Growing up in a Christian environment, my family learned that there are three enemies of the soul: the world, the flesh, and the devil. We understood well that when we speak of the world as an enemy we are not referring to “the whole world,” meaning all people or the human race as a whole. Instead, we know that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…” (John 3:16).
We also understood that it does not refer to the cosmos, that is, creation, the universe that came forth from the hands of God, for “God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).
The world which the Scripture refers to as the enemy of the soul is that society or culture which is separated from God and is organized in opposition to the Kingdom of God. This world is made up of ideas, values, attitudes, patterns of relating, and systems that oppose God’s plan and that destroys humankind.
A definition of the world in this sense can be described as follows: The world is the set of ideas, values, attitudes, circumstances, structures and systems that oppose God’s plan, and which to a greater or lesser degree determine people’s thinking and behavior.
In the area of ideas, it is made up of philosophical theories, political ideologies, trends in modern psychology, etc. In the area of values, the world manifests itself in a materialism that exalts money and the pursuit of wealth as the key to happiness. It is present in hedonism which exalts pleasure as the supreme value.
The world’s values have traditionally been four: knowledge, riches, power, and pleasure. In the area of attitudes we find mistrust, jealously, revenge, resentment, just to name a few. These are not merely seen as something we may have – but as something we are entitled to pursue and must absolutely possess in order to survive in an increasingly cruel and dehumanizing world.
These attitudes gradually become relationship patterns with a high potential for destruction. One of these patterns is ruthless competition, where you seek to be competent in order to compete, and you seek to compete in order to crush your neighbor, even if you have to walk over his dead body. Other patterns are manipulation, emotional blackmail geared to make you do what I want, oppression, extortion, rebellion and the desire to dominate. Showing a facade, guarding appearances, bargaining, hiding, disguising. The list has no end.
Socioeconomic systems agree with these relationship patterns. Hardcore capitalism protects indiscriminate struggles against each other, so that the strongest can win. Marxism centralizes all property and power, and manages to have no one earn anything. In summary, the world and its structures are shaped according to what is inside the hearts of men and women.
Our purpose here is not to explain what the world is, but to show you what part or aspect of the world may be destroying ones’ life. We need to gradually bring Egypt [a Biblical metaphor for the world] out of our hearts. That is why we need to seek out the discernment and counsel of other wise and mature Christians who can help us see how the world may be adversely affecting us or even destroying us – that is why repentance and a willingness to change is necessary. As described above, the world is the devil’s gospel, the devil’s church. It is the system that the devil once set up so that the cosmos, and the whole world, would be destroyed by themselves without him having to destroy them.
Something entirely new for me was to discover, from experience, that our emotions are so closely linked to our patterns of thinking, to the ideas we hold, and that many of the emotional problems psychiatrists have to deal with have their origin in the ideas the patient carries inside his little head. (Spiritual warfare takes place mainly in our minds too, and the devil cannot control our emotions unless he first controls our minds.)
These destructive ideas that are able to cause serious emotional and spiritual problems are what we call myths.
Definition of myth as a falsehood: A myth is a falsehood, generally accepted as truth, which determines our acts or attitudes, and that will almost always have negative consequences. Another definition, which can be easier for you to remember, is this: A myth is a piece of the world that got stuck in my brain.
I’m going to give a few examples, so you can better understand what a myth is like, pay more attention to what you carry around in your own head, and hopefully detect and discard them before they ruin your own life.
A Few (False) Myths
The following are falsehoods, accepted as truths by many, many people who are paying the consequences of carrying them around in their heads.
- My past determines what I now am and do, in an inexorable way.
(This is the story told by all married couples that have had problems in the past, as a way to justify their present condition and to preclude every future responsibility. They are supported by modern pseudo-psychiatry.)
- Unhappiness is caused by things that take place outside of myself, so I won’t be able to attain happiness unless the circumstances change.
- Corollary 1: I am at the mercy of circumstances.
- Corollary 2: Changing things will change everything (i.e. getting a new wife, a new job, a new government, etc.).
- I am entitled to happiness. (Says who?!)
- Corollary 1: My wife (my husband) is in the obligation to make me happy.
- Corollary 2: I am being deprived of a right of mine, and an injustice is being done unto me.
- Corollary 3: I would be happy if it were not for you.
- Corollary 4: I have a right to change the wife I have for the woman that would make me happy.
- Romance in marriage is the measure of true love.
- Corollary 1: Love without romance is not true love.
- Corollary 2: Since I am so romantic, I have a right to true love.
- Corollary 3: You don’t love me anymore.
- If God were good and loved me, these things would not happen to me.
- Corollary 1: God is responsible for everything that happens in the world!
- Corollary 2: God is my good-luck charm.
- If you offer God a portion of your life, he takes the whole of it. You can’t trust God. (This myth was invented in Paradise and did away with it.)
- It is God’s obligation to listen to me and to grant me whatever I ask.
- I have a right to be trusted.
- I’m always right, and I have the right and the obligation to demonstrate so.
- Corollary 1: An injustice is done when someone does not accept that I am right.
- Corollary 2: I would be doing injustice if I deprived others of the truth, of which I am the sole possessor.
- Corollary 3: Being right entitles me to act as I will.
- Having good looks, great charm, a lot of money and a lot of cleverness is all that counts.
- It is my right to have a lot of money.
- Corollary 1: No one has a right to have money unless I have it too.
- Corollary 2: It is my duty to make a lot of money.
- Corollary 3: For me to be poor would be a crime. For others to be too rich would be a crime.
- It is dangerous to love much, so it’s better not to love at all.
- Corollary 1: Do not express your feelings.
- Corollary 2: It is It is better to have a life without love than to suffer the loss of your loved one. (All our loved ones will depart one way or another.)
- Every woman is my rival, unless the opposite is demonstrated.
- Every problem has a solution, and it is terrible not to find it.
- Corollary 1: It is not possible to live with a problem.
- Corollary 2: You cannot be happy unless things come out the way you want.
- Corollary 3: Everything ought to come out the way I want, and if it doesn’t, then I am entitled to complain to someone.
- People have a right to be informed about everything. Me too.
- Corollary 1: If someone hides something, he must have done something wrong.
- Corollary 2: I have a right to snoop around.
- Every form of aggressiveness must be uprooted from a Christian’s heart.
- Being loved and accepted by everybody is absolutely necessary.
- Corollary 1: I am willing to pay any price in exchange for love and acceptance.
- Corollary 2: I would never do anything that might hurt you.
- Death is the worst tragedy that can happen to you.
- Nothing is wrong if nobody learns about it.
- Corollary 1: Do it, for no one will hear about it.
- Corollary 2: If you do it just once, nothing will happen to you.
- Having had and losing is worse than not having at all.
- Corollary 1: You cannot enjoy something that you could lose.
- Guilt is subjective.
- Corollary 1: If I don’t feel guilty, I’m not guilty.
- Corollary 2: The solution to guilt is ignoring or denying guilt.
- Children and drunkards always tell the truth.
- Corollary: Anything my husband says when he’s drunk is what he actually thinks about me.
- How can I forgive him – don’t you see he has offended me? (If he did not offend you, what would you forgive?)
- Corollary 1: Forgiving is a favor I do to God.
- Corollary 2: Forgiving is a favor I do to you.
- Corollary 3: Forgiving makes me virtuous (for it makes you happy).
- Sincerity in believing makes your belief true.
- Corollary 1: It makes no difference if you’re wrong, as long as you firmly believe in your error.
- Corollary 2: The important thing is to believe, no matter what you believe.
- Corollary 3: You can’t be sincerely wrong.
- Sincerity absolves everything.
- Corollary 1: If I’m sincere and I don’t hide my sin, I’m absolved even if I don’t repent of my sins.
- Corollary 2: I’m not just absolved, but you are now indebted to me.
- Intention is what matters.
- Corollary 1: Intention justifies action.
- Corollary 2: The end justifies the means.
- (This is the basis for legitimizing terrorism and almost every revolution.)
- How can God forgive me, after all the things I’ve done?
- Corollary 1: My faults are greater than God’s mercy and love.
- Corollary 2: Christ’s blood, passion and death are not enough to blot out my sins.
- I’m a child of God, but God must be ashamed of having a child like me.
- (Numbers 27 and 28 nullify the two greatest truths of our faith, while at the same time we allow ourselves to continue calling ourselves Christians.)
- Being a man is not enough – you’ve got to show it.
- You can serve God wherever you want.
- God is not in charge of the world, and if he is, he’s doing a very bad job.
- The family must be managed as a true democracy.
- When I marry him (her), I’m going to make him (her) change.
- Resignation is the only possible course of action in face of something inevitable or impossible. (Resignation here means refraining from fight. And something impossible is something that is merely difficult.)
No wonder so many people go through life full of anguish!
This article is adapted from the book, From Egghead to Birdhood (hatch or rot as a Christian), (c) copyright 2001 Carlos Mantica. Used with permission.
Top image above: Young person holding rino on lead, digital artwork from Bigstock.com, © by Sergey Nivens, stock photo ID: 67706965. Used with permission.
This article is adapted from the book, From Egghead to Birdhood (hatch or rot as a Christian), (c) copyright 2001 by Carlos Mantica.
Carlos Mantica was a founder of The City of God community (La Cuidad de Dios) in Managua, Nicaragua, and a founding leader of the Sword of the Spirit. He served as president of the Sword of the Spirit between 1991 and 1995.
- See Tribute to Chale Mantica by Jean Barbara, President of the Sword of the Spirit