46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:46–48, NKJV)
The devil is delighted when Christians do not love one another. He also takes delight when Christians do not love their enemies. Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). God is “perfect” in verse 48 because He does precisely that – He loves His enemies. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The word “perfect” in today’s passage (verse 48) conveys completeness, being of full age or maturity. Our love is not complete if we do not love our enemies. We love our enemies by showing them active goodwill, even though they are actively showing ill will toward us (see Matthew 5:44). Loving only those who love us is the world’s model of love. Loving your enemies is what God does toward the whole world. Citizens of the kingdom of heaven model themselves after God’s love, not the world’s incomplete, immature love.
18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. (Philippians 3:18–19, NKJV)
Paul affirms what Jesus also taught. Many will walk in a way they think leads to heaven, but which in fact leads to destruction. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Not doing the Father’s will is undoubtedly the “broad way” He warns us of in Matthew 7:13. The broad way is where we find the enemies of the cross of Christ. We must be diligent not to be counted among that number! To avoid being an enemy of Christ we must (1) Do the will of the Father by following the word of Christ and the apostolic examples (John 12:48; Philippians 3:17), (2) Serve the desires of God and not the desires of the flesh (Romans 8:5-8), and (3) Set our minds on heavenly things (Colossians 3:2). When we follow the commands of Christ we are His friends (John 15:14). If we do not, we are His enemies. There is no third option.
34 Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ (Matthew 10:34–36, NKJV)
The Prince of Peace brought spiritual warfare to the earth (Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, 1 John 3:8). His gospel marks the dividing line between truth and error, good and evil, right and wrong. Truth has that effect; it divides the closest of relatives. Our adversary the devil uses our earthly relations (parents, children and spouses) to slander our loyalty to Jesus and tempt us to choose family over faith. Will you compromise truth and abandon your faith for the sake of your father, mother, child, spouse or in-law? Not everyone the Christian loves will love God. Borrowing from Micah 7:6, Jesus strips away the illusion that we can follow Him without fighting the good fight of faith. Your faith must not be in other people, no matter how closely related you are to them. Your first allegiance is to Jesus and His truth. He is our means of peace with God and with those who follow Him (Ephesians 2:14). Jesus preached peace, but every day He battled the forces of unbelief. He expects you, dear Christian, to wage the same fight (see 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; 1 Timothy 6:12; 1 John 5:3-4).
1 Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men; Preserve me from violent men, 2 Who plan evil things in their hearts; They continually gather together for war. 3 They sharpen their tongues like a serpent; The poison of asps is under their lips. Selah (Psalm 140:1–3, NKJV)
David saw Jehovah as the One who would equip him against his enemies, preserving him in battle against evil, violent people. Those who attacked David in war also waged a propaganda war against him. Their lips were full of poison, directed toward his character and his God (remember the words of Goliath, 1 Sam. 17:26, 42-44). Christians are in a battle against spiritual forces that requires unyielding faith in the strength of the Lord to deliver us unto triumph against the adversaries of righteousness (Eph. 6:10-13). God’s deliverance from our enemies begins by us having the faith to put on His armor and fighting the good fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:12). Our life in Christ is not a bed of ease; it is the battlefield of faith. Take up the banner of the cross and live in its shadow. Trust and obey the word of the cross. Therein is full assurance that the Lord will deliver you from evil people, and preserve you for His heavenly kingdom (1 Cor. 1:18-21; 2 Tim. 4:17-18). “Selah” – Pause, ponder and profess with gratitude the greatness of our God, who delivers us from every adversary!