Those who oppose or stand against the Word of God and the doctrine of Christ are noted as adversaries. No one, save Christ, knew this better than the beloved apostle Paul (I Cor. 16:9). If we stand as Paul did, we will have many adversaries just as he did.
If we stand on the Bible doctrine of baptism for remission of sin, we can expect adversaries. Stand for purity of worship without the addition of mechanical instruments of music or other additions, and you will have adversaries. Stand on the one way, and you’re guaranteed opposition and adversaries. Stand against drinking [alcohol] and gambling, adversaries will appear even in the church! Stand against fornication and living in adultery, and there will be many adversaries.
With an open door for the Gospel come adversaries. The New Testament uses this expression “opened door” several times. Paul in particular spoke of the open door of faith (Acts 14:27). There was an open door for the Gospel at Troas (II Cor. 2:12-13). The Colossians were asked to pray for an open door for the Gospel (Col. 4:2-3). At Ephesus a great door had been opened to Paul, it’s there that he observed there were many adversaries (I Cor. 16:9).
Who were some of these adversaries? The Roman government, worldly minded Christians, pleasure minded Christians, and sports minded just to name a few. Atheistic philosophy of no God, no Christ, no Heaven and no hell, and no resurrection (I Cor. 1:21; Rom. 1:18-31) were sources of discord. In Paul’s day Judaism was a real adversary (Gal. 5:6). He was beaten by Jews (II Cor. 11:24). They boasted in their Judaism (II Cor. 11:22) and worked to defeat the Gospel message.
Many in the first century were given to idolatry (Acts 17:22-23). Today, many are given to idols of a different sort. An idol is anything that comes between you and pure devotion to God. Some in this part of the world are given to idols of money, cars, boats, and entertainment. In this sense America is a very idolatrous nation.
False brethren can often be cruel adversaries (Gal. 2:4; Acts 20:28-32; II Cor. 11:26). These brethren act good and humble, but add affliction (Phil. 1:15-16).
False religions have always existed. The Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes, and Herodians all troubled the early church. False teachers trouble the Gospel today!
A great adversary was immorality (I Cor. 5; I Cor. 6:9-11). This is a great adversary today.
Weak brethren can bring total disaster to the church. Those who apologize for and compromise on the Truth are weak, disastrous brethren (II Tim. 4:9-18). Weak brethren seek to give into and compromise on some or all the above sinful things.
When there were many adversaries, the Lord’s church grew the fastest. Don’t forsake Christ in hard, difficult times (Gal. 6:9). Pray and look for the open door.
David Hill, President of Tennessee Bible College