Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Ephesians 6:10-12 (KJV)
Past and present events in our world can leave us feeling conflicted, angry, sad, hurt, torn and disconnected. The resulting social upheaval can result in drawn battle lines that seem to pit spiritual brothers against each other. In my own life, I have not been immune to all of this and the temptation to identify and label those whom I consider enemies has been immense. In the face of this temptation, I have had to reflect on the apostle Paul’s reminder of who the true enemy is. (At this point, I would suggest that if any one of the following declarations applies to you, you repeat it/them quietly to yourself.)
My spouse is NOT my enemy. My prodigal child is NOT my enemy. My difficult relative (or in-law) is NOT my enemy. My ex-spouse is NOT my enemy. My abuser is NOT my enemy. (If you were abused in any way, you are seen by God and your pain is valid ❤.)
My difficult boss is NOT my enemy. My belligerent and impolite co-worker is NOT my enemy.
The white person/black person/brown person (insert any other racial group here) is NOT my enemy. People who present social identities (sexual, gender and other cultural identities) that don’t fit within my worldview are NOT my enemies. The Republican/Democrat is NOT my enemy. The conservative/liberal is NOT my enemy. Those in the media are NOT my enemies. Anyone who has a differing political or cultural opinion to mine is NOT my enemy. Those who misunderstand my viewpoint or choose not to hear it are NOT my enemies.
Anyone who cannot associate with my experience/background/point of view is NOT my enemy. Those who judge me for my past or my present are NOT my enemies. Those who choose to hate me for whatever reason are NOT my enemies.
Those in the church who do not have the same denominational origin and theological orientations as me are NOT my enemies. People of other faiths are NOT my enemies.
The challenging person in my neighborhood is NOT my enemy.
The True Enemy
Satan and his spiritual organization are our ONLY TRUE enemies. Satan has mastered the art of cloaking himself in invisibility and creating false targets for our indignation. He verifies, in our minds, the reality of warfare but points us in the direction of personal rather than spiritual targets. He knows the power of our weapons (2 Corinthians 10: 4 – 5), but he craftily uses diversion to disable them. He recognizes that the resentment, bitterness, anger, and anxiety that come from activating innate fears of difference are powerfully divisive. He utilizes this knowledge without restraint to “steal, kill and destroy” humanity (John 10:10); to devour God’s people (1 Peter 5:8).
Are you struggling with labeling a false enemy? Confess it to others now. Don’t wait. Accept God’s truth about who the true enemy is.