Satan's Snares In The Mind
* all [bracketed] words in Scripture verses are mine *
A snare is a cleverly hidden trap, usually meant to catch small animals in their own environment. An animal will be minding its own business doing what animals do, when suddenly the snare is sprung and they're caught. I recently learned that a trapped animal will sometimes adapt to the snare's dimensions and environment. The animal will try to stay inside the trap when the trapper tries to free it. To them the prospect of the person letting them go and what might happen to them once they leave the confines of the trap, is more frightening than staying inside and eventually dying in there. There are some similarities between this example and people given the truth about Jesus. People that become used to thinking within the confines of a mental snare build up a sort of invented environment that causes them to reject any truth that comes their way.
Anyone that has tried to reason with someone about the gospel knows just how hard it can be. Satan brings fear, false reasoning or other forces, such as habit and pride, which results in a decision to remain in that snare. Satan's goal is for that person to die in their sins with no way to pay for them. He wants them to reject Christ until it is too late and they have to follow Satan to hell because no sinner inherits heaven, only the forgiven do. But God's nature is such that He tries again and again to reach the hearts of these deceived persons who trust the faulty thinking of these mental strongholds that Satan creates for them. Jesus definitely is a patient God and will meet a person where he is and reason with him or her to win their trust.
"Come now, and let us reason together," says the LORD, though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool." (Isaiah 1:18)
"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exults itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
The Lord more often than not, sends me to people that are needing more work done before anything can be harvested in their lives. So many of these people remain in the snares we will consider below. When thinking about all of the different arguments and the faulty reasoning people have given me over the years, I noticed a pattern. People tell me why they "don't want to get saved" or "can't get saved right now." I noted some similarities and differences between the strongholds which Satan has built in the minds of these unbelievers. When grouping these together I have made a series of categories of strongholds in the mind. Perhaps looking at these, we may be able to better understand in order to reason with people and win their trust and their souls.
"For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without the law, as without the law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without the law; To the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means win some." (1 Corinthians 9:19-22)
"No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man." (1 Corinthians 10:13a)
I have broken down the "reasons" people don't get saved into nine groups. This list is not all inclusive but the article as a whole may give you some way to begin thinking about how to get into the minds of these folks and meet them where they are so as to win them to Jesus. After we show people that they are in a trap, we have to then show them the evidence that it is safer outside that snare than in it. Of course, what is outside of that cleverly set trap is the Lord Jesus and receiving Him as Savior. Essentially, the choice is freedom with God or stay in the snare that was laid for you and die.
It might be enlightening if some of the readers would reflect enough to perhaps see themselves as having come from one of these examples. Can you see any similarities to how you thought before salvation? Why would anyone hesitate to get saved? It is possible that you just received Jesus without hesitation when offered, and if you did, that makes you smarter than I was all those years ago when I was given the truth about receiving Christ.
Hamster Wheel Of Circular Reasoning
The Trap Of Circular Reasoning
This is something that atheists and agnostics accuse Christians of doing all the time. They say that believers wrote prophecy after the fact, so that the Bible would have credibility. They say that people put their own meanings onto Scripture so that it can be their crutch and to be able to fulfill their own desires, and has nothing to do with God.
In reality, circular reasoning is used by the devil as a trap to keep people from salvation. It is used to invalidate the reality of Scripture that is too hard for them to handle. Usually people that use circular reasoning are very intelligent but all of their mental energy is devoted to debunking the truths of Scripture. They are usually open to discussion and many times invite it, thinking that makes them appear open-minded and totally reasonable. The true purpose of circular reasoning is the end result - to bring them to the conclusion that they have already made in their heart of hearts. This conclusion slightly varies in one individual to another, but the conclusion is: "No one can be sure that I have to do anything regarding Jesus to secure my eternity. These Christians can't know what they say are facts." A person stuck in this trap will give statements that should be traced to the source, God, but instead link these statements together in ways that make it seem as if there is no source at all.
An example of circular reasoning that I recently saw was printed on a tee shirt and in some pictures on Google images. It was designed to make fun of Christians, of course, but instead show something of how this mindset works. "The Bible is the word of God why? because The Bible says it is the word of God why? because The Bible is infallible why? because The Bible is the word of God why? ..." Notice the way the first statement is hooked to the second as if that is the only answer someone would give or as if that answer is all there is, when in fact that question can be answered Scripturally. This is how the trap works, making it appear that only the Bible props up the Bible and only because we pick out our select verses to make it so.
This is the way a person ensnared in circular reasoning learns to think of every fact or argument regarding salvation. They make the facts (which could be verified should they choose to check it out) seem as if they are contradicted by others and thus cancel out every valid premise the Bible gives.
As if on some giant hamster wheel in their mind, this person is constantly scrambling to debunk any valid point a Christian brings to them. Frantically searching for some contradiction or for another point that passes as fact to invalidate what the Bible says is true. Once this pattern is set in their heads, it is very difficult for someone to modify their thinking to accept any proof about the truth of any Bible teaching. They are always on the to the next rung on the wheel, from one perceived fact to another, invariably coming around to the same conclusion.
What to say to the Circular Reasoner: Show them that there is validity in the word of God. Show them the scientific things written in the Bible that says the earth is a ball that hangs on nothing, written before any scientist or astronomer knew that to be the truth. Show them how it talks about currents in the ocean and mountains on the ocean floor before oceanography and sonar discovered such things existed. When you speak to a circular reasoner he will ask the why and expect it to lead to some other point that he thinks cannot be verified. It can, and with a little assistance, one can show him that God is the source and the answer for life.
Quicksand Of Fear
Fear. I'm afraid I can speak on this one personally. Fear is an unreasonable feeling of uncertainty that can grow into a frenzied panic. It is not based on reality but on thought tracks of the imagination, and of course, the devil keeping one in bondage. God has said that He does not bring a spirit of fear, but that Satan has his purview there. When I was a little kid I was afraid of everything. I was certain that there was something in the dark ready to grab me. I was afraid of heights and of dying. I was afraid of God, and it was not the "good kind" of fear of God that we are supposed to have. Godly fear is a realization of just who God is, and trusting Him enough to care to obey Him, fearing to disobey Him because you love Him. No, this was an irrational, distrusting, walking on eggshells kind of fear. My mom still has this fear that at times drags her into a panic. It is one of many marks of a cult having its grip on you.
People who resist salvation because of fear are reluctant to entertain any thoughts about God at all. The very thought of God scares them. Some feel that somehow they will be brainwashed and "lose who they are" because they will be immersed in some spiritual hysteria. Some fear being convinced of something that will somehow change them and their lives as they know them. Some think it will cost them something, a loss of friends or family or money. Many keep elaborate scenarios in their head and stay in a constant state of paralysis when it comes to spiritual things. When they are told that all they have to do is believe, some can believe, but then they become paralyzed with dread. "What are my friends and family going to say?" "I was raised in a church that doesn't talk about salvation. What if I have been duped by a good salesman?" "What about my family? If I go to heaven and they don't, then I will be apart from them forever." One faulty, irrational thought after another that keeps them in a grip of fear so strong that they do not make that decision for Christ.
It is a trap much like quicksand. It grows, it sucks you down - the fear begins to consume you. In some, it eventually disables them. Some even take what they think is the only option they have and kill themselves in a desperate attempt to escape from their fear. The more they struggle without help from someone on stable ground the more they sink into their fear. Until one day they drown in it.
What to say to the fearful person: When you speak to the man full of fear regarding God, you must give them assurances that God loves him. You must let them know how much was given to purchase his life, to pay for his sin. The person knows fear as a very real, daily presence. I believe that presence is demonic, that the devil tortures a person's mind to be fearful and afraid. The answer is to exchange that spirit of fear for the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Adoption. Then a person is freed from fear and given strength to overcome. God and the future will no longer loom over the person, a thing to be feared but will be welcome, a joy to contemplate.
"For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba Father." (Romans 8:15)
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever." (Psalm 111:10)
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For by me your days will be multiplied, and years of life will be added to you. If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, if you scoff, you will bear it alone." (Proverbs 9:10-12)
"Love has been perfected among us in this; that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect [complete] in love." (1 John 4:17-19)
This is the person that in his mind thinks he has found the way to enlightenment. He feels all others may be crazy because this way he has found is valid for him (and for everyone should they try it). Sometimes "the way" is meditation, sometimes it is improving the human condition, loving the earth, or a host of other things this person may have found that he feels is so enlightening that he can see it "working" in his life. I have met individuals that have been close to death and then survived. The conclusion to which they came was a belief that they are now God's friend because of a miracle done from on high. Therefore they need no salvation. Some feel after an experience such as near death, that they have been somehow chosen and are now in a spiritual class by themselves. Some see themselves with new "gifts" or abilities they did not have before. Personally, I believe that Satan seeks out folks that have had this experience and grants them abilities to convince them that salvation is not for everybody, that they have found another way. Cults are many times formed at this time as the visionary now has "proof" of sorts that people must listen to him because now he has power to wield.
What to say to the visionary: The truth is that the visionary has been duped and there is no way to eternal life without Jesus. The visionary has confidence in himself and in his current belief and a Christian faces a hard task getting him to listen to anything at all. But God has the power to cut through this illusion of security in which the visionary lives. This person is a sinner and needs Jesus, no matter what he thinks he knows or what abilities he thinks he now has. The simple gospel must be given and the Holy Spirit will work in His time.
"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'" (John 14:6)
"Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch." (Matthew 15:14)
"And He spoke a parable to them: "Can the blind lead the blind? Will they both not fall into the ditch? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher." (Luke 6:39-40)
The survivalist is a person that just wants to survive and to be self-sufficient. In their mind, the world boils down to dollars and cents, what is earthly practical for them and their family. An education, a family, a job and then securing that family with an education and a job. This is a kind of circular reasoning as well. One works to have enough money to eat, one eats to have enough energy to work. In their mind that is the only concept that will fit into their brain. I work. I survive. I do this well enough and my children will eat and survive. I mind my business. I do my job. I pay my bills. No time to talk about spirituality or eternity. I have to survive. I work overtime. I take a second job.They may have time to play or laugh but then right back to the grindstone. A survivalist often worships money since his whole life revolves around money and, in his mind, all the security that money brings. Some survivalists become rich because the work they do is quality work, but they are building riches here in this life, where thieves break in and steal or the government taxes it away. They do not care about after this life because they don't give themselves the time to think about it. When they are confronted with mortality, they immediately think in terms of money to solve the problem. The best doctors, the best their hard work can buy. Their own ingenuity and resolve will get them through, and if it doesn't, well, they did the best they could do. Facing tragedy, they throw themselves into their work. They work to prepare for any eventuality so that they will not be caught unaware. The only thing that may catch them unaware, is their own death.
What to say to the survivalist: A survivalist really does want to survive. He looks at things in a practical manner, so appeal to that side of his thinking. Without Jesus, his life only goes so far and without Jesus in his life, nothing can be given his children to extend their life beyond the years here on earth. He wants to be prepared and he wants to look at things in a practical manner. Use the Scriptures that make it clear that this life is only the beginning and that when it ends, "the best he can do" will not be good enough to pay for his sins. Show him the practicality of Jesus, for him and for his children.
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal." (Matthew 6:19-20)
"There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." (Proverbs 16:25)
The historian usually considers himself an intellectual, even if he won't admit it. He gathers facts from history and primarily history that deals with belief and social interactions. He knows all the facts from history regarding the Crusades and wars over religion. He has memorized numbers of deaths in any conflict that resulted from people uttering the word "God" in any manner. All of these years and dates and facts are stored up so that when someone comes to him and says. "If you died today would you go to heaven?" he can say, "Why would I want to be a part of religion? Do you know what atrocities have been done in the name of religion?" An irony in the historian is that though they think they are true to what is fact, they know if they dig into enough writings there are sources that will contradict any premise found in Scripture from people that traditionally have hated God and Christianity, such as gnostic books and other sources that make unfounded claims against Holy Scripture. The honest historian probably hasn't really looked into the truth of the history of Christianity, nor any other religion other than to build a wall of feigned intellect around himself so that people will think he knows so many facts that he is unapproachable.
What to say to a historian:The historian is a person that can remember many dates, facts and scenarios to relate to others. In the course of being that kind of person, he has seen human failings many times over and studied about a multitude more. He sees things through a unique perspective, and indeed the reason his mind is screaming against Jesus and religion so loudly, is that he does not want to repeat history that will end in a personal tragedy of his own making. We must speak to this person, appealing to his concern about repeating history. Tell him that the religious wars and concerns about fanaticism will not affect him because he is smart and will watch for such things. Let him know that what you are concerned with is him personally and if he has any relationship with Jesus, one on one. History is full of nations fighting and killing. It is full of people claiming to be led of God but they have not known Jesus. Let him know that receiving Jesus will not be leaving him devoid of intellect, that Jesus promises to reason with him. At the end of the day, the issue is this single individual and his sin. Who will pay for those sins, if not Jesus?
"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'" (John 14:6)
The picture says it all, doesn't it? That look of "Okay, what's your game?" The cynic questions everything, even the questions. Their over-riding belief is that nothing is certain - except what they themselves have scrutinized with pains-taking thoroughness. They will spend a mountain of time looking at different philosophies and being disgusted with them all. He thinks all of them play a game of deception, nothing can be trusted.
When the cynic comes into contact with a Christian, one who is certain of his eternity, it drives him crazy! Why is this Christian so willing to believe one philosophy to the exclusion of all others? Don't they know that nothing can be trusted like that? They must be fools following fools. Cynics can get vicious because their own philosophy (their own faith about the matter), that of cynicism, effects them that way. They will put a ton of effort into invalidating something because of the faith that nothing is genuine all the way through.
Cynics never can entertain the concept of God because God is a certainty. If the premise of God is placed into any scenario, it changes from an environment in which cynicism can thrive, so the cynic dismisses it out of hand. God: all knowing, all seeing, all able, all powerful? I think not! Nothing is that certain! Nothing! That one thing is sure, the cynic is certain of that.
What to say to a cynic: The Bible calls cynics "scoffers." Scoffers have a hard time seeing the certainty of Jesus until the Spirit touches them and opens their eyes to it. One way to approach the cynic is to point out that he believes nothing can be trusted. Included in that nothing is he himself. We can think things that are not true, be told things that are not fact. We are flawed and imperfect. That is because we have sin and make mistakes. The premise of his own flaws are one way to get him to look to the areas he usually avoids. He usually does not look at the flaws of his own person. He is too busy looking for the gaps in logic or flaws in others. At the end of the day what kind of man is he? What kind of life has he led and who will pay for that sin? That introspection gives a moment to God to convict him of his sin. Only the Spirit will get the conversation that far so don't give up on him. Maybe little pieces of conversation is all he can take at a time, but always leave him with Scripture that will not return void.
"A scoffer does not love one who corrects him, nor will he go to the wise." (Proverbs 15:12)
"For the terrible one is brought to nothing, the scornful one is consumed and all who watch for iniquity are cut off - who make a man an offender by a word, and lay a snare for him who reproves in the gate, and turn aside the just by empty words." (Isaiah 29:20-21)
"For as the rain comes down, and the snow from the heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper the thing for which I send it." (Isaiah 55:10-11)
The Don't Thinker
"The Don't Thinker"
This is a combination of the "fear" guy and a guy that pretends to be too busy to listen to anything about God. He's just "not going there." He avoids all of those type topics because it causes him to be jolted into reality. "I don't want to think about that." Why? Thinking about it may rob him of a full life, take away his joy in life. He thinks if he ignores it, it might go away. NOT! This person runs from people that would give him the gospel. This person pushes people away that would be insistent. He reacts with anger should family members try a little harder. God usually puts people into this person's life that will not leave him alone. This person usually tries to pay them no attention, but when he does notice them he marvels at the fact that talking about forever is something that person can do. This person carefully guides every conversation they have with anyone and in an instant changes the subject or leaves the conversation, should the undesirable topic of God come up.
What to say to a Don't Thinker:A Don't Thinker needs to be reminded that life is short. The guy has life insurance and knows that life can end suddenly, at least most do. Some can't stand the thought of it. He thinks in his mind that not thinking of death keeps him safe. His mind has told him that and he knows that's silly. He needs to be approached directly and told that not thinking of eternity will not keep him safe from it. He needs to know there is a day appointed to him to meet his Maker and that Maker is Jesus. He doesn't need to fear Jesus. Jesus loves him and he is running away from that love!
"And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment." (Hebrews 9:27)
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
The Total Truster
The Total Truster
This is the follower, the guy that believes totally his indoctrination and allows no discussion at all. This is the traditional religious person that believes that salvation is something that Christians just made up. It also could be a cult follower that has been swept away with a "new knowledge" that has captured his imagination. The total truster can be a hard nut to crack as well because he probably has been seeking answers to questions for a long time and finally found something that makes sense to him and his preconceived mindset. He isn't necessarily gullible but was at some point vulnerable to the group or leader that has grabbed him. Many times the knowledge that there is an explanation to questions that he has always wondered about feels like security to him. Sometimes that "security" is clung onto like a drowning victim clings to a life preserver. When someone tells the "total truster" that he may be trusting in bogus facts, fallacies, and conclusions, he might just freak out. "How dare you say my belief is wrong?" Why do they have such a strong reaction? Well, many times a person has burned too many bridges to get to this place in his life. This is the religion or belief system that he has settled on. He has invested himself and told others about how this makes him feel happy and secure. Then to re-invent himself for others and make a totally new foundation seems a total waste of time and effort. Indeed, there is pride here because he may have to admit that he was wrong. He has to come to the conclusion that truth matters more than a happy secure feeling.
What to say to a Total Truster: A total truster has just "come into his own," so to speak. He has honestly looked for truth but he didn't use a reliable standard with which to measure it, so decided on something faulty. He did search, he was trying to be true to himself, to be honest, to search with wisdom. Tell him that Jesus has been waiting for him to look to Him for the answers. Get him to say, if he will, what answers the group have given him that he searched for all that time. Tell him the truth of Scripture about that question. Tell him that the Bible has all the answers and Jesus wants to open the Book to him. Tell him that the Bible is a love letter to God's children and he needs to be one of God's children to read it, otherwise he's reading someone else's mail. Tell him that God loves him and is waiting with arms outstretched to receive Him.
"But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14)
"But there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." (Proverbs 16:25)
The Pleasure Seeker
The Pleasure Seeker
Every one of us knows this guy or girl. We recognize him whether we know Jesus or not. This guy is portrayed in every other commercial on TV. He is a caricature on many shows and in kid's shows as well. He is the party guy, the girl that will never really grow up, the guy that girls are careful not to date seriously. This guy may be a person that works hard but he plays hard too, sometimes too hard. This person will not think about spiritual things. They are planning the weekend and living for it and for that trip to Vegas which no one will talk about after. They believe that life is short and to spare any pleasure is wasting their life. That philosophy extends to time invested in thinking and communicating. Why waste time talking about something that just makes you think about this life ending? Why be concerned with life assurance when life is all around us? They either have so much fun in the fun times that others want to be them, or they act the part then suffer in private. Many will speak of hangovers and loss of sleep on Monday morning after a "fun" weekend, but by the end of the day they are planning the next weekend or wild time. They may not have any memory of the fun at all.
This person often cares little for consequences until it happens. Life is worth the risk to them. The drinks, the drugs, the diet, the sex, the lack of sleep will take its toll and will burn them out but "Eat, drink, be merry, for tomorrow we all die" is the thinking.
What to say to a Pleasure Seeker:I believe this to be one of the hardest, if not the most difficult trap from which to free one. This is really a trap because the misguided notion that this life is all there is, is all around us, all the time. "Live life to it's fullest" "Grab the gusto" and a million other slogans buzz around our ears constantly. It is our job to convince the pleasure seeker that this life is not all there is. This snare also goes hand in hand with youth and immaturity, both of which are some of the hardest folks with which to reason. To go out "in a blaze of glory" is still to go out! When they go out from this life with their sins upon them, they will have no sense of time, no sense of "getting through" until the next bit of pleasure. There will be no pleasure without Jesus, just unending hell reserved for the devil and his angels.
"Their was a certain rich man and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at the gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. Then he cried and said, "Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue for I am tormented in this flame." But Abraham said, "Son, , remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented." (Luke 16:19-25)
Dear Reader, perhaps you have found a description of yourself in the examples used above. Perhaps you have realized in your heart of hearts that what you might have felt was a valid reason not to say yes to God, is not a reason at all. Perhaps you are one of the people that God has been pleading with to come to Him. Maybe you are afraid and keep hesitating to leave the snare that the devil has put around you. Well God wants to rip open that trap and set you free. He wants to say, "Stop spinning your wheels and fooling yourself." Life is short and one can not guarantee how much time one has to reject the Son before it is too late. You can come to God and tell Him that you do need Him and that you realize you have been fooling yourself with thoughts and ideas that were excuses as to why you rejected Him.
If you believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay for your sin, if you believe that He was buried and rose three days later to give you life, then you can talk to God and ask Him to come into your heart and save you.
Pray this: "Dear LORD Jesus, I know I am a sinner and I have been believing a lie and lying to myself, keeping myself from You. I know You have wanted me to ask forgiveness but I have hesitated. I believe You died and was buried and rose again to pay for my sins. Please forgive me for my sin and come into my life and be my Savior. I turn from my life that I have been living without You and I promise to follow You and Your word the rest of my life. Thank you so much for doing this for me. Amen."