The enemy within

Julius Caesar said that “the greatest enemy will hide in the last place you would ever look.” Julius Caesar was seemingly predicting his dismal end under the men he trusted as allies. Pompey Magnus is one of the names that come up when one internalizes Caesar’s quote. Magnus was his cognomen. There are other names, of course, that I will draw attention to.

Pompey was a member of the original triumvirate and had an easy relationship with Julius Caesar. He was Caesar’s son-in-law; a trusted ally and a comrade-in-arms. Notwithstanding, their amity did not last forever; it went south as the two men fought for the control of the Republic.

Apart from Pompey, Marcus Brutus was another frenemy. At one time, Brutus was a close friend of Julius Caesar. Much water passed under the bridge and Brutus stab would be one of the 23 that sent Caesar kingdom come.

Cato the Younger was the next culprit. The young member of the Senate went toe to toe with Caesar. He would prefer suicide to living under Caesar’s tyrannical shadow.

Decimus Brutus ranked high on the list of frenemies. A distant cousin of Julius Caesar, Decimus was at the front row of the whole plot, and as it thickened so was his hatred. Interestingly Decimus had been named an heir in the second degree Caesar’s will. He is the man who would be sent by other conspirators to convince Caesar to come to the Curia Julia where they waited for him as a cat would do to a holed up mouse. Initially, Julias Caesar had refused to attend the assembly after his wife prevailed on him to do so. His wife had had a premonition of his death. And now he was in the horns of a dilemma. Decimus had the privilege of Caesar’s ear, and hence a good opportunity to get him out of the horns. They were dear friends. Thus listening to Decimus and following him down the garden path came as easy as Sunday morning. Soon the phoney honeymoon between the two friends would end fatally.

Decimus would be one of the assassins to deliver 23 stabs. Mark Antony captured Decimus and ordered his death as a revenge for his role in assassinating Julius.

The assassins of Julius Caesar are persons not only known to him but trusted allies too. They were his kith and kin; the nearest and the dearest. Julius Caesar dined and wined with people who would eliminate him. He kowtowed to their imploring as his borrowed time drew near.

Our brutal enemies reside within us

The greatest foe of the Nazis were not the Jews but what occupied their hearts. The most wicked villain of the Al Qaeda adherents is not the Western ideology but what lives in their hearts. My foremost enemies are not human beings: The evil in my heart is what I must wage war against.

Let me be a little more succinct and hit the highlights. The fact that our hearts can provide a cosy home to things that can destroy us is a bit beyond my ken. Nonetheless, it is the Bible that warns us of the deceitfulness of our heart.

The heart is deceitful above all things

and beyond cure.

Who can understand it?

Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV)

The heart is paramount because the issues of life – actions, works, pursuits, attitudes – proceed from it.

But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

Matthew 15:18-19 (NIV)

We are truly capable of doing the most of heinous acts without Satan’s help. The propensity to act subtly and monstrously is what we acquired due to the sin of our first two progenitors. The mere keeping of the commandments was a failed fair crack at solving man’s ailing heart. My efforts to sanitize the inherent evil thoughts amount to a fat lot of good that will do. There are no good eggs in our crate. All the eggs are rotten and need to be replaced. There is no way to cure a rotten egg. The only remedy is a replacement.

The phrase ‘follow your heart’ is at best a lot of baloney and at worst a lot of bunk. The Bible tells us not to listen to our hearts for they are deceitful. Who should we follow then?

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.

 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

Matthew 4:18-20 (NIV)

The heart is a tangled web and a sycophant of the Father of lies. This makes it hard to ace up our sleeves on our own. Mostly we aid and abet the heart’s mischievous devices. We try to find a Rosetta stone in the wrong places. We rock and roll, run-the-gamut, and still find ourselves in the same place. A cure for the inveterately diseased heart is only available in one place; at the feet of Jesus.

We get new hearts at the feet of Jesus. And we must continue to live at His feet for us to enjoy the full benefits of a changed heart. Otherwise, we will still struggle with arrogance, lying, envy, anger, malice, injustice, pride and all forms and shapes of evil.

We will never feel like a poor little petunia in an onion patch when tagging along with Jesus. This is not a subtle hint to follow Jesus but rather an open invitation. Pay your last respects to the old heart and allow the surgeon to effect a transplant. I am neither talking about a pie in the sky nor a leap in the dark. It is not poppycock too. Rather, it is a conscious and judicious decision to make.

Our hearts have sabotaged us for a long time. That which resides in our hearts is killing us gradually. The enemies without are not as powerful as the enemies within. It is a time we took a long hard look at ourselves and swallow the bitter truth; that our worst enemy dwells with us and is capable of the most ominous affairs.

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