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Series Theme:  Spiritual Warfare

Title: 7. Christian, know yourself!




In the first pages of studies on Spiritual Warfare we saw who Satan is and the main way he works.

On this page we consider the various other things we have to contend with: the world, our ‘flesh' and sin.


1. The “World”

1. The meaning of  "the world"

The Scripture used the phrase “the world” a number of times in the New Testament so we will examine what that means and how it is something we have to contend with.

In the Bible it has several meanings as follows:

1.1.1 The Physical World - the earth

e.g. Psa 77:18 your lightning lit up the world; the earth trembled and quaked

Look up some of the following:   1 Chron 16:30 / Psa 89:11 / Psa 93:1 / Psa 97:4 / Psa 98:7 / Jer 10:12 / Jer 51:15 / Mat 13:35 / Rom 1:20 / 2 Pet 3:6

1.1.2 The peoples on the earth - the society of mankind

e.g. 1 Kings 4:34

Look up some of the following: Gen 11:1 / 1 Sam 17:46 / Psa 90:2 / Lk 2:1 / Lk 12:30 / Jn 1:29 / Jn 3:16.17 / Jn 12:19 / Acts 11:28 / Rom 5:12

1.1.3 The unrighteous outlook of godless mankind

In the New Testament, this society of mankind is often displayed as godless and unrighteous, and “world” comes to be used to refer to the combined godless attitudes of mankind without Christ.

e.g. 1 Jn 2:15-17 1

Look up some of the following: Jn 7:7 / Jn 12:31 / Jn 14:22 / Jn 15:18 / Rom 12:2 / 1 Cor 1:20,21 / 1 Cor 2:12 / 1 Cor 3:19 / 2 Cor 10:3,4 / Gal 4:3 / Eph 2:2 / Eph 6:12 / Col 2:8 / Col 2:20 / Jas 4:4 / 1 Pet 2:11 / 2 Pet 1:4 /1 Jn 3:1 / 1 Jn 3:13 / 1 Jn 4:5 / 1 Jn 5:4,5

Now reread the 1 John 2:15-17 verses above and substitute for the word “world” the words “system of godless, self-centred thinking”

What 3 words in v.16 describe the activity of the person of the “world”?

These three words can be combined to show the two main characteristics of this “world”:

a) Covetousness

  •  constantly wanting more, greed
  •  this is a form of idolatry, putting things before God (see Col 3:5)
  •  this drives men to earn more, to buy more
  •  in the belief that this is success

b) Pride (lifting up of self)

  •  concern about how good we appear
  •  concern about how we appear to others
  •  desire to rise up above others

1.2 The Non-Christian & Satan

  •  Both pride and covetousness enthrone something other than God as the supreme object of man's life
  •  Because of this it is easy to see how Satan can so easily make suggestions to the non-Christian which
    •  go along with their self-centredness and desires to get, and are therefore readily acceptable to them
    •  exclude God and place reliance on self endeavour
    •  are lies that lead them into deception, bondage and destruction
  •  What has happened - 2 Cor 4:4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers

1.3 The Christian's Position

       1 Jn 2:15-17 (Look it up in the Message Version)

  •  We are not to agree with this foolish, godless, self-orientated way of thinking shown in 1 Jn 2:15-17, we are to resist:
    • wanting our own way all the time
    • wanting more and more things all the time
    • wanting to make ourselves more important all the time.


  •  Rom 12:2 
    •  We are to have our minds transformed by conforming to the truth of God's word
  •  Jas 4:7
    •  We are to submit our thinking to God
    •  We are to acknowledge the truth
    •  We are to resist the lies that come from the enemy
  • 1 Pet 5:9
    •  i.e. we are to hold steady to the facts of the Gospel, the truth

     We are to pay particular attention to :

a) What we hear

  •  We are therefore to examine everything that comes to us from the mouths of non-Christians
    •  in papers and magazines
    •  on TV, films and videos

                      and assess the truthfulness of it in the light of Scripture

b) What we think

  •  We are also to look at our ways of thinking and see if they are
    •  godless
    •  self centred
    •  contrary to Scripture

                            and bring changes where necessary.


       “The world” is all about the way we THINK.

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2. The “Flesh”

2.1 The meaning of "flesh" or "sinful nature"

The Bible uses this word in two different ways, and in fact modern versions tend to change the word “flesh” for “sinful nature”. The two meanings are therefore:

2.1.1 The physical body of a human being

e.g. Jn 3:6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit

Look up some of the following:

Jn 1:14 / 1 Cor 15:39 / Heb 2:14 / 1 John 4:2 / 2 John 1:7

2.1.2 Human personality without God that seeks constant self-gratification

e.g. Rom 8:5 

The words used are “flesh”, “sinful nature”, “earthly nature” or “self”

Look up some of the following verses:

  Rom 7:5,18 / Rom 13:14 / Gal 5:13,16,17 19-21 / Phil 3:3

flesh = unrestrained giving way to desires of self (sinful nature) for :

    a) personal esteem (self glory) or

    b) personal pleasure (self gratification)

                             (see the closeness with “world”!)

2.2 The Non-Christian & the Flesh

Rom 8:13a  /  Gal 6:8  /  Rom 8:5

  •  There are thus two ways of living
    • one sets its mind on natural self desires, the other on what God desires
    • one produces death, the other life

Col 3:5 & 8

  •  These expressions of the “earthly nature” found in non-Christians are to be rejected by Christians.

2.3 The Christian & the Flesh

Gal 5:24

  •  Christians are to consider that this side of them was put to death when they were born again.

Col 3:5-9 /   Eph 4:22

  •  In our daily walk with God we are to purposefully put to death any of these things that the Bible calls your old earthly self-centred nature
  •  What is more we are to purposefully put on the nature of Christ and try to be like him

Rom 8:1,4

  •  We are to see ourselves “in Christ” and led by the Spirit

Gal 5:22,23

  •  As a result this fruit is produced in our lives

2.4 Conclusions

  •  The “old us”, or our old “sinful nature” is still there; that side of us that prefers to be self-centred, that prefers not to turn to God, but is in opposition to the Spirit who God has put within us.
  •  We are therefore to learn to let the Holy Spirit inspire and lead us, and to put to death any self-centredness and godlessness within us. This means cultivating our concern to put God and others first and resisting the desire to put self first.
  •  As this happens we will become more and more Christ-like.
  •  Satan's work in spiritual warfare will be to make us focus on our selves, our needs, our desires, our wishes, and stir within us again the wrong thoughts and attitudes we had before we came to Christ.

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3. Sin

3.1 What is Sin?

  •  SIN is a compulsive force of lawlessness in us, that tendency to reject God and live for self. (NB. Sin with a capital S)
  •  The individual acts of Sin are sins
  •  Every person is infected by Sin, and we have been born with it.
  •  Sin is any failure to conform to the moral law of God, in nature, attitude or act

NB. That “sinful nature” referred to in the last section refers to our human nature that is tainted by Sin. When we give way to it and do wrong that is a sin (small ‘s'), an individual act brought about by succumbing to the force.

3.1.1 The Bible and Our Sinfulness

To confirm some of these things, consider the following verses and note what they say about man's state:

  •  Following the Fall this was the state of every human being Gen 8:21 
  •  Sin is in every person, from the time of conception    Psa 51:5
  •  This is the life of the non-Christian   Eph 2:3 
  •  Sin is being less than perfection, which is only seen in God Himself  Rom 3:23 

3.1.2 The Bible and Definitions of Wrong

      Now consider some of the definitions of wrong doing:

  •  Sin is rejecting God's Law, God's decree of what is right. 1 John 3:4
  •  Sin is wrong or evil practices, habits, attitudes, continual unrighteous ways Ezek 33:11
  •  Sin starts in the mind, in unbelief   Titus 1:15

3.2 The Non-Christian & Sin

  •  The Non-Christian is dominated by “Sin”
  •  Satan encourages Non-Christians to sin more and more
  •  This is seen in expressions of
    •  unbelief (rejecting God and the truth)
    •  self-centred thoughts, words and deeds that are wrong

3.3 God's Work in the Christian

       When we become a Christian:

  •  We are now a different person, a child of God   Jn 1:12 / 1 Jn 2:1,2
  •  Our sin and its effect have been taken away on the Cross by Christ.   Heb 9:26-28
  •  His work has resulted in us being washed free from our sins, set apart to God and made right in His sight.1 Cor 6:11  
  •  Christ has given us his righteousness which we simply have to believe and live in it. Phil 3:9
  •  Because of what Christ has done on the Cross, we are now to consider ourselves dead to the sin tendency, i.e. it no longer has power in us. Rom 6:2,6,11
  •  God has a plan for our lives now that we are to live in. Eph 2:10
  •  He has also given us a new power source, His Holy Spirit to live within us, to guide us, teach us and empower us in service as He guides and leads. 1 Cor 3:16

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4. Summary of Christian's Position & Activity

4.1 Prior to becoming a Christian

      The Bible shows that the unbeliever

a) Is in “the world”

  •  having a godless, unrighteous, self-centred, self-seeking outlook
  •  constantly wants more
  •  constantly wants to look good

b) Follows their “sinful nature”

  •  which panders to self gratification and self-glorification

c) Is in “Sin”

  •  which is a godless, self-centred existence that thinks, says and does wrong

4.2 On Becoming a Christian

       The Bible shows that the new believer:

  •  gains a new position
    • becoming a child of God
    • forgiven and cleansed and set apart to God
  •  gains a new purpose
    • to please God and do His will
    • to live out the purpose and calling of God
  •  gains a new power
    • the Holy Spirit who lives within
    • who enables and helps change you and enables us to resist temptation to sin

4.3 A Final Warning

        Eph 6:11,13, 14

  •  We have been given a position, purpose and power and we have to take hold of them and live them, and then hold onto them
  • Satan will seek to get us to THINK in the old way
    •  being godless, self-centred, purely pleasure seeking
      •  to be unbelieving, rejecting the truths above
  •  Our role is to resist!
    •  We are to receive the truth and believe it
    •  We are to receive the truth and live it.


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