Enemies Inside the Gate

“Enemy at the Gates” was a movie starring Jude Law and Ed Harris about a Russian and a German sniper playing a game of cat-and-mouse during the Battle of Stalingrad during World War II. “Enemies inside the gate” is the epic story about the batttle that’s warring inside of us right now.

On the week before Jesus was to be betrayed and crucified, the following event took place:

Jesus rode in the center of the procession—crowds going before him and crowds coming behind him, and they all shouted, “Bring the victory, Lord, Son of David! He is the blessed one sent from the Lord Yahweh! We celebrate with praises to God in the highest!” (Matt.21:9 TPT*)

As Jesus rode into the Eastern Gate (Golden Gate), the crowd was shouting, “Bring the victory, Lord, Son of David!” This is what the Aramaic word, “Hosanna!” means. The palm tree is also a symbol of triumph (see Rev.7:9).

Many in the crowd obviously recognized that Jesus was their long-awaited Messiah, calling Him “Son of David.” But did they understand Jesus?

Do we understand Jesus?

First of all, what victory did the crowd anticipate Jesus would bring? And who was Israel’s enemy, and were these the same things that Jesus meant to bring us?

To the people of Israel, their enemy was clearly the Roman Empire who had occupied and subjugated them for about 90 years when Jesus rode His donkey into Jerusalem.

Jesus entered Jerusalem through the Eastern Gate, which is prophetic in many respects—describing Messiah’s glorius entry, His sacrificial death, and eventual return (see Ezek.11:23; 43:1-5; 46:12; Zech.14:4-5). It’s also prophetic that this gate was totally shut, interestingly, by the Muslims in 1540-41 (see Ezek.44:1-2).

Victory, to first-century Israel, was their Messiah coming to end the Roman oppression and setting up His kingdom rule from Jerusalem, so you can imagine their shock when, after Jesus went through the Eastern Gate, He turned left toward Temple and overturned their money-changing tables instead of turning right, toward the Roman Garrison to overturn the Roman army!

So we need to talk about what God means by victory. My Bible notes makes the following interesting point on this verse:

“Many want victory before the cross, but true victory comes after the resurrection.”

The world defines victory in warfare as superior forces overpowering a mortal enemy. God defines victory by sending His Son to die for our sins on the cross and raise us up with Him in heavenly places with His resurrection (Eph.2:6). This is why victory in Revelation could be defined this way:

10 Then I heard a triumphant voice in heaven proclaiming:

“Now salvation and power are set in place,
    and the kingdom reign of our God
    and the ruling authority of his Anointed One
    are established.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
who relentlessly accused them
    day and night before our God,
    has now been defeated—cast out once and for all!
11 They conquered him completely
    through the blood of the Lamb
    and the powerful word of his testimony.
They triumphed because they did not love and cling
    to their own lives, even when faced with death. (Rev.12:10-11 TPT*)

This passage also answers the question, “Who is our enemy?” For Jesus said that His heavenly Father treats the just and unjust the same, and that we’re to love those who would be our natural enemy (Matt.5:43-47). This is not to say that people aren’t involved, they certainly are, but the people themselves are not God’s enemy, nor are they ours.

Paul further clarified just who and what our enemies are (and who or what they’re not):

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Eph.6:12 NIV*)

The chief enemy, of course, is Satan, “…the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who relentlessly accused them day and night before our God.”

Do we actually believe this? It seems we do, rather sheepishly. But we downplay this spiritual reality to our own peril. Second, Paul tells us that our enemies are arguments and pretensions….

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Cor.10:3-5 NIV*)

So, these enemies inside the gate are both spiritual and psychological, not mortal. They are both demonic entities and demonic ideologies that put people into bondage.

This is why it’s important. The person(s) you can’t stand may believe lies that puts them in bondage or harmful addictions; they may embrace evil ideologies that are toxic…they may even hate you…but they are not your enemy. They are victims of your enemy. We must get this right if we’re going to be on the same side as Jesus.

What is the gate, then? We will look at that next time.

* All emphasis added.

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 40 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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17 Responses to Enemies Inside the Gate

  1. jim- says:

    ”Do we understand Jesus?
    No. People would rather worship the messenger. The message he was trying to teach he did not find peculiar to himself and thought the disciples could learn it. He also thought his disciples would be able to teach it, but they looked to him like a guru figure and completely missed the point. Now Christianity would rather exalt the messenger and ignore the message.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Not sure what Bible you’re reading, Jim. And it’s rather ironic that you say we’re ignoring the message, because Jesus was making the very opposite argument.

      7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. (John 10:7-9 NIV)

      6 Jesus explained, “I am the Way, I am the Truth, and I am the Life. No one comes next to the Father except through union with me. To know me is to know my Father too. (John 14:6 TPT)

      Jesus accepted people’s worship in many, many different places in the gospels. If Jesus was just a teacher then you have nothing at all. You have human religion. If Jesus wasn’t both God and man, then we cannot be in Him in God. You can’t say He was a good teacher and then say He was just the messenger. If He was just a messenger then He was the worst human deceiver in history. You can’t have it both ways.

      6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.7 He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. 9 And they sang a new song, saying:

      “You are worthy to take the scroll
      and to open its seals,
      because you were slain,
      and with your blood you purchased for God
      persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
      10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
      and they will reign on the earth.”

      11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying:

      “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
      to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
      and honor and glory and praise!”

      13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

      “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
      be praise and honor and glory and power,
      for ever and ever!”

      14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped. (Rev.5:6-14 NIV)

    • Citizen Tom says:

      @Jim

      My guess is that Mel realizes you already know this quote, but others may not.

      “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” — C. S. Lewis, https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/801500

      Here are a couple of articles about Lewis’ observation.
      https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/is-c-s-lewiss-liar-lord-or-lunatic-argument-unsound/

      https://www.learnreligions.com/lord-liar-or-lunatic-c-s-lewis-249782

      The second article is from someone who did not agree with Lewis. He ends up comparing Jesus, supposedly a great moral teacher, to Joseph Smith, David Koresh, Marshall Applewhite, Jim Jones, and Claude Vorilhon? Weird what we will do to avoid believing something we don’t want to believe.

      • jim- says:

        Thanks Tom. I will address the Lewis comment as I despise being given two choices, and more often than not they are both wrong as in this case.
        Perhaps the scripture can show us the third way? You see, in Greek there is no indefinite article—no a’s or the’s prefacing a proper noun. How the translators add their own little interpolations that don’t appear in the Greek is purely bias.
        Lets take St. John for an example. In chapter 10:30-36 —I and my Father are one.
        31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.
        32 Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?
        33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.
        34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? (82 Psalm)

        35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
        36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? See, there is no the in the original Greek. Non-biased translation of the missing article would be a son of god, meaning; of the nature of god. It’s all very clear right here.
        Jesus did not think his status peculiar to himself (he thought everyone could realize this) remember, “that you may be one, even as the father and I are one”? Jesus, however, was more Hindu or Buddhic in nature than Jewish.
        If the story is true; if Jesus really existed the way the biblical text relates, Jesus thought his status was achievable in the flesh, right now, even a declaration that it may be “done on earth as it is done in heaven”. That would mean not only was he a son of god (of the nature of god, literal translation) but that you are too. Realizing this makes Jesus mystical Jewish, and certainly not Christian.
        He was however hamstringed by his Hebrew culture and language, but his realization of the Self, that all are god, there is nothing that is not god (how could there be?) is the good news. It’s also very much Hindu, shamanistic, the Wu Wei, the Tao, and all of the great mystics from the Buddha to Sri Ramana Maharishi, Crazy Horse to Jesus, all saw the same thing. That it is all you. I am that, I am. We are all apertures of the same organism. It’s very plain in Hebrew scripture as well, but a cultural taboo worthy of death, in a era where Jesus had to be very careful of even his thoughts, or be killed.
        As a final note, we see that the other “good news” has never, ever produced the desired results. It is not really good news at all, but a faith trap and a call to obedience by those who rule and govern. Had the real good news ever been fully revealed and the methods taught to achieve that infinite vision that has presented itself in all cultures, all religions since time immemorial, we would have peace on earth and regain paradise lost. But we settle for worshipping the messenger and put him safely out of reach. That was never the point at all. Jesus was the only son of god, and no more! Made the gospel irrelevant.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Jim,
          Your response to Tom here is too full of tired arguments for me to be motivated to respond to everything you said. You can copy and paste these arguments with people who still think endlessly arguing about these things will make a difference with someone who’s mind is already closed, but I find them quite uninteresting. You know I don’t like trolling, and I’ve already wasted all the time I wish to on these things with people who don’t want to believe. I will briefly respond to your argument about Jesus’ statement in John 10.

          This is the typical argument against the deity of Christ cults and Islamic apologists make. First, Jesus nowhere denies that He is the Son of God. In fact, not only does He never deny His deity, He never denies people’s worship. Second, those who deny Christ’s deity will say He’s not claiming to be God by quoting Psalm 82 (which is what He’s quoting in John 10). But, actually, He is making this claim. If you look carefully at the context of the Psalm itself, you’ll see that it’s about Israel’s failure to bring His restorative justice on the earth, so now God Himself will come to bring this justice (which is what Jesus is doing). I wrote about this in more detail in my post, “You are gods!

          Second, John was clear about how Jesus revealed Himself. You talked about the lack of definite article. Do you know Koine Greek? Well, we can use your point to prove His deity in John 1:1

          For instance, in John 1:1c :
          καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.
          And God was the Word.

          We know that “the Word” is the subject because it has the definite article, and we translate it accordingly: “and the Word was God.” It’s the only way you can rightly translate it. Then, in John 1:14, we see that This Word came in the flesh and dwelt among us (Καὶ ὁ λόγος ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν). I could go on, but the Word is clearly Jesus.

          The bottom line is, you can choose to believe whatever bad theology you want, but you cannot make Jesus someone He’s not. You either accept His testimony as He is or reject Him outright. Of course, answering that question is a heart issue, not an argument. And even Greek scholars can’t help you there.

        • jim- says:

          The word is a sound, a vibration, a primordial om, a name that cannot be named. This is no secret, yet Jesus never claimed to be any of that. Tesla even states “if you want to know the secret of the universe, think vibration, frequencies, and electricity”.
          Now you gone full blown apologist. Accuse, accuse, minimize, and treat the guest like a hostile. See what I mean. Like a god would need any kind of defense at all is flat out ridiculous. You’ve got a very weak argument.
          Every bit of the Bible interpolation is influenced by the assumption—that Jesus is the only son of god. You have to defend every point with hostility which is historically the gospel in a nutshell. That’s very telling.
          You sure accuse a lot. I’ve done nothing of the sort. Your wooden spoon belief that “people that don’t want to believe” smells of blatant hypocrisy. I certainly wanted to believe and struggled quite some time to keep the faith.
          If one does not believe and is honest about it, that is called integrity. Pretending to believe (as in your case) would be the greater sin.
          Thanks for butting in on my dialog with Tom. At least his answer was a fair attempt at having choices In presenting differing opinions.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Jim, I’m the full-blown apologist now? You’re the one who brought it up! I think you should look in the mirror, my friend. You are the one making assertions using the same tired anti-Christiian apologetics, making comments that are totally irrelevant to even what my post was about. That is called trolling. You are the one being hostile here. And this is exactly why I don’t like wasting my time with these anti-Christian arguments. You say Jesus doesn’t need defending. So, people can just make up whatever innane thing they want about Him and not be challenged? Sorry, but that assertion doesn’t even make sense.

          You said:

          “The word is a sound, a vibration, a primordial om, a name that cannot be named. This is no secret, yet Jesus never claimed to be any of that.”

          First, that is not what λόγος (logos) means in Scripture or in Jesus’ world at the time. It’s not “word,” like speaking or text; in fact, some English translations don’t use “word” here, but “logic.” λόγος is the logic of the universe, the structuring reality of everything. The first century Hellenistic audience would have no difficulty understanding John’s point, for λόγος goes back to Hereclitus (what bring order from chaos?). This term had a long history of meaning in both Hellenistic and Jewish culture before John used it. To save time and space here, I already wrote about this in my post, “Logos: the Structuring Reality of Everything.”

          Second, it’s “no secret” that these assertions you’re making about Jesus have been argued ad nauseum for centuries. It just proves, over and over again, that if you don’t want to believe you will look for any reason not to. This is why these conversations are futile.

          “Tesla even states “if you want to know the secret of the universe, think vibration, frequencies, and electricity”.

          So, Tesla is the ultimate authority now? While he was a brilliant scientist, he makes a rather sophomoric philosophical blunder here. It’s ontologically incoherent to say that the universe started with vibrations, for vibrations themselves, are contingent on being vibrated by some outside force. In fact, the cosmos itself must be sustained by some outside force (necessarily outside of the cosmos itself) because you cannot go into infinite regress with something essentially ordered because it ultimately leads to non-existence, which again brings us to the word, λόγος. For this is what Paul said about it:

          16 for by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or rulers, or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Col.1:16-17 NASB)

          John and Paul both are saying that the Cosmic Christ continually sustains all existence. This is the meaning of “And the word (logos) was God.”

          Again, believe whatever you want, Jim. But don’t think these shop-worn arguments against Christ or Christianity will fly here. You are just wasting our time. I will just refer you to my post, “Moving on…” why I don’t get into this with anti-theists anymore.

        • Citizen Tom says:

          @Mel Wild

          I don’t know much about Nikola Tesla. Assuming he is the source of that quote, but I doubt he had the process of Creation in mind. Physicists model the world with equations, and vibration, frequencies, and electricity can be modelled quite well. Moreover, we can model matter and energy with equations for vibration, frequencies, and electricity.

        • Mel Wild says:

          @ Tom.
          Tesla was the one who was instrumental in bringing alternating current to the market. He had many other remarkable inventions in the late 19th-early 20th century, and was truly a genius. But, even if he did mean that quote the way Jim meant it, it would be a category mistake, an ontological fallacy. It would be like saying Hamlet is the creator of his own existence.

        • Citizen Tom says:

          @Mel Wild

          Don’t disagree, but I think Jim misconstrued the context of Tesla’s remark.

        • Mel Wild says:

          @ Tom.

          “Physicists model the world with equations, and vibration, frequencies, and electricity can be modelled quite well.”

          Good point. As former Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education, Eugenie Scott, said:

          “Science neither denies nor opposes the supernatural, but ignores the supernatural for methodological reasons.”

          Science cannot prove or disprove anything outside of the natural world, which would necessarily include anything about God. At least she understands what a category mistake is.

        • Citizen Tom says:

          @Mel Wild

          Totally agree. Philosophy and Theology provide the foundation for science, not the other way around.

        • Citizen Tom says:

          @Jim

          You have not got a new theory, and I am not going to pretend I think it respectable. That was Lewis’ point.

          Two choices? No. Here is the start of that first article I suggested.

          Christ either [1] deceived mankind by conscious fraud, or [2] He was Himself deluded and self-deceived, or [3] He was Divine. There is no getting out of this trilemma. It is inexorable.

          The arguments against theories Jesus did not claim to be God are old and obvious, at least as old as the Apostle’s Creed. They most certainly predate Lewis. If your theory seems new, it is because each generation must learn again, and this one has been left untaught.

          There are at least a couple of dozen translations of the Bible into English, even some by people who don’t actually believe it. It is clear that Jesus told His apostles He was the Son of God. In the Bible, God and angels attest to the divinity of Jesus, but you have a bit of text you want to reinterpret. 🙄 Silly! The Bible says what it says. The question is whether we should believe it.

          There are four Gospels, and then there is the rest of the New Testament. That all the writers believed Jesus is God in the flesh really isn’t in doubt. When Jesus started forgiving sins, the Pharisees were shocked. When He claimed He existed before Abraham, they accused Him.

          Moreover, from the beginning, including Jesus Himself, people have died in the belief Jesus was God in the flesh. He died for our sins. That was the point of His death on the cross, and His resurrection proves His claim.

          People who knew Jesus either wrote or served as witnesses for the New Testament. Most of these men died as martyrs, and many others have since done the same. For a lie? For something that does not work? Don’t be absurd. If the Bible doesn’t work for you, and that is a personal problem. Admit it! Ask God for His help. At the very least, stop twisting the text.

          We are sinners. We don’t produce good results BECAUSE we are not good. When we repent and turn to Jesus and follow His teachings, we begin to produce better results.

          Even more so that the rest of Western Civilization, the United States was established on a Christian foundation. A perfect Christian foundation. No. Of course not. There has always been a large percent of the population that only pays lip service to the Bible, and even those who believe are imperfect works in progress. Nevertheless, we have been a better people than we would have been. That includes something truly astounding. Like the Brits, we renounced slavery, and we have fought slavery.

          Christians started the abolition of slavery, and only Christianity provides a sound ideological belief against it.

          Unfortunately, because Christianity has withered in this nation, slavery is making a return in new forms. But you are worried about faith traps…..

          Anyway, Jesus did not come to make us fit to live in a fallen world. Living in a fallen world is all we are fit for. This world as it is is our prison, and the Bible is the key to our cells. To be freed from sin, we must repent and embrace Jesus. We must accept His gift of the salvation.

        • Mel Wild says:

          @ Tom. And the same writer who quotes Jesus referring to Psalm 82, “you are gods” is the same author who said, “And the word was God.”

          Repentance requires a change of mind, which first requires an open heart. I do pray that Jim (or anyone else) would open his or her heart to the real Jesus again.

  2. Good post, Mel. I really like what you’ve said about our enemies being in bondage, being victims of the enemy, being trapped in strongholds and deceptions. We aren’t battling flesh and blood.

    Recently I’ve discovered that some people break the Bible down into sections, creation, the fall, until we get to the end and it isn’t called revelation, it is called “restoration.” Much like the people on Palm Sunday long ago, what we imagine justice, victory, will look like is more aligned with vengeance than restoration. God’s ways of fixing things are often way different than our own, even beyond what we can imagine.

    • Mel Wild says:

      I really like Revelation being seen as restoration, not retribution. Another thing about Revelation is that it isn’t called the “Revelation of the Antichrist,” but the Revelation of Jesus Christ!” So much of Revelation is seeing things from a spiritual perspective—the spiritual warfare, conflict between the kingdom of darkness and light—that people who have no spiritual understanding take it all wrong (1 Cor.2:14), just like the crowd when Jesus entered Jerusalem. What God abolishes in Revelation are all the strongholds that are opposed to other-centered, self-giving love, the real enemy within that makes us angry, greedy, selfish, deceptive, vindictive, and murderous.

      “God’s ways of fixing things are often way different than our own, even beyond what we can imagine.”
      Amen! Well said.

    • Citizen Tom says:

      Restoration? I like that too.

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