Listen on Audio
One of the warnings Jesus gave was that Satan’s primary goal is to steal, kill, and destroy. One of the main tools to destroy is to weaken people by creating division. Once a nation or group of people are divided, they lose the power to stand united. Look at Jesus’ words in Mark 3:24-25
24 “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.
25 “And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”
We see this method when anyone is trying to gain an advantage. When I was in my early 20s, I experienced this firsthand. I was working in a warehouse at the time, and a coworker I’ll call Brian became very confrontational in every interaction between us. I really didn’t know why, since we’d had a good working relationship until this point. Over time, his attitude became almost intolerable.
Then one day I was in the corner of the warehouse, gathering some supplies, when someone came out of the front office and called Brian. He was one aisle over from where I stood. Then he said, “Hey Brian, I think Eddie is trying to sabotage your career. He’s always talking bad about you and I think he’s trying to turn management against you. I wouldn’t take this. You need to put him in his place and show yourself to be a bigger man.”
This was very interesting because the same guy had a similar conversation with me the day before. He was saying things like, “I see how Brian is acting towards you. He wants the promotion, and he’s trying to make you look bad. This promotion is yours. Don’t take any junk from him. Be a strong leader and put him in his place.”
Now I understood our conflict. I had chocked this up to this guy being a big gossip, so I just ignored him, but Brian was taking him very seriously. He’d convinced Brian that I was the enemy that needed to be fought, when the truth was that neither one of us was the real enemy. The guy stirring up the pot was the source of the problem. After this, I took Brian aside and shared what I had overheard, and what the same guy had said to me. He had an agenda. If he could get other people fighting, then he would be able to take advantage of the situation to make himself look good.
This is exactly how Satan works. He uses politics, racism, class hierarchies, envy, religion, denominational differences, and other tools to divide and conquer. Once you can label someone as an enemy, people feel justified in attacking them. We see this across all groups.
Last year, Dylann Roof received a death sentence for killing nine church members in an African American church. I watched his interview, and he said, “They are killing and raping white women. Someone has to do something, but nothing is being done. So I had to take action.”
Because he was listening to divisive people, he felt justified in attacking another race – even though the people he took it out on had done nothing wrong. They had just been divided out into ‘those people’.
Where did he get this mindset? He listened to the propaganda and hate speech that inflates the problems they dig up, and makes it sound like all people of color are the enemy.
You hear the same type of things coming from other races and racial conflict, political conflict, and religious conflict. During one of the rallies when George Floyd was killed by a white policeman, a man stated, “Every time a black man dies, we are going to kill a white.”
Both of these racial statements will now be used as propaganda to continue to create fear in those they influence.
It’s not only race, but because of the Palestinian surprise attack on Jews a few weeks ago in the Middle East, someone felt justified in attacking a Muslim mother and her son in the U.S. The people at the music festival killed in the attack had done nothing against their attackers, and the mother and her son had done nothing against their attackers. They just fell under the label of ‘those people’ in someone’s propaganda.
Let’s pause for a moment to look at a serious problem that has emerged over the last 15 or so years. Have you noticed that if you look up shoes on a website, you will start getting constant ads for shoes? With voice recognition apps and devices like Alexa, even our conversations trigger ads. I had a conversation about cars, and then went online and started getting ads about cars. And this was before I even looked up anything.
We live in a money driven culture, and this includes social media. Add to this, social media only gets revenue when you stay online where they can push advertisements to your news feed. So how do they keep you online? By pushing into your news feed what you have shown as an interest. So if you are reading in groups that promote hate speech, they will push articles and other groups related to your interest.
This is why those involved in politics think the world is against them. Conservatives get fed a constant stream about how the liberals are destroying the country. Liberals get fed a constant stream of information about how those conservatives are going to oppress them and destroy the country. So if you are reading about how a race is a threat to you and your family, what type of information do you think the social media algorithms are going to feed to you? I highly recommend a documentary called ‘Social Dilemma’. This will be very enlightening to you.
There are two things that sell – sex and bad news. Bad news covers a lot more bases, so it is used more often. Plus you don’t have to pay a model.
Watch TV for any length of time, and a commercial will present a problem, and a product they are marketing that will solve that problem.
Do you sometimes feel down? Have you ever had trouble going to the bathroom? Do you sometimes feel tired? You could be suffering from socialis artificiosa.
Then they present the cure, while using distractions to hide the side effects.
The point is that you are being presented the bait, and you’ll be tempted to take it from whatever group aligns with your way of thinking. Social norms are often formed this way, but that is usually a good thing. It uses social standards to improve civil behavior to a common standard. However, it can be used against you if you are not aware.
Manipulative groups don’t stay in power by solving problems. They stay in power by creating problems and division. That’s why racism will never die, and politics will continue to divide. Why do friends and family members become adversaries during election season?
This is not new to our era. Jesus faced this often during His earthly ministry. When Jesus was teaching that in order to follow Him, we must love our neighbor, a religious and political leader wanted to justify himself. He didn’t feel he had to love ‘those people’ who were not in his area of acceptance. Let’s pick up the conversation in Luke 10:29-34
29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
31 “Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32 “Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.
33 “But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.
34 “So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
To understand the magnitude of this story, we have to understand who the Samaritans were. When the Old Testament Law was given, idolatry was rampant around Israel. When someone took a spouse from an idolatrous people, they would bring in those beliefs, and people would be drawn into adopting idolatry into their faith. Even Solomon failed in this area, and this is why God stripped his son of the kingdom, only leaving one out of twelve tribes under his rule.
To prevent the influence of idolatry and pagan practices, God commanded that the people remain within their own nation when seeking wives for their sons, or giving their daughters in marriage. They were not to mix with the pagan cultures around them. They had to remain in their own lineage, unless the immigrant converted to Judaism through strict rituals.
When Israel was drawn into idolatry as an entire nation, God judged them by dispersing them into the nations they were worshipping with. The kingdom fell, and they were banished from their Promised Land for seventy years. Then God raised up leaders to draw them back into their land. However, anyone who could not prove their lineage or had intermarried with someone from a pagan nation, were not accepted as a true Jew. These half-blooded Jews gathered in Samaria, and were then called Samaritans. The original Samaritans were Jews that were not taken captive, and remained in the land, but they also intermarried with the Assyrians.
They originally considered themselves to be the remnant and even had their own temple and religious system, but the returning Jews did not consider them a true remnant because of their intermarriage.
Over time, they were so disdained that calling someone a Samaritan was considered an insult. When the Jews became angry at Jesus, they called Him demon-possessed and a Samaritan (John 8:48). Samaritans were so low on the humanity scale that people would not even acknowledge them. They would pass on the other side of the road, or pretend they did not exist. This is why the Samaritan woman was caught by surprise when Jesus began a conversation with her at the well. If a Jew in that era was dying of thirst, they still would not accept water from a defiled Samaritan. Yet Jesus asked this woman for water at the well of Samaria. Shocked, she said, “How is it that you, being a Jew, talk to me, a Samaritan woman.”
This is important to understand, because Jesus used this as an example of being a neighbor. In His parables, Jesus often used examples that would surprise, or even shock the listener in order to bring attention to the truth He is communicating.
The people group they considered vile became the neighbor that fulfilled God’s purpose. So even if someone thinks they are better than you, you are still called to love them, which also includes meeting the needs of your enemies. If you feel that someone is beneath you, the same rules apply.
While people are claiming they are fighting for good by attacking their enemies, God rejects this idea completely. Jesus even criticized those who were using the law as justification. Look at Matthew 5:38-48
38 “You have heard that it was said, `An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’
39 “But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.
40 “If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.
41 “And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.
42 “Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.
43 “You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
44 “But I say to you, 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,
45 “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
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.
So, where did they hear, ‘an eye for an eye, and tooth for a tooth?’ From the book of the Law, Leviticus 24 20. However, in the new covenant, we are under the law of faith (see Romans 3 27). God has taken us out of the mindset of judgment, and into the life of compassion. The law was harsh because there was no internal guidance of the Holy Spirit, so judging the sinner, and isolating the people was necessary. Though the people could hear the instruction, they could not keep their sinful nature from being drawn into temptation.
Now we have a new nature, and the Spirit within us. With that new birth, we are born again into a new law, the law of faith , and the law of the Spirit of life in Christ. According to Jesus, this new life calls us to love, not destroy, our enemies. Now we must understand that the old law vengeance and judgment mindset alienates us from new law faith. It does not uphold it. Retaliation draws us under the enemy’s hand. By enemy, we have to understand that we are talking about our true enemy, Satan.
According to the Bible, the weapons of our warfare are not physical, but spiritual. The people we label as enemies are victims of the real enemy. Add to this, the Christian was once an enemy with God until they heard, and answered, God’s loving call of salvation. See Romans 5:10, Colossians 1:21, and 1 Peter 2:12. You are called to fight evil by doing good – not by joining the war of the flesh. Look at Romans 12:17-21
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.
18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Consider this the next time you hear the call to take sides in politics, racism, or religious conflict. Are you going to be drawn into the world’s system of fighting, or will you answer the call of faith.
It is difficult to not be manipulated into a fleshly way of thinking. The enemy knows how to push your buttons and push you into the conflict. He is the one whispering in your ear, “They are trying to harm you and your children,” and whispering the same thing about you in their ears. You will always feel justified when you step into the fight, but it will never produce good.
The only way to see God work is to live out His call and abide in His ways. You have to walk by faith. This means that you put into His hands the power to resolve problems and to work all things for your good. When you don’t see it working, you will be tempted to take it from God’s hands, but don’t push faith aside. God didn’t promise immediate gratification. He promised that all things work for our good. Sometimes it looks like our enemies are prevailing, but the truth is that God will use our faith to do His work in us, and in the world around us. But He will test your faith before He reveals His promise. Take to heart Psalm 37:7-9
7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret– it only causes harm.
9 For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the LORD, They shall inherit the earth.
Rest in the Lord and do not allow frustration to draw you out of that rest. Those who trust in the Lord will be renewed and have this promise of inheritance. No enemy can rob you of what God promises, but faithless acts do cause people to forfeit the promises.
In order to live by faith in the midst of a crisis, we have to prepare our hearts now. Begin turning over the little things into His hands, and repay good for evil when that time comes. Don’t repay to get results. Do good because you trust in His goodness. Never make yourself the arm of vengeance, even if you think your are standing up for the ‘principle of the matter.’ Remind yourself, He is the one who works, and you are the one who obeys His calling.
In the end, you will see God work in ways you never thought possible. Don’t be overcome by evil, and don’t answer the temptation to return evil for evil. But overcome evil with His good. If it isn’t an act of love, then it isn’t of God.