"No man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it" (Ephesians 5:29).
The Apostle Paul's statement long ago caused me to rethink my understanding of "self-destruction". In light of Paul's teaching, the term would seem to be a misnomer. Of course, we all at times think, speak, act, and relate in ways harmful to ourselves, often in full knowledge of doing so. However, if our native tendency involves nourishing and cherishing our flesh, how do we find ourselves so prone to hurting ourselves? The answer lies in the truth that the human race coinhabits the earth with other beings, many of whom are devoted to 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).
Along with faithful angels, fallen angels referred to in Scripture as demons exist on the earth. We cannot see, hear, or touch them (although the Bible teaches that they can at times inhabit both humans and animals, and thus use physical beings to perform outward and evil actions - Mark 5:2-14). They nevertheless exert much influence in our lives, including tempting us to the aforementioned "self-destruction". Whenever we practice harm to ourselves, malevolent influences outside ourselves initiate and perpetuate the attacks. Again, the Apostle plainly states declares that we are by nature self-feeders and self-lovers. Of course, we take full responsibility if we respond and cooperate through unbelief and disregard to God and His truth. We cannot blame anyone or anything other than ourselves for our sins, including our spiritual enemies. Paul nevertheless commanded that we do not "give place (opportunity) to the devil" (Ephesians 4:27). If we do, we can be sure he will gladly take it, seeking to damage or destroy us by our own hand and devices.
We do well to seek our Lord's illumination and correction regarding matters wherein we have given opportunity to our spiritual enemies, opportunities they have doubtless taken in order to act against us. Personal thoughts, words, actions, and habits whereby we act against our best interests do not begin with our own hand. We rather "wrestle" with outside influences devoted to our harm, who thus tempt us to hurt ourselves. These enemies are very skillful in their unseen war against us, so much so that we may not even know that "self destruction" is a misnomer. Realizing this truth helps us rightly identify the source of spiritual, moral, and even physical pathologies that plague our lives. We take full responsibility for giving place to the devil, and then we arise to stand in Christ for the purpose of overcoming. We get our spiritual dander up, as it were. "Somebody's trying to hurt me, and using my own human faculties to do it!" Such insight leads us to the Captain of our salvation, committing ourselves to His nourishing and cherishing. Upon this basis, we find ourselves enabled though Christ to nurture rather than harm ourselves, and thus to live in a spiritually healthy manner that glorifies the Lord Jesus and blesses others.
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."
(I Peter 5:8)
"Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might."
Weekly Memory Verse
He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.