III. KNOWLEDGE OF MAN’S ENEMIES.
1. The Flesh.
The flesh is man's corrupt nature. As God created him man was sincere and faithful in mind, generous, constant, and fervent of will, and so devout of heart that even his sensual nature was spiritualized by it. In consequence of original sin, however, man now inclines to im- prudence, ambition, and infidelity of mind, to inconstancy and sloth of will, and to selfishness of heart to so alarming a degree that his entire lower nature rebels against the dictates of his reason and the dominion of his will.
In consequence of this corruption of human nature, man inclines to make his life on earth a time of carnal indulgence and mental dissipation, instead of regarding it as a period of probation that should be employed and sanctified by labor, sacrifice, and daily prayer. In proportion as he adopts this view he loses sight of the Christian ideal, and becomes a human animal that is more influenced by the allurements of the world than by the fear and the love of God. As such he is the slave of human respect, exposes himself heedlessly to the occasions of sin, and becomes the slave of his sensual desires. Or, if he is naturally proud, his self-love impels him to gratify his desires in striving after the honors, riches, and applause of the world. The labor and suffering that he will then cheerfully endure will be proportionate to the extent and permanence of his ambition. He may even say with Lucifer of old, '' I will ascend above the clouds, I will be like the Most High'' (Osee xiv. 13).
From this we see that the flesh is man's greatest enemy, (1) because it weighs him down to earth; (2) because it is a constant part of himself from the cradle to the grave; (3) because the world and the devil use it to lure his soul to perdition.