Question: "What is the definition of enmity?"
Answer: In Latin, an enemy was an “inimicus.” From that word we get enmity, which we use as a synonym for animosity or hatred. Hostility and ill will are often signs of enmity.
The Bible speaks of enmity in several places. In the Garden of Eden, as God pronounces the judgment on the serpent, He says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers” (Genesis 3:15). To this day, many women have a deep-seated dislike of snakes. It’s more than a stereotype—studies show that women are four times as likely as men to have a phobia of snakes. According to a psychologist at Carnegie Mellon University, females are born with a “perceptual template that specifies the structure of snakes” and theorizes that the female disposition is an evolutionary byproduct of the need to protect their offspring (David H. Rakison in “Does Women’s Greater Fear of Snakes and Spiders Originate in Infancy?” Evolution and Human Behavior). The Bible says that women’s dislike of snakes has a spiritual cause and is a reflection of the state of hostility that exists between Satan and the human race.
James 4:4a says that “friendship with the world means enmity against God” (see also 1 John 2:15–16). The sinful customs of this world are in direct opposition to the righteousness of God, and when we develop a “friendship” with the world—when we delight in the sinful ways of the world—we essentially declare war on God. “Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God” (James 4:4b). The same warning is given in Romans 8:7, which says that “the mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God.”
The tragic condition of mankind is that they exist in a state of enmity against God. As man clings to his sin, he works against his own self-interests, opposing himself (2 Timothy 2:25) and fighting against the very One seeking to save him.
The good news is that the Son of God came to earth to reconcile God and man. This was the “glad tidings” the angels brought to the shepherds: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace” (Luke 2:14). Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Jesus bridged the gap between Jew and Samaritan, much to His disciples’ surprise (John 4:1–42). He bridged the gap between Jew and Gentile, fulfilling His purpose “to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility” (Ephesians 2:15–16). And, most importantly, He bridged the gap between God and man; through Christ, God “reconciled us to himself” (2 Corinthians 5:18). The Offspring of the woman has crushed the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15).
Believers have now been given “the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18–19). The gospel breaks down barriers, and in Christ those who were former enemies of God are made His own children (Colossians 1:21–22).
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