Since I come from a background of solid Bible study and knowledge in the Word, I sometimes feel like this is an easy answer; the world, the flesh, and the devil. I’ve even taught it just like that before. We all know about our three fold enemy, the Bible is very clear on the matter, and anyone who can do just a little bit of Biblical exposition can come to the same conclusion.
The world is always working against us, it surrounds us with things that look so appealing, and most of them aren't even bad things. Sure, there is sin all around us and as Christians, we are in the world but not of it, and so we flee from sin by the power of Jesus and the grace of God. So what then do we do about the things that aren't sin of their own right? For example, video games on their own are not bad, and yet how many people have had their lives ruined because of addiction (making them an idol in their lives.) I’ve even had friends in the past who lost a job because they skipped work to play World of Warcraft. Even the good things of the world can be turned bad as soon as we allow them to turn us away from God; as soon as they go from being a hobby to being idolatry.
The devil seeks to see us tripped up, the sneakiest trick of the devil is not to get us to turn to him. He knows that man was created for relationship, that is for worship, and yet it's not a matter of worshipping either God or Satan. Not, satan’s trick is not to get us to worship him, but to get our eyes focused on anything besides God, and usually that means ourselves. We are all so prone to self-worship already, at least for me, all the enemy has to do is put something in front of me to be prideful about, and my eyes are on myself and not on God in no time at all.
And our flesh. I see my flesh really as a team mate to the other two enemies. When the world comes along with a temptation, it's my flesh that says, “Hey, what a great idea!” When the devil comes along with pride and arrogance for me, it's my flesh that says, “You know, I am pretty great!” My flesh seeks to go with the flow, it desires to not have any responsibility, and it lies and says that my actions will not have negative consequences.
So many times, I’ve taught about our three-fold enemy. I’ve taught that we are to keep our eyes open to ways of the world, the flesh and the devil in order to combat them in our lives. Now, I don’t want to take back that teaching, it is correct and there is power to be had in knowing our enemy, but at the end of the day, it is incomplete. You see, at the core of this teaching is bad news, bad news, and bad news, but the way that God reveals his word to us is not all bad news, yes there’s bad news, but the good news is better!
Here’s what God says about these enemies of ours. First in Hebrews 11:25 when looking at the faith of Moses we see that sin is pleasurable but only for a season, “choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.” We find the lies of our enemies so attractive because (and God doesn’t lie to us, He says it plainly) it is pleasurable, but that will pass and when it does we will find ourselves and our families ravaged by sin’s deceitfulness.
Regarding the world, Jesus says, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.
Regarding the flesh, Paul writes, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:2-3.
Regarding the devil, we know from the prophecy at the fall, Gen 3:15, that satan’s head was crushed at the cross. But specifically we see his defeat in Revelation 20:7-10, “And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations….and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
The world is overcome, the flesh is dead, and the devil is defeated. So where then is our enemy? I believe that as Christians today, we spend so much time fighting the wrong war; the war that is over. It’s like we are still playing a game of risk after the whole board has been won. We are already victorious! And God has given us the ability to believe in that victory and to walk in that victory, FAITH and OBEDIENCE!
If we are free from that fight, then we must ask why. Jesus last words before ascending to heaven give us the answer. “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8. When we are not preoccupied with a battle that is already won, we are set free to be as we ought; set free to set others free. Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”