The Kingdom of satan and Its Overthrow (continued)
Self the Stronghold of Sin
Well, then, we must look at man, and what do we find? What is the central thing in man? It is this same thing - self, self, self, in some way. What is born in the blood will come out. Self-will, self interest; the calculating upon a basis of how a given proposition or course will affect me, whether it will be to my advantage or disadvantage; and so on without end. It is not seen only in grossly sensual forms, nor alone in the more common forms of ambition that might even be called worthy - the desire to climb the ladder of success, and so on. But this thing can move right through into our spiritual life and become a secret hidden motive even in our quest for blessing, for power. It can come out in a Peter who, when his Lord says to him "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me" (John 13:8) will respond, with eager desire to have as much for himself as possible, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head." I do not want to get you analyzing and introspective, but I say we have to get down to this thing before we understand the Cross and before this spiritual personality which is Christ can be developed; for it is only, as we have said, by way of the Cross that self-interest, self-sufficiency, self-realization, and a dozen other forms of self go out. Not only the self which asserts itself, and is aggressive, imperious, seeking and loving the limelight, but also that which is pitying and drawing attention to itself because it is so poor and miserable and wretched a thing - it is all self. Anything which has the effect of bringing us into view is "self", and the Cross stands right in the way of that and says "No" to the whole thing that came from satan, whatever form it takes - whether it is self-realization, asserting, forcing, driving, or self-pity with its negatives and its inferiority. satan is somewhere behind it all, and he will use it, and the effect is the hiding of Christ; and it has got to be dealt with somehow. That is the school we are in. It is this alliance of fallen man with satan in the very nature of things which sums up the whole Bible from one standpoint, and shows where God stands in relation to man when man is on his own ground and not on God's ground.
(continued with # 21)