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Whose Thoughts Do You Think Anyway? (A Brief Study About Temptation)
How many times have you heard people bragging, "I know my own mind!" or saying, "You can't tell me what to think! No one can tell me what to think!" Maybe you have said that very same thing and believed it to be true. In fact, most people of the world, (and most Christians), believe what goes on in their own head is always of their own making. Yet no one will deny that there must be a reason that advertising costs so many millions of dollars for 30 seconds of Super Bowl time. How effective can 30 seconds be anyway? The sooner we realize how vulnerable our minds are, the sooner we will be able to understand how to make them less vulnerable to attack.
You may ask, "Isn't that overstating things? Attack from whom? But as soon as the question is asked, the Bible answers.
"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:11-12)
Satan's Ploy: Plant Thoughts In Your Mind.
The enemy is very good at the art of knowing your mind. He knows that if you aren't paying attention to where the thought voice in your mind comes from, he can hurt you. Hurting you, tempting you to do evil is a way to bring pain to the heart of a God who cares, and he seeks to destroy a work of God in progress.
"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." (Ephesian 2:10)
Satan is busier in the area of mental manipulation than in any other facet of the war he's waging against the saints of God. He creates "plausible illusion" in our minds. You know what that is, right? He gives us the impression that the thought that he put in our head is logical sound reasoning. That is impressive enough, but he speaks to us like he's an expert in multi-media or some such thing. He will use voices that sound like dead relatives in memory sequences, or replay tragedies from our own memories to influence us. He is heartless, cruel, and ever vigilant from moment to moment, looking for any opportunity he can use to hurt us or gain a foothold in our lives. Why? because hurting us hurts God. He knows that he can't hurt God directly so he goes after those whom God loves.
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." (1 Peter 5:8)
Perhaps his greatest trick is speaking to each of us with the sound of our own mental voice at its reasoning best. As each of us reasons things out, we hear what we recognize as our own voice speaking. In our own reasoning voice we hear Satan's thoughts and we assume that they are our thoughts.
"Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one." (Ephesians 6:16)
These fiery darts are the thoughts of which we spoke, placed in our minds by Satan. Notice the verse above also says "above all." This is the importance the apostle Paul attaches to the attaining of protection against this kind of attack.
Satan endeavors to build an infra-structure of thought patterns. This mental structure is ideas and premises drawn from family experience, tragedy, popular world views or other things. He uses these things to build a whole belief system if he can. In fact, cults are born of such things. You may hear of some leader of a cult that says, "It became clear" or "I heard a voice" or "God showed me." The Bible calls these mental "structures" strongholds of Satan. These "strongholds" imprison many people, unsaved and saved. These strongholds include obsessive thoughts, many psychoses, and psychosomatic diseases of all sorts. Institutions are full of people with delusional thinking, many of which are not chemical or physical in nature, but demonically influenced. There is freedom in Christ, but we can allow Satan control in our lives, even as saved men and women.
"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down of 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 10:4-5)
God's Protection: His Living Word.
The Scripture tells of the possibility through God and His Word of pulling down the strongholds of Satan (the thought-structures and belief systems that Satan has built in our minds). If we immerse ourselves into the written Word, it becomes a protection against Satan's mind games.
"Your word I have hid in my heart, that I might not sin against You." (Psalms 119:11)
In Deuteronomy, the Children of Abraham were told to totally ingrain these Biblical words into their life and thinking. They were to write them in places where they would continually see them. They were to endlessly speak them. engraving their meaning into their hearts.
"Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of the house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth." (Deuteronomy 11:18-21)
Satan Tempts Us.
Satan wants to destroy us. That fact is pure plain and simple to see. If a person has not asked Jesus into their heart as Savior the devil wants that person to stay that way, unsaved, doomed, condemned to forever be away from heaven and God. If an individual knows Jesus, the enemy cannot make him lose his salvation so he tries to make that man weak and powerless, unable to do anything for God. He loves to watch us slip into sin that will trap us and waste what precious time that we have left to do God's will. With enticingly sweet whispers, he speaks into our ear, playing on our fleshly weaknesses and our negative worldly programming. "Go ahead, you know you want to. In fact, it would be silly not to do it." Thus we do the thing that we don't want to do in our spirit or we don't do the thing that we should do according to the Spirit. Paul succumbed more times than he wanted to admit.
"But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin that is in my members. O wretched man that I am!" (Romans 7:23-24a)
I heard this account some years back about a person that jumped off the Golden Gate bridge. Since that bridge had been built there were only three people that lived after having attempted suicide by jumping off that great structure. Two of those folks were left in a vegetative state and could not speak of why they did such a horrible thing to themselves. One did. I really can't remember if that person was a man or woman but for this example I will say it was a man. When asked what went through his mind to come to such a dire course of action, the man explained the progress of thought. He said that the idea started as a what-if scenario in his mind. As the thought of what would happen to those around him played in his head, the thought occurred to him that all the people he knew would be better off without him. Once that idea was in his mind he could not think of anything else. He became convinced it was doing everyone that he loved a disservice to stay alive. He was a blight on humanity, just die! So he went up to the highest part of the bridge and jumped. Up until his foot left the bridge he was convinced he was doing right and as soon as he was in the air, it dawned on him that there were reasons to live and that he did not know what was on the other side and in the brief seconds that ticked by like days he became scared, hysterically scared.
This true story is a prime example of how our minds can be influenced. An idea comes into our heads and we begin to give it credence. We build a structure to it with premises and presuppositions. Most of these building blocks of thought are given to us (fiery darts). The man was convinced that what he had decided to do was right and logical. Then when his foot left the bridge, the one giving the false premise and logic pulled it back, to watch that man fall in terror to his death. I am certain the demon doing this laughed at that man all the way to the water but God had other plans for him. He lived instead of dying so that he could relay this story of how mind games are played upon us.
God Gives Us A Way Of Escape!
Remember, not all thoughts that come into your mind are yours. Just because a thought passes through your mind, does not mean you have to act upon it or do it. Even Jesus had this happen to Him. He was in the wilderness and had had nothing to eat for forty days. He was very hungry and the thought was given by Satan, "make these stones into bread." This is what happens to us. We are given thoughts, not our own. Jesus fought this temptation by quoting Scripture. He drew strength from the Word of God. "Thou shalt not live by bread alone." You don't have to be powerless against temptation. Though everyone at times (except Jesus), serve the desires of the flesh, we do have hope. Paul continues this way:
"Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God - through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin." (Romans 7:24-25)
God promises never to leave us or forsake us. He promises that with the temptation that He allows Satan to bring upon us, God Himself, will provide a way of escape.
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but with the temptation also make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Satan Tries To Make Us Conform.
Satan has an agenda. He wishes to cause as much harm to God as possible before his time is up. He knows that the only way to hurt an omnipotent God is to hurt His babies and to keep them from producing any fruit. He uses any method and motivation that he can to accomplish this. If he can control our thoughts, our speech, our attitude, then he can keep us in a constant state of non-production of fruit for God. He tries to force His will on us and conform us into easily controlled and vulnerable sheep that can be used for his purpose and then to be devoured by his ravenous wolves. The sad thing is, most people feel that conforming to the world is true freedom to do what they want, when they want. But conforming to Satan's rules and the world's standards is not freedom, but enslavement. Satan works for mankind's destruction.
God Wishes To Transform Us.
Contrast the conformity that Satan would foist on unsuspecting men with the true freedom that God offers. God allows us volition to make up our own minds, Satan does not. God tells us the truth about life, and ourselves - then reasons with us to do what is right. Satan tells half truths and builds on false premise and supposition, he lies. And he lies for the worst reason, our destruction and hurt. Satan plays games that destroy the mind and self-concept. God promises us peace that "passes all understanding" and a joy "unspeakable and full of glory." Satan steals freedom from us and gives us pain and suffering in exchange. God asks to be given control in our lives and in return grants us blessing and fruit and crowns in eternity. Let me ask you, who has the better deal?
Who's thoughts do you think anyway?
I remember thinking that every thought that came into my mind originated with me. I believed that there were no outside forces, no spiritual realms, nothing but my own consciousness. But I know better now. I realize that there is a spiritual war going on and we are right in the action. No one stands at the sideline. If we do nothing for God, then we will be pawns for the devil.
Are you a person that finds yourself yearning for a peace that passes understanding and joy so full you have a hard time explaining it to others? It is possible to have that without any of the gimmicks that make grand promises but at most grant a temporary sense of security. Jesus wishes to be our security. He said, "Come unto Me all who are burdened and heavy laden and I will give you rest."
But to seek to receive Christ as Savior, you must do it on His terms. You merely do not repeat words like some magic incantation. It is not something that is based on your performance because "all have sinned and fall short of God's glory." Someone comes to Christ by realizing that he is a sinner that deserves hell. That is how you get to heaven when you know you can't get there on your own and humbly come before Jesus and confess that you need Him as your Savior. Truthfully tell Him that you are willing to change your life and follow Him, turning from your sin as you turn to Him and live as He leads.
Pray this: Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner that does not deserve heaven but I know You came to earth to save me anyway. I believe You died upon the cross and were buried in the tomb. Then in three days You rose from the dead. Please Jesus forgive me of my sin and save me. I turn from my sin and living my life as if You do not exist. I turn to You as the only way of salvation and promise to follow You all the days of my life.. Thank You for hearing me and saving me for I pray this in Jesus' holy name. Amen.
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