My subtlest and strongest enemies are within myself!
(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)
Fighting a long and hard campaign, I shall be very foolish if I underestimate my foes. There are many of them, but they serve under a trinity of wicked captains.
1. "If any man loves the WORLD," writes John, "the love of the Father is not in him." The World is my sworn and unrelenting enemy — an enemy all the more dangerous because it professes to be something so different — the best of comrades and the truest of friends.
I must take my part, and that with diligence, in the World's business. Yet what a risk there is, that it should absorb my thoughts morning and night! Then I shall become selfish and earthly and unspiritual.
I must make acquaintance with the World's literature, and much of it is beautiful and good. But I am prone to give it an undue attention, and to forget the divine library which God's finger has penned.
I must mingle among the World's citizens, and many of them are love-worthy and full of charm. Yet, when I prize them overmuch, they separate me from Father and Son and Holy Spirit.
Under its kindly face — the World is a hostile power!
2. "Your adversary the DEVIL," writes Peter. Here is another stupendous antagonist. The accuser of the brethren prowls about, unseen and malignant, sleeplessly plotting my harm! Never should I leave off my spiritual armor.
3. "The FLESH lusts against the Spirit," writes Paul. After all, my subtlest and strongest enemies are within myself! Old sin comes back, seeking the mastery again. And much in me loves it, and goes out to meet and embrace it. There, indeed, is my greatest hazard — there my most deadly snare!
"O wretched man that I am!" I re-echo the ancient cry, "who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Yes, my worst foes are entrenched within the citadel of Man-soul, within my own heart!
My God, I have no might against this great company, neither do I know what to do! But — but my eyes are upon You!
"To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy — to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!" Jude 1:24-25