Our Closest Enemy

Believing in Christ’s Gospel also means being partakers with His “sufferings” (2Co 1:5)—via our cross in Him (Luk 9:23). We cannot be partakers with Him in the expiation of His Cross, being recipients of its provision, but in our cross we do partake of His sufferings related to it. His Cross “condemned sin” (Rom 8:3); our cross is the “enduring” (2Tim 2:3) of ongoing opposition to His Cross which derives from self, Satan and society.

It has been said that “the lost need saved, and the saved need deliverance!” Deliverance from what? From the opposition to Christ’s Gospel. Our oppositional activity primarily involves that which is closest—self, e.g. us in our old nature. In our Christian walk we are being taught the freedom we have in Christ from not only the guilt of the old man (Rom 8:1) but also from its “rule” and “dominion” of sin (Rom 6:12, 14). The dominion issue is not related to sinning or not sinning but rests in the desire not to sin (which answers to progressively sinning less), meaning believers are kept from personal desire to sin, thus we never sin willfully but rather it’s always against our desire to do so.

From self (e.g. old self or sinful nature) comes the “contrarieties” to God (Rom 7:14-25), which His Spirit opposes in us (Gal 5:17), while we grow in our “walk in the Spirit” (Gal 5:25). Enduring this enemy within is where I believe the greatest proofing and strengthening of our faith occurs, for its indwelling (Rom 7:17, 20) makes it the closest foe with the greatest amount of opposition.

I saw an excellent analogy that related our old man to that of a ship’s captain, who committed such a high crime that the crew was forced into mutiny against him, chose another to be captain, and chained the old captain to the mast until he could be dealt with upon reaching the shore. But as their journey continued they could hear the old captain yelling orders and threats as usual at the top of his voice, but now it had only minimal effect, for they knew he could no longer do anything about it, knowing he remained restrained (Rom 6:6 – “is” continually being crucified).

Satan appeals to us only in our old man, for he is aware that he cannot address us in our new man (new nature). It being in “true holiness” (Eph 2:24) and “renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him” (Col 3:10) is unapproachable, for we in our new nature, or “seed,”—“cannot sin” (1John 3:9).

Society (the world, e.g. unbelievers, which will always comprise the majority of mankind) is more or less just a significant distraction being used by Satan via their old man, which makes him—their “god” (2Co 4:4) and “prince” (Jhn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11), which was once the same for us.