Christian, many will say that Satan is your worst enemy. He’s not. That’s giving him too much credit, and more than he deserves (don’t underestimate him, but don’t give him ANY power). Some will say it’s the unbelieving and unrepentant world that is our enemy: they seek to shut us up, and keep us silenced. They’re not. As a matter of fact, we’re called to love them and pray for their salvation (many of us were there once, weren’t we?). No, it’s not any external force that is our worst enemy: it is our self. Self-preservation keeps us from sharing the Gospel, as we might die or get hurt socially, physically, emotionally or mentally, self-love keeps us from sharing the Gospel because we have to look after our own needs, wants, wishes and desires. Self-depreciation causes us to feel too inadequate to be effective for the Gospel. Any thing to do with “self,” apart from self-denial, keeps our walk with Christ in dire jeopardy.
When Peter saw the same Holy Spirit fill the gentiles in Cornelius’ house, he said (in the King James Version), that he knew that God was not a respecter of persons. This is significant! Jews didn’t associate with, let alone enter the houses of gentiles! It was a cultural taboo that could mark them unclean, and yet Peter, based on a vision from God, got over himself, and did what God commanded.
Christians, it’s time to dismantle the concept of “self.” It has no place in the walk with Christ. I hear Christians say “I have to take care of myself before I can help others.” I say the Cross deconstructs that notion. Jesus saved the world by GIVING UP Himself. Stephen sewed into Paul by forfeiting his life in Jesus’ name. Paul gave his life to those he ministered too, and then gave his life for Christ. And the cycle comes down, near 2,000 years later to us. It’s time to give it all up. It’s time to deconstruct our “self,” hand it over to Jesus and let Him make us new.
And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”
57As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.