Three Enemies of Our Soul
October 1, 2003 - We live in a world of unending conflict. U.S. troops and their allies are in the midst of daily conflict in Iraq, even though major combat operations ended May 1. But that is only one of many kinds of conflict in the world today. Lawlessness is in conflict with the lawful. Intrigue and dishonesty are in conflict with truth and honesty. Intolerance is at odds with tolerance and human understanding. Lust and pleasure are in conflict with propriety and purity. Godlessness is at odds with righteousness. Disorder is at war with decency and order. As long as sin exists, conflict will continue to rage.
A Message by Billy Graham
The Bible specifically mentions three enemies: the world, the flesh and the devil. They combine to form a powerful foe to defeat and frustrate God's plan and purpose in the lives of His people.
The First Enemy: The World
First, the Bible teaches that the world is at war with the spiritually minded Christian. Worldliness is a mood, a tempo, an attitude of the soul that peers out horizontally upon life. Its head is never lifted upward in recognition of God. Its gaze is manward—never Godward. It is a materialistic, sensual view of life that centers its attention on the gratification of the lower appetites and desires, completely blind to the things of the Spirit. In this kind of world, God is not just denied, He is forgotten.
The Bible warns us, "Do not love the world or the things in the world" (1 John 2:15, NKJV). And again, "friendship with the world is enmity with God" (James 4:4, NKJV). Thus, we Christians find ourselves in daily conflict with the world around us. But we are not to yield an inch.
The Second Enemy: The Flesh
Second, the flesh is at war with the Christian. The word "flesh" is the biblical word for our old nature, the nature of sin.
The Apostle Peter, who knew a great deal about the struggle with the flesh, said, "Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul" (1 Peter 2:11, NKJV). The flesh is the enemy within, the spiritual infiltrator. Thus, as Christians, we find that our greatest conflict is often within ourselves.
In spite of the fact that we have come to Christ, the wretched bent toward sin is ever-present to drag us down. War has been declared. We have two natures in conflict, and each one is striving for the victory. The Bible teaches, "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh" (Galatians 5:17, NKJV). It is the battle between the self-life and the Christ-life.
The old nature cannot please God. It cannot be patched up. However, Scripture does give great hope for us in this conflict, because when Christ died He took us with Him to the cross. The old nature can be made inoperative, and we can by faith "reckon [ourselves] to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God" (Romans 6:11, NKJV). Victory can be obtained.
Paul said that he had "no confidence in the flesh" (Philippians 3:3, NKJV); he had no confidence in the old nature. On another occasion he stated, "make no provision for the flesh" (Romans 13:14, NKJV). On yet another occasion he said, "I discipline my body and bring it into subjection" (1 Corinthians 9:27, NKJV). We are to yield completely and surrender ourselves to God so that we can by faith consider the old nature dead unto sin.
The Third Enemy: The Devil
The third enemy that wars with the Christian is, of course, the devil himself. The devil is out to defeat the Christian. He well knows that the child of God is a dangerous enemy to his cause. He made every effort to tempt and defeat Christ, and today the devil concentrates on Christ's followers. He is the commander-in-chief of the powers of evil, and his main attack is launched against those who have taken sides with Christ and righteousness.
The devil harasses, accuses, tempts, deceives and lies in his dealings with Christians. He works through his allies, the world and the flesh. The devil uses the world and the flesh to wreak havoc among God's people, to hinder the progress of righteousness, to discourage and distress Christians, to stop the Gospel from being proclaimed and to weaken the Christian offensive in advancing the kingdom of God.
The Bible says, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12, NKJV). The devil is a powerful foe who is called "the god of this age" (2 Corinthians 4:4, NKJV), "the ruler of this world" (John 14:30, NKJV) and "the prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2, NKJV). Don't ever underestimate the power of the devil.
Defeating the Enemies of Our Soul
Scripture teaches that we are not to love the world and that we are to make no provision for the flesh. Scripture also teaches us how to deal with the devil. If we stand up and resist the devil, he will flee from us. We are not to give any place to him. The Bible says, "submit to God" (James 4:7, NKJV), and it promises that if we have fully submitted ourselves to Jesus Christ, then we can resist the devil, and he will flee from us. The devil will tremble when we pray. He will be defeated when we quote or read a passage of Scripture to him.
But we can resist the devil only when we submit ourselves to God. In relation to the world, the Bible says, "This is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith" (1 John 5:4, NKJV). In relation to the flesh, it says, "Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16, NKJV).
There is glorious news to those of us who are fighting these battles and temptations. We are not asked to fight the battle alone. Remember, Christ promised that He would never leave us nor forsake us. Jesus promised that after He left the earth, the Father would send another, the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, who is called the Comforter (which actually means "One who helps"), that He may abide with us and live in us forever.
It is the Holy Spirit living within us who produces the peace of God in our hearts in the midst of the struggles of life. This is a peace that the world cannot know; it is known only to the child of God. This peace that God gives is based upon our faith in Him.
As Christians, we do not pretend to believe, we do not half believe, we do not believe today and doubt tomorrow. We believe now and forever. We believe that the hairs of our heads are numbered. We believe that not even a sparrow falls to the ground but that the Father knows. We believe that the universe is held in place by a loving Creator.
Finding Peace for Our Souls
So when we look at the conflicts and wars around us, and as we look at the wars within ourselves, we have peace because we have faith in the Prince of Peace. Do you know this peace that comes from God? You can make your peace with God today by surrendering your life to Jesus Christ. He shed His blood and rose from the dead that you might have your sins forgiven. You will find peace with God only at the cross of Jesus Christ.