“He’s his own worst enemy…”, I mumbled to myself.
And it does seem to be true: he’s a slave to his own desires, no matter how destructive; blind to the warning signs posted on the road he travels; deaf to the wise counsel offered by family and friends.
Who was I talking about? It doesn’t matter, really, because my next thought was: Aren’t we all our own worst enemy? After all, what the apostle preached surely applies to each of us:
“And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.
But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it…Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? (Romans 7:18-20, 24 NLT)
How else could I be still seeking solutions to such old problems as sugar addiction (and its evil cohort, weight-gain), credit card debt, and household clutter? My RE-solutions are RE-turns in the right direction, but for how long? What hope do I really have of shaking off the sweet tooth, the superfluous spending or the scattered stuff?
I’m reminded of other verses I took very much to heart, years ago:
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. (Colossians 3:1-5 NASB)
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21 NASB)
But where are our minds these days? Fixated on whatever the media tells us is the Next Big Crisis, be it a snowstorm or a pandemic? We are a people conditioned to living in dread, braced for the next calamity. Only most of the things we dread are either transitory or don’t materialize at all. Meanwhile, those who warn us of real coming catastrophe—economic collapse, moral bankruptcy, God’s judgment on sin—are treated as kooks and laughed at, or suppressed.
I look back at those verses above, and it strikes me: Universally, the things we most dread are those which threaten what we most treasure. Ask yourself: What is your biggest fear? What does that fear threaten? Is it something temporal, or something eternal?
Today’s culture only allows us to be afraid of shadows, bogies…but the real horror is near at hand and we are asleep to it. No, it’s not a monster in the closet or under the bed. The monster is IN the bed. We should most fear ourselves and our sin-soaked nature, our penchant for wandering away from those right turns, our endless falling off wagons…or cliffs.
In the realm of both temporal and spiritual, perhaps now more than ever, the enemy is us.
But pause now, at the turning of the year. Cock your head and listen hard–what’s that on the wind? Beyond the endless haranguing voices of politics, media, religious arguments, entertainment… a horn is sounding a clarion call.
Our Deliverer IS coming. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, “He is nearer now than when I began this post.”
Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:25 NIV)