Pleasing God, Making Disciples of Jesus Christ

Three Great Dangers Within Ourselves

LUKE 6:46-49: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

In the Christian life, we face three formidable spiritual foes; the devil, world, and ourselves. All are crafty and work to one single goal–distract us from looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Should any be successful, our walk with the Lord will lose its vitality, power, joy and influence. And here is the “scary” part. None of our foes needs to bring us to commit heinous sins like murder or adultery. All they need to do is slowly get our spiritual eyes off Jesus. When that occurs, we may be spiritually alive as Christians, but we will not walk spiritually alive. We will have the name of Christian but not the life. Oh, we will not lose our salvation, but we will lose the joy of our salvation (Psalm 51:12). When it comes to these spiritual foes, one stands out more than the others. Yes, they are all deadly, but let Martin Luther, the great 16th century reformer, define the greatest. He once said, “A man has no more dangerous enemy than himself.” Luther knew a thing or two about the depravity and deceptive nature of man.

As we fight the good fight of faith, three great dangers lie within us that want to cause us great spiritual harm. They will, if we are not on guard against them.

The first great danger within us is self-deception. Here is the most serious of self-enemies because it is so subtle. It occurs when what we hear and know of God’s Word never becomes an active part of our lives. James warns, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves”(James 1:22). Oh, how easy to hear a sermon, read a book and study our Bibles and never put it into practice, and all the while thinking we are okay spiritually. That is the evil of self-deception.

The next great danger is self-confidence. Here is where spiritual pride raises its ugly head. We find ourselves doing well in the Christian life and it settles into a habit of confidence, not in the Lord, but slowly and subtly within ourselves. It shows up with the attitude, never the words unless in gossip sessions, of thinking or saying of another believer who has fallen into sin, “How could (he or she) have done that?” or “I would never have done or said that.” This sin of self is a result of forgetting the Apostle Paul’s words – For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned(Romans12:3). Watch out for self-confidence. Its fruit, spiritual pride, has destroyed many testimonies.

Finally, we have the great danger of self-sufficiency. It is close to self-confidence but here we find the Christian relying upon themselves to live the Christian life or defeat temptation. What a thought! Yet how many Christians attempt in the strength of personal resolve and self-discipline to do spiritual things by fleshly means? A lot. Here is the Apostle Paul’s advice showing we work hard but not by self-sufficiency but grace-sufficiency – But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me (1 Corinthians 15:10).

We face strong spiritual foes this side of heaven. Be on guard against all three – the devil, the world, and ourselves, but pay particular attention to the one we see in the mirror each morning. He or she is the greatest of our foes.

PRAYER: “Father, make me wise and discerning to defeat my greatest spiritual enemy-myself.”

QUOTE: “We have formidable spiritual foes–the devil, world, and ourselves; and the last is the worse.