Sometimes I really give Satan way too much credit. Yes, he does like to wreak havoc in my life with sickness, chaos, relationship challenges, and leaking roofs. Yes, I do need to put on my Ephesians 6 spiritual armor. Yes, I do need to be vigilant and aware of his devices.
But I have a greater enemy than Satan.
I am my worst enemy. My toughest enemy to fight is myself. I like how Kim Erickson puts it: “an inflated sense of self”. (His Last Words, page 41)
Somehow it’s easier to blame all my failures on Satan rather than taking responsibility for the sinful self that lurks inside me. Yet I sabotage myself way more than Satan does:
- I resist the urging of the Holy Spirit because it’s inconvenient or scary.
- I get grumpy with the kids’ noise because it disturbs my peace and quiet.
- I fail to sacrificially serve my family because I feel a bit tired and want to indulge in a moment of laziness.
- I forget to pray for my friend because I neglected to take time to write it down.
- I don’t act on the bold plans God places in my heart because I am afraid.
It all comes down to this:
I put too much importance on what I want.
My heart really wants to do what’s right, but my ugly old selfishness rises to the surface and drowns out the Holy Spirit. Evidently, there are several others who have struggled with this, too. The Apostle Paul, one of the greatest Christians who ever lived, recognized this battle within himself:
I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Romans 7:15-23 NLT
Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.Romans 7:24b-25 NLT
Jesus placed his own Spirit inside me so I could live in obedience to Christ.
But you are not controlled by your sinful nature…The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. Romans 8:9a, 11-12 NLT