Who is the Enemy of Christians?


By Dr. Ken Matto


But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; (Matthew 5:44)


Many times when we read about enemies in scripture immediately our political associations take over.  I remember growing up all we ever heard was that the Soviet Union was our enemy and Red China was our enemy.  I would include Cuba in that too since I lived during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.  It is quite interesting that prayer was taken out of schools in June 1962 and four months later we had nuclear missiles pointing at us.  Was the Lord trying to get our attention by allowing three communist nations to desire our destruction?


As Christians we must approach the idea that term enemy takes on a different approach.  It is true that communist ideology has no tolerance for true Christianity but the Bible brings the fact home that the enemies of Christianity are not necessarily political enemies but are literally in our backyard.  The Lord Jesus Christ touched on the subject of the enemies of Christianity many times and that we could expect opposition as a large part of our earthly existence.


34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. (Matthew 10:34-36)


There are two kingdoms in this world:  The Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan.  The reality is that you are saved or unsaved making you part of one of those kingdoms.  In Matthew 10:34-36 we have tremendous insight into where you can find your enemies. 


When a person becomes saved, then they receive inner peace through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, (Galatians 5:22) This passage speaks of peace in a different manner. This passage is not speaking of the inner peace but is speaking of the opposite of peace. Jesus had a ministry of love, mercy, and grace when He walked in this world. That type of ministry did not bring peace to the areas where He ministered. Instead, it brought opposition and hatred of Him. Wherever He went to minister, there were people who welcomed Him but there was also the religious leaders who opposed and hated Him. So even though the Lord Jesus was peace personified, that peace brought a sword of opposition and that opposition brought aggression among the people, disharmony, and fighting. The sword may even be referring to the word of God which cuts a person right to the core and minces no words.  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) The word of God is so powerful that it actually is a discerner of the thought and intents of the heart. This is what the evil leaders had feared.


In verse 35 the Bible uses the term “variance” which carries with it the meaning of “apart, divide, cause disunion, or a state of disagreement.”  Jesus did not intentionally come to divide families but because of the nature of the Gospel, families would have much division because of it. We read about Jewish families that hold funeral services for a child who becomes born again. In Islamic countries, those who become born again in a family of Islam, it is an instant death sentence. This is the same in Hinduism where Christians are persecuted and family members betray those who are saved. In many countries, families would be urged to betray those who have become Christians. In many families, one person may become saved and they will suffer the snipes and barbs of other members of the family. In this world, Christians may have inner peace but outer peace will be very hard to find.


Then in verse 36 the Lord gives a stark reality that many Christians do not realize.  The enemies that we encounter will be within our own homes.  Never mind outside the front door.  If a person in a family of four becomes saved and the other three remain unsaved, then those three are the enemy of the Christian.  This is because when a person becomes saved their ideology changes along with their behavior.  Their life’s focus will change and their lifestyle will be opposite of those still in the kingdom of Satan.  I remember when I became saved one of my drinking buddies told my other friends that “I went off the deep end.”  Whenever you do something like go to church, your family will look at you strangely.  My brother is still unsaved and I remember him coming into my room when I was studying and he said to me, “Do you think I want to be like you sitting around and reading all that church sh*t?”  So there was Satan attacking me through my brother because he was and still is an enemy of the true gospel.  I had told my mother that I wanted to go to Seminary and she looked at me with a look on her face I never saw before, it was an evil look. 


In verse 36 Jesus states it plain that the enemies of the true Christian will be right in their own household. The word “foes” can be understood as “enemies.” They do not have to look far to find the enemy and that is because the unbeliever is spiritually dead and is tied to this world and system, whereas the born again Christian is spiritually alive unto God and cares not about the things of the world but focuses on the Glory of God and obedience to Christ. Two totally different ideologies which will crash head on many times as long as they are under one roof. I want to expand the meaning of household here beyond the nuclear family. The place where you work is like a household for 8 or 10 hours per day and once you become saved and don’t go out for drinks anymore or tell dirty jokes, you will be looked at very differently and you will experience loneliness or other types of persecution because no longer will the crowd include you in their dealings. You may also be in a dead church and now you are made alive, you will suffer snide comments and opposition. This I know because I faced it. Many years ago I was an elder in a dead church and brought up the fact that the churches need to be more Christ centered. I was verbally called a “holy roller” by a minister.  Once I preached at an elders conference in my church and one of the comments came back to me, “who is he to tell us how to live?” So it is not only the members of your family which will be your enemies but those in your work place, church, fraternal organization, etc. In other words:  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: (1 Peter 5:8)


In Zechariah 12:11-14, we have a similar situation which took place in Israel.  We saw above that that the word “variance” also carries with it the meaning of “apart.”


11 In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon. 12 And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart; 13 The family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart; 14 All the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart. (Zechariah 12:11-14)


In verse 11 we see that on the day that the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, there was a great mourning in the city of Jerusalem.  {27} And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him.  {48} And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned.  (Luke 23:27 & 48)  The mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon was over the death of Josiah when he was killed in battle in the valley of Megiddo.  {24} His servants therefore took him out of that chariot, and put him in the second chariot that he had; and they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died, and was buried in one of the sepulchres of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.  {25} And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah: and all the singing men and the singing women spake of Josiah in their lamentations to this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel: and, behold, they are written in the lamentations.  (2 Chronicles 35:24-25) 


In verse 12, we read that after the crucifixion, there would be such lamenting and mourning over the death of the Lord Jesus Christ that it would reach down to the individual families in Jerusalem and all the ranks of that society would experience that sadness because at this time they were grieving since the third day when Jesus was resurrected had not yet arrived so the true believers in Jerusalem were in mourning till then.  In Jewish custom the wives were separate from their husbands in the homes so they would grieve apart in their own rooms as the children would also.  Here we have specific names mentioned.  The house of David would mourn because Jesus was in the Davidic line and was the Messiah.  Then Nathan the prophet is mentioned and they would mourn because Jesus was also a great prophet and the things he prophesied had and would come to pass.  And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.  (Revelation 19:10) 


In verse 13 there is a continuation of the situation.  Then the house of Levi is mentioned because the Lord Jesus Christ being the High Priest for his people was shown contempt which means that the Jews showed scorn for the Levitical Priesthood.  Then the family of Shimei was mentioned in that Shimei was the one that cursed David in 2 Samuel 16.  They would have mourned because like Shimei cursing David, the people of Jerusalem cursed Christ even when he was on the cross.  And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.  (Luke 23:35)  And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,  (Matthew 27:39) 


In verse 14 we find that the crucifixion affected all the other families in Jerusalem who were not related to the kingly or priestly line would have been in mourning, those that were the followers of Jesus and those who believed in him.  Just like the disciples on the road to Emmaus.  {20} And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.  {21} But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.  (Luke 24:20-21)


Love Our Enemies

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; (Matthew 5:44)


Let us go back to our theme verse and find out what loving our enemies means.  The word “despitefully” carries with it the meaning of “insult, revile, or treat abusively.”


Jesus now contrasts the hate messages the people have received by the leaders over the years and gives them four basic changes of mind in dealing with those who will oppress them:


Love your enemies - This is not the phony Hollywood type of love but the true sacrificing type of love on behalf of someone who is the enemy of Christians. As I stated before, an unbeliever is still in the kingdom of Satan and is therefore the enemy of the Christian as Satan is the enemy of God. The highest form of love a Christian can show to an unbeliever is to bring him or her the Gospel desiring to see them become saved. Earthly goods will fade and be burnt up but salvation is for eternity and Christians who sacrifice time and personal wealth to see others come into the Kingdom of God are showing true Christian love to the enemies.


Bless them that curse you - A blessing is not just standing around and saying to the unbeliever “God bless you.” A blessing from God is an intervention in the life of His children. In the same manner that God blesses us, we are to bless or intervene in the life of those that curse us. A curse is when someone wishes evil upon you. It can even mean someone who is actually doing evil against you so the word goes beyond just words or malicious intent.  You can intervene with something as simple as a gospel tract.


Do good to them that hate you - The word “good” carries with it the meaning of “correctly, well, or commendably.” All unbelievers, especially religious unbelievers will be in constant opposition to the message of the true Gospel. Since they cannot attack and change the message, they attack the messenger. The believer is to respond to them in such a manner that their hatred of us is returned with goodness. If we seek vengeance, then we only cause every matter to explode but if we repay hatred with goodness, then we disarm the enemy and we become instant witnesses for the Gospel and we also become a witness against their hatred.  If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. (Romans 12:18)


And pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; - Nowhere in Scripture is this portrayed better than in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ.  And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. {34} Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. (Luke 23:33-34) While they were nailing Jesus to the cross, He was praying for those who were doing it and asking for their forgiveness. A disciple who followed the example of Jesus was Stephen, when he was being stoned for telling the truth, he too prayed for his executioners.  And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:60)  The principle of praying for our enemy should be a part of every Christian’s lifestyle. Have you prayed for someone to be saved? Then you have prayed for the enemy. One day I was waiting at a red light and a woman in a car came up next to me and saw my bumper stickers. She told me that if she could, she would slit all four of my tires. Little did she know that her evil comments caused her to be added to my daily prayer list. She was from Pennsylvania and I live in New Jersey so I may never know the outcome until we are in glory. Nevertheless, you do not need to worry about outcome. You just obey and leave the results to God.



The bottom line is that every unsaved person is an enemy of the gospel and if you are saved they are your enemy.  If you think this is not true, then bring up salvation the next time your family is watching TV or at dinner and see the response you get.  I have given some of the responses I have gotten from both close family members and strangers.  Your own unsaved family members are your enemy because they are still in the kingdom of Satan but you are in the Kingdom of God.  Remember the human race is divided into two camps: the saved and the unsaved.  However, this does not mean we look down our noses at the unsaved, in fact, you should have pity on them knowing their destination if they do not get saved.  Remember, that you are saved by grace and nothing that you did.  This is why we are to have the mindset of giving them the gospel whether it is by leaving materials around for them to read or direct conversation.  Never get angry at your family if they don’t become saved the first time you speak to them.  George Mueller prayed for someone for 50 years and the man became saved at Mueller’s funeral.  I have been praying for my brother’s salvation for 40 years so never give up!