Your own worse enemy
“And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”” Mark 7:20-23 NLT
I remember growing up that my Mom would say that there were times I was my own worse enemy. It was interesting to me and it didn’t require an explanation or an example, I knew what she was talking about. Even today I know there are times when I am my own worse enemy. We are all that way and it is good to know that but more important that we learn how to live without that defining us.
Sometimes, and for some people, this time of the year can present problems. Some problems are beyond our control and others are of our own making. When we take the time to consider our thoughts and actions, we must do so from a perspective of allowing God to work in and through our lives.
In the Scripture in Mark, Jesus has been talking about traditions and the one to point out was the traditional washing of hands and then food. He had made the case that traditions are just that, traditions. In and of themselves they are fine, but traditions are simply that, a tradition. Merriman-Webster says it is “an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (such as a religious practice or a social custom)”. Traditions are something we all have in our lives.
However, Jesus is saying they aren’t the problem, no more than food is the problem. There were certain foods they didn’t eat but He says that regardless of the food it will eventually end up in the sewer. Therefore, no food is better than another.
So what is it then that defiles you? What makes you your own worse enemy? Well, Jesus just told us “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart,…”. He then provides a list of things that ultimately defile you. We are all fighting the same battle everyday and the enemy is us.
Paul spoke about it this way in Romans 7:19-20 NKJV
19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
A few verses later in verse 24 he says
24 O wretched man that I am! …
I know I can identify with what Paul is saying about being a wretched man. None of us want to be who we are sometimes. We are not who or what God wants and desires us to be. We are our own worse enemy. It is not uncommon for us to blame someone else for our failure or shortcoming. Some of you remember comedian Flip Wilson and his character Geraldine? She would do something that was wrong but never took responsibility. Her response was always “the devil made me do it”. True, he can and does tempt us and we act on it, but that may not always be the case. He is getting credit for doing something in your life he had nothing to do with because it was actually you all along.
How did Jesus put it earlier? For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”” We can see quickly that we are our own worse enemy.
We will never be perfect and yes we will continue to fight this battle. However, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us. We have the Word of God to direct us. We have an advocate with the Father. Christ Jesus is our great High Priest who intercedes for us. For our part, it is a day by day proposition. We have to begin in His Word and seek His direction every day.
Enjoy this wonderful life and a season like this one of Christmas and do it every day.
In God’s Grace,