Years ago a comic strip named Pogo offered this often quoted line, "We have met the enemy... and he is us." I’d say the same thought as, “I am my own worst enemy.”
In the spiritual realm, enemies are pegged as “the world, the flesh, and the devil” but only the first two are about me being my own enemy. The world is what it is, but my attitude toward it can draw me into sin. The flesh is my old nature that is capable of great sin, escaped only because God’s grace keeps me and gave me a new nature that I can live by.
But the devil is not us. He is a real entity, not a figment of a cartoonist’s imagination or some made-up character that we can blame for every mistake we make.
Satan (the devil has many names and titles) came to humanity disguised and accusing. He told a lie about God’s intent and continues to lie about God and about the danger of sin and the reality of spiritual truth. He does whatever is necessary to keep people in the dark about the freedom offered by Jesus Christ and the glory of His Person. He lies about my capacities, desires, and confuses me by throwing his thoughts into my head as if they are mine. He is subtle. Jesus called him the ‘liar’ and the ‘destroyer.’ There is nothing good in his purpose or intent. Further, he has an army of entities like himself who help him spread his venom and deceive people, especially the family of God.
I am aware of daily battles with the devil. The Bible tells me how to win them, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) The order is important. Unless I am submitted to God, I am unable to resist or have this monster depart and leave me alone.
Another quote comes to mind, this time from a revivalist Henry Varley to a godly man named D. L. Moody. He said, “The world has yet to see what God will do with a man fully consecrated to him.” Moody took that to heart and determined to be that man.
Along the same lines, a couple years ago I asked the Lord to do whatever it takes to bring me to total surrender. Since then, the devil has attacked me with an incredible array of lies. He has hit me at every weak point and exposed sin and selfishness that I never realized were in me. Obviously, this ‘destroyer’ does not want full consecration.
Today I read a bit more about his lying activities in 1 Timothy 4: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.”
The passage goes on to tell Timothy, and other readers, ways to take a stand against such deceit. We are to teach truth and set “an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” We are supposed to read Scripture, exhort and teach, use our gifts, and be immersed in spiritual realities. It says, “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Timothy 4:1–16) Since Timothy was already ‘saved’ in the sense that he had been forgiven and justified, this likely means ‘saved’ from the wiles of the devil and his destructive lies.
What catches me this morning is a little word in the instructions from James — ‘therefore’ as in “Submit yourselves therefore to God.” It refers back to the reasons why this submission to God is part of resisting Satan and putting him on the run.
“. . . your passions are at war within you . . . You desire and do not have . . . You covet and cannot obtain . . . You do not have, because you do not ask . . . You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God . . .” (James 4:1–7)
It goes back to the world and the flesh and tells me that they are the reason I need to be totally surrendered to God. Aiming for worldly stuff to satisfy my selfish and sinful desires will put me on the wrong side of the Lord, and make me open to the enemy’s attacks. Otherwise, he cannot touch me.
The bottom line: I have met the enemy — and it is me.