In 1890 Amy Lefeuvre captured her readers with a story about a little boy named Teddy. My husband read Teddy’s Button to our children several years ago and it has since been one of my favorites. Teddy wants nothing more than to be a soldier, like his heroic father who fell in battle. But through a turn of events his eyes are opened to the understanding of the greatest battle of all – the spiritual battle warring for his soul. One of my favorite parts in the book is when Teddy commits his life to “the Lord’s Army”. He tells the preacher that he now wants to know who his enemy is so that he can fight. After all, a soldier must fight! The wise old man turns him to a full length mirror and explains that he will be his own worst enemy. So in childlike candor Teddy declares that he will name his new enemy “Bully.” Throughout the book, as Teddy struggles with the epic battle between his flesh and the spirit, he will observe at times that Bully almost won that fight but with God’s help he was able to overcome him.
A few days ago I was reading in the Psalms and was again reminded of this dear story. David wrote Psalm 18 after the Lord delivered him from the hand of Saul. “He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me. They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the LORD was my stay.”(Psa 18:17-18)
All I could think about was my own “strong enemy” that is “too strong for me.” Maybe you know that feeling as well. There are days in my life that sin abounds. There are days that my flesh is weak and my faith is feeble. These are the days that I am truly my worst enemy. Satan does not need to come after me to tempt or discourage; I’m doing a fine job on my own. There are days that the war between the flesh and spirit rages mightily. Paul understood this as well. Inspired by the Holy Spirit he wrote, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:18-24)
It almost seems hopeless, doesn’t it? But Paul goes on to say, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Rom 7:25-8:1)
So, on those days when sin abounds, I cling to God’s Word. “But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound,” (Rom 5:20)
And on those days that my flesh is weak and my faith is feeble, I trust in Christ and His imputed righteousness in me. “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom 8:3-4)
And when “Bully” rears his ugly head in my life I remember the Words of the Psalmist. “He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me. They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the LORD was my stay.”(Psa 18:17-18)