the sin we so desperately want to justify regardless of cost–that is evidence of salvation at work in us through Christ!
So, who are the enemies of God, and who are those who are being saved? How can I know which I am? Kay Arthur of Precept Upon Precept Ministries says those who persevere to the end are the saved. The Apostle John wrote, “This is what God told us: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life, but whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write this letter to you who believe in the Son of God [who has the kind of belief that responds to Christ] so you will know you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:11-13 NCV) Jesus Himself said, “Now this is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” (John 17:3 NIV) Do you have Jesus? Do you know the Father and Jesus Christ whom He sent? Do you refuse to go on in sin? Will you persevere to the end? These are the questions we should examine ourselves with to see if we are really in the faith!
Dear Lord Jesus,
Help me not go on in any sin! Amen.