Enemies of God ∙
While we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son – Romans 5:10
2 Corinthians 2:14-16
14 But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.
15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing.
16 To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?
On July 4, 2019, the “Salute to America” parade was held in Washington DC. It celebrated the history and triumph of the United States of America. All of the major branches of the United States Armed Forces were highlighted. Overhead were seen a B-2 stealth bomber, F-35 and F-18 fighters, and V-22 Ospreys.
Former President Trump proclaimed, “Together, we are part of one of the greatest stories ever told: the story of America. It is the epic tale of a great nation whose people have risked everything for what they know is right and what they know is true…And it is the saga of thirteen separate colonies that united to form the most just and virtuous republic ever conceived.”
In the first century, Roman rulers celebrated the conquests of their enemies with victory parades. They were called Triumphs. These Triumphs flaunted their power and supremacy. Their conquered enemies were made to march before them as they entered Rome in triumph.
It is easy to forget as we become comfortable in our Christian faith, that each of us was once the Father’s enemies. We were born into this world separated from and hostile to the Father. At the moment of our salvation, the Father conquered us. He transformed us from being His enemies into His beloved children.
In 2 Corinthians 2:14, Paul pictures us as previously defeated enemies, enemies of the Father, being led in triumph. He is talking about each child of the King. Our sinful natures made us prisoners of sin. Perhaps we were totally unaware that we were already hopeless captives and slaves to our sinful ways and passions, and the resulting sin and death. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, we have been set free from this dreadful slavery.
Our sinful proclivities have been conquered through the cross and the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. We no longer have to live in the prison of torment and guilt as slaves to our former slave master, the enemy of our souls. We have been emancipated and turned loose to live as free and forgiven children of our Father, the living God.
The Lord Jesus Christ has triumphed over sin and death. He has shared His triumph with us. The Father is the sovereign victor, the Lord Jesus Christ is the commanding general, leading the victory procession. Each of us has now been “captured” by the Lord Jesus Christ and now joyfully follow Him. The fragrance we enjoy and emit is a life-giving perfume, rather than the dreadful smell of death and doom.
REFLECT & PRAY
Without a doubt, I have lived way too much of my life as a prisoner of sin and an enemy of The Father.
Father thank You for setting me free and allowing me to live in triumph over my past.
The Lord Jesus Christ took on the forces of evil and darkness and defeated them. He also took on the forces of evil and darkness within me and took away their sting and power over me. I am now free to be a sweet-smelling fragrance of the Lord Jesus Christ that commemorates His victory. Paul uses the word picture of a Roman Triumph to help us to understand what has really happened. The Lord Jesus Christ is the ultimate universal conqueror.
“The highest honor which could be given to a victorious Roman general was a Triumph. To attain it, he must satisfy certain conditions. He must have been the actual commander-in-chief in the ﬁeld. The campaign must have been completely ﬁnished, the region paciﬁed and the victorious troops brought home.”
“In a Triumph, the procession of the victorious general marched through the streets of Rome to the Capitol. He stood in a chariot drawn by four horses. He was dressed in a purple tunic embroidered with golden palm leaves, and over it, a purple toga marked out with golden stars. In his hand, he held an ivory scepter topped with the Roman eagle, and over his head, a slave held the crown of Jupiter. After him rode his family, and ﬁnally came the army wearing all their decorations and shouting Io triumphe! their cry of triumph.”
“If a commander in chief won a complete victory over the enemy on foreign soil, and if he killed at least 5,000 enemy soldiers and gained new territory for the Emperor, then that commander in chief was entitled to a Roman Triumph. The processional would include the commander riding in a golden chariot, surrounded by his officers. The parade would also include a display of the spoils of battle, as well as the captive enemy soldiers. The Roman priests would also be in the parade, carrying burning incense to pay tribute to the victorious army.”
“The procession would follow a special route through the city and would end at the Circus Maximus where the helpless captives would entertain the people by fighting wild beasts. It was a very special day in Rome when the citizens were treated to a full-scale ‘Roman Triumph.’”
“How does this piece of history apply to the burdened believer today? Jesus Christ, our great Commander in chief, came to foreign soil (this earth) and completely defeated the enemy (Satan). Instead of killing 5,000 persons, He gave life to more than 5,000 persons—to 3,000 plus at Pentecost and to another 2,000 plus shortly after Pentecost (Acts 2:41; 4:4). Jesus Christ claimed the spoils of battle – lost souls who had been in bondage to sin and Satan (Luke 11:14–22; Ephesians 4:8; Colossians 2:15). What a splendid victory!”
“The victorious general’s sons would walk behind their father’s chariot, sharing in his victory; and that is where believers are today – following in Christ’s triumph. We do not fight for victory; we fight from victory. Neither in Asia nor in Corinth did the situation look like victory to Paul, but he believed God – and God turned defeat into victory.”
“That is the picture that is in Paul’s mind. He sees Christ marching in triumph throughout the world, and [Paul] himself in that conquering procession. It is a triumph which, Paul is certain, nothing can stop” (Barclay).
Today there are all kinds of parades celebrating identity, ethnicity, national origin, history, the right to be heard and demanding freedom from injustice, etc. From now on when I see these parades, I choose to visualize the triumphal parade of my Lord Jesus Christ.
The Lord Jesus Christ is marching in triumph throughout the world in a triumphal procession. Nothing and no one in all the world could defeat Him. He is the ultimate commander-in-chief and victor.