...behavior in which one has a tendency to do harm to oneself, either as a direct or indirect result of their actions; frequently marked by impulse, but also includes chronic, injurious behaviors. (Click here for reference)
It seems counter-intuitive that we would want to hurt ourselves, but our addictions to drinking, taking drugs, cutting, overeating and sexual promiscuity make it clear this is not the case. I'm sure you have either engaged in self-destructive behavior or know someone who has.
Why do we do it? From a spiritual perspective, it is clear that we have been targeted by an enemy that is out to do us harm. And, sometimes, the best way he can harm us is through ourselves. The Bible says, "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy...(John 10:10)." We don't like to think of the demonic influences in this world, but they are real. If you belive in angels, you have to believe in their counter-force: demons.
The reason I mention this is because we tend to think that everything we think originates within ourselves. We think we are the captains of our own fates, shepherders of our own destinies and holders of the keys to the kingdoms. What's surprising to note, however, is the amount of influence Satan has over our thoughts and words. Jesus recognized Satan's influence when Peter berated him for talking about his upcoming crucifixion. The Bible says, "Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he [Jesus] turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. (Matthew 16:22-23)" Isn't it interesting that Peter thought he was saying a good thing, but it turned out to be a sign of demonic influence?
So are many of our actions and thoughts. Satan uses our thoughts to influence us in what we think and how we behave. As noted above, the 'thief' wants to kill, steal (your destiny, your joy, etc.) and destroy you by whatever means possible. It's much easier when we already have negative thoughts and inclinations (due to childhood traumas, low self-esteem, depression, etc.), but he will also send his minions to throw a little more gloom on an already gloomy day. You know how you seem to get thoughts from nowhere, but seem to make so much sense when you're down? Like, you'll be feeling low, contemplating a donut or two or three (or at least I do!) when you'll hear a voice that says, "Go ahead, eat it. It doesn't matter what you put in your body. You're never going to lose weight anyway." Or you decide that you don't want to get out of bed and that voice comes again to agree with you, saying, "Going to work is pointless. You hate it there. Nobody likes you and you don't like them! Stay home, relax. Don't even bother to call in." Or, in the worst cases, when someone you loves does something you feel is injurious and you heed to that voice that says, "She doesn't really love you. If she loved you, she wouldn't treat you that way. Women can't be trusted. You should just leave her. But first tell her what you can't stand about her. Hurt her the way she is hurting you." And you find yourself telling your best friend/partner off without even realizing why you're doing it.
Sure, many of those voices probably developed as a result of your bad experiences, but Satan will definitely use those things to speed up your demise. If he can leave you hopeless, alone, isolate you or help you fall into depression, he is more than happy. And if you start to drink, start taking drugs, find someone else's life to ruin, cut yourself or start to contemplate suicide, he's even happier.
How do you combat the enemy's influence? The Bible is very clear about the protection God affords His people. It says (in Ephesians 6:10-18 (CEV)):
Finally, let the mighty strength of the Lord make you strong.
Put on all the armor that God gives, so you can defend yourself against the devil's tricks.
We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world.
So put on all the armor that God gives. Then when that evil day comes, you will be able to defend yourself. And when the battle is over, you will still be standing firm.
Be ready! Let the truth be like a belt around your waist, and let God's justice protect you like armor.
Your desire to tell the good news about peace should be like shoes on your feet.
Let your faith be like a shield, and you will be able to stop all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Let God's saving power be like a helmet, and for a sword use God's message that comes from the Spirit.
Never stop praying, especially for others. Always pray by the power of the Spirit. Stay alert and keep praying for God's people.
You have to stay close to God. Read His Word. Pray always. And allow His thoughts influence you and your behavior. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you and focus in on the positive affirmations and promises that God has for you. Don't allow Satan to influence you more than God. The Bible says, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)" Satan does not have unlimited power - he is only as powerful as you allow him to be in your life. Finally, I leave you with the words of Jesus:
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:41)
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