Specifically, Dove Chocolates. I don’t know if it’s the morsels of chocolate wrapped so perfectly in foil with happy little messages to think on as the little pieces of heavenly goodness melt away in my mouth or if it’s the fact that they come in these tiny little portion-controlled bites. I love having them either way. Often times, I use them as rewards for myself. “Okay, Sarah, if you can get one more chapter read, you may have two pieces of Dove.” I swear by this type of motivation; it’s what got all my papers done in seminary. It wasn’t the grade. It wasn’t the satisfaction of a project complete. It was the chocolate.
But the last time I indulged in my confectionary treat, I was alarmingly taken aback by the messages Dove was sending me. Most of the time, the messages are fun, frolic-filled, frivolous quips on the necessities of bubble baths and massages, “Indulge,” they would tell me. “Daydream,” they would say. But this day, this chocolate was especially disturbing to me. “Love rules without rules,” it taught. “Let your sensuousness shine through,” it encouraged. I sat there, wheels turning faster than those at Nascar, aghast at the lies I had just been fed…in the form of chocolate.
And it got me thinking: Our enemies REALLY hate us!
There are numerous places within Scripture that tell us we have enemies. But who are they exactly? Taking its cues from Scripture, early Christian litany spells out who they are: the world, the flesh and the devil (Abelard, Exposition of the Lord’s Prayer). We know this in theory. We’ve made movies about them, written songs expressing our struggle with them. We call them “enemies,” for crying out loud! Yet so often we take a lackadaisical approach towards these enemies. “Sure, they’re not our ‘friends,’ and they probably don’t necessarily like us…but, I mean, they’re not all THAT bad. They’re more like worthy opponents picking up a game of ball. Ya win some; ya lose some. Right?” But that’s not how Scripture puts them. They’re out for blood (John 10:10)…your blood. And I fear until we get the magnitude by which they loathe our existence, we’ll always be living in defeat. We must realize this truth: They absolutely hate us!
It’s no surprise the Devil is considered your enemy. He was God’s enemy from the beginning, constantly trying to trip mankind up in his web of lies (Genesis 3). But he’s not your quintessential red-caped, pointy-horned, wildebeest-resembling devil we see on the tops of people’s left shoulders whispering deceptions into their ears. He’s trickier than that. Paul warns us of his many masquerades in 2 Corinthians 11:14, “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” Tricky, right? He’s called the “Father of Lies” by Christ himself (John 8:44). He tried to set himself up as God ages ago (Isaiah 14:13-14) and he has been messing with us ever since (Luke 22:31). But lest you think it’s just you and God against the Prince of this world, know this: Satan is only the ring leader of this motley crew we call our “enemies.” We have a few more. A few more closely knit to ourselves.
That’s right, the world absolutely hates you. Dove convinced me of this the day I heard it say, “Go ahead…let loose; lay all inhibitions aside and do whatever you want to do.” Sure, they disguised it in a pithy little note that read, “Indulge your sense of adventure.” But the message couldn’t have been more clear. The world wants you to screw things up. It wants you to be just like them. I’m not being cynical here. Christ warned us of this in John 15.
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
Our world is sneaky, too. The world is like Lindsey Lohan’s character in Mean Girls, who gives you a “diet bar” telling you it will help you lose weight when in reality, its sole purpose is to gain weight. They get you with Dove chocolate wrappings and magazine articles that encourage you to be sexier, thinner, more provocative because those are the people who are really happy. I mean, if Jessica Biel can keep the “good girl next door” image in a see-through top and booty shorts, why can’t I? They lie to you in TV commercials whose mantras are that men are dumb and women should rule the world (*cough* Bounty). They tell you cleavage is normal and if you’ve got it, flaunt it; the sexier, the better. They leave out the part about preferring your brother and protecting his thought life and the part about how empty you still feel after you’ve become what they’ve made you. Their aim is instant gratification, and consequences take a backseat to the momentary pleasure that a thrill-seeking drive awards to you (Hebrews 11:25). Scripture warns us against these tactics when it tells us not to go after the world.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” – 1 John 2:15-17
If Satan is the liar and the world is the mean girl, then our flesh is that spoiled rotten child who screams and pitches a fit when it doesn’t get its way. Why? Because the flesh wants what it wants, and it wants it NOW! Satan and the world may be formidable enemies, but we all know Satan gets it in the end (…you’ve read Revelation, right?) and the world is passing away. But the flesh is probably the scariest enemy out there. Partly because I carry the flesh with me wherever I may go. Partly because my flesh is at times extremely loud and demanding. And partly because my flesh has a perverted bent towards righteousness. It wants to be holy and good, sure, but it wants to be so devoid of God and His working in me. Romans 7:18 assures me of this, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.” This is why Galatians challenges us to not feed the flesh and reminds us that it has been dealt with at the cross of Christ (Galatians 5:16-25).
“For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” – Romans 8:13
Make no mistake about it: your flesh will lie, cheat and steal from you. It will tell you that one time isn’t that big of a deal. It will convince you that everyone else is doing it and they’re happy. It will tell you that it doesn’t need help, it’s strong enough on its own. And when it comes to confession, it will own up to its wrong doing, just shy of submitting to God. This is what our flesh is capable of, and it absolutely hates you.
So, what’s a girl to do to free herself from this villain-stricken world in which she finds herself? That’s the beauty of it. NOTHING, but believe. It’s already been done. “You need only be still; the Lord will fight for you,” (Exodus 14:14). Our enemies, as ominous as they are, have already been dealt with by the blood and cross of Christ.
1. So, realize their fate. Colossians 2: 13-15 talks about how Christ dealt with Satan and his henchmen, the principalities and rulers of this world, and it wasn’t a slap on the wrist. They got what was coming to them, and they’ll get more in the finale (Revelation 20). The world is already passing away (1 John 2:17), doesn’t hold a candle to the promises God gives to those who follow him (Psalm 84:11; Matthew 7:11; Luke 11:13; James 1:17), and is getting replaced with something better in the end also (Isaiah 65; Revelation 21)! And the flesh, well that too was taken care of at the cross and resurrection of Christ (Romans 6:4).
“I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20
2. Stop believing their lies. We just have to stop buying into the lies our enemies are manufacturing. We need to stop giving them power over us through our obedience to them. It really is that simple. Stop obeying them, and they’ll stop dictating what you have to do.
“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey–whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” – Romans 6:16
When you start fortifying your faith, when you start actually taking God at his Word, godly behavior will be a natural outworking of that faith. When you start believing the truth of God’s Word over the lies of this world, you will start living out verses like Colossians 3:5 and 1 Corinthians 6:18.
3. Learn who’s got your back. When you can finally realize who your true enemies are, the One who has your back becomes painfully obvious. God is for you (Romans 8:31; Psalm 56:9; Isaiah 41:10). He has “exceedingly abundant” things to offer you (Ephesians 3:20-21). His burden is light, not cumbersome (Matthew 11:29). God is the one who has your back. He’s the one who wants the best for you. He’s the one who wants to give you true heart happiness and contentment (John 10:10).
Yes, our enemies may be formidable, sneaky and absolutely hating us, but it’s the God of the universe who ABSOLUTELY loves us!