You all have friends, and some of them are mutual (shared) friends. Your personal friend in Edmonton cannot be a mutual friend of one who lives in Redlands, unless that friendship was made while you were at your Convention.
You all have enemies, and sometimes they might be mutual enemies. What I am about to tell you is that you, indeed, do have a Mutual Enemy.
What is a friend? It is a well-wisher, a supporter; it is one who is attached to another by feelings of personal accord. What is an enemy? One who cherishes hatred and harmful desires against you.
Jesus spoke to His disciples, in John 15, about those two kinds of fellow beings: who are his friends (if they do whatsoever I command them) and who are our foes (I have chosen you out of this world, therefore the world hateth you). There you have it; we can only be mutual friends if we are Jesus’ friends. Wouldn’t you have liked to have witnessed that deep friendship that existed between Mary, Martha and Lazarus and their beloved Master?
This letter is going to be quite short on the “friend” side because you do not have to fear your friends; they try to please you, and they like you, but we do have to fear our enemy because he hates us and tries to hurt us. I’ve already talked about having mutual friends, though living in different towns. But we also can have a mutual enemy in that same situation. How can that be? Can you in Loveland have a mutual enemy with one who lives in Doon? Or in Byron Center? You surely can!
I’ll tell you why. No, first I’ll tell you who that mutual enemy is. He is Satan, the Devil. Now I will tell you why he is our mutual enemy. Because we have that Mutual Friend, Jesus; and because Satan hates Jesus, he hates Jesus’ friends. Right? So we must not be surprised if we suffer hatred from the world, for Satan is the Prince (ruler) of the world. Satan’s hatred rubs off on them, which is transferred to us.
Scripture tells us much about our Arch-enemy Satan. It says the most awful things about him. It says that “he is like a roaring lion who goes walking about seeking whom he may find”. That is you! Walking about means he goes everywhere trying to catch Christians. As a wild lion devours his prey, so Satan tries to kill us, that is, he tries to kill us to hell. He is a much more dangerous foe than any wild lion could be. The Bible tells us that he is a liar from the beginning – remember how he lied to Eve regarding that Tree from which they were told not to eat? He is known as the father of lies. Whew! It also tells us that he is The Tempter! He even tempted Jesus to sin three times! That example of tempting the Perfect Man to sin against His Father brought out the famous reply: “Get thee behind me, Satan.”
But how will that awful enemy tempt you? Even little pre-school children meet such temptation. When you are tempted to steal a cookie from your mother’s jar you sneak one out; your mother asks you how come the jar lid is not on tight. And you say, “I don’t know, I didn’t touch it”. Then you have broken the eighth command – thou shalt not steal – and the ninth – thou shalt not lie”, all in one occasion. Or, when one of you older children are not aware of the devil’s power you might fall into the sin against the fifth command and talk back to your folks by saying “I don’t either watch t.v. too much! You are always accusing me of that when I’m not guilty at all.” There you see, you not only lipped off at your parents, but very likely sinned against the ninth command too. Or, you teenagers, when confronted by your enemy’s temptation, may fall into the sin against any of the Ten. How about the sixth – thou shalt not kill? When you smoke, when you take alcohol, when you “do” a drug, you are in a degree killing yourself. When you say. “I hate you” to your Dad, aloud, or under your breath, you are guilty of killing. Oh, it’s a serious business – this being surrounded by temptations, being bombarded by your Enemy every day! In your thoughts you sin against the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th command every day. Can you deny it?
Looking at that last paragraph you can see what I am talking about. 1. you sin. 2. you fall. 3. your enemy, Satan, laughed because all those sins are hated by your Friend. Do you realize how you hurt your Friend? No more should you enjoy hurting Him by slandering people; no more should you like to have a friend’s name dragged through the mud by your talk; no more should you tolerate having your Mutual Friend’s Name blasphemed by your speech or behavior.
All this leads me to call your attention to the gruesome fact that our mutual Enemy is trying to “get” us. Yes, he wants to take us to hell with him. Not, I think, if he understood the Five Points of Calvinism, as we do, he might “give up” on us. He cannot finally “get” us. No, because we belong to our Mutual Friend, our Faithful Savior. But that Liar from the beginning keeps trying to deceive you. So you must always be on guard to fight the wiles (tricks) of the devil! You must always say, “no” to whomever Satan uses to make you join in their sin. I’m sure your school teachers are daily teaching you to say “no” to the sin of alcohol and all other kinds of sins. And it may be especially hard to say that word when we are tempted by a bosom friend. Scripture knows all about your weaknesses when it warns, “flee youthful lusts”; as it warns you to fight against your adversary, the devil.
There you have that which your pastors often speak about; the antithesis; that two-sided life you lead, the walk in sin, and the walk in sanctification. (An aside to the parents: do you tell your children, “do as I say, but don’t do as I do”? Let’s make the “say” and the “do” on the same plane, shall we?)
You ask me, “how can I recognize the devil”? Not as he is usually caricatured in a red skin, with horns and forked tail! No, he may come to you, young man, as a pretty alluring young lady; and to you, young lady, as a virile attractive young man. But you WILL recognize that Tempter as soon as your companion tempts you to evil! That’s the time to say, in unmistakable terms, “Get behind me, Satan!” After reading this long letter you might say, “so what”. You told us that the devil cannot really “get” us. Why then scare us this way? Well, the devil could not really get King David either, but you would not like to fall as far as he did in his affair with Bathsheba, would you? You would not like to fall as far as Peter did in the Garden, would you? You would not want to expose yourself to the depth of grief they experienced, would you? No, no, a thousand times no.
1 would like to share with my grandchildren some excellent advice I found in a song written way back in 1871, by Rev. Joseph Scriva, entitled “What A Friend We Have In Jesus”. The second stanza reads:
“Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who shall all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness.
Take it to the Lord in prayer.”