Christians are constantly bombarded with propaganda about their “enemies”, which we are led to believe are unbelievers (or what used to be called heathens). What I find interesting is that Jesus never had anything to do with unbelievers. He rarely mentioned them and he never tried converting them. He simply let them be.
There’s no indication in scripture that Jesus considered unbelievers to be his enemies. He didn’t rail against the Roman occupying forces. He didn’t chastise the Romans for their pagan beliefs. Again, he just let them be because he didn’t see them as his enemies. Had he considered them his enemies, he would have said so, but he didn’t. They were of no concern to him.
On the other hand, Jesus was very clear about who he considered to be his enemies: He said our worst enemies are those under our own roof. In saying that, he wasn’t referring only to people who physically live under our roof, but to those who are (or say they are) closest to us in professed belief.
After all, it wasn’t Pontius Pilate who condemned Jesus to death; it was the temple elders, the religious powers-that-be in Jerusalem at the time, who demanded that Jesus be crucified. Pilate, the pagan, found nothing in Jesus’ behavior that warranted execution and was resolved to let him go, but the temple elders of the Sanhedrin wanted Jesus dead. These were some of the same men Jesus had dined with on occasion and debated with on the streets and in the synagogues and temple. He was not a stranger to them, nor they to him. They were all children of Israel and children of Abraham, supposedly professing the same beliefs as Jesus, but that was clearly not the case when they had him arrested, tortured, and then crucified.
Another group constantly getting the finger pointed at them as “enemies” are the demonic (unholy) spirits. These unseen but still very potent beings have been blamed for everything from lost car keys to mass murder, but at no point are they actually to blame. Demonic spirits, under God’s guidance and with God’s permission, can tempt, but they cannot coerce; they can do what is asked of them or is permitted by God, but they cannot do anything of their own free will because they no longer have free will. Demonic spirits have no power or agency of their own; they only have what God gives them: in other words, they can only do God’s will.
Note that Jesus never once blamed the unholy spirits for any of his problems. He spent a good deal of time casting them out of people (the demons were entirely under his authority, by the power of God’s Holy Spirit), but he never told his followers to mount any kind of spiritual warfare against them. Even so, many Christians today ignore Jesus’ example and continue to wage prayer battles against these unseen forces, thinking they are accomplishing something useful by wearing amulets to ward them off or reciting pre-scripted “prayers” as protection.
So, if unbelievers and demons aren’t our enemies, who are?
Our enemies are the same as Jesus’ enemies – namely, those who say they believe, but are either lying or have been deceived into believing lies. Just as Saul (before his conversion) was the disciples’ worst nightmare, our worst nightmare will also be those who believe they are doing God’s will. In other words, our worst enemies are not unbelievers or demons, but people who call themselves Christians.
Remember that Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve. Like Jesus and his genuine followers throughout the ages, we will likely also one day be betrayed by those who say they’re believers. And our response will have to be the same as that of Jesus and all martyrs – to forgive and bless our tormentors, even as they’re killing us.
The enemy is within each person… it’s the flesh. 🙏🏻
The flesh is the means to the temptation, not an enemy in and of itself. Remember that our bodies are the temple of God’s Spirit, if we’re born again. God gave us our bodies not to denigrate or despise, but to get us around. They are vessels. We need to look after them and be thankful for the pleasures and usefulness they afford us. In Heaven, we’ll have perfected bodies; our earthly bodies may be imperfect, but they’re still useful. Our flesh is not our enemy; it’s a tool God has given us to use to our advantage.