we have met the enemy

A person’s selfish desires are set against the Spirit, and the Spirit is set against one’s selfish desires. They are opposed to each other, so you shouldn’t do whatever you want to do. … The actions that are produced by selfish motives are obvious, since they include sexual immorality, moral corruption, doing whatever feels good, idolatry, drug use and casting spells, hate, fighting, obsession, losing your temper, competitive opposition, conflict, selfishness, group rivalry, jealousy, drunkenness, partying, and other things like that. I warn you as I have already warned you, that those who do these kinds of things won’t inherit God’s kingdom. (Galatians 5:17,19-21 CEB)

Sun Tzu, a famous Chinese general, strategist, and author of The Art of War, once said: “Know your enemy.”

Walt Kelly, author of the award-winning cartoon strip Pogo, once said: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

The apostle Paul, a candid communicator of the will of God and the author of Galatians, once enumerated a dozen and a half behaviors that function as our enemies. The irony of the list, of course, is that though these things be our enemies, they are our own “selfish desires.” We all know these enemies all too well and they attack us from the four winds.

The cold north wind freezes healthy sexuality by means of “immorality, moral corruption, [and] doing whatever feels good.” These ways ravage our intimacy with others.

The stormy east wind brings spiritual havoc for its elements are “idolatry, drug use and casting spells.” This chaotic winds wrecks our ability to truly know him who made us.

The strong south wind destroys everything social in its path. Its destruction is known wherever “hate, fighting, obsession, losing your temper, competitive opposition, conflict, selfishness, group rivalry, [and] jealousy” blow about. Razing anything constructed or enjoyed by healthy community, these winds know no mercy.

And the wild wind of the west blows our mind apart with living that has no substance: “drunkenness, partying, and other things like that.” Even our most reasonable, individual inhibitions are beaten down by this wind.

We need to know our enemy’s tactics so as to not stoop to making his ways our own. When we find ourselves embodying his, we must fight them or flee from them. And in it all, we must know our Lord, our only victor and Savior.

Dear Lord and Father of mankind, forgive our foolish ways! Reclothe us in our rightful mind, in purer lives Thy service find, in deeper reverence, praise.

Paul & 1st Century Letter Writing (2)

Most ancient letters were very brief and were written on a single sheet of papyrus. A customer bought a sheet from a papyrus vendor in the market, who cut a sheet off a roll. One could also purchase an entire roll and cut sheets as needed. A longer letter was written on the roll, not on a series of individual sheets. If you were writing a long letter or a book and ran out of room, you could have a few more sheets glued onto the end. If you finished a letter and had extra room at the end, the extra sheets were cut off and used elsewhere. The typical papyrus letter consisted of one or two sheets. Paul’s letters were not typical length. We think of Philemon as a very short letter, but in actuality, it was a fairly typical letter in length, perhaps even a trifle long. Imagine the church’s surprise when Paul’s letter to the Romans arrived! …

Since most of us have never read any ancient letters apart from those in the New Testament, our knowledge of ancient secretaries is limited to what we picked up from reading Paul’s letters. How were Paul’s contemporaries using secretaries? … Were the secretaries merely invisible hands behind the letters, leaving no impact on either process or the resulting letter, or can we discern their influence? … There is ample evidence that ancient secretaries were employed in the three ways described by [this] spectrum: transcriber – contributor – composer. … Some blending of these roles should be allowed. … the [roles] were frequently separated more by gray areas than by hard and fast lines. The role played by the secretary depended on how much control the author exercised at that particular moment in that particular letter, even shifting roles within the same letter. (pp.52,pp.58,79-80)

Paul and First-Century Letter Writing: Secretaries, Composition and Collection by E. Randolph Richards (IVP, 2004)