No one wants enemies. However, as Lee Harris points out in his book, Civilization and Its Enemies: The Next Stage of History, even if you do not want to think that you have enemies . . . you do. He states, “It is the enemy who define us as his enemy, and in making this definition he changes us, and changes us whether we like it or not. We can not be the same, after we have been defined as the enemy, as we were before.”
A current trend among us is extreme positive thinking, wherein we deceive ourselves into imagining that there is no enemy; or if there is an enemy, he has no ill intent. This is foolishness. Christ gives clear warning as to the enemy’s intent – a point that we cannot ignore. “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
Three decades ago, many of us were arguing with what seemed like doomsdayers who were prophesying that Oneness Pentecostals would one day forsake holiness. We believed and countered that because holiness was such a clear stream of Bible teaching and it was the fundamental component of our Apostolic DNA that we would remain unmovable (1 Peter 3:14-16). If we had been more insightful we would have noted that perhaps there was something to the warnings. That what some old-time preachers had detected in their Spirits were the seeds of deconstructionism. What we were starting to hear were the first thoughts of those whose intention it was to transform, and in my view, to gain power and prestige for themselves.
As we are now keenly aware, these first thoughts had consequences. Consequences that have left the Church with new adversaries: enemies who have declared themselves as opposers of the Truth when they reject the practice of a holiness lifestyle. Most such enemies have a good read on what some people really want, which is not the definition of right or wrong or what is true or false, but what matches their ambitions and desires concerning this present world. False teachers have one objective — to attract unto themselves, for gain, those who desire a false experience with Christ. They desire a prophet to tickle their ears, ease their conscience, and lead them into worldly indulgences. In this sense, the false teacher and false seeker are mutually essential to each other.
Historically, churches and nations come to a dead end when they fail to fully “buy in” to the core philosophies. Certain principles, doctrines, and their ideals, values and mission slowly drop off or die out altogether. This happens in most cases because the small things, the individual principles themselves, become thought of as insignificant to the future and are no longer adopted or generally practiced. The teachings are coveted only in a way that one might covet an old volume of writings on the library shelf, but they are not part of what one sees as relative to the present, the truth by which to live.
Renowned Middle East commentator Bernard Lewis said, “Forgetfulness overcomes every successful civilization.” Forgetfulness is clearly pointed out as the reason for Israel’s failure of faith. “They remembered not his hand, not the day when he delivered them from the enemy” (Psalms 78:42). When we forget that he delivered us from evil, from sin, from lifestyles that do not properly reflect who and what we are to be, in Christ, then at that point we have lost our way.
Among Hindus, a common response to Christianity is three-fold: First is “It isn’t true.” The second, “It isn’t new.” The third charge is, “It isn’t you.” Because they see that many Christians don’t live up to their own standards, therefore they do not measure up.
The final hours demand that we recognize our adversaries, those who oppose our core beliefs. We must not be seduced by every new wind of doctrine. We cannot forget nor forgo the principles by which we became who we are in Christ. We must live Apostolic doctrine, we must defend Apostolic doctrine. Otherwise, we fail in our quest to measure up to the Word.