Monday, February 27, 2012

"Self Destruction?"

     Human beings are not naturally self destructive.
     "No man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church" (Ephesians 5:29).
    We presently live in an environment filled with spiritual entities who seek our harm.  "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12).  This Biblical truth, coupled with the Apostle Paul's declaration of our natural bent toward self preservation, means that beliefs, attitudes, actions, habits and ways hurtful to ourselves indicates the influence of Satan and his minions.  Our enemies are allowed by God to tempt us with countless worldly images, ideas, philosophies and appeals that beckon our flesh with the promise of good things that may in fact provide temporary pleasures.  In the long run, however, great harm awaits as we are distracted from the person and way of the Christ who is life to all who believe.  "To live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21).
     Recognizing that self destructive ways do not begin with ourselves does not relieve us from personal responsibility.  We must respond to our enemies' temptations before they can have debilitiating effects on us.  However, it remains true that understanding the origin of hurtful ways provides a primary means by which we begin to deal with whatever spiritual and moral pathologies plague us.  I like to think of it as getting our spiritual dander up, as it were.  Indeed, when we realize that the particular failings that harm us indicate we have been duped by the lies of devils rather than merely succumbing to human weakness supplies an entirely different motivation and way of dealing with our challenges. 
     We stand to "fight the good fight of faith," not against ourselves, but rather to "wrestle" against those outside ourselves who seek our destruction (I Timothy 6:12).  And we do so not by directly confronting those enemies whom we cannot see or understand, but rather by affixing our gaze more clearly and intently on the Captain of our salvation.  As James taught, we "resist the devil" by submitting ourselves to God(James 4:7).  Again, realizing that we are pawns of self destruction rather than originators creates in us a different and more Biblical sensibility that makes our overcoming through Christ far more likely and actual.  We look to Him, acknowledging personal responsibility for our sins, but recognizing also the necessity for a clearer view of the conflict that calls us to correctly identify our enemies in order to decisively overcome their attempts to destroy us.
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."
(I Peter 5:8)

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