How does the God of the universe communicate His love to sinful man? God’s love is given to us in the Person of His Son (John 3:16). In the giving of His only begotten Son, the Father freely bestows eternal life upon all those who believe and repent. “There is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
The Bible tells us that all those who believe make up a community of individuals known as the Church or “Bride of Christ.” Prior to her salvation and arrival in glory, Christ’s Bride is truly a “damsel in distress”, for Scripture indicates that without a Savior she would perish (John 8:24). There are SEVEN enemies of Christ’s bride that are individually and collectively too strong for her. Without Christ’s victory, the people of God would most certainly be ravaged and consumed by these seven enemies.
These enemies lie in wait to ambush the unprepared soul. Like a pride of famished lions, they leap out and consume the naïve and unwary. The ambushed gazelle is torn apart and devoured in moments. So also, the unrepentant sinner is destroyed forever by these enemies of his soul. These seven enemies are the WORLD, the FLESH, the DEVIL, SIN, DEATH, HELL, and the CONDEMNATION of GOD’S LAW.
The enemies of man’s soul line the broad road that leads to destruction spoken of by Christ (Matt. 7:13). The only ones who escape destruction by these enemies are those who follow Christ closely on the “narrow way” (Matt. 7:14).
Christ is a conquering King who has defeated the enemies of His people. Psalm 45:5 tells us that Christ (the King) has fired His arrows into the hearts of His enemies. These are mortal wounds to the adversaries of His spouse. The arrows are in the hearts of His enemies, not in their limbs that they might recover and assault again the King’s bride. He has vanquished the adversaries of His spouse. He has made our enemies His! He left His heavenly throne to become Conqueror.
In the incarnation we discover how He armed Himself as our Champion and Deliverer. The book of Hebrews tells us that He partook of flesh and blood that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil (Heb. 2:14).
The condescension of our king is remarkable. He who is worshipped by angels became for a little while lower than angels (Heb. 2:6-8; Phil. 2:6-8). He assumed our nature, He was born of a woman, born under the Law. He trusted upon His mother’s breast (Ps. 22:9,10). He lived under the curse as a weakened mortal (2 Cor. 13:4). He entered into our experience of misery, sorrow, suffering, temptation, and death.
The manner by which He made our enemies His was by substitution. He took our place in our nature in order to vanquish our foes. We must carefully study how Christ has conquered our enemies in order that we might become partakers of His victory over them.
Daily reliance upon Christ is the believer’s security (1 Pet. 1:5). Jesus’ sheep stick close to their Shepherd. They know that He alone is able to take them safely past each of the seven foes. The believer is kept by his love of gospel truth (2 Thess. 2:10). It is in this way that the Christian is prepared for tomorrow’s battles that are sure to come.
In a television ad, beer drinking campers exclaim, “It doesn’t get any better than this.” What the ad doesn’t say is that it will get worse. A man’s strength will decline, the grave will ultimately claim him. Death is the place of no return (Job 10:21). Scripture says that the glory of man is as temporary as a wildflower that lasts only a season (Is. 40:6-8). Death is followed by a judgment that will test each man’s works. Judgment Day will be a public determination that discovers the absence or presence of saving faith in Christ (Heb. 9:27).
True believers are assured that they “overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37). Those who follow Christ are overcomers (1 John 5:1-5; Rev. 2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21; 21:7). Through Christ, they overcome the seven enemies. The following section catalogs the SEVEN ENEMIES of man’s soul and describes the manner in which Jesus Christ saves His Bride from them.
Christ has overcome the world with its lies and soul-damning philosophies. The entire world system is energized by Satan. It lies under his power (1 John 5:19; John 14:30). Those who are “of the world” subscribe to its anti-God propositions and are therefore enemies of the knowledge and glory of God (1 Cor. 3:19; Eph. 6:12; 1 John 3:13; 4:5; John 7:7; 15:18,19; James 4:4).
Jesus warned that no one can serve two masters. The person who attempts to do so will love one and hate the other. The love of God and the love of the world are mutually exclusive (Matt. 6:24; 1 John 2:15-17). The world opposes the immutable righteousness of God. Those who love the world will pass away with it (1 John 2:17). The world is filled with idols that corrupt and enslave the worshipper (2 Pet. 1:4; Col. 3:5).
Christ spoke of the antipathy that the world would have toward the believer (John 15:19-23). John also warned that the world would listen to its own but not to the Lord’s messengers (1 John 4:1-6). Christ redeems out of the world those whom the Father has given Him (John 17:6). The believer’s union with Christ in His death and resurrection liberates from the old master, sin and the world, and binds us to a new master, Christ and righteousness. As a result of this transfer, the believer is to daily present the members of his body to God as instruments of righteousness.
By union with Christ, the believer is dead to sin and alive to God (Romans 6:10-13). Thus by the cross of Christ, the believer has been severed from the world as a source and has been joined to the Lord. Galatians 6:14 depicts this event as a double severing. The believer through Christ is crucified to the world and the world is crucified to him.
The world is no longer a “bazaar” or workshop for the flesh to seek the fulfillment of its desires. That alliance has been broken. The cross has attached the believer to Christ as “Source Person.” The Christian is now ashamed of what was once his pride and boast (Rom. 6:17-21).
The redeemed now glory in the cross. They willingly reckon the reproach of Christ to be greater riches than the world (Heb. 11:26). The Christian’s radical identification with Christ is seen in his willingness to follow his Savior outside the “gate of this world”, counting it a privilege to bear His reproach (See Heb. 13:13).
On last day, Christ will own as His only those who have confessed Him before men. These are the ones who have not been ashamed of Him and His words (Luke 9:26; 12:8,9). The true believer maintains a visible and verbal witness for Christ in the world. The believer is no longer ofthe world (John 15:19). By Christ’s sovereign deliverance, the saint has been transferred out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of the Son (Col. 1:13).
The flesh comprises all of the desires, passions, reactions, and reasonings of the Adamic nature. The flesh is dead to the things of God. It cannot “see” above the horizon of this present existence. Therefore it finds all of its objects of delight in this present world. The flesh and the world possess a hand in glove relationship. They appear made for one another. They are fused into a Satanically inspired bond (Phil. 3:18,19; 1 John 2:16; Gal. 5:19-21).
The flesh is hostile to God’s Law and is therefore hostile to God Himself (Rom. 8:5-8). The flesh lacks the ability to obey God, it doggedly follows a self-determined course of destruction ending in death (Rom. 8:6).
The believer is set free from bondage to the flesh and from the consequences of that bondage. By union with Christ, the legal reign of the Adamic nature is broken. Christ has crucified our flesh in the crucifixion of His flesh. God declares that Christ’s death was the execution and death of the tyranny of our flesh (Rom. 6:5-11).
We now walk in newness of life, led by the Spirit of God so as not to fulfill the lusts of our flesh (Gal. 5:16). The believer’s daily task is to live out his co-crucifixion with Christ. This means he is under obligation to mortify or put to death the deeds of the flesh, cutting off provision for their expression (Rom. 13:14; Rom. 8:12; Col. 3:2-5; Gal. 5:24).
The flesh is no longer our standard for behavior. We do NOT consult our flesh to determine what is right and wrong for ourselves (Rom. 8:5, Williams Translation). The new birth implanted within us a new inclination to obey God. We now sow to the Spirit and no longer to the flesh (Gal. 6:8). The heaven-bound person thinks the things suggested by the Spirit (Rom. 8:5, Wms. Transl.). The flesh and the world are no longer his master.
Christ conquered and overcame the devil. We were formerly slaves under the devil’s blinding reign (John 8:34. 38, 44; 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2,3; 2 Tim. 2:25,26). Christ confronted the devil in the wilderness, defeating his most powerful temptations (Matt. 4:1-11). Christ opposed Satan and his minions by performing miracles, exorcisms, and healings. By these signs and wonders, the Lord demonstrated His authority over the kingdom of darkness.
The devils cast out by Christ recognized that some day He would speak an irresistible word that would send them into the pit forever. Demons shudder to think of the agony and destruction that awaits them (Matt. 8:29; James 2:19).
The schemes of the devil are crafty and wicked, but Satan uses one weapon that is righteous. That weapon is the condemnation of God’s Law. Satan approves of the capital sentence of God’s Law.
He who is known as the “murderer from the beginning” presides over the verdict, “the soul who sins will die” (John 8:44; Ez. 18:4). Satan slew our first parents by means of a lie. By apostasy, Adam placed himself and his progeny under the divine sentence of death. Thus, as the instigator of human (and angelic) lawlessness and rebellion, the devil possessed the power of death thereafter (Heb. 2:14,15).
The evil one takes ghoulish pleasure in overseeing the deaths of billions. He approves of the sentence of God’s Law, for it seals the destiny of the damned. Satan is the “spiritual coroner” of the lost. He gladly hovers over the dying as they pass through the portico of death into the place of everlasting burning. The devil claims them as his own. They are the tares laid up for burning that fill his barn. Why is the mouth of Sheol never satisfied? Why does it want every single soul? Here is the reason. Lucifer, the shepherd of death, for whom hell was created, seeks to take all souls with him into his final doom.
But God, in His great love for mankind sent His only begotten Son into the world to save sinners. Christ our Substitute has struck the devil’s chief weapon from his hands. Christ disarmed the devil and made a public display of him (Col. 2:15). Only those who understand the meaning of the cross and who share in Christ’s victory perceive this triumph as the public defeat of Satan.
As the believer’s Substitute, Christ subjected Himself to the sentence, “the soul that sins will die.” Upon Jesus Christ, the Law of God prosecuted its sentence to the fullest degree. Christ was executed as the Sin-bearer. He was cut off from the living. The wrath of God was poured out upon Him.
As the God-man, the benefits of His substitutionary death are infinite in value. Christ has traded places with the sinner who believes! (1 Peter 3:18). Christ took upon Himself the believer’s guilt, shame, death, suffering, separation, and damnation. Christ exhausted the capital offense of the Law for all those who would believe. This event forever changes the nature of death for the believer. Death is no longer under the jurisdiction of Satan. For the saint, its agony and sting have been removed, but for the unbeliever they remain (Acts 2:24; 1 Cor. 15:55-57).
For the believer, death is the stepping stone and doorway to paradise with God forever (Rev. 21:1-8).
Christ’s life, death, and resurrection are for His people that they might have life eternal. “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). The devil has been stripped of his most potent weapon, death. Jesus now holds the keys of death and hell. No one gets in or out of death and hell but by Christ, the King of kings (Rev. 1:18).
All sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4). We live in a moral universe because the Author, Sustainer, and Ruler of that universe is holy. The God for whom and through whom all things exist is holy. Therefore, sin necessarily reaps a consequence of death, decay, dishonor, agony, punishment, and separation.
God has an absolute claim upon all of His creatures and He has a perfect purpose for His creatures, therefore all sin is against God. The Holy Scriptures are an exhaustive testimony from God concerning man’s sin. According to the Bible, sin defiles, pollutes, deforms, enslaves, corrupts, and destroys those who practice it. Sin flows from man’s nature like stinking water from a contaminated spring.
God alone is able to ferret out the treachery and deceit that is inherent in sin (Jer. 17:9,10). Men conceal their sinful thoughts, plans and desires, but God sees their hearts with perfect clarity (Rom. 2:16; Heb. 4:12; Rev. 20:12).
Nothing is more fickle than the temporary religious devotion of the unregenerate. Multitudes who heard Jesus preach and who witnessed His miracles cried out for His murder when stirred up by the religious leaders of Israel. By these actions they evinced the character of universal sin.
The character of sin is vividly seen in the murder of Jesus. Sin is high-handed rebellion against God. In order to defend and perpetuate itself, it would plunge a knife into the very heart of God if it were able to do so. Certainly the murder of Jesus gives evidence of sin’s malignity.
Sin is so vile that it contains much of its own punishment (Isaiah 48:22). Sin keeps producing the “fallout” of regret, guilt, shame, fear, and self-contempt. It putrefies in the soul of a man producing festering wounds of resentment, rebellion, and hatred. It sits in the conscience of a man ready and waiting to take eternal revenge against its owner. Here is the worm that never dies. In eternal perdition, the wrath-awakened conscience keeps beating the soul to bits, producing the torment of ever-increasing dissolution.
Nothing can avail against sin but the Person and work of Christ. In order for sin’s reign to be broken, there must be a blood atonement by the Son of God. Nothing else can cut sin’s enslaving links of iron. Nothing else can satisfy the justice of God and thereby win the sinner’s freedom.
Here is the reason why. The guilty sinner awaiting condemnation is spiritually dead by reason of his transgressions. In the deadness of his sin nature he lacks the power to love God and turn from his iniquity. For him to be set free, the guilt of sin must be dealt with in strict justice. It must be punished to the full extent of the Law. This very sentence of death has been carried out by Christ, the believing sinner’s Substitute (2 Cor. 5:21).
Sin’s grip is only broken when its guilt is pardoned! Through the forgiveness purchased by the sacrifice of Christ, sin’s power to enslave is broken. Within the sinner’s bosom is an enmity, hatred and hostility toward the holy God who holds him accountable and deserving of damnation. It is only the cross of Christ that can remove enmity from the heart of man.
When by faith in the gospel, the sinner beholds Christ becoming sin for him, he marvels that Christ should take his penalty so that he can go free. Christ became sin for us. He became its shame, guilt, curse, and separation. No wonder Jesus is called the friend of sinners.
Death is described as the king of terrors in the book of Job (18:14). Scripture indicates that the sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the Law (1 Cor. 15:56). The prospect of death holds men in a state of enslaving fear Heb. 2:14,15). People may pretend that they do not fear death, but Scripture puts this to the lie.
The conscience of man rightly reasons that death holds a portent of ultimate judgment (Heb. 9:27). Death is a most formidable enemy because man cannot recover from it. There is finality in death. The Bible says that all self-determination ceases at death (Eccl. 9:10).
The spiritual state and character of a man at death remain with him for eternity. At death, sin receives its “wage” of eternal separation from God. This is known as the “second death” (Romans 6:23; Rev. 20:14; 21:8).
Death is the great leveler of the human race. Every class of men, whether slave or free, rich or poor, are placed in the grave with nothing accompanying them into eternity but their bad record in heaven. Death begins the eternal ruin of the sinner.
The marvelous news of the gospel is that for believers, Christ conquered death by dying and rising from the dead. Death could not hold Him because He was sinless. Since death is the penalty for human sin, it could not keep Christ, the perfectly Holy One, under its power. His death was for the sin of others. By the giving of His life for His people, He exhausted death’s penalty and eliminated death’s ability to ruin the souls of His own (1 Cor. 15:55-57).
When Christ died, His soul left His body. His cold lifeless corpse was entombed. Only in this way could death be defeated. Everything horrific about death happened to Jesus. He was mangled, mutilated, and tormented, all while being mocked. He was abandoned and deprived of care and compassion. He was humiliated during His agony. He was terribly alone, dying without comforters. The reproach of men and the wrath of God fell upon Him at the same time. He was treated as worthless. Those who witnessed His crucifixion assumed He was cursed of God (Is. 53:4).
Everything Christ suffered He suffered as a Substitute (Heb. 9:11-15). Jesus rose from the dead the third day. He was victorious over death for the sake of all who would believe upon Him. Those who trust Him are assured that death cannot hurt them.
Christ promises His own that He shall raise them from the dead (1 Thess. 4:13-18). Christ’s victory over death is the assurance that death cannot ruin His people. The Savior guaranteed that His resurrection was the “first-fruits” of a coming “harvest” of innumerable resurrected individuals (1 Cor. 15:20-26).
The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). Death will ruin every person whose sin and guilt have not been carried away by Christ the sinner’s Substitute (John 8:24). Only the names of those written in the Lamb’s book of life will escape the second death (Rev. 21:27).
No New Testament speaker addressed the subject of hell more frequently than the Lord Jesus Christ. Hell is the greatest enemy of the soul. It is separation from life, light, love, God, goodness, and peace. It is a conscious existence that involves the eternal loss of all well-being. Hell is a place of darkness, remorse, and agony. In hell, the terrors of conscience are released. Damnation is the sinner’s ill desert, therefore perdition is an eternal monument to the justice of God.
How little sinners consider the brevity of time on earth and the lack of strength necessary to repent of sin. Jesus put the issue of eternity into graphic terms when He indicated that gaining the whole world could not begin to offset the devastation of losing one’s soul forever in hell (Matt. 16:26). All of life is but a brief time to prepare for eternity.
Jesus warns that hell will ultimately claim the vast majority of mankind (Matt. 7:13).
As the sovereign builder of His Church, Christ proclaimed that the “gates of hell” would not overpower His Church (Matt. 16:18).
Christ defeated hell for the believer by permitting the infinite wrath of God to crush His own person (Is. 53:6-10; Rom. 5:8,9). With sin’s guilt and curse loaded upon Him, He bore the wrath of God. Amidst the suffering of His passion, the wrath of God coursed through His soul like white-hot bolts of lightning.
For the sake of those who would believe, He endured the turning away of His Father’s gaze. He died alienated and cut off, perishing under sin’s curse (Ps. 22:1; Gal. 3:13). Christ drained the cup of judgment. From the first bloody drop of sweat in Gethsemene until He uttered “it is finished” from the cross He endured the penalty due our sin. He exhausted an eternal hell for all who would believe upon Him (John 19:30).
Christ did in one day what the sinner can never do. The condemned sinner can never exhaust hell’s justice. A trillion years in hell will not place a damned individual any closer to release. No wonder Christ is the “city of refuge” where guilty sinners may flee for salvation (Heb. 6:18,19).
THE LAW’S CONDEMNATION
The Law points an accusing finger, but won’t lend a hand. The reason for this resides in the purpose of the Law. The Law of God is the primary revealer of man’s moral condition (Rom. 3:19,20). The Law was never intended to be a means of gaining eternal life. The Scriptures indicate that the Law was added because of transgressions (Gal. 3:19).
By divine Law, God holds all sinners in custody. Unbelievers are considered criminals under the government of God (Gal. 3:23; Rom. 11:32; John 3:36). The Law pronounces transgressors guilty of a capital offense against God. The Law is not a tool of self-reformation, for no man can work his way out of the Law’s condemnation.
The Law’s great salvific use is that of providing an x-ray of the human heart. The Law shows a man his moral deformity and helplessness. The stringency of the Law stirs up man’s ire and wrath, fomenting his innate rebellion (Rom. 5:20).
The Law accuses and thus brings to the surface the enmity and hostility of the creature. The Law’s power to exasperate the sinner is a necessary step in preparing him for salvation. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ explained that God’s moral requirements extend to man’s thoughts, glances, speech, and intents of his heart. The Law is not a free-floating arbitrary code of ethics, it is the revelation of God’s righteousness. To transgress God’s Law is to rebel against God’s moral authority.
The natural man is a fugitive under God’s moral government. He dreams of a land where the 10 Commandments are not enforced. This becomes his philosophy of freedom. It can appear in subtle ways. The covenant breaker says in his heart, “I will choose what is right and wrong for myself.” “ I will set my own standard.” By such impenitence, the unbeliever says in effect, “I will cast off God’s yoke because it is repressive” (Ps. 2:2,3). The rebel, whether legalistic or lawless, refuses to be “tutored” by God’s Law.
Scripture states that the Law is a “tutor” to lead men to Christ. The Law teaches the sinner that his only hope of salvation must come from outside of himself (Rom. 10:1-4; Gal. 3:24). Christ has great love and compassion for sinners held in custody by God’s Law. He knows that the sinner attempts to meet his needs by sinning. He knows that the sinner has misery instead of peace as he feels the vice of the Law and his own conscience squeezing from both sides. He knows that the more the sinner tries to feel better by pursuing sin, the more his misery increases. For the Law and conscience cast up accusations and self-contempt. The Law accurately whispers to him that he deserves to die and be separated from God.
Christ’s love to sinners is unfathomable. For believers, Christ disarmed the Law’s power as a damning force. Jesus took the sinner’s place that He might satisfy the Law’s absolute requirement of perfect obedience. By Christ’s life and death, He purchased peace, pardon, acceptance, and adoption for His people (Rev. 5;9,10). Christ accomplished right-standing for believers in the sight of God’s Law (Rom. 2:16).
How do we know when the Law has done its preparatory work upon a sinner? Only when a soul is led to Christ alone for righteousness is the work of the Law done (Rom. 10:1-4). The justified person has repented of his sin. He affirms that God’s Law is “holy, righteous and good” (Rom. 7:12). He also knows that it is Christ alone who commends him to God.
By His substitutionary death, Christ cancelled out the certificate of debt. “He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Col. 2:14). The Law of God is now in the hands of a placated Mediator. It is no longer an accuser that is hostile to us. For believers, it has ceased to condemn and charge with guilt (Rom. 6:14; Gal. 5:18).
For the man who dies outside of Christ, the horrors of an endlessly roaring conscience await him. A great part of hell’s torment is the possession a conscience that cannot be quieted, bribed, or pacified. To the lost man’s chagrin, his conscience keeps shouting out its agreement with the condemnation of God’s Law.
How serious a thing it is to be made in the image of God! Even in hell, the reprobate cannot escape having been made in God’s moral image. That moral mark and image cannot be sinned away. The Law of God written on the conscience will not evaporate in the lake of fire. The Law of God will continue to inform the conscience forever that its condemnation is just.
In the “second death,” the Law and the conscience will never unfasten their eternal grip. They shall always be in agreement. In echoing God’s immutable commands, the conscience will incessantly beat upon its owner, declaring that he deserves to be eternally miserable.
Who but the most incorrigible rebel would not run to Christ to escape this wrath to come? Think again what the Lord has done for sinners. The God of the universe, the Lawgiver Himself, took off His judicial robes and allowed Himself to be executed by lawbreakers!
Christ’s death was no mere martyrdom. God the Son, by His Father’s plan, had the guilt of sinners transferred to Him! Think of the incalculable debt the believer owes his Savior. Christ voluntarily placed Himself in the immense stone cog works of God’s justice. He was crushed by divine decree (Is. 53:10). He became the willing victim. The turning teeth of God’s ineffable justice pressed the life and heart blood out of Him. He reaped what we had sown so that we might have an unchangeable love relationship with God.
Sinner, put down the weapons you bear against God. Receive His love. Be reconciled to God on His terms of peace. The justice of God has been satisfied on behalf of those who will believe. Consent to be represented by the Son. Repent of your self-will and love of sin. He will receive you and will not turn you away. Now is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2).