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Oftentimes people think that the greatest threat to their safety, their survival, their well-being on any level will be something from without. Sometimes they explain or excuse problems they have or have had in terms of something that beset them or attacked them from without. The fact is that almost all problems originate, are generated from within. Diligence in terms of the internal is much more important than diligence in terms of that which is external. Itâs true in terms of individual people, of institutions and of nations.
HITLERâS âFIFTH COLUMNâ
Adolph Hitler boasted at the beginning of his military aggression in Europe that he would easily be able to conquer Czechoslovakia, not because of the four columns of German infantry he had ready to throw against Czechoslovakia, but because of the âFifth Columnâ he had within Czechoslovakia. This âFifth Columnâ consisted not of Nazi soldiers, but of Nazi sympathizers. It was not a âfifth columnâ in terms of troops that Hitler was counting on to help him overthrow the Czechs, it was a âFifth Columnâ of traitors. These people were those of German ethnic origin who lived in the Sudetenland area of Czechoslovakia. Journalists who were there at the time reported that as soon as German troops crossed the Czech border they were met by Sudeten German-Czechs, delirious with joy who jumped up into the air, raised their hands in the Nazi salute and screamed "Heil Hitler!"at the top of their voices. Six months later, the Nazis occupied the rest of the Czech lands. The Czechoslovakianâs most dangerous enemy lived within their own borders.
LINCOLNâS WARNING TO AMERICA
On January 27, 1828, when he was 28 years old, Abraham Lincoln gave a speech in Springfield, Illinois concerning the duty of Americans to protect Americaâs national security and our institutions. He said concerning this duty:
âHow then shall we perform it?--At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.â
The danger Lincoln spoke of, the great threat to our liberty, pursuit of happiness and our very lives as Americans has sprung âup amongst us.â Evil and misguided men and women have come to places of power and are defying our Constitution and dismantling our whole way of life as a free people. Socialism is being shoved down the throats of Americans; socialism that always comes first to sedate, starve and strangle its victims into a state of submission, preparing the way for full-blown communist state to be put into place that will apply the iron shackles of tyranny , once and for all, to the citizenry. The foes to our freedom have not come from abroad dropping bombs or launching missiles from the sky or by sea depositing hordes of invading soldiers on our shores. No, our enemies have risen up âamongst usââin the form of fellow citizens who are making our collapse as a free people happen, and fellow citizens who are letting this happen.
IT HAPPENS IN CHURCHES
Just as Hitler had his fifth column to help him overthrow the country of Czechoslovakia at the beginning of World War II, Hell has had and has its fifth column in place and at work in many a church to bring about its crippling and/or collapse. The apostle Paul understood this, and warned the church at Ephesus accordingly: âFor I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tearsâ (Acts 20:29-31). Godâs people have always had to contend with a âmixed multitudeâ among them who have not shared the spiritual goals with those people of God with whom they have attached themselves. Israel, out of Egypt and headed for the promised, had their fifth column, identified in the Bible as âthe mixed multitude.âââAnd a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattleâ (Ex. 12:38). This mixed multitude was able exercise a negative influence and hinder the people of God to a degree all out of proportion to their relatively small numbers: âAnd the mixed multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?â (Num. 11:4) The devil has his âtermites in the temple,â so to speak, where local churches are concerned. Two-legged termites who consciously and sometimes unconsciously gnaw away at the peace, unity and happiness of a church. Theyâre the dead flies in the ointment that give the ointment a bad smell; theyâre the little foxes that spoil the vines and make a church unfruitful; theyâre the âlittle leavenâ that leavens the whole lump. (Ecc. 10:1; Song of Solomon 2:15; Gal. 5:9). The disrupting, disabling destructive forcesâthe danger that churches must be aware of and beware of do not come to them from without in the form of drug traffickers, corrupt politicians and judges or the makers of decadent movies and songs. No, the poison that destroys churches doesnât run in from outside; it bubbles up on the inside. The arsonist that destroys a local church is not setting his fires outside the exterior walls; he is kindling his blaze within the walls.
WHATâS AT WORK INSIDE OF YOU?
The apostle Paul, great Christian and great man of God that he was wrote, âFor 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 meâ (Rom. 7:18-20). Paul recognized that his greatest enemy was not anywhere outside of himself; he knew that the greatest enemy he had was within himself. He pinpointed this inward enemy; identified it in no uncertain terms: he said that it was his âflesh.â He knew his most dangerous enemy wasnât among the Jews that hated him or the Romans that hounded him. He knew what and where his real enemy was; he said, âItâs the sin that dwelleth in me.â The first essential to winning any war is to know who the enemy is and where he is. Our enemy isnât a painful past that keeps holding us back. Our enemy isnât any person or persons who have hindered or hurt us in some way and kept us from being what we need to be. It may be convenient, and some short-term, shallow consolation might be derived from believing this, but such thoughts and excuses are bogus and counterproductive. We have the same enemy to deal with that Paul and every other Christian has had. The real enemy to our success in life and happiness as believers in easy to locate: Itâs our own flesh, our own self-will; itâs the âsin within.â The Holy Spirit of God is present in every believer to do a powerful work of spiritual enablement from within. The flesh, the sin principle, is also present within each believer ready and eager to work, producing the works of the flesh and spiritual failure. These each work well or cease to work well depending upon whether or not conditions are favorable to their work. The worldly heart and mind and involvement in worldly activities provides fertile ground and plenty of fuel for the flesh and sin to work within us. Contrariwise, the heart and mind that is fond of, and feeding on, spiritual things provides conditions where it is impossible for sin and the flesh to work, but where the work of the Holy Spirit can thrive and produce the fruit of the Spirit and those good works that please the Lord and help us live life abundantly. What, right now, is at work in you? Is a fifth column that can be used by the devil being strengthened within or is there a power within you, growing stronger and stronger each day opposing and marginalizing the enemy within?