THE ENEMY WITHIN
Let me ask you a question. Do you love yourself? A lot of people have a self-esteem issue and donít think much of themselves. I blame a lot of this on the media because teach us that we should be beautiful, and have trim figures and if we are not, then we are nobody. It is easy for some to fall into the trap of thinking that we are not what we ought to be, but as Christians we should not be so superficial. We should not measure our selfworth based on our physical appearance, but instead it should be based on our spiritual appearance.
If we allow ourselves to get caught up in the hype of our society, we will end up becoming our own worse enemy. No one can do more destruction to your selfworth than you. Jesus said,
Matthew 5:43 " You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'† 44 "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,† 45 "that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
While Jesus is talking about those who oppose you and how you should love them and pray for them, this same principle can apply to you if you become your own worse enemy. No matter how you look at, as Christians we are to love ourselves. Notice what,
Matthew 22:35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying,† 36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?"† 37 Jesus said to him, " 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'† 38 "This is the first and great commandment.† 39 "And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'† 40 "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."
The foundation of our relationship with God is based on the foundation of love. God loves us, and we love God. Not only are we to love God with all of our being, Jesus said we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Since we are to love our neighbors as ourselves,† proves that we must love ourselves. If you donít think much of yourself, then you are not going to think much of your neighbor.
Why shouldnít we love ourselves? The Bible tells us that we are made in Godís image.
Genesis 1:27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Certainly we should love what God has created. As Christians we are called the body of Christ as Paul says in:
Ephesians 1:22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church,† 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
Since you and I make up of the body the Christ that He purchased with His own blood, we have no reason not to love ourselves because we part of Christ. In Him we live and breath, and we live our life for Him. When we realize that we are not living our life for ourselves, then there is no way we should ever hate ourselves or be dissatisfied with ourselves.
While society may deem you as a social outcast and say that you donít wear the right cloths or have the right look, you need to realize that what they say is not important. What is important is what does God see? Mankind has always had a problem with judging by the outer appearance of a person. For instance, the prophet Samuel was asked to go Jesseís house to anoint a new king from his sons.
1 Samuel 16:6 So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, "Surely the LORD's anointed is before Him."† 7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
Even this great prophet of God was looking at the outer appearance and thought Eliab would be the pick of God, but he was wrong. God was not looking at who looked the part, He wanted someone that had the right spirit. That person was David, who at the time young and ruddy, which either means he had red hair or that he had healthy looking skin.
So the next time you look in the mirror and you start comparing your appearance to what the world says is beautiful, stop doing that and instead look at your spirit and think about who you represent on this earth, because that is what is important in life.
If you allow yourself to become vain, you will become your own worse enemy, because even if you fit into the in crowd of society, eventual gravity will take over and your skin will sag, hair will become gray and wrinkles will come. Then where you will be left when you canít stand looking at the person in the mirror.
Another problem with not loving yourself is that you will rate others based on your same vain thinking. You will call other people names that donít meet your statuesque. You would rather make fun of them then get to know them, which means you will be showing partiality, but God does not show partiality. If you do this kind of think, then guess what. You are not representing Christ, you are only showing how self-centered and selfish you are.
The worse enemy that we can have sometimes is the enemy within. Paul talks about this in:
KJV 2 Timothy 2:23 But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.† 24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,† 25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;† 26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
Paul is giving Timothy some great advice. First, he tells him not to get himself involved in foolish questions because all they do is cause strife. Instead, he is to be gentile and patient in teaching others about God. But verse 25 is interesting especial in the KJV because Paul tells Timothy to instruct those that oppose themselves.
This shows how a person can be their own worse enemy. You and I have the power within to either be saved or be lost based on whom we decide follow. If you do not repent of your wrongdoing against God, and acknowledge the truth of God, then you are actually opposing yourself. To oppose means to provide resistance. Those who do not repent and choose to stay ignorant of Godís Word are resisting themselves, and they become their own worst enemy.
On the day of Pentecost when Peter and the other apostles preached about Jesus death, burial and resurrection; their message pricked the hearts of some and they wanted to know what they must do:
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.† 39 "For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call."† 40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation."† 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.
This is great passage that shows that a person must repent and baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of their sins, but I want you notice what Peter said in verse 40. He tells them to save themselves from this perverse generation.
Of course this does not mean that they can save themselves apart from Godís grace because Peter told them they had to repent and baptized to be saved. Since God has given us free will, we must choose to serve God or choose to be our own worse enemy. Paul said,
Philippians 2:12 †work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;
Again, this shows that you and I have ability to either be saved or be lost depending on our actions. It is in our best interest to accept Godís will, so that our souls may be saved, otherwise we become our own worse enemy.
Another way the enemy within can cause us to lose our soul is when the pleasures of the flesh overcome us:
1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.† 16 For all that is in the world -- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life -- is not of the Father but is of the world.† 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
When we choose to live for the moment by satisfying the lust of flesh, the lust of our eyes, or our pride, we separate ourselves from God, which is not in our best interest because we need to remind ourselves that the lusts of this world will pass away because they are only temporary, but heaven will last for an eternity. So, we must remind ourselves daily that heaven is our goal and how it will last for eternity. So, we must fight against the enemy within and keep ourselves pure and holy by staying away from those sinful pleasures of life.
Another way we can become our own worse enemy is found in:
2 Thessalonians 2:9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,† 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.† 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,† 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Those who do not want to know the truth are condemning themselves to hell. Some seem to think that God will let everyone into heaven especially if they are good person even if they donít follow Godís commands. People who believe this lie are going to be in for a rude awaking at the day of Judgment when God takes vengeance on all of the unrighteous.
This way of thinking is exactly how the enemy within can cause us to be lost because sometimes we want to believe a lie so bad that we convince ourselves that is true and God will allow it to happen because of our free will. Again, Paul points this truth out in:
2 Corinthians 4:3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,† 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.† 5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus' sake.† 6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.† 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
Again, I want to stress that God does not make you believe a lie, but He allows you to. Sometimes we donít want to know the truth and no matter what someone says or reads to us from the Bible, we are going to blind and not see the truth, which can cause us to perish eternally unless we stop being our own worse enemy and open our eyes to the truth.
The opposing Jews of Jesusí time had this problem and Jesus did his best to open their eyes, but they would not listen. For instance, after Jesus rebuked them about keeping their traditions above Gods, We read in:
Matthew 15:12 Then His disciples came and said to Him, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?"† 13 But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.† 14 "Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch."
Those who are likeminded tend to stick together even when they are wrong and this is what can happen when we allow ourselves to believe a lie instead of Godís truth.
Let me ask you a question, if you were lost in the wild, without hope of survival, and found another person just as lost as you, would you follow that personís leadership in finding a way out the wild? Most of us would say no, yet those who are lost in sin often do just that. They choose chose to follow someone else who is equally lost.
This even happens in the church because sometimes Christians seek those who are less qualified to teach them because they teach them things they want to hear, instead of what they really need to hear, which is why Paul warned Timothy:
†2 Timothy 4:1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:† 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.† 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;† 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.† 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
If we only seek those who tickle our ears and make us feel good about sinful living we are not learning about Godís ways, we are allowing ourselves to be deceived by some man or womanís teaching. When we allow this to happen, we allow the enemy within to destroy us, and like Jesus said, we are allowing the blind to lead blind and it we will both fall into the ditch of eternal separation from God.
If we want to combat the enemy within, then we must seek out the wisdom of God and stay away from those who are willing to tickle our ears in order to make us feel good about our sin. As Paul says:
Romans 16:17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.† 18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.
Teachers who only speak flattering words do so for their own gain at the cost of your soul and we must fight against false teaching like this and avoid it. We need to follow the advice of Paul in:
Colossians 2:6 As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,† 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.† 8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.† 9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;† 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.† 11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,† 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.† 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,
We must be aware of what is going on around us, and what other people are doing. Otherwise, we might find ourselves caught up in the philosophy of men and become disobedient to God instead of being obedient to Him.
†As Jesus told His disciples in Mat. 10:16, we should be wise like serpents and harmless as doves. We must learn to keep the enemy within at bay so that we do not become our own worse enemy. This is what Paul did as we read in:
1 Corinthians 9:27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.†
Being a faithful Christians requires more than just knowing what you should do and being able to tell people how they should live their lives based on Scripture because you can still become your own worse enemy even if you teach and know the truth and help others live their lives in accordance with Godís Word because you too must be a doer of Godís Word and not just a hearer. As Paul taught the Romans:
Romans 2:1 Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.† 2 But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things.† 3 And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?† 4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?† 5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,† 6 who "will render to each one according to his deeds"
Let us not allow the enemy within to cause us to lose our soul by teaching others how to live righteously, yet failing to live up to those standards ourselves. We will be judged by how we live our life on this earth as Paul said,
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
Also notice what Peter says:
1 Peter 4:17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?† 18 Now "If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?"
As Christians we must be careful and make sure that we dedicate our lives to the Lord remembering that the righteous one is scarcely saved. The word scarcely means with the difficulty. So, if you are not a Christian where do you think that that leaves you?
God has given all of us a free will, and we can choose to serve God or we can choose to be lost. God hopes that you will choose life, and so do I. So, stop allowing the enemy within to defeat you and keep you from loving yourself and obeying Godís commands.
If you are here this morning and you have not become a Christian, I hope that you will stop believing the lie that you are ok. Or if you here this morning and think you are saved because you believed some man or woman that told you that you just had to believe on Jesus and that baptism is not necessary for salvation, I hope will stop being deceived and believe the word of God.
Mark 16:16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
1 Peter 3:21 There is also an antitype which now saves us -- baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
When you look at the conversions in the book of Acts you will see that they believed and were baptized. For example notice the Ethiopian eunuchís conversion:
Acts 8:36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?"† 37 Then Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."† 38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.† 39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.
Are you willing to stop listing to the lie about the importance of baptism? Are willing to be like this eunuch and believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Are you willing to repent and confess Jesus as your Lord? Are you willing to be baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of your sin as Paul was asked to in Acts 22:16? If you are ready, I hope you will take care of the enemy within today. Stop allowing the enemy within to defeat you, obey the will of God today.