How Can We Truly Love Our Enemies?
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them
that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which
despitefully use you, and persecute you;
Love your enemies. Three words that are so easy to say, but in practice can seem impossible to do. How does one even begin to love their enemies? I can tell you how, but it is a deep spiritual truth that you just may have difficulty in accepting. Right off the bat you need to know that it is in direct opposition with the mindset that we are all ‘King’s kids’ and thus entitled to receive a steady stream of blessings in perpetuity without any struggles in this world. Indeed, we are children of the King of the Jews, however our lot in life is to be His servants, not spoiled brats.
And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith
unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and
servant of all.
THE ONLY SEPARATION BETWEEN SINNER AND SAINT IS GOD’S GRACE
In order to love our enemies we must first recognize that we have no more earned our salvation or worthy to receive God’s grace than the unsaved. This gift we received was and is free to any and all who choose to come before the throne of grace upon which Jesus Christ currently sits. You see, one of the many important truths that the Laodicean churches fail to teach is the fact that Jesus did not shed His precious blood only for Christians, he died for all sinners and the sins of ‘the whole world’ (1 John 2:1-2 KJV)! That includes those sins that we will commit after we have chosen to follow Christ, however that doesn’t mean we do not have to come before the throne of grace whenever we sin:
Let us [followers of Christ] therefore come boldly
unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help
in time of need.
Some try to make the silly argument that since we cannot possibly remember every single sin we commit we therefore must not be required to repent of our sins. The simple answer to that is contrary to what wolves like Joseph Prince try to teach the flock, part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to convict us all of sin. We do not have to struggle to remember every sin, because the Holy Spirit will do that for us. However, His is a ‘still, small voice’ that we must constantly be listening for and obedient to.
The Holy Spirit doesn’t convict us of sin in order to make us feel bad, but to cause us to repent. This is why we are warned not to grieve the Holy Spirit in Ephesians 4:30 (KJV). It is sin that grieves Him, and this verse is a clear warning that unrepentant sin has a high cost, which is our breaking of the seal of salvation. There is no salvation without the seal of the Holy Spirit!
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while
we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified
by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
Sometimes scripture uses the word ‘sinner’ to speak of the unsaved, but do not ever get the impression that we are no longer sinners. That is to say, we are still people with a sin nature who sin on occasion. It is our reaction to sin that has changed. Many have likened the change from ‘sinner to saint’ to the difference between the sheep who naturally tries to keep its wool clean and the pig who loves to constantly wallow in the muck.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves,
and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just
to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we
say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
But I see another law in my members, warring against
the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which
is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the
body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with
the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
Many have been sold a counterfeit Christianity and are repulsed by the idea that as Christians we remain just as vile as the vilest of sinners we can think of. You see, when we surrender our lives to Christ, we do not become sinless, but beings whose sins have been forgiven. And that not by any effort of our own, but wholly by the grace of God through the shed blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.
How could anyone possibly make an informed decision to follow Christ without first recognizing their own sin natures and desperate need for a savior to wash our sins away? Indeed, those of us who have had a genuine salvation experience will have the keenest sense of our wretchedness. It is in fact this inherent sense of our wretchedness that is the only proper motivation for seeking salvation. To put it simply:
When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that
are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not
to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and
saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a
loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said
this, he fell asleep.
Our brother Stephen knew how to love his enemies. He underwent this change of his heart to the degree that he actually cried out to God to forgive the men who were stoning him to death! Stephen did the exact same thing that Jesus did from the cross with his last breath, let that sink in for a moment.
How could a Christian ever think that God would have them go out in a blaze of bullets? Stephen could have pulled out a sword and tried to defend himself like Peter did (Matthew 26:47-56 KJV), but he submitted to his martyrdom. Jesus himself willingly submitted to His death on the cross, reminding Peter that He could at any time summon twelve legions of angels (50,000+) to deliver Him from his accusers.
You see, Stephen was prepared to die for the gospel, just as Jesus did. He knew that for Christians to die is to gain (Philippians 1:21 KJV). Stephen also trusted in God as the only protector he needed, so if he was to die as a martyr it was only because God had chosen him for this great honor!
If we as servants of Christ are to make a real difference in this world then we must be willing to allow God to change us. Are you willing? The Holy Spirit must perform a change in our hearts, a change so profound that things that once sounded like absolute nonsense to you suddenly make perfect sense.
The way I refer to this is as the work of the cross applied to our hearts. It is the personal revelation by the Holy Spirit of our sin nature, this inherent wretchedness that continues to dwell within each of us, even after our conversion. It is allowing ourselves to be personally revulsed by everything inside of us that is not of God. The particularly insidious thing about this sin nature is that we want to always feel good about ourselves. This is perfectly demonstrated in the parable of the Pharisee and the publican:
Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a
Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with
himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners,
unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I
give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off,
would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his
breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went
down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that
exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be
Just to be clear, this is not a matter of questioning the ability of the cross to wash away our sins, no sir, but the realization that we need that forgiveness not just when we surrender our lives to Christ, but whenever we stumble and sin, because that sin nature is still within us. We must recognize the awful truth that there is a part of us that loves to wallow in the filth of sin like pigs in the mud!
Once we see ourselves for the miserable creatures that we are, it changes how we look at others. You see, Stephen realized that the only thing that separated himself from the fate of those who took his life was the grace of God. We who have had the cross properly applied to our lives do not look down upon any other human being. We don’t see ourselves as better than anyone else, contrary to the accusations made against us by unbelievers. We see them as our fellow sinners.
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all
acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom
I am chief.
Paul wasn’t being modest when he referred to himself as the chief of sinners, nor was he referring to himself in the past tense. He plainly said that he was the chief of sinners right then. But was Paul really the chief of sinners? We must understand that for any of us to even entertain the idea that there are sinners worse than us is to judge another’s sins which is a sin in itself.
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not
one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable;
there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
This is something that the world just doesn't grasp about true servants of Jesus Christ. We can hate their ideologies but still love those who espouse them. This is the reason why I called Steven Anderson perhaps the most dangerous preacher around today. He gets it right in so many areas, like the ‘synagogue of Satan’ and the superiority of the King James version. However, all that good is washed away by his rhetoric of hate, particularly wishing that homosexuals would die of AIDS and that President Obama would die. I’m sorry folks, but although we can certainly get our doctrine a little mixed up at times, based on the scripture that I have studied I see no way that a true Christian can foster such hatred in their hearts towards any of their fellow human beings. What the modern church needs is a strong dose of humility, and the “there but by the grace of God goes I” brand of preaching.
The key to loving our enemies is to first realize that Jesus shed His precious blood just as much for them as for us. Contrary to ‘King’s Kid’ theology, Jesus would in fact have us think very little of ourselves. He would have us in a constant state of humility, which naturally leads to us thinking more highly of others than ourselves. In asking God not to charge those who stoned him to death with the crime Stephen valued their eternities more than his own life. You see, Stephen understood why Christ cried “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do” from the cross. Those who stoned Stephen did not understand the eternal consequences of what they had done.
Do you know who else was present at the stoning of Stephen? None other than Saul (Paul), our brother who wrote most of the New Testament. I believe that witnessing the stoning of Stephen had a profound effect on preparing the heart of Saul for his forthcoming encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus in Acts 9.
As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the
day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that
hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.
So simply put, the key to loving our enemies is to simply to love ourselves much less. In this day and age we have all become way too involved in serving our flesh 24/7. We need to turn off the stream of filth feeding our minds with sinful thoughts. Even those of us who have a pretty good handle on the sinful thoughts need to realize that filling our minds with things of no importance like sports and games is stealing time away from God. We need to take back control of our minds and get back to the important things.
This know also, that in the last days perilous times
shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters,
proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without
natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce,
despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of
pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying
the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which
creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away
with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of
the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also
resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But
they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all
men, as theirs also was.
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that
exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity
every thought to the obedience of Christ;
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