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Tuesday, February 05, 2013

The Enemy at the Gates?

And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
 
And you shall bruise His heel.
 Genesis 3:15 

'But, didn't Jesus destroy the enmity?'

Yes, indeed He did; He came to destroy 'him who had the power of death', and 'having abolished in His flesh the enmity', 'so as to create in Himself one new man [ from ] the two', He 'came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near'. ( I should just quote the whole passage here! ) For those who are aware of the important and covenantal context of these words from the apostle Paul, these words, though comforting still, report that the purpose for which God sent His Son was fulfilled in the first century. He has made us 'a new creation', making One from the two, having 'broken down the middle wall of separation'!

'So why', one might ask, 'are there still wars; why are there still evils like abortion, murder, rape, etc., in the world?' These are a very present evil; no argument, but there is a very simple answer for us in James 4. 

'Where do wars and fights [ come ] from among you? 'Do [ they ] not [ come ] from your [ desires for ] pleasure that war in your members?'

Quoting this verse as I do, you may note that the words in brackets are not in the original Greek, and that the general context of this rhetorical question demands that they held a slightly different meaning for their original audience. With that said, I believe that they apply as well today as they did yesterday! From even a very superficial study of human nature, we may ascertain the eternal truth of these words of warning! Even in followers of Jesus Christ, this nature presents itself, whether we want to admit it or not, whether we reveal it or not, every day!

With good self-government, the Christian, and even some who would not be called Christian by most, manage to squelch their selfish desire and, for the sake of others with a greater and more pressing need, act in a Christ-like and self-sacrificing  way. ( Now, don't get me wrong, I believe that self-sacrifice can only go so far: one must take care of oneself, sometimes, in order to take care of others! ) Although many manage to do this, there is abundant evidence that there are those that do not! Men and women still kill and abuse each other, and there are plenty of 'evil' enterprises out there that could be named; where should we start?!

There is no question; though God defeated ( destroyed ) the 'enemy' He came to annihilate, there are still enemies of Jesus Christ, and of His Gospel out there! One doesn't usually have to look very far to find evidences of this 'evil'. Where men and women live in rebellion, whether active ( militant ) or not, against the Laws of their Creator, you will find this 'evil' present and very active!

 But outside [ are ] dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.
Revelation 22:15

It has been questioned, I believe, since 'the end of all things' came and went in the first century AD, whether this statement still holds true today. I believe it does, though again, maybe, not to the extent, or with the same intent with which John wrote those words. There are those who have not yet received, or will not accept, for whatever reason, the love that the Father extends through His people, and though much if not all of the respons'a'bility lies with them, this responsibility can be spread evenly throughout His Church as well! Again, don't get me wrong; I am NOT slandering the Bride ( Wife ) of Christ, as some would accuse me of! I am simply saying that, whether based on a wrong eschatology or just bad theology, the Church has made some bad and hurtful decisions throughout her long and storied marriage!

So, doubtless the statement that there are still enemies at the gate is a true one, but as John 'saw' in The Revelation of Jesus the Christ, concerning the New Jerusalem, which IS the Church; 'Its gates shall not be shut at all by day'! Although they may be outside the 'gates'; all are welcomed, and indeed, all are invited!'

And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
Revelation 22:17

You may read Scriptures like Matthew 22:1-14, about the wedding supper, and the man who was cast out because he was not wearing a fit garment, and the woman caught in adultery, whom Jesus refused to condemn, though He did tell her, 'go and[k] sin no more' ( note- this story is not related in the most ancient manuscripts ). Both of these stories, or parables, should be understood in the historical and covenantal context in which they were given, but we can also understand, from these and other stories, that it is sin, or the lack of the righteousness which only the Spirit of God can apply, which keeps these people ( who are 'outside' ) from entering the City, and enjoying the blessings of the Presence of God!

May we, as inhabitants of the City, not refuse entrance to any who would enter, but sharing the love of God with ALL, let us continually voice the cry of the Spirit and the Bride, and just say, 'COME'!

In His love,
Charles Haddon Shank
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