"Lord Jesus Christ. I AM. My Friend." The phrases scroll through my head at the beginning of our exercise class. I always choose a characteristic of God to reflect on during our one and a half hour session. Lord, Immanuel - God with us - Messiah. I revel in the power of God who is for us.
I feel suddenly restless... and a clear thought pushes aside my peaceful meditation. In place of "Lord Jesus Christ," I hear "Adversary!"
"Adversary. I AM. My Friend." Startled, I tremble to think of I AM as my Adversary. Surely God is for us, not against us! My body freezes, examining the implications of God as foe.
The Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior and Friend, is also the greatest opponent to sin. The world recognizes this, attempting to paint the gospel as a narrow, legalistic, and hateful religion to make the demands of the gospel unattractive. By instinct, humanity detests the idea that a relationship with Christ demands capitulation to his Lordship. Such surrender means we have to die.
In all things within us that oppose God, Jesus is our Adversary. His cross and empty tomb stand between us and the wrath of Almighty Perfection. They demand the death of selfishness, the abandonment even of the ruins of Self.
Can any woman or man lay down the rubble and devastation of egotism? On our own, is there any possibility of setting aside the sinful nature so that God is utterly pleased with us?
No - we need our deadly Adversary to kill self-interest and our will. To hang in triumph with our death certificate nailed to his cross. To burst forth into morning glory, leaving behind our corruption in his empty tomb.
Only then is our friendship with God assured. Harmony is restored as the fresh, innocent birth meets the new day. It may take a while for muscles knotted by sin to unclench, for twisted attitudes and habits to unleash their hold. But each newborn life is carried by strong hands and guided by the faithful grip of the Conqueror.
"Our Adversary -- I AM -- Our Friend." Hallelujah.
*You have a mighty arm; strong is Your hand, and high is Your right hand. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face.
Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O LORD, in the light of Your countenance. In Your name they rejoice all day long, and in Your righteousness they are exalted. For You are the glory of their strength, and in Your favor our horn is exalted. For our shield belongs to the LORD, and our king to the Holy One of Israel. Psalm 89:13-18 NKJV
*And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God's purpose is that people should fear him. Ecclesiastes 3:14 NLT
*As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:1-10 NIV