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What does it mean to be an enemy of God?

enemy of God

An enemy is one who dislikes or hates another and seeks to harm, contradict, and fight the one he is set against. Thus, an enemy of God is one who opposes the presence and purposes of God in this world.

The Bible identifies Satan, the devil, as the specific enemy of God (1 Timothy 5:14–15). Throughout history, as God’s enemy, Satan has sought to thwart God’s plan, harm humans, and lead them away from God.

Besides Satan, Scripture names many other enemies of God and His people. Other words used for an enemy of God in the Bible are adversary and foe. Any person who disobeys the Lord’s commands is declared to be God’s enemy. Sin sets us against God: “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior” (Colossians 1:21). The apostle Paul referred to unsaved sinners as enemies of God: “For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son” (Romans 5:10, NLT).

All through Israel’s history, the people of God contended with enemies committed to their destruction. The Egyptians, the Canaanites, the Philistines, and the Babylonians are just a few of the many cruel and oppressive enemy nations featured in the Old Testament. Those nations, in opposing God’s people, were counted God’s enemies, and God fought on Israel’s behalf (see 2 Kings 19).

Throughout His life, Jesus Christ was opposed by human and spiritual enemies as foretold in Genesis 3:15. Herod the Great tried but failed to have the infant Jesus killed (Matthew 2:13, 16–20). Satan tempted Christ in the wilderness (Mark 1:12–13). At times Satan opposed the Lord through His friends and followers (Matthew 16:22–23; 26:14–16; Luke 22:3; John 13:21–27). As predicted in Old Testament Scripture (Psalm 2:2; Isaiah 53:3), the Jewish leaders plotted to kill Jesus (Matthew 12:14; 27:1; Mark 3:6; John 5:18; 7:1, 19; 11:53).

Christ’s enemies succeeded in executing Him (Matthew 27:22; Acts 2:23) but were unsuccessful in thwarting God’s plan. Jesus overcame every enemy, including death, so that His followers might be set free by His victory (Matthew 22:44; Philippians 2:9–11).

Jesus Christ made it clear that Christians would face many enemies because of their faith in Him: “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12; see also John 15:18–19; 17:14).

Christ also provided an example for Christians to follow whenever they face enemies of God and their threats: “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’ When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. ‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed’” (1 Peter 2:21–24).

The Bible instructs believers to be cautious yet courageous when dealing with the enemies of God: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8, ESV).

The enemies of God are fighting a losing battle: “Surely your enemies, Lord, surely your enemies will perish; all evildoers will be scattered” (Psalm 92:9). The final enemy of God to be eradicated is death: “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:25–26; see also 2 Timothy 1:10; Revelation 21:4).

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This page last updated: January 4, 2022