Patricia Hofer

Christ throws out the “strong man”

“… I think we all of us know, as a matter of practical experience, that there is something within us, behind our emotions and behind our wishes, an independent self, that, after all, decides everything and controls everything.” (Hannah Whitall Smith, A Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, 80)

That inner “independent self” is the part of ourselves that no one ever gets to see, the part we never share. And yet, as surprising as it might seem to some, I’ve learned to cherish that part of myself. Why? Because that’s where Christ lives.

The Way that Jesus shows us actually takes root within that inner self. In Mark, after his comments about a house or kingdom “divided against itself,” Jesus talks about binding or tying up “the strong man” (Mark 3: 24, 27). And my experience is that it is in our heart, in the self that no else ever sees, that this “strong man” operates.

For example, during the many years that I struggled to love more and to judge less, I made very little progress. My natural selfish ego was much more interested in asserting itself than in focusing on the needs of others. At a moment of utter despair and total self-abandonment, however, the Saviour took over. He indeed bound “the strong man” that kept me self-focused and unloving. By so doing, he freed my Christ spirit, the part that cares for others and moves with compassion.

Denominational believing can often seem to imply that consecration is something external, an outward rejection of worldly pleasures and motives. But the battleground, the “house divided,” is actually in that innermost self. When we surrender to the Lord there, our actions take care of themselves.

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