Enemies and Foes
The Bible is overflowing with imagery detailing the enemies facing the people of God. There is the personal enemy of the sinful flesh which we all must battle. Those desires within our hearts that are not in alignment with the righteous standards of Christ. This is why the believer is urged to put off the old man and to walk in the new (Colossians 3:5-17). We must strive to grow in sanctification living with greater passion for Christ and His perfect righteousness to permeate our lives. Yet, more than this the church faces enemies not just individually but collectively. The people of Israel not only faced the temptations of the flesh, but real nations who wanted to destroy them. Likewise, the church has enemies today who oppose her. False teachers raise themselves up to seek to lead the saints astray by preaching a false gospel that is indeed no gospel at all (Galatians 1:8). Even entire false religions raise themselves up against the true knowledge of God seeking to attack the church leading her astray (Colossians 2:16-23).
Furthermore, there is the entire demonic realm opposed to the saints and their Lord. We are told that we “do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).” These are the “elemental spirits” which drive false religions according to man-made traditions seeking to deceive people away from the truth (Colossians 2:20). Satan is likened to a roaring lion prowling around seeking to devour (1 Peter 5:8). With all of these enemies, what is to be the churches responses? There are foes within, foes without, and indeed even the demonic host opposes the church and her message. How should we seek to be faithful in this battle to which we have been called?
The Glory of Triumph
One of the easily looked over themes of Scripture is that of the triumph of Christ and His people. Paul says in Ephesians:
“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” -Ephesians 1:16-21
Christ has already been seated at the right hand of all rule and authority. He has been given the power of the entirety of His enemies. It is said of our Lord that “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him (Colossians 2:15).” Notice the past tense wording of this text. Our Lord has disarmed the demonic realm and has put them to open shame already by the triumph of His glorious cross. He said after the resurrection that He had “All authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18-20).” All of these texts show us the victory of Christ and His power over all of our foes.
The Apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit goes so far as to say that this age of history is marked by Christ placing all enemies under His feet with the last enemy being death to be destroyed at the last day (1 Corinthians 15:26).” This truth shows us that Christ, reigning on His throne, is defeating all of His enemies. Mark this, He is not losing to His foes, He is conquering them. He is bringing lost men and women to Himself by the power of His Gospel. As the Word goes forth the nations are discipled equipping His people to live fully for the glory of His name. The overwhelming nature is that Christ has conquered through the cross and resurrection, he conquered receiving the seat of authority at the ascension, and this age of the church is an age marked by His continuing to conquer by the power of the Gospel and the Word!
The Calling of Triumph
What does all of this mean for us as we live day by day as the church? Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 2:14:
“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.” -2 Corinthians 2:14
We are spreading the triumph of Christ as we speak and live according to the full knowledge of Him. This means the Lord we serve is more powerful than any enemy facing us, within or without. That one truth should fuel our sanctification understanding that by the grace of God “the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. (Proverbs 4:18).” God’s Spirit is at work in us drawing us into increasing conformity to the Lord working all things for our eternal good (Romans 8:28). There is no foe who can have the power to stand against the church of the Lord Jesus Christ for He declared the gates of hell shall not prevail over her (Matthew 16:18). The demonic host is powerless to stop the advance of the church by the Gospel of the Lord.
All of this brings us to the important point that we have not only been called into a glorious Kingdom, we have been calling into the glorious, triumphant Kingdom of God. I can have confidence in my sanctification because I know Christ is working in me putting sin to death. As a whole, we as the church can testify to the Gospel and the Scripture having full confidence in the power of it to destroy strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4-6). Brethren, let us not have a spirit of fear, let us stand boldly knowing the glorious power of our Lord. May we go after the sins of the flesh hard knowing the power of the cross to put them to death casting them aside. Let us go after the strongholds of false teaching fearlessly because the One who is in us is greater than the world. I pray that we might seek to walk testifying to the power of the Lord who calls upon us to spread the knowledge of Him everywhere as He triumphs over all His foes!