Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I Have Found the Enemy

For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.   If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.

Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.  

I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. 
Romans 7: 15-25

What you are about to read is the most anti-humanistic post you will ever read in your life!  It has been wisely said, "If God wanted to destroy you, all He would have to do is give you over to your own wicked heart."  Have you ever been bitter, jealous, selfish, or proud?  All of us have, and thinking back to those times reminds us that we are depraved sinners in need of help outside of ourselves.  If all we look to for hope is ourselves, we will find a very shallow well indeed.  In fact, the heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, according to Jeremiah 17:9.

When the Heartland staff asked Tim to consider GloryBound, I developed a very selfish attitude and a nasty bitterness.  As far as I was concerned, my summer was ruined and my precious time with Tim was cut in half.  As I mourned in self-pity, I became more and more discouraged, and soon I found myself in deep depression.  As you can see, left to myself, I had no hope.  God was not welcome in the picture and consequently I began sliding down the slippery slope of self destruction.  However, as soon as I trusted God with these circumstances that were beyond my control, my attitude changed.  Consequently, the quality of my summer has changed.

"I have found the enemy.  It is me."  It took me my whole freshman year to come to grips with this unflattering reality.  If you struggle with anger or bitterness toward a situation, let me remind you of something:  Satan doesn't have to do anything to destroy you if he sees you're already destroying yourself.  We destroy ourselves with bad attitudes, because when we develop them, we chip away at our trust in God.  Remember playing the block-stacking game, Jenga?  Every time we give into a fleeting selfish thought we are taking away from our trust in God.  Essentially, we are telling God, "I don't trust You.  I want to run my own life."  After we start removing blocks, it is only a matter of time until our spiritual lives are in ruins.

It is a solemn thought, I know.  On the other hand, nothing can compare to the joy and peace of accepting God's leading hand in our lives.  When I finally let go of all my anger and jealousy, it was like a burden had been lifted off of my back.  No, I wouldn't have chosen what I was going through, but I still had joy.  If you are on the slippery slope of misery, get off!  Life doesn't have to be that way!   He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings (Psalm 40:2).

I challenge you to find a quiet place and set aside at least an hour to get serious with God about your attitude.  Don't to the following step until you spend that time with God.  Then, change the way you think.  Next time you automatically think negatively about your less-than-perfect situation, push pause and replace it with Scripture, a catchphrase, a song, or a prayer.  It's not the power of positive thinking, it's training your mind to trust God.  If you can, day by day, gain victory over the way you think, you will have won a battle against your greatest enemy.

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