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Public Enemy Number 1

by Alan Allegra  
9/05/2014 / Death

Sitting in my favorite writing chair, I morosely recall it was exactly one week ago that we took our sick kitty down the Last Mile to be relieved of her suffering. It has also been five hours since we signed a purchase agreement for a new vehicle, consigning my 17-year-old car to the ash heap of history. Furry friend or Japanese jalopy, all reach their end.

I enjoy reading the Psalms. Whether happy or hurting, I find their words express or correct the attitude of my heart; however, I feel little kinship with the Psalms that deal with enemies. As far as I know, I have no personal enemies. As a sapling, I had my share of tormenters, and have had disagreements with plenty of people, but haven't made any bona fide (human) enemies.

In reality, everyone, no matter how innocent or sanguine, has at least two personal, powerful enemies: one an executioner, one a prosecutor. One is the enemy of every man, woman, child, plant, and animal; the other is an enemy of our own choosing.

The enemy that stalks us all is death. He is unpredictable, silent, indiscriminate, and impervious to influence. Death is the last enemy that we encounter.

The other enemy is an adversary of our choice. We cannot elect to forego an adversary, but we can select whom that adversary will be.

The Bible says we are born sinners and, therefore, enemies of God. "For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil" (1 Peter 3:12). Between the time we are born and born again (John 3:3), we are enemies of God but friends -- even sons and daughters -- of the devil (John 8:44). We love the things of the world instead of the heavenly things of God: "Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God" (James 4:4).

We can exchange our allegiance like Joshua did: "Choose this day whom you will serve . . . as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15). This choice makes the devil our enemy: "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).

While in high school, I had a bodyguard -- a friend named Ernie -- the fastest, toughest guy in town. I don't know if he felt sorry for me, was motivated by my father's confectionary store, needed my brains, or genuinely liked me. It didn't matter; with Ernie on my side, I was safe -- no one dared bother me.

King David, with enemies on every hand, spoke of God, "Your hand will find out all your enemies; your right hand will find out those who hate you" (Psalm 21:8).

In Romans, Paul lists essentially every created thing and possible irritant, then confidently states, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:38). If we choose to be on his side, God becomes our defender against every conceivable adversary, even death (1 Corinthians 15:54).

We can have many or few enemies; they will come and go. In any case, the last enemy is death. If we accept God's free offer of eternal life in Jesus Christ, that final enemy can only unintentionally open the door to a new life, free from death, mourning, crying, and pain (Revelation 21:4). No enemy shall follow, for "nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life" (Revelation 21:27). The alternative is to hear Jesus command, "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41).

We have no choice as to whether we face death; we do have a choice as to whether Satan will use it to eternally condemn us or God will use it to eternally commend us. Choose your enemies wisely!

Alan is Content Coordinator for Lifestyles Over 50 (Thrive Media) and contributor to the Allentown, PA, Morning Call. He is also an adult Sunday school teacher and Bible study leader. Passionate about reviving theology and church methodology, and being a senior citizen!

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