Friday, May 16, 2008

My Greatest Enemy

My biggest enemy is not Satan. He gets way too much credit. My biggest enemy is not the world. It gets focused on way too much as well. My biggest enemy is in me. Inside Paul Fuller’s own inner man is his Public Enemy #1.

Why is this so? Think about it this way (from Kris Lundgaard's The Enemy Within):

Literature smolders with hatred: Shylock aches for his pound of flesh in The Merchant of Venice. Javert dogs Jean Valjean through sixteen hundred pages of Les Miserables. C. S. Lewis's arch-villain Weston degenerates from thug in Out of the Silent Planet to "un-man" in Perelandra, ripping open the backs of frogs with his thumbnail and leaving them to die. But none of these can sustain a pure hatred to match Captain Ahab's eternal malice in Moby Dick. Ahab chases the White Whale across the oceans of the world. He doesn't blink to forfeit his ship and every life it carries, if only he can heave his harpoon into that terrible eye.

Moby Dick is a picture of our savage battle: let the White Whale stand for God--but don't be quick to make Captain Ahab the flesh. Ahab is the whale's enemy, but Paul says the flesh is more than God's enemy: it is the enmity, the hostility the pure hatred itself. The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. (Romans 8:7 NKJV)

If the whale is God and Ahab's hatred is the flesh, then who is Captain Ahab?

You were.

. . . .

If there were the least thing about God that the flesh could appreciate, the believer could have a constant shelter and retreat from sin and its hatred. If the flesh didn't mind God's wisdom, for example, the soul could meditate on the mystery of the gospel day and night without tiring, and find constant strength in God's plan to save him. But the flesh hates everything about God. Since it resists everything about God, it resists every way we try to taste him and know him and love him. And the more something enables us to find God and feast on him, the more violently the flesh fights against it.

In other words, the more you fight against sin by seeing and savoring God, the harder your flesh is going to fight against that since it hates everything about God. Lundgaard continues:

It takes its battle to every quarter of the soul: When the mind wants to know God, the flesh imposes ignorance, darkness, error, and trivial thoughts. The will can't move toward God without feeling the weight of stubbornness holding it back. And the affections, longing to long for God, are constantly fighting the infection of sensuality or the disease of indifference.

Captain Ahab was driven by his rage to chase the whale to the end. The flesh is just as driven, and will with its last breath spit at God. But there is in us a Warrior just as committed to the flesh's destruction. The Spirit wars against the flesh (Galatians 5:17). Filled with the Spirit, empowered by God's love of us and our love for him, we turn on the flesh with our Captain's own curse:

Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering flesh; to the last I grapple with thee; from heaven's heart I stab at thee; for love's sake I spit my last breath at thee.

Don't underestimate the power of the flesh and its bent towards sin. If you do, it will destroy you. It will destroy you. Sin crouches at your door and wants to master you (Genesis 4:7). John Piper says it this way: “Nobody goes to hell because of Satan. The only reason we go to hell is sin. Much more important than fighting Satan is fighting sin.” Listen here about how critical this battle truly is.

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