How do you believe most Christians would reply to the question of “What do you think the greatest enemy of the born-again believer is, what is the one main adversity that stands before each and every individual who calls Jesus Christ Lord?”
Many would say Satan, our adversary in both the spiritual and the earthly realm, for does he not stand before our Lord and accuse us on a regular basis, (Rev. 12:10) although one must stop and wonder here, what makes you think he is accusing you, are you working as unto the Lord enough to be even noticed by him, much less enough of a liability to his program to be brought before Almighty God to be accused of anything? Our adversary and all those demons that attend him are indeed many, they can tell who the true believers are because they can see the Holy Spirit, and so they know and recognize the children of God because the Holy Spirit of God is within them, but not all who bear the surety (Eph. 1:13) of the promise are as profitable as they should be, and so they bear little need for the notice of accusation before the Father. Simple whispered words and small, seemingly insignificant circumstances positioned at the proper time and place are appropriate enough to hinder the work for Christ that they are to be continually attending to.
Perhaps then the greatest enemy of the believer would be the world, for its pull is tremendous, especially in this age when nearly all of our desires can be met by it, a simple click of a button or touch of a screen in the proper places can bring instantaneous gratification, albeit temporary in its nature only, but is this not the way of the world, here today, gone tomorrow, but attainable in even greater amounts the next day. The pull of the world is tremendous beyond what many of us can truly begin to comprehend, it belongs to Satan for the time being, (2 Cor. 4:4) and when these two enemies are combined against the people of God they are a force to be reckoned with indeed.
Almost all is available to all who will but seek for it, and what one cannot attain, he can strive for, dream about, and live in a world of false hope and illusions that the world portrays so well. Many Christians have lived their entire lives in this world, giving little thought to the next one, with occasional thoughts only to their heavenly home. If our greatest enemy is not Satan, if it is not the world, then perhaps it is our self, perhaps we are our greatest enemy.
The lack of abiding trust, the regular occurrences of doubt, when mixed together with the “Lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life,” (1 John 2:16) can be a formidable enemy indeed. We want because of our own desires, we do not have and so we seek that which we should not attain to, power, position, authority, recognition for our accomplishments, all of these some seek not only in the world but in the church, we desire to be recognized for who we are and not remaining humble and allowing the Spirit of God to work freely through us. Self is an incredible enemy, self-esteem, self-recognition, keep going along these lines and you will eventually end right back to where Adam was the moment before he ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, (Gen. 3:6) right back to the moment before Lucifer became Satan and said, “I will,” (Isaiah 14:14) you will become selfish.
Self-centeredness always leads to separation from Almighty God, just as surely as those who love the world are at enmity with God. (Romans 8:7) We tend to find what works and then rarely if ever again deviate from that path, and that is not the path that Christ has set before us. Self wants security by its own standards, it wants the day planned out, it wants in fact as much as is possible all of life, placed in a neat little box, everything prepared in order, and that is not the path any believer should be on. At any moment he is to be prepared to give up his safety, his conveniences, his hopes, dreams, and plans, even his very life. Self indeed is a great enemy, and although it has ties to the real enemy of our souls in many ways, it must be combined with the attempts of Satan and the world to reach the pinnacle of what our greatest enemy is, apathy.
“Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” (2 Peter 3:4) “In your patience possess ye your souls.” (Luke 21:19) The world keeps turning, we keep rising every morning to complete our appointed tasks before we place our head on the pillow that night to arise and repeat the pattern again tomorrow, many of those who we are speaking to about our Savior do not listen, they turn a deaf ear, they are blind and desire to remain that way, many even of our brothers and sisters in Christ have little more to speak about at length than the current circumstances of the day, their own lives within the world, and the things that pertain only to them. It can draw a man of God down, it can cause apathy, a persistent feeling at times of “what difference does it make, there are no visible fruits to my labors.” This is the greatest enemy of the man of God, the man who has set his face like a flint (Isaiah 50:7) to serve the Lord Jesus Christ with his entire being.
He expects the attacks of Satan, that is why his armor is never removed, (Eph. 6:11) he expects the world to offer him all that it has, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36) He expects daily for his old nature to rise within him, especially if he lived freely for the world and self, heeding the call of our adversary for years before submitting humbly before the Lord God, he expects the lost not to listen, the born-again believers in part to live wishy-washy, self-centered, worldly lives, but his greatest enemy is not these, it is the apathy that begins to appear in his own life. “What is the point, what is the purpose of continuing to try?”
“For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the LORD was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily. Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.” (Jer. 20:8-9)
This is the answer for the man of God, the one who has been called out of the sheepfold, the one who has been called to go a little further, to bear even more burdens, to truly serve with vigor and humility, this is the answer to apathy, the worst enemy of the man who can serve no longer, but will not stop. Twenty-some years Jeremiah served in the land of the deaf and blind, made so by their own free will, twenty-some years and more he cried a warning that few if any would heed. “I am done, no more, no one is listening, no one is heeding the call, no one will believe, and those that do listen only scoff at me, no more.” But the burning fire in him would not cease, he could not quench it, and he had no real desire to.
At times those who serve Christ with intent of heart in humility will become apathetic, they will lose the zeal, they will think on their own minds that all these people out there, the lost, those who profess Christ only with their lips, the religious organizations that are leading millions straight to the depths of hell deserve everything they are going to get, but then he remembers their end, he remembers he is not being sent because of his love for them, but because of the love that Almighty God has for them. The fire begins to burn even hotter in his bones, his resolve is renewed, his confidence in the assurance that he has been sent by God to fulfill this task sparks new humility within him, and he continues upon the path set before him in the power of the Holy Spirit of the Most High One. “You really should rest a few days my friend, that was a particularly bad beating.” “I know Luke, Paul agrees with you, in fact, sometimes Paul just wants to quit and leave them to their fate, but it is Christ that lives in me now. Gather your things my old friend, it is time to press on.”