Walt Kelly, the creator of Pogo, coined this phrase and it was featured on an Earth Day poster in 1970. The Earth Day campaign noted how we are the ones who litter and pollute our environment. The idea of ourselves being an enemy however is clearly enunciated and applied more widely to the whole of human condition by Jeremiah the prophet: “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it?” This message from the Lord to The Kingdom of Judah 2600 years ago, speaks of innate depravity and human inability to even recognize the source (who can know it). If any fact rings true about humanity, this aspect of self-destruction is readily apparent to most.
Even as Christians we continue to battle destructive forces within which seek to impede our joy in Christ. The Lord in Mt. 15.10-20 instructed us about the true source of defilement and specifically told the crowd to “listen and understand.” Christ explained to the disciples that things from the heart of a person cause sinfulness. We all have an evil heart that hurts us and seeks to deter the new creation within us living the Spirit-empowered life.
Paul explains the Christian’s inner conflict by comparing it with a race and boxing competition in 1Cor. 9.24-27. We are told to run to win against our opponent (the fallen old self). The race motif Paul uses speaks of a two-person contest. This is made clear when Paul explains the same struggle as “subduing his body” when he switches the imagery to boxing.
Another way that “the enemy is us” is found in 1Jn. 3.18-20. Here our heart condemns us falsely to sidetrack us from walking with God. The solution to this comes from assuring our heart in His presence since we have been loving in deed and in truth (v.18). Living a righteous life by God’s strength will persuade our conscience before God (His presence). Assurance comes from being honest with ourselves and God instead of guilty feelings and inner impressions which may be false. Consistent Christian living and knowing Christ’s will through His word will enable us to know the message of our hearts if it is a true or a false condemnation.
I talked to a Christian friend the other day and he pondered whether to pursue a specific ministry. He seemed conflicted between opinions of what path to follow. He expressed the fear of “burying his talent” if he didn’t pack up and move to where someone “needed him.” Of course, only my friend knows all the details of the situation but several points were clear to me. The Parable of the Talents is found in Mt.25.14-30. Firstly my friend had a tender conscience that sought to do the right thing while in the parable the man ignored the Master and was so unconcerned that he didn’t even “let it earn interest” at the bankers. Secondly, the man in the parable had the wrong relationship with the master since he viewed Him as hard and unjust. So the parable speaks about someone who is not a Christian and not concerned about fulfilling the Master’s desires. Needless to say, my friend was not the first to experience pangs of false guilt in regards to this parable.