Recognizing One's Enemy

Naturally the first step toward defeating one's enemy is to recognize who or what he is, since not to know this enemy is to be in danger of coming under his control. That one's enemies are not persons, was made plain by Christ Jesus when he commanded his followers to love those who manifest enmity toward them. In her illuminating article, "Love Your Enemies," Mrs. Eddy writes, "Simply count your enemy to be that which defiles, defaces, and dethrones the Christ-image that you should reflect" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 8). We have here an infallible rule whereby at all times we may detect our enemy,—never as a person, but as an evil animus or influence, a false mental argument that, if accepted, would alienate us from our highest sense of good.

The only personal enemy we can have is our own false sense of personality, as Mrs. Eddy points out in the article above mentioned. Others may think they cherish enmity toward us and be willing to do us harm, but that is of less moment to us than our own mental attitude. When we are conscious of entertaining no sense of personal enmity, we have a clear field whereon to meet and defeat the impersonal errors that would invade and defile one's consciousness. Only as these errors are stripped of personality, even of our own, can we see them in their true light and intelligently begin the work of destroying them. Speaking of the enemies whom they were to meet in the land of Canaan, Moses enjoined upon the Israelites that they should "utterly destroy them," and should "make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them." This would be wanton cruelty in a literal and personal sense; but when these enemies are metaphysically interpreted as the errors of belief that would keep humanity out of their spiritual heritage, we can see that a less absolute stand would only serve to perpetuate mankind's bondage to evil, as human history testifies.

What is it that would defile, deface, and dethrone the Christ-image in our consciousness? Is it not whatever would rob us of our sense of spiritual good, spiritual love, and spiritual being? Such conditions are designated in Scripture as lusts of the flesh, or the qualities of the so-called "carnal mind;" and on page 330 of Science and Health they are enumerated as "lust, dishonesty, selfishness, envy, hypocrisy, slander, hate." etc. Who has not striven with one or more of these evils, seeking to make consciousness captive! Sometimes we may have failed in the conflict or have compromised with the enemy, only to struggle through shame and self-condemnation to regain our sense of freedom. If we have recognized that these are the enemies we must encounter and overcome before we can fully realize the kingdom of heaven, we have made a hopeful beginning; but to deceive ourselves that one can make progress while showing mercy to or making covenants with them, by careless watching or half-hearted conflict, is a costly mistake.

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Potency of Truth
March 20, 1915

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