Spiritual Enemy No. 1: Self

Everyone is his or her own worst enemy. This Bible study helps to understand ourselves better. God cares deeply about each of us and doesn't want us to hurt ourselves, so this teaching is practical and helpful and can be proven in life if we are courageous enough to look closely enough at our past actions and words and humble enough to admit our sins and times of folly.

We often cause our own problems in life;
photo from Grandon Brasley, Public Domain

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. - King David, Psalm 51:5
The foolishness of a man twists his way, and his heart frets against the Lord. - King Solomon, Proverbs 19:3

Question: According to King David and King Solomon, why are you your own worst enemy?

But each one is tempted by his own craving, being taken in tow and enticed. Then the craving, upon conceiving, gives birth to sin, and the sin, upon completion, delivers death. - James 1:14,15
Where do the wars and disputes among you come from? Is it not precisely from your pleasures, the ones at war in your members? You crave and do not have; you murder and covet and are not able to obtain; you fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, so that you may lavish it on your pleasures. - James 4:1-3

Question: How are sin and craving or lust related?

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it? - Jeremiah 17:9
What then? Are we any better? Not at all! For we have already charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. Just as it is written: "No one is righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned aside, together they have been made useless; there is no one who shows kindness, no, not so much as one." "Their throat is an opened grave; they habitually deceive with their tongues." "Viper's venom is under their lips"; "whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness."Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and wretchedness are in their paths, and the way of peace they have not known." "here is no fear of God before their eyes." Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be shut and the whole world become accountable to God. It follows that no flesh will be justified in His sight by the works of the law, because through the law comes the real knowledge of sin. - Romans 3:9-20

Question: Why do some people think that man is basically good?

Question: Some people think that if the smartest people in the world put their heads together, they can solve the major problems in our world today, even without addressing the problem of sin. What would you say to them?

So what shall we say then? Is the law sin? Of course not! Indeed, I would not have come to know the sin except through the law: I would not have recognized covetousness if the law had not said, "You must not covet". But the sin, grasping an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of coveting. Now without the law sin is dead. Once upon a time, without law, I was actually 'alive'; but when the commandment came, the sin came to life and I died. Yes, the commandment that was to bring me life turned out to bring death. Because the sin, grasping an opportunity through the commandment, completely deceived me, and used it to 'kill' me. So then, the law itself is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. So has what is good become death to me? Of course not! Rather the sin, that it might be exposed as sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that through the commandment the sin might become extremely sinful. We know that the law is spiritual, but I am fleshly, having been ‘sold’ under sin — you see, I do not understand what I am doing: I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate! But if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. So now it is no longer I who am doing it, but the sin dwelling in me. Further, I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; because to will is present with me, but I do not find how to perform the good. Because I do not do the good that I want to do; rather I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but the sin dwelling in me. So I find this 'law': when I want to do good, evil is right there with me. I joyfully agree with God’s law according to the inner man, but I see a different ‘law’ in my body parts, warring against the law of my mind and taking me captive to the law of the sin that is in my body parts. What a wretched man I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God — through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve God's law, but with the flesh, sin's law. - Romans 7:7-25

Question: If the Apostle Paul struggled with sin, is there hope for you? Why?

Now then, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, just so death spread to all men, because all sinned - Romans 5:12
For since death came through a man, resurrection of the dead also came through a man. - 1 Corinthians 15:21
If we claim that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the Truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous so as to forgive us those sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we claim that we have not sinned, we call Him a liar and His Word is not in us. - 1 John 1:8-10
Whoever is abiding in Him does not sin. - 1 John 3:6

Question: Is sin an entity living in you that cannot die? Is it like a virus that can be killed? Or is it like bad, pathogenic bacteria that requires constant suppression by good bacteria or occasional destruction by antibiotics? Explain.

Now you, brothers, have been called to freedom; only do not use that freedom as an opening for the flesh, but slave for one another through love. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, namely: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself". But if you bite and tear at each other, beware lest you be consumed by one another! I say then: walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Because the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh; they oppose each other; it follows that you may not do the things that you wish. However, if you are led by the Spirit you are not under law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious, namely: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, fits of anger, selfish ambition, dissentions, factions, envyings, murders, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like; about which I am warning you beforehand, as, in fact, I did before, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control—against such things there is no law. Further, those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. - Galatians 5:13-24

Question: How are freedom, slavery, the flesh and the Spirit of God related or opposed?

Question: Is there any necessary relationship between political freedom and spiritual freedom, i.e., freedom from the slavery of sin and bad habits? Explain.