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Get Thee Behind Me!
Love Your Enemies
The Lord’s been moving me to understand more clearly how we are to “love [agapao] our enemies” and “pray for those who persecute us” (Mat 5:44), yet find ourselves at the point of rebuking those we are supposed to love. For this reason, we have to again turn to the Bible to find that clarification. There is a more detailed study on this in my hub HATED on Account of My Name.
What is love? The definition of LOVE in this verse is Greek word agapao (ag-ap-ah’-o) the verb (action) of agape (noun). John 15:19 states, “If you were of the world , the world would love [phileo] its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world , because of this the world hates you.” The god of this world is Satan who was given this dominion for a measured amount of time. Satan hates God; therefore, he hates God’s children, and those who are his hate God and His children, too.
John 15:19 used the word 'phileo ', rather than agapao. I'd like to share the difference in these Greek words for 'love ': phileo is to be a friend to (fond of [an individual or object]), i.e. have affection for (denoting personal attachment, as a matter of sentiment or feeling ; while agapao [v. form of the noun agape] is wider, embracing espec, the judgment and the deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety : the two thus stand related very much: the former [phileo] being chiefly of the heart and the latter [agapao] of the head ; phileo is spec. to kiss (as a mark of tenderness):- kiss, love .
Did you get that? Agape is of the head (decision); Phileo is of the heart.
What is an enemy? It is the Greek word eehthros (ekh-thros’) meaning to hate, be hateful, hostile, an adversary, enemy, foe.
The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to love our enemies. We cannot do this apart from God. Some are unknowingly influenced by Satan who "blinds the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God" (2 Cor 4:4) . We are instructed to show them God’s love [agape - of the mind] by not only sharing the gospel with them, but ministering to their physical needs. Rom 12:20-21 states “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.” The “coals” represent the conviction of the Holy Spirit upon them, hopefully leading him/her to salvation in Christ Jesus.
Loving our enemies in this manner is demonstrating God's love to them. Consider Rom 5:8: "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." We see the Biblical result of loving our enemies in the passage above. However, in Mat 25:40 we are rewarded for loving the brethren in this way: "Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine , even the least of them, you did it to Me.'"
What is Rebuke?
So, while exercising the love of God, how do we find ourselves at the point of rebuke? Let’s look at the example of Jesus rebuking Peter, whom He loved. Mark 8:33 states, “But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter, and said, ‘Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” As with Peter, is very important to understand that indeed a person can both speak from within himself, or can speak by the influence of the spirit of Satan. Jesus didn't rebuke Peter the person, but rather Satan who was influencing Peter.
What does "rebuke" mean? Rebuke is the Greek word epitimao (ep-ee-tee-mah’-o) to ax upon, censure or admonish, forbid, straightly charge. Biblos.com defines it as 'to honor, to mete out due measure, hence to censure'. Jesus rebuked evil spirits or devils, Satan, waves and winds and yes, even a fever.
The Word tells us in Luke 17:3, "Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him." Matthew 18:15 tells us we are to do this in private. For more on how to handle conflict, I invite you to read my hub God's Word on Conflict.
There are times when evangelizing the gospel we encounter false prophets. They twist and distort the Word of God and attack the truth with lies. Their motive and purpose is to mislead others away from Christ, not to Christ. In Rev 2:9 this is called blasphemy; "those who say they are Jews [believers] and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan." When a saved believer encounters one such as this, it is call for rebuke.
Let's look how the Apostle Paul rebukes a false prophet:
Acts 13:9-10 [regarding a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus] " But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze upon him, and said, 'You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord?'"
Eph 6:12 states “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
It is important that when we as believers are in the position of rebuking, we do it in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s look at two passages that show us this is what we must do:
Luke 10:17 “And the seventy returned saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”
Jude 1:9 “But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you.’
Why Rebuke Anyone?
In my Bible, The International Inductive Study Bible (NAS), the preface of 3 John states, "Love cares about the individual. Love encourages. Love rebukes. Love walks in truth." Let me tell you something. If you truly love another person who is influenced by Satan, if you don’t rebuke that spirit from continuing to influence her or him, s/he will not or may never be set free. The world cannot recognize the spirit of Satan; only the Holy Spirit can recognize him. The other reason for rebuke is to protect yourself from the attack and temptation of the Adversary.
Jesus loved Peter enough to rebuke the spirit of Satan right then and there. Even the Apostle Paul rebuked those in the Lord: 1 Cor 4:21 “What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love and a spirit of gentleness?”
Thank God I haven’t had to rebuke but a handful of people influenced by Satan in my lifetime, but when I was called to do so, I did it in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, knowing that all spirits are subject to His name, I continue to have faith these will then be more open to receiving the truth. They very well may take it personally (as Peter may have), but we know it is truly done with the motive of love, with the hope of their true salvation. AMEN.
Demon possession is different than merely being influenced by Satan. Delivering someone from demon possession is not to be taken lightly. It’s best the person is ready to receive salvation (to be filled with the Holy Spirit) when this happens because the Word says in Luke 11:24-26 “When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.”