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The Enemy Within 06/01/2006

Thomas Paine

"Your conduct is an invitation to the enemy," wrote Thomas Paine to Americans at war.

"These are the times that try men's souls," wrote Thomas Paine in The Crisis as America stood on the brink of war in 1776. More than three centuries later, we face our own crisis.

Accusation abounds in our world. America is called the Great Satan. President Bush is called a liar and warmonger. Conservatives are called racists and bigot. Christians are called hypocrites and zealots.

As a conservative, a Christian and an American, I am sensitive to these accusations. When most of the accusations are outright lies, I am naturally defensive.

But throughout my lifetime, I have also learned that in order to avoid becoming any of these terrible things, I must sometimes listen to these accusations and search for any grain of truth. Enemies will occasionally tell me the truth, even when delivered with a harsh, critical spirit.

I was once criticized and characterized by the media as an "angry preacher." For many years, I dismissed it, claiming it to be righteous indignation and firing away without recognizing that part of my anger was leveled against my own tormenting temptations and failure to practice what I preached. I was given to appetites and desires with a self-centeredness that was unbecoming and very un-Christlike. When I began to love my enemies, I discovered that they could be very effective teachers.

Americans often criticize Muslims for oppressing women. As an example, some will cite the required burkha, covering women from head-to-toe, so as to reveal no "sinful" flesh. Yet in the West, we have traded the burkha for the bikini. They try to get women to cover up and we try to get them to uncover. One side demands modesty while the other side defends women's rights. They accuse us of being immoral while we accuse them of being intolerant. The result is a "clash of civilizations." Somewhere in between lies self-respect, but neither side wants to listen to their enemies.

The West gasps in horror at the shedding of innocent blood, whether it's at the hands of misdirected gunfire or suicide bombers. Yet we allow babies who could otherwise lead normal, healthy lives to be terminated in the womb at any point up until birth. Too few people appear to truly appreciate the value of life.

We call our decadence "freedom of expression" and our indulgence "freedom of choice" when in reality many people are slaves to their own compulsions and desires, held captive by their sensual appetites.

"Your conduct is an invitation to the enemy," Paine wrote to those who were closest to the battle. We would be wise to examine our own conduct to ensure that we are not giving our enemies any legitimate justification to war against us and rally support around the world.

History confirms the importance of recognizing evil, standing firmly against it, and fighting when necessary. Still, we must consider whether the accusations of our present-day enemies could guide us to examine our own hearts. Let's seek to make certain that accusations of greed, immorality and self-centeredness are not accurate.

We must not lose the resolve to resist those who seek to kill us, but we should also do some personal soul-searching to examine our hearts and actions. We can easily see the enemy coming at us from the outside, but to survive the current crisis, we must learn to identify and overcome the enemy within.


Author: James Robison               Randy Robison

Word Count: 565

About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, an international humanitarian aid ministry; host of the television program, Life Today; and author of The Absolutes: Freedom's Only Hope.

Media Contact: Randy Robison, editor at jamesrobison.net

Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.