Category Archives: Humanity

ENEMY WITHIN:

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The apostle Paul recognized the fact there is an internal battle within each one of us; every believer has an “enemy within” that we must fight. This lifelong battle between the flesh and the Spirit will rage until our death. Romans 7:21–23 addresses the enemy within: “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.” Paul understood that his fleshly nature would never conform to God’s will. No matter how much he might want to obey God in every way, he was fighting the “evil . . . right there with me,” the enemy within.

Jesus also spoke of the enemy within, in different terms. Addressing His sleepy disciples in Gethsemane, Jesus admonished them to pray and gave a reason they must pray: “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38). There’s no way to ignore it—we are bound to a fleshly, selfish nature as long as we are in this earthly existence. It is the enemy within that would keep us from doing what we should.

Athletes in training know firsthand the struggle against the enemy within, and many athletes speak of their own worst enemy being themselves. To be a successful athlete, one must overcome mental obstacles, self-doubt, and the simple desire to take the easy way. Paul must have been a sports enthusiast, for he uses comparisons to sports and how athletes discipline their bodies to bring them under control so as to win the prize (see 1 Corinthians 9:24–27 and 2 Timothy 2:5). We as children of the light must do the same, denying the unhealthy cravings of the flesh in order to gain a spiritual advantage. Our training is much more important than that of Olympic athletes, even, for the stakes are much higher in the spiritual realm. “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (1 Corinthians 9:25). As we practice self-control, the fleshly appetites grow weaker, and, as we feed the spirit, the things of the Spirit within us will rule.

Jesus said, “You are defiled by what comes from your heart,” that is, what comes from within (Mark 7:15, NLT). And we know that “the acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19–21). Our flesh will rear its ugly head in many different ways; some ways are more deceitful than others, and it’s good to know ourselves so we can watch for this “enemy within.”

The book The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien has a passage in which the conflicted and wretched Gollum has a dialogue with himself (Book IV, chapter 2). He bounces from fearful to sinister, alternating from vulnerable to spiteful, as he struggles to fight the enemy within himself. That passage can serve as an illustration of the believer’s daily skirmish with the flesh. “The flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want” (Galatians 5:17).

How can we overcome the enemy within? Scripture says we must deny ourselves; in fact, all those who desire to follow Christ must take up their cross (Luke 9:23; 14:27). We must learn to say “no” to the desires of our fallen nature. “[The grace of God] teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:12).

To successfully fight the enemy within, we must understand the true power of Christ’s death: “‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). Based on the death of Christ, we consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God: “Our old self was crucified with him” (Romans 6:6; cf. verse 11).

And, to conquer the enemy within, we must yield to the Holy Spirit: “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). The power to win does not come from within us, as we are just jars of clay; rather, “this all-surpassing power is from God” (2 Corinthians 4:7). As Paul fought the enemy within himself, he kept his eyes on his Savior: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24–25).

Prophet Nathan Emol

WHAT TRULY HAPPENED AT THE FALL OF MAN?

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The fall of man occurred sometime after God created the world and after Satan’s rebellion in heaven. We find the biblical account of creation and the fall of man in Genesis 1–3. According to the book of Genesis, God spoke everything into existence: sky, planets, seas, vegetation, animals, and everything else. He pronounced it all “good” (Genesis 1:25).

But when God made man, He got down in the dirt and formed the shape of a human body from the clay (Genesis 2:7). Then He breathed His own life into the man’s nostrils, and “man became a living soul.” He called the man “Adam.” The man had a life that differed from the plant and animal life. He had been created in God’s own image (Genesis 1:27), which means that he possessed an everlasting spirit, such as God has. He was designed to be like God, fellowship with God, reason like God, and enjoy God forever. So God placed Adam in a garden designed specifically for him (Genesis 2:8). In these perfect surroundings, God walked and talked with the man, enjoying the creation He had made and Adam’s pleasure in it (Genesis 2:19–20; 3:8).

Because God did not want the man to be alone, He fashioned a woman, Eve, from one of Adam’s ribs. He gave them everything in the garden to enjoy except for the fruit from one tree (Genesis 2:16–17). God told them that, if they ate fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would die.

Genesis 3 introduces us to another being involved in the fall of man: the serpent. Satan had already been cast down to earth due to his rebellion against God in heaven (Luke 10:18). Satan came to Eve as a serpent and suggested to the woman that God had not really forbidden the fruit for her good but was rather keeping good from her (Genesis 3:1–4). So she ate it and gave some to Adam (Genesis 3:5). Adam also ate it, and in that moment everything changed. Sin had entered into God’s perfect world (Romans 5:12). Mankind had fallen.

The fall of man was caused by Adam’s sin. Sin is any human behavior, word, or thought that is contrary to the perfection of God. Because of Adam’s sin, God placed a curse upon the world, the people, the animals, the plants, and the very ground (Genesis 3:14–19). Their sin had brought upon them the judgment of God, and the only just punishment for such high treason is eternal death (Romans 6:23). But God then put into play a system by which human beings could find pardon for sin. God killed an animal and made garments for the man and woman to cover the nakedness that now brought them shame (Genesis 3:21). In doing so, God painted a picture of what He would do thousands of years later when the Perfect Lamb was slain to take away our sin (John 1:29; Revelation 13:8).

After the fall of man, God drove Adam and Eve out of the garden and placed a cherub to guard the entrance. This was so that Adam and Eve could not return and possibly eat from the tree of life and live forever in their cursed state (Genesis 3:23–24). They were forced to find their own food and shelter. Adam had to fight weeds and thistles to eke out an existence from the ground, while Eve had to suffer in childbirth. Suffering and toil are part of the curse God put upon this world because of sin.

We call this episode in human history the fall of man because, in that act of disobedience, Adam brought a curse upon every person yet to be born. The man who was designed to walk with God in unbroken fellowship had fallen from that exalted position. He was doomed to live in a broken state, in a broken world, apart from ongoing communion with a holy God. God promised that the Seed of the woman would one day save them from the eternal consequences of their sin (Genesis 3:15), but the temporary earthly consequences of sin remained.

We all suffer the consequences of the fall of man. Our salvation is in calling upon the name of the Lord and trusting in Jesus’ perfect sacrifice for our sin (Romans 5:10–11; 2 Corinthians 5:18). The world groans under the curse, crying out for the relief that will come at the ultimate redemption of God’s people when Christ returns (Romans 8:22–23). When Jesus comes for all those who have trusted in Him, God will restore all things (Acts 3:21). He will create a new heaven and a new earth to replace that which sin destroyed (Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:12–13; Revelation 21:1). Mankind will no longer be “fallen” but restored and redeemed by the blood of the Lamb of God (Revelation 7:14).

Prophet Nathan Emol