Summary: Fifth, and final in a series on Spiritual Warfare. This message explores how a lack of repentance, and humility can make ourselves our own worst enemy.
There is a great rivalry in this part of the country. The UK/U of L Rivalry. From a mascot standpoint, it isn’t much of a fight. A Wildcat versus a Cardinal.
My Grandma Ulmet lived a number of years in Louisville. She loved the city, and loved the U of L Cardinals. It grew into a love of the actual cardinal birds. She loves to watch them, and spot them at her feeders. They really are beautiful birds.
But what you may not know, is that cardinals are very territorial. In fact, they have been known to attack, and fight off other intruding cardinals with great zeal. One pastor tells the story of a time when they owned a van which had large side mirrors and chrome bumpers. Remember those? Occasionally, one of the cardinals living in their area would attack the bumpers or mirrors, thinking his reflection was another bird.
One day, as this pastor watched the cardinal assail the mirror, he thought to himself, “What a foolish creature; his enemy is merely the reflection of himself.” The pastor writes, “Immediately the Lord spoke to my heart, ‘And so also are many of your enemies the reflection of yourself.’”
Ever said any of these things about yourself? Things like, “I am my own worst critic.” I know that I have. Often. Or “No one is harder on me, than myself.” I have told many people that I have worked with and met that if you think I am hard on others. You should try living inside me for awhile. I have often said things like, “I am my own worst enemy.”
In fact, the truth be told, many of my battles in life are simply the results of my own actions. And as we deal with this issue of spiritual warfare, it is so important that we separate what is of our flesh, from what is of the devil. Before we go about the business of girding up our weapons in an all out assault on Satan, we need to make sure that the real enemy we are dealing with is not our own carnal, earthly, in the flesh, self.
But to do that, we need to take up another weapon of our warfare. And that weapon is humility. Now, follow this with me. Many of the problems we face. Many of the difficulties in our life are not direct assaults from Satan. They are the results of our own actions, and activity. We have behaved as our own worst enemy.
But to recognize that, to get free from that, we have to humble ourselves. We have to acknowledge our own behaviors and attitudes that have put us in the position we are in.
How about this pretty famous saying, “The devil made me do it.” We like that one, right? And many of us operate daily with that mindset. We may not always implicate the devil, but we do all we can to implicate someone other than ourselves.
Think about it. When something goes wrong in your life, what do you naturally do? If you are like me, and you are. . .whether you will admit it or not, you look for someone to blame. Some other person, who must be the reason why this has happened to you. Because if something goes wrong in my life, there is one thing I know for sure, it wasn’t my fault. Right?
Remember the big stink from the drive-thru customer who spilled hot coffee on his lap at a McDonalds? Forget that he spilled the coffee. It was McDonald’s fault that the coffee was too hot. So now you see nice little warnings on the cups telling you that your hot beverage is in fact hot.
In fact, warning labels can be hilarious. Because they come about because of people that have done things, and then blamed the manufacturer. So, a warning label has to be added. Check some of these out. Here are some real life "warning labels":
"Do not use snow blower on the roof."
"Do not allow children to play in the dishwasher."
A warning on an electric router made for carpenters: "This product not intended for use as a dental drill."
On a baby stroller: "Remove child before folding."
On a bottle of prescription sleeping pills: "Warning: May cause drowsiness."
A sticker on a toilet at a public facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan warns people that: "Recycled flush water unsafe for drinking."
On a cartridge for a laser printer: "Do not eat toner."
On a household iron warns: "Never iron clothes while they are being worn."
On a blanket: "Not to be used as protection from a tornado"
I like this one on a bar of Dial soap: "Directions: Use like regular soap."
On a string of Christmas lights: "For indoor or outdoor use only"