Biblical Oxymoron :: Enemy Friend

The well known Arabian proverb  “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” is used to conceptualize that when two parties have a common enemy, then one can use the other to advance their goals. We see that this was essentially the case during the time of Jesus. The Pharisees and the Herodians who hated each other united to try to entangle the very Son of God, Jesus Christ (Matthew 22:15-16). We also see that a Roman (Pilate) and a Jew (Herod) who were usually at loggerheads became friends, when trying Jesus for no crime that He had committed (Luke 23:12). Sadly in both of the referenced cases, weak men of the world banded together against a powerful God. Now think of the situation as to how powerful we would be in advancing the apostleship granted to each one of us, if Jesus and us had a common enemy. We do. It is called the world.

Jesus himself said, that the world was his enemy, that it hated him when He exclaimed, “The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.” (John 7:7). He also said that we will be hated of all men for His name’s sake (Luke 21:17) and when He prays for His disciples, He tells God, the Father that the world hates us (John 17:14). All of these verses affirm that the world hated/hates Jesus and the world hates/will hate us, Jesus’ true followers. This means that the world is at enmity with God and at enmity with us. In fact, we are to marvel not (or be surprised) that the world hates us (1 John 3:13). We can be assured of God’s promise that if the world hates us, they are not really in enmity with us, but in enmity with God and God will be the enemy of those who are our enemies and the adversary of those who are our adversaries (Exodus 23:22).

An identical proverb to the Arabian proverb, but of Chinese origin is “it is good to strike the serpent’s head with your enemy’s hand.” We are to strike the Satan’s (serpent’s) head with the hand of the world (our enemy), i.e., not fall prey to evil in the world. Satan uses the world and its lusts to lure us away from God. When we devalue the world and its offerings, we give him no power, symbolically striking a blow to his head. If our allegiance is with the world over that of with the Word of God that became flesh and tabernacled among and in us, then we cannot be in spiritual battle with Satan (which means adversary) or his forces in heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:10-18).

To oxymoronic aspect here is this:
To be a friend of this world is to an enemy with God;
To be an enemy of the world is to be the Friend of God

With the world (and its evil) as our common enemy, we can work hand in hand with God and advance the goals of apostleship that He has entrusted to us, being assured that He will be the enemy of our enemy (the world), meaning that He will be our friend. What a friend we have in Jesus!

John 17:14 (KJV)
I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

James 4:4 (KJV)
4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

Biblical Oxymoron – Dead Life

When God created man, man became a living soul (Genesis 2:7), meaning that man’s Spirit (soul) was alive and until they sinned they were not conscious of the nakedness of their bodies (Genesis 3:7), which makes me wonder if the body, until then, was merely a dead jar of clay that contained the Spirit of the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:7) in man. And by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin (Romans 5:12) and from then on, each time a child was conceived, that child was conceived in sin (Psalm 51:5) and with the wages of sin being death (Romans 6:23), in essence, each time a child is born, that child is born dead (in the Spirit) and alive in the body (flesh). Jesus reinforces this in his conversation with Nicodemus, whom He counseled saying that in order for anyone to see and enter the kingdom of God, they must be born again (John 3:7), by expressing that, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, but that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6). Jesus then goes on to say that in believing in Him is Life, Life Eternal (John 3:16) and though one were dead (in the Spirit), yet shall he live (John 11:25).

Being born is being alive in sin and dead in the Spirit, but when one believes in Jesus Christ, the Son of God as their Messiah, he/she becomes a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). That person is born again. Ever wondered as to what it means to be born again? The revelation of this hidden treasure is startling. To be born again is to die first; die to being slaves to sin (Genesis 4:7, Romans 6:17-23), and die with Christ (Romans 6:2-4). Being born again is being dead to the flesh and its lusts (Romans 8:13), and rising to walk in the newness of life (Romans 6:2,4).  And in dying to sin, in dying with Christ, we are made alive (Romans 6:2-4)

The oxymoronic aspect here is this:
In being born (natural birth), we are born dead in the Spirit, alive in the flesh. This is the first birth, the natural man.
In dying (to sin; with Christ), we are born alive in the spirit, dead in the flesh. This is the second birth, the spiritual man.

We can live to die or we can die to live! What is your choice?

Romans 8:5-13 (KJV)
5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

Bilbical Oxymoron :: Up Down

Many of us aspire to climb to the zenith of the corporate/secular ladder, sometimes at the cost of trampling over our loved ones and other times by leaving our peers behind. Sadly, even Christian leaders have been known to obtain positions made by men within the Church using  hook (punching other fellowmen down) or by crook (by sinful) methods. Fishermen have long known that there is no need to bother putting a lid on the bucket they use to catch crabs. This is because the crabs in the bucket seldom allow their own to climb out of the bucket. Unfortunately, many time we tend to exhibit such crabby behavior ourselves. When it comes to someone else succeeding, in our stead, we work hard at making sure that that becomes an impossible task for our peers. We always want to be on the top because the world glorifies the man/woman on top.

Interestingly the Biblical perspective on being on top is quite contrary to the world model. In fact the Scripture states clearly that those who humble themselves in the sight of the Lord, shall be lifted up by Him (James 4:10). The Bible also counsels using the very words of Jesus that “whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23:12). The Lord brings down the proud. He did not spare even Lucifer, his angel, when Lucifer’s heart was lifted up and when iniquity (pride) was found in him (Ezekiel 28:2,15, Jude 1:6). The Biblical adage that pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18), is true. Jesus made himself of no reputation and is now given THE Name that is above all names (Philippians 2:7-11).

When you rise yourself up above, you will fall down and hit the rocks. When you bring yourself down, and you stand on the ROCK the only way is up.

The oxymoronic aspect here is this:
Those who exalt themselves up (rise up) will be brought low (abased, brought down).
Those who humble themselves (go down) will be the ones who are exalted (rise up).

To go up, we must first go down.

Matthew 23:12 (KJV)
12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

James 4:10 (KJV)
10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

Biblical Oxymoron :: Wise Fool

Many of us aspire to be wise in the sight of others. We even push our children to the limits of mental capacity sometimes at the cost of their physical, social and spiritual development. To be wise or to want to be wise is not wrong, but we must first recognize what it means to be wise, according to the Bible.

First, the Bible says that the fool says in his heart that there is no God (Psalm 14:1). This makes the atheist and others who deny the existence of God to be fools. But before we jump to pass judgment, we ought to examine ourselves and all those who believe in God or in His existence, as well.  The Bible says that the one who knows God and yet glorifies Him not as God, has his foolish heart darkened, and though he/she professes to be wise, he/she has become a fool (Romans 1:22). So just as the atheist is a fool, so is the one who knows God but lives his life as if He doesn’t. A true litmus test to know if we (who know God) are fools is, if you hear someone who is familiar with you, exclaim to you, “I did not know that you were a follower of Jesus Christ or a Christian”.

Second, the Bible says that the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God and that the thoughts of the wise (which the LORD knows) are vain (1 Corinthians 3:19-20). Therefore again, we ought to glory not in men (1 Corinthians 3:21), and deceive ourselves. If we want to be wise, we must first become a fool (for Christ’s sake – 1 Corinthians 4:10) and any who seems to be wise in the world ought to become a fool, so that he may be wise (1 Corinthians 3:18).

The oxymoronic aspect here is this:
To be wise in the sight of the world is to be fool in the sight of God;
To be a fool in the sight of the world is to be  wise in the sight of God.

Romans 1:21-22 (KJV)

21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

1 Corinthians 3:18-21 (KJV)
Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.
And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.
Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are your’s;

1 Corinthians 4:10 (KJV)
We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.

Biblical Oxymoron :: Filthy Pure

Merriam-Webster’s define the word ‘Filth’ as foul or putrid matter; especially : loathsome dirt or refuse and the word ‘Pure’ as unmixed with any other matter or free from dust, dirt, or taint.

Who can say that they are pure, who life is not foul or putrid, loathsome, dirty or as refuse? Only those who have believed in Jesus Christ and have been washed by His blood as a remission of their sins, by obeying THE TRUTH (Jesus Christ) through the Spirit.  (1 Peter 1:22). No one else is pure. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow (pure); though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool (Isaiah 1:18) .

The oxymoronic aspect reflected in the infallible Scripture is this. They that are called filthy (when working for Jesus) are indeed the only pure because they are set apart and unmixed with any other matter (the world), sanctified, and free from dirt (stain of sin). So next time someone calls you the filth of the world because of your life in Christ, that only validates that you are blood bought and pure and worthy of being counted with some of the others who were called the same, including Apostle Paul. What a privilege? To be called filthy when serving Jesus is in fact the reflection of the purity of our life as we live for Him.

1 Corinthians 4:13 (KJV)
We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.
Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace;
And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:
Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.

1 Peter 1:22 (KJV)
Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:

spirit witness from a damsel in distress

Acts  16:16-18 records an interesting incident of a damsel in distress who was possessed by a spirit of divination and under the influence of men who gained from her soothsaying (fortune telling). She meets Paul, Silas and the others with them and surprisingly follows them, crying and saying as to who they are. Paul being grieved on her account delivers the woman from the bondage she was in, both spiritually and from the powers of men, in the name of Jesus Christ.

There are many things we can learn from this account.

  1. First, the damsel who was under subjugation by two powers (possession by a spirit of divination and secondly the men who profited from her endeavors) meets other real powers (Paul, Silas, Luke …) who overflowed with the liberating Power that comes in the Name of Jesus Christ.
  2. Second, the damsel was delivered totally, from all of the powers that captivated her;  not only from the spiritual bondage that she was in but also from the powers of men who became exceedingly troubled when their source of gain through her had been lost. In the Name of Jesus is total deliverance and salvation.
  3. Third, this damsel followed Paul and the other disciples of Jesus Christ.
  4. Fourth, this damsel gave witness as to who Paul and the other disciples were. What the fortune teller damsel proclaimed about Paul and the other disciples is two fold and amazing. The 30 second introduction of who they were was follows: men who are the servants of the most high God and which shew unto us the way of salvation.
  5. Fifth, It grieved Paul the bond servant of Jesus Christ to see someone else in distress and slavery (bondage) and he acted.

Point(s) to ponder:

  1. When people who are under the bondage of this world and its powers meet us, do they follow us because of Christ Jesus who operates in and through our lives?
  2. What is the witness that is given of you/me by people (or the spirits that possess them) as to who we are? We are to be first known as servants, serving the most high God, by shewing all the way of salvation (which is believing in the Name  of Jesus Christ).
  3. Does it grieve us when we see others who are on their road to hell because they are under the bondage of spiritual forces (principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, spiritual wickedness) in the heavenly realms and more importantly if it does grieve us, are we acting on that by shewing them the way of salvation in Jesus Christ?

Acts 16:16-17 (KJV)
And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:
The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.
And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.
And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,
And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,
And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.
And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.

Heart’s desires given

Take a moment and think about what your heart desires. If you were granted an opportunity to get whatever your heart desired, what would it be? Think about it.

My dear friend and brother in Christ, Suresh Chandra Bose Ganesh Bose shared a beautiful verse in response to the article posted on “Delight in the Lord” from Psalm 37:4 which states Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. While this verse on the onset may seem like a sure recipe for success, for getting anything our heart fancied, I wondered, what if the desires of the heart are not in line with God’s plan or will? King David who is attributed to be a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14) is an example we can learn from. Though King David is attributed for having a heart after God’s own heart and known for having delighted himself in the Lord (as is evident from his Songs/Psalms), his act of adultery (with Bathsheba) and murder (of Uriah) was certainly not according to God’s plan, but instead something his heart desired in carnality. His actions brought displeasure to God and pain and dishonor to himself and the ones he loved. He was rebuked by God through His prophet Nathan and reprimanded by God for his sin.  God who is Love personified does not delight in evil, but always rejoices (delights) with the truth.

So if God is to grant the desires of our heart, we ought to have our heart after His own. When we are aligned with God’s own heart, His strength is made perfect in our weakness and shown to those around us. The assurance of His grace being sufficient for us, despite the circumstances, can help us delight in Him, no matter what. 2 Chronicles 16:9 states that the eyes of the LORD are searching to and fro throughout the whole earth, to find the one whose heart is perfect toward God so that God’s strength can be shown through them.

Points to ponder:

  • Is our heart after God’s own heart?
  • Are you/me in the line of sight of God as He searches the whole world for one whose heart is perfect toward Him?
  • Now, take a moment and think about what your heart desires. If you were granted an opportunity to get whatever your heart desired, what would it be? Think about it.

Let it be said of us that our heart was after God’s own heart, which means as we delight in Him, our heart desires (which is really His heart’s desire) will be given/granted.

2 Chronicles 16:9 (KJV)
For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.

Psalm 37:4 (KJV)
4 Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

Delight in the Lord

When our son, Reuben repeats Psalm 1, he says “But his delight is in the LORD”, instead of “But his delight is in the law of the LORD”. As we attempted to correct him, I realized a profound truth hidden in his expression.

The Psalmist exclaimed that blessed are those who abide by the law of the Lord (Psalm 119:1). Jesus summed up the entire law of the prophets into love for God and love for man (Matthew 22:37-40) and Apostle Paul clearly states in the book to the Romans, that the law of the Lord is fulfilled in love (Romans 13:9-10). This means that to delight in the law of the Lord is to delight in its fulfillment, which is Love and since God is love, to delight in the law of the Lord is to delight in God.

We are to rejoice in the LORD, we are to joy (delight) in the God of our salvation (Habakkuk 3:18)  just as much as we need to, in His law that is royal and liberating (James 2:8,12), holy, just, and good (Romans 7:12), spiritual (Romans 7:14) and is the new covenant, written on our hearts and mind (Hebrews 10:16).

Verily, for of children is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:14) and our delight is to be in the law of the LORD and in Him, as our beloved son says.

Only 3 Christian(s) in the Bible

Interestingly there are only 3 references to the word ‘Christian’ in the King James Version (KJV) of the entire Bible.

The first time the word is used, it was used as an answer to the question, “What do we call those who are the disciples of Christ?”, and the answer was Christians. For the first time (in Antioch), those who were Christ Ones; those who belonged to Christ were called Christians. (Acts 11:26)
The second time the word is used, it was used in a question itself. A question by a king (King Agrippa) posed to God’s servant (Apostle Paul) as to whether Paul was persuading him to be converted into a Christian. (Acts 26:28)
The third time the word is used, it is used in conjunction with our commission of being a Christian. As witnesses of Jesus Christ, suffering for His Name as a Christian, is part of the protocol, yet we are to be not ashamed. (1 Peter 4:16)

Only three references, but there is a profound truth hidden in these, which is:
Those who belong to Christ must be worthy of being CALLED Christians, and are to live a life that reflects CONVERSION from the old self to a new creation, and a COMMISSION to bear His Name, which comes with suffering and shame.

Point(s) to ponder:

  • Are we CALLED Christians because we belong to Christ? Are we CALLED Christians because we are disciples of Christ; with the discipline of subjecting our will under His? If one is to observe our life and asks as to what they can call us, will the answer be Christian?
  • Does our life as a Christian reflect a CONVERSION; no longer being subject to sin and selfish desires, but is it a living sacrifice, pure and acceptable to God, so much so that our message is persuasive unto others to become a Christian as well? Are people questioning you and me as to whether we are persuading them to become disciples of Christ?
  • Are we being true to the COMMISSION given unto each one of us, the CALLED and CONVERTED Christians? Jesus said to his disciples and those he had CALLED unto him, take up your cross and follow me (Mark 8:34). To bear the Cross is an object of scorn and shame. Picture yourself carrying a Cross and walking on the main streets of your city. People will jeer and ridicule you. They did when Jesus walked the via dolorosa (way of suffering)  and so what makes you think that they wont when we do the same. Interesting, isnt it, that the walk to the place where Jesus was crucified is called the way of SUFFERING. It was not an easy pleasure walk. Christian walk is likewise, it is a walk of suffering, but the great news is that we are not walking alone. We are following, meaning, Christ is before us and leading the way, constantly assuring us that His Grace is sufficient for all who are faithful in their walk and His promise of being with the faithful can be counted on. Many times, we suffice being a professing Christian and don’t take the next step of being a practicing Christian because we are worried about the shame we have to face, for His Name, and yet the last reference to the word Christian in the Bible is very clear, that there is nothing to be ashamed about when we suffer (bearing and proclaiming the Name of Christ) as a Christian. If fact, if one is to suffer at all, they (you and me) are  to suffer only as a Christian and use it as a means to glorify God.

Acts 11:26 (KJV)
And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

Acts 26:28 (KJV)
28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.

1 Peter 4:16 (KJV)
16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

A Christian’s Valentine

Named after one of the early Christian martyrs named Valentinus who was killed on February 14th, Valentine day is an annual holiday celebrating love between intimate companions. The name Valentinus is a derivative of the Latin word ‘valens’ which means ‘strong’ or ‘powerful’. Interestingly, there is a strong and powerful connection between the celebration of love and the two greatest commandments of all, which is to love the Lord and to love man (your neighbor).

Who do we love? i.e., Who is our Valentine?

  • God;
    thou shalt love the Lord thy God with ALL thy heart, and with ALL thy soul, and with ALL thy mind, and with ALL thy strength
    (Mark 12:30)
  • Man;
    Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
    (Mark 12:31)
    In other words, God is to be our valentine and so is man!

How do we love?

  • By keeping his commandments;
    If ye love me, keep my commandments
    (John 14:15)

How much do we love –

  • God?
    thou shalt love the Lord thy God with ALL thy heart, and with ALL thy soul, and with ALL thy mind, and with ALL thy strength
    (Mark 12:30)
  • Man?
    Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
    (John 15:13)

Why do we need to love?

  • To know God;
    Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
    (1 John 4:7-8).
  • To show that we are His disciples;
    By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
    (John 13:35)
    We are to love to know and show God!

Danish theologian and philosopher, who is accredited to be one of the most eminent Lutheran theologian, Soren Kierkegaard, rightfully quoted “Love is all, it gives all, and it takes all.

The greatest of ALL is Love (God) and God gave ALL (including His only begotten Son) so that He could take ALL of us (irrespective of who we are or how we have lived). Additionally, it takes all to give all (Total surrender). Our love must be strong and powerful. Think about it!

Mark 12:29-31 (KJV)
And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

P.S: Are there other aspects of Love from the Scripture (Holy Bible) that answers the questions posed, If so, kindly share.