The Necessity of An Enemy

Sometimes one has enemies; other times one is viewed as the enemy by others.   Rev. Ron Carpenter has written about the necessity of enemies in a book of the same name, “The Necessity of Enemies.”  He shows how individuals not only survived attacks of an enemy but, by trusting God’s good plan and redemptive power, were able to thrive afterward.  Some biblical examples of the necessity of enemies to which he points are these:
“• It was Potiphar’s wife, through her false accusations, who sent Joseph to prison and ultimately opened the door for him to become a prince (Genesis 39).

• It was Pharaoh whose persecution served to multiply the Israelites into a mighty nation (Exodus 1).

• It was also Pharaoh who, by multiplying the power and influence of Moses, forced this fugitive to become the historic leader of a mighty nation (Exodus 5–12).

• It was Delilah who caused Samson to renew his strength and multiply his influence by killing more Philistines in his second season than he did in his first (Judges 13–16).
• It was Goliath who took David from obscurity to notoriety, from sheepherder to king (1 Samuel 17–18).
• It was a shipwreck that enabled Paul to share the gospel with the inhabitants of an entire island (Acts 27–28).
• Even Jesus Himself had to fight the enemy of His own will in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:39–45) to receive a name above all names, that at His name every knee would bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord (Philippians 2:9–11).

Carpenter writes, “You already know that God’s ways, including His view of enemies, are different from our ways. But an understanding of how God uses people coming against us and situations that are very negative can change everything. If we are to make authentic progress in life, we have to face up to the necessity of an enemy.” 

In one of the most formidable situations he and his church faced, he discovered some principles that not only got them through it, but made them stronger.   “It was then I realized a truth firsthand.  The ultimate enemy of our souls is Satan, and I learned through my study of Scripture during my personal tragedy the truth about how he operates through people.”

“The Bible is clear: because we live in a natural world with natural authority established by God as unbreakable, people can be used by God to be the windows of heaven or by Satan to be the gates of hell.  That’s how your real Enemy shows up, through people he uses as enemies. Enemies, therefore, aren’t people who cut in front of you in the lunch line, or cut you off at the traffic light. They are people who have allowed Satan the opportunity to work through them, as the gates of hell into your life, to oppose your destiny and your purpose; they set their desires against what God has in line for your life.”

He observes, “In a matter of days, my successful, comfortable life as the pastor of a growing, effective church crumbled. I had done nothing wrong, but people were accusing me of misdeeds, trampling on my good name, and calling me foul names. I felt surrounded by enemies.

Enemies are the people, mind-sets, weaknesses, and situations in your life that try to destroy the passion you have for God’s purpose and plans for you. I have some important news for you: to fulfill your purpose and stay true to your calling, you’ll need to understand the reason for enemies. If you do that, then when they rise up against you, you will quickly recognize what’s happening.

The truth is, it’s not really them—it’s the ultimate enemy, Satan, who is using them to try to sabotage and abort your future.

As I was determining how to respond to the enemies coming against me from all sides, I found one scripture that I hung on to like a drowning man grasping a piece of wood: “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

What this means is that all our afflictions or problems in life, no matter how horrible they seem, are not a big deal compared to the payoff for facing and enduring them. And the results for us in heaven will be great and eternal. You may not know me, but if you did, you would understand that I sometimes say things that have an edge to them. I grew up in a wide space in the road called Possum Kingdom, South Carolina. People there are known for saying what’s on their minds in a blunt fashion. That’s how I am as a pastor, and now I’m going to say something that may rattle you a bit:

You will never be an exceptional person if you fight only ordinary battles.

I had always prayed that God would use me exceptionally, let me stand out from the crowd, have me do things that had never been done before. But what I concluded, primarily after living through the story that is the basis for this book, was that I was going to have to fight battles I’d never fought before. And until this major crisis in my life, I had never put those two concepts together. What I know now for sure is that we all need a really good enemy now and then.

Honestly, the right fight can be a good thing in your life.

And if there are no enemies on your horizon, don’t worry, they will show up in due time if you sincerely want to follow God in this world.   The Bible’s perspective on adversity is that it is always working for you. Sometimes God sends it. And even if He doesn’t, He still uses it. So, as a biblical believer, I conclude:

There is no way to lose in any given situation.

I believe if we understand why we might be going through something, the grace and strength to see it through will be there. But if we don’t know why tough things have fallen in our laps, it’s hard to stay focused………

I realized that there’s a pattern to how God moves us along in life: right before you open a new door of opportunity, there’s some giant you have to slay. And in my land of giants, I had to rise above my pain and open that door. I saw the pattern, from Genesis to Revelation, revealed in the lives of men and women of the Bible as well as in what the Bible teaches. This inspired me to take action, to position myself for my future instead of wallowing in my pain and self-pity.

The arrival of an enemy in your life is a sign to you that this present season you’re in is finally coming to an end. God often assigns an enemy as a catalyst for you to exit one season and enter another.

We might never have known anything about David if God had not arranged for Goliath to arise between David and his kingship. It’s a compelling story—one day David was delivering cheese and biscuits and ended up killing a giant. The next day he was carried through downtown Jerusalem, with women hanging over balconies singing songs to his name. Would any of that have happened without a great enemy?

What would the nation Israel have been without Moses facing down Pharaoh before the great migration out of Egypt? Maybe those 450 years of slavery the Jews endured would have lasted much longer.

Even Jesus lived in anonymity until Satan determined that He was more than Joseph the carpenter’s oldest boy.

As you move through life …… you’ll discover that your enemies are just as essential as your friends; in fact, they may be even more critical in your times of transition, if you’ll recognize them for the stepstools they are for you.

Enemies are indicators to you that God is planning movement in your life, and transition is right around the corner.”

Carpenter cautions, however, “My intent here is not to turn you into an obsessive enemy hunter. The Bible teaches us to watch, not to search, for trouble. It can happen that the Enemy will use a demonic spirit to challenge your purpose and rob you of your potential, but I believe this is rare. The vast majority of the time, your enemy will show up in the form of a person, a mindset, a situation, or an internal struggle.  And, I want to issue a particular heads-up to husbands and wives and moms and dads. The enemy is not your spouse or your child! Marriage and parenthood are examples of a covenant relationship. These are meant to go the distance in life. They are usually incredibly challenging relationships and require huge amounts of work.

I will give you this—there are times when it seems like a spouse or child is the enemy! But he or she is not. The enemy is the issue between you that may be driving you crazy! Our responsibility is to fight the problem, not the person.

As a result of my journey, I want you to know that if you are in crisis or feeling beaten down for any reason, life has not handed you something sour just because life doesn’t like you. Life has handed you an opportunity to open a great door. But you need a correct perspective on your difficulty. This is how I like to describe it: An enemy arising in your life is a key indicator that the next stage of your future is about to be born.” 

Carpenter says this perspective on the Word of God saved his life.  “I had to learn that an enemy can be a blessing, not a curse. I journeyed through the Bible to make sure that this principle is consistent throughout Scripture…..

There’s something about facing life’s enemies that enlarges your capacity. I’m not just talking about external challenges. I’m talking about internal changes that increase our ability to grow stronger, to have the “fuel” for future battles. You can see what battles with enemies did for Joseph, Moses, Samson, David, Paul, and others.

In my darkest day, when I felt I had no friends, I opened the Word of God and found many friends with many similarities. Then I understood why the Bible says we’re “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1).

I could hear the cheers of David, Joshua, Moses, and the others ringing in my ears: “Get up! Get up! This is not your worst day! This is God’s greatest opportunity!”

That’s why there’s a necessity for an enemy.”    
Ron Carpenter’s focus is on how the presence of enemies in our lives can motivate us to seek God’s plan and purpose and be victorious over our enemies in the process.  There is another situation that is worth noting, too.  There are people who simply require an enemy in order to avoid having to accept responsibility for the problems in their own lives and learn to deal with them effectively.  For people who cannot get beyond a victim mentality, life becomes a process of transferring their blame-laying to first one person, then another.  When one becomes the focus of another’s blame-laying, we can also take a lesson from Scripture.  The Pharisees and Saducees sought to entrap Jesus.  They brought one situation or question after another before him, hoping he would give them what they needed to blame him and take the focus off of their own failures of faithfulness and their collusion with the Roman authorities. Jesus, and those who literally and figuratively washed their hands of the situation, could see what they were doing.  From the cross Jesus prayed on their behalf, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” 

Sometime we are surprised to discover that we have enemies. Other times we will simply bear the burden of being viewed as someone else’s enemy.  At that point, prayer and trusting God’s good plan and purpose, for their lives as well as  for one’s own, is a good response.