Three Main Enemies of the Spiritual Life
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 (1 John 2:15-16)
Three enemies of the spiritual life are the world, the flesh, and the devil.
The world has to do with the cultural trends around us that make up modern 21st century American thought. This would include: political correctness which says you must not have an opinion that is out of sync with mainstream opinions today; moral inclusiveness which says that any moral choice is ok if it pleases you and your situation at the moment; relativism which says that truth is what you need it to be as the occasion arises (it’s ok to lie if it furthers your cause); or it’s ok to cohabit with a person if in your mind that is the right thing to do for now, etc.; pluralism, which says that every ideology is just as important as any other, be it Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Shintoism, Christianity, or any other religion. The world is a strong force of opposition against your spiritual life today.
The Flesh has to do with our carnal nature, the longings of the body and emotions that if obeyed will break our fellowship with Jesus. For instance, this would include an excessive appetite for food that may be based on a desire to escape the overwhelming pressures of life. Or the flesh may include the sexual lusts for anyone other than you husband or wife. Paul gives us a partial list of things included in the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21. The New Life Version is clearly understood and gives us a good description of the flesh (which it calls your sinful old self): The things your sinful old self wants to do are: sex sins, sinful desires, wild living, (20) worshiping false gods, witchcraft, hating, fighting, being jealous, being angry, arguing, dividing into little groups and thinking the other groups are wrong, false teaching, (21) wanting something someone else has, killing other people, using strong drink, wild parties, and all things like these. I told you before and I am telling you again that those who do these things will have no place in the holy nation of God.
The devil is the third enemy of our spiritual life. The devil, as our enemy is called in scripture, is a deceiver. The Greek word for devil is diabolos (false accuser, slanderer, devil). Satan, as the scriptures also call him, means an opponent, an adversary, or one who withstands. In Isaiah 14:12, Satan is also called Lucifer (Hebrew - light bearer, shining one, morning star).
Deception is Satan’s major commodity. He seeks to make sin seem harmless, walking with God a waste of time, immorality a desired habit, and lying ok if it gets you what you want. He uses our own thoughts against us. His clever way of entrance into the human is through the paths of thought. Sentences he inserts into the mind may begin with accusations. He is the master of rhetoric and persuasive speech. He can make white look black and black look white; good look bad and bad look good; sin to seem harmless, and righteous living boring.
There are two antidotes for the world, the flesh, and the devil. The first one is the Word of God. Jesus said that we are not to live just with human food to energize us, but that we are to living “by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Time spent in the morning with the Word of God can quicken the spiritual life, calm the mind, ease the emotions, and subject the flesh appetites to our inward God-desires. Again Jesus said, The words I speak to you are spirit and life (John 6:63).
The second antidote to the world, the flesh, and the devil is fellowship with the Holy Spirit. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Corinthians 13:14). The Holy Spirit’s main desire is to make us like Jesus in thought, word, and conduct. Take time at the beginning of the day to acknowledge Him and His presence within. He brings liberty, freedom, life, calmness, peace, love, joy and all of the fruit of the spirit into life. A few minutes in prayer to the Father will yield strength from this Holy Person living within. He longs to be our partner today in the issues that life brings us. He brings into manifestation the presence of Jesus when we spend time in the Word and in prayer. Take advantage of His loving ministry to you and in you today.
Let’s resist the world, the flesh, and the devil today. Let’s fight the good fight of faith. Let’s allow the Word of God and the Holy Spirit to lead us in our work, our leisure, and in our public and private life today. Jesus and us are a majority in everything today brings. We are winners!