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~ Enemies Within ~
Let’s ponder two declarations of Christ’s reign that seem to say different things:
“The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever’” (Revelation 11:15, NIV).
“Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet” (1 Corinthians 15:24-25, NIV).
“Echthros” is the Greek word translated as “enemies”. It means all that is hateful, odious, hostile, and adversarial. The “reign” of Christ lasting until He has put all this “under his feet” is “basileus” indicating a foundation of power and sovereignty. The letter to the Corinthian church states this sovereignty’s purpose is to defeat those “enemies” and will end once they are firmly underfoot of Christ. Revelation declares, however, that Christ’s sovereignty will be for an “aion”, Greek for ages upon ages, or “for ever and ever.”
“Enemies” are usually thought of as being persons who assault us with malice, slander, persecution and other forms of evil doing. Our mandated response is love, for “love covers a multitude of sin” (1 Peter 4:8). Evil responses such as hate and malice do not neutralize evil assaults of hate and malice. So we love these enemies with the grace and strength of Christ.
But there are insidious enemies lurking in the interior life that are not to be embraced. These need a different response. “Lose no time, then, faithful soul, in preparing your heart to meet Christ, the Beloved, so that He may come and live in you. Does He not say: ‘Anyone who loves Me will be true to My Word...; We will come to him and make Our dwelling place with him" (John 14:23)?...If you had a heart that was good and pure, you would see all things clearly and understand them well. A clean heart penetrates both heaven and hell. As people are inwardly, so do they judge outward things...The devil never sleeps, neither is the flesh yet dead; therefore you must always be prepared to do battle, for you are surrounded by enemies that never rest.” [Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, Book 2, circa AD 1400.]
Jesus declared, “The kingdom of God is within you, in your midst” (Luke 17:21). Kingdoms, especially the kingdom of God, require a ruler, a sovereign king, and, let’s face it, we don’t meet the requirements. Since the kingdom of God is within us, Christ reigns there and will continue to until the “echthros”, all that is hateful, prideful, odious, malicious, lustful and adversarial is firmly held underfoot, under His feet. “Therefore, put your complete trust in God and let Him be the center of your love and fear. He will answer for you and will do what He sees best for you...Remain close to Jesus in life and in death, committing yourself to His faithful keeping. When all others fail you, He will help you. However, your Beloved is of such a nature that He will not accept a divided heart; but will have it for Himself alone and will reign there as a king on his throne....It is a great art to know how to talk with Jesus, and to know how to keep Him with you is great wisdom. Be humble and peaceful and Jesus will be with you; be devout and quiet and He will stay with you. But as soon as you turn back to outward things, you will quickly drive away your Lord and lose His grace. And if you drive Him from you, to whom then will you flee and to whom will you look for a friend? How can you lead a good life without a friend? If Jesus is not your most dear friend, you will be sad and forsaken.” [Ibid. The Imitation of Christ.]
So the Christ reigns within us, patiently, until all His enemies that haunt us interiorly, that aspirate the life of our souls, including our independence-seeking controlling egos, are placed in submission to His sovereignty as Ruler, King, Master. This is the role of the High Priest, the Christ. When our spirits are made perfect, and all is transformed by submission to the King, the work of the High Priest as Intercessor for His people will be finished. Then He “hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he had destroyed all dominion, authority and power” that is not Christlike, that is antichristic.
The Father, the Creator, Yahweh, was, is and always will be sovereign. Christ is His incarnational Manifestation. In that sense, He is known as “the Son” of God, “begotten, not made,” as the Nicene Creed eloquently states. Christ takes the kingdom He established and made perfect in us and “hands it over to God the Father.”
Genesis proclaims, “In the beginning, God...” Revelation proclaims,
“In the end, God...” The circle closes in wondrous and glorious completion.
You see, Jesus the Christ is, after all, the Father, the Alpha and Omega.
John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
Spiritual Resource Services
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Spiritual Resource Services © February 20, 2004
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