9 Nov 2013 by Tony Dibble-
We may describe an enemy as someone who opposes us. This opposition may be open or it may be subtle. The devil is one such enemy. His ways are subtle. We are warned about the manipulations of this enemy. He is out to devour us. We must be on guard against the crafty temptations and the fiery weapons he sends our way (Eph 6:16; I Pet. 5:8).We are the temple of the Holy Spirit as the Holy Spirit abides in us (1 Cor 6:19). Christ and the Father live with us (2 Jn 1:9). Our authority for GOD’s work is from Christ our intercessor (Matt 28:18-20). Prayer is our chief work (Acts 6:4; Rom 12:12; Phil 4:6; Col 4:2; 1 Pet 4:7). The sword of the Spirit is the word of GOD (Eph 6:17). These are amongst the very, many defences that we have against the devil’s manipulations.
An important enemy that we often overlook is we ourselves. We are subtle in our dealings with ourselves. Too often we are misled by our own motivating drives. This is our own hidden agenda that we are guided by. The Bible is so full of examples of total self-attention, self orientation and self-development, all outside the Spirit of GOD. We at times fail to see this strategy of the “self” working in us, and often against GOD, or even acting outside of GOD’s influence. Once it develops it can go out of control like a bush fire fed on by strong winds. And the devil is our unwitting ally in this process! He helps us to help ourselves, find our true selves!
In the Bible, we find, after careful evaluation, that man, whilst he is on earth, takes on GOD. We may not realise this but it shows because our own self, our personality, takes forefront in thought, word and action. There is nothing wrong with us having a personality. GOD gave us this when we were created in His own image (Gen 1:26). There is also nothing wrong about us having an individual identity: we are not cloned robots.
However, the danger begins the moment we let that individuality “overtake” us. It overtakes us as soon as we put GOD in the back-seat. We then make GOD our servant or errand boy. “Give me,” said the lost son to his father, before he began that journey downhill. He eventually ended up with a hobo’s lifestyle. He wanted what the pigs ate and even this was denied to him (Luke 15:12 & 16). Whilst it is true that GOD is there for our bidding, He is there to respond to us provided it is for His will and His glory. Sometimes it is so bad that only when we hit the dirt that we are aware of how far we have misled ourselves. When the reject came to his senses, then the return process to the Father started (Luke 15:17 & 18).
John Calvin said that our heart is full of idols. And the self is a one great idol. We run the terrible risk of worshipping ourselves. Charles Spurgeon admitted that he knew the devil and his ways, but he admitted that he also had to be on guard against himself. Oswald Chambers said that we are our own worst enemy!
The world’s “gospel” preaches that we can know ourselves and that we are not bad and can trust in ourselves. This “gospel” is hawked off by motivation gurus and inspirational spiritualists. We must be on guard against this type of vain thinking. It starts off on the premise that you believe in yourself and lift yourself up with positive thoughts and associate with like-minded folk in order to keep you going. This is nothing more than self-orientation, no matter how well it is packaged. In some instances it is even passed on that GOD aims for our total self-development.
The danger with this approach is that its end approximates one of two extremes. We could end up approaching a nervous breakdown: there comes a point where our confidence does not enable us to cope with circumstances. Alternatively, we become so totally self-reliant that we no longer need GOD in our lives to the extent that we once did.
Despite his life in Christ, Apostle Paul never failed to consider himself the chief of sinners at all times. “I am” he says, (not I was) the chief of sinners” (1 Tim 1:15). This certainly was no positive thinking. With that perspective, he gets rid of any potential for self-orientation / domination. It is no longer he who lives but Christ who lives in him (Gal 2:20). The life he lives he lives to GOD (Rom 14:8). He has the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16).
The first sin was mankind believing in himself. Man was so silly as to conclude that he could attain GOD’s wisdom by his own act of theft and displace GOD. It was so subtly sold, it was so gullibly swallowed, and it so swiftly wrecked his constitution for generations to come. It displaced man and made him an outcast. He was booted out from the entire realm that he had been created to dominate and to share with GOD. He annihilated the very partnership that GOD had formed with him. Yet that very same “gospel,” another “gospel”, has been peddled around from then, to keep GOD from entering our bounds.
The devil need not really stop us from believing in GOD. All he has to do is to make us turn our spotlight on ourselves. Once we do that, we are turning our eyes away from Jesus. Whilst we are responsible for our own actions, and must have an identity of our own, we must in no way be independent of Christ in what we think, say and do. Sin is separation from GOD.
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