Good morning. This morning I would like to talk to you about Satan's battle for your mind!
Life is not easy is it? Every day there is a constant battle going on in our own lives and all around us. This is because our carnal mind is fighting against our spiritual mind 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and from what we hear in the media the carnal mind seems to be winning. Our characters are like two dogs fighting each other. The one that is fed the most will become the stronger and eventually that character will become our main character. The devil is the General of the battle and he gives no quarter, he keeps his soldiers fully equipped for every situation and he uses every means and detestable trick to gain an advantage in our lives. He is never fair. He never shows mercy and he never gives up. His hatred of God and humans is absolute. His aim is, and has always been, to control our minds by separating our thoughts from God and therefore gain divine worship for himself. We should understand that whilst we live in this world we are not fighting a battle with human weapons and we are not waging a war against other human beings. We are in the middle of a spiritual war. It says in 2 Corinthians 3-4:
‘For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ’.
How is it possible to fight a war against angels that are unseen and have several thousand years of battle hardness under their belts?
After they disobeyed God, our first parents, Adam and Eve forfeited their divine nature and were left with only the carnal or sinful nature. Since that time, Satan and his angels have waged a battle for the hearts and minds of his captives – you and me. But also since the beginning, God has been speaking to us, telling us that we can be restored to our proper place in his kingdom, receiving the lost immortality and divinity by grace through faith in his son. First he spoke directly through His prophets, and then through Jesus. A belief in Jesus is the only way that we can receive what was lost.
Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:4:
‘….by which (that is the divine power of Jesus), have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust’.
There are many religions out there that say humanity has two natures as well as a separate living spirit, which continues after death. But according to the bible, both of these beliefs are not true. The first belief of divinity within humanity would make us equal with Jesus, therefore we would be able to do all He did without his help! In Yoga they teach their students to place their hands together in the form of a prayer, and bow the head to another. This is called Namaste. According to the Yoga Journal of America, this word can be broken down to give its true meaning. ‘Nama’ translates to bow and ‘as’ translates to I with ‘te’ translating to you. Therefore by saying this word in a prayer like gesture, one person is saying to the other, “I bow to you”, believing there is a divine spirit in the person you are bowing to. They fail to understand that humanity is not divine by nature and divinity is not an inherent part of us. We are only promised the divine nature if we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. There is no other way or person, who can share their divinty or give immortality to humanity other than Jesus Christ. In the second instance, the belief that we have a separate human spirit that lives on after death is again refuted by the Bible. There are many verses that disprove this belief but to give just one verse, turn with me to Ecclesiastes 9: 5-7:
‘For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love and ther hatred and their envy is now perished; nether have they any more a portion forever in anything that is done under the sun’
and verse 10says:
‘Whatever you hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave here you are going’.
I think these verses alone give us the answer to life after death. Peter goes on to say in 2 Peter 1 verses 5 - 7,that we are to add to our faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity. By these we are strengthening our spiritual character and defeating the old man, our carnal nature. We become fruitful in the knowledge of Jesus. Those who do not accept Jesus remain in the lust of the flesh and have forgotten that the old sins, once cherished are now covered by the blood of Christ. Without a belief that our sins are removed we cannot discern the difference between the carnal and spiritual. That is why Paul says in Romans 7:14:
‘For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin’.
and in Romans 8:6 he says:
‘For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace’.
The mind of man is carnal and only has thoughts for temporal things. We cannot argue spirituality with a person who is does not believe in God, because what we say is foolishness to him or her. We can read this in1 Corinthians 2:14:
‘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 (that is understand them), because they are spiritually discerned’.
It is not possible to obtain a divine nature by ourselves, nor can we bow in worship to another human. Satan invented all other religions which do not acknowledge Jesus as Lord. He has infiltrated the minds of their leaders to introduce practices and dogmas to control the worshipers and ensure confusion or suppression of the knowledge of the true doctrines of God. He has buried the truth under an avalanche of lies and those who do not search for the treasure of God amongst the rubbish will be sure to follow the path of the devil who is playing a ‘mind control’ with humanity.
By spending more time with God He can begin the process of returning us to our Garden of Eden state before the fall. We have two choices – we can either: follow God and receive the gift of a divine nature and immortality after the resurrection, or conversely we can follow the devil into the ‘lake of fire’ that is reserved for him and his angels. (Revelation 20:10). Satan is a destroyer. He cares nothing for humanity and it is through him that millions are mentally ill so they cannot hear or worship God. I find it so sad when I look at people who are deformed both physically and mentally. This is Satan’s work. He has degraded the beauty of humanity by working his twisted mentality throughout the earth.
Our challenge therefore is to strengthen, protect and renew our minds and to help others do the same? We are to breakdown preconceived strongholds in our minds. Why? Because it is from the mind that sin in our life begins. Our parents, siblings and teachers train our minds from birth. The place where we live and those with whom we socialise mould our world-view. We each perceive from a different viewpoint and this can cause a mental stronghold of belief in us we we may not accept or allow different opinions to change our minds. We close them to others.
No matter how much evidence is placed before us, we will tenaciously hold on to what we believe, that is why the Bible calls it a ‘stronghold’. We hold on strongly to our beliefs. Therefor, to change a view or learn that what we have believed for many years is false, can be disconcerting and even make us doubt ourselves. This can make us vulnerable to all sorts of doctrines and even make us give up Christianity all together. I always asked myself how could David Koresh persuade 19 Seventh Day Adventists to believe that he was the messiah come in the flesh? Is it possible that they rarely read their Bible and were not grounded in the truth? I think so, otherwise they would never have given their minds over to his will to follow his crazed mentality. They paid for their lack of a firm foundation with their lives.
As Christians we have to be ‘open minded’ but our minds must not be left to float over every wind of doctrine so that we latch on to what seems plausable to us. To be open minded to other viewpoints we must first be grounded in Scripture. The Bible must be our guide. It has proven to be reliable over the centuries and therefore we must check all doctrines by it.
Christianity is under a fierce attack today, not only from outside the established church but from within. Therefore, we must always test what is preached from the pulpit; on TV or by any church preacher by God’s Word and not take everything that is said at face value.
Every one of us has a mental stronghold, which can take us away from God. Our behaviour will show whether we are motivated to please God or by the desire for personal pleasure.
Some believe there is no universal truth but that truth is only valid for the person or group holding the same values. Today we are bombarded in our lives by many ‘isims’, Materialism, Darwinism, Communism, Atheism, Fascism and any other ‘isims’ you can think of. These are all mental strongholds that are against a creator God. Selfishness takes us away from God! The seeking of approval of others or worrying about everything, even those things we cannot change. We might have idols, which we place on a pedestal and unknowingly worship. It may be a Pop Star, Movie star or even an item we possess or something we covet. Fear, resentment of someone or something, an unforgiving attitude or even guilt are mental strongholds that we have to tear down and we can only do this with God’s help.
We read in 2 Corinthiansthat we are to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. This ‘Bringing into captivity’ means we are to be in control of our thoughts. But how can we do this? How can you or I train our mind to be obedient to our will or God’s will? How is it possible to control our thoughts when our minds are so rebellious? You might not think your mind has a mind of its own but just think for a moment, does your mind wander off when you are listening to a sermon, are you doing it now? Are you thinking of something else and not really listening to what is said? Is your concentration limited or gone? What happens when you pray to God? Do you find yourself thinking of other matters – earthly things during prayer? You’re not alone. Paul gives a good explanation of this in Romans, Chapter 7 verses 18 & 19. I’ll paraphrase his comments. He says that all the things I want to do, I end up NOT doing and the things that I don’t want to do I end up doing. Is this kind of thinking that stops you going forward in your spiritual life?
If we are to be effective Christians and bring others to Christ then we have to be in control of our own minds. We should not become distracted in our worship. Distraction is a tool of the devil. If he can get us to do something in the material world that takes up our time, we are ignorantly serving him. He may also use our emotions to guide us into making decisions that make us feel good rather than allow us to think a decision through. Consequently that decision might bring us, or someone else harm. God never forces decisions upon us! He gives us all the information necessary to make an informed decision. He doesn’t want robots to follow or love Him. He always lets us know where we stand and what is expected of us? We can check Him out in His unchanging Word so that we can ‘reason together’ and have a relationship with Him. (Isaiah 1:18).The devil does the opposite; he doesn’t care how we worship him, as long as we do, willingly or ignorantly.
In The Adventist Home by Ellen G White, Chapter 66, Page 316, she talks about the ‘Portals’ we must watch and protect. We all have 5 senses: Sight, Hearing, Smell Taste and Touch. God gave us Eyes so that we may see all that is wonderful that comes from His law. He gave us hearing so that we may hear the wonderful messages given by His preachers and teachers. He gave us taste to enjoy the fruits of our labour. He gave us touch so that we could enjoy the pleasures of contact with others, and smell to enjoy the perfumes of the flowers, fields, trees and every good thing. We are also endowed with the talent of speech so we can individually communicate Christ to others as the sin-pardoning Saviour. No other animal has the power of human speech and reason. It is from our hearts (our minds)that we believe right and from our mouth that confession is made to salvation.
We therefore have to guard our senses because through these, Satan can gain a foothold. Our senses are the avenue to our inner being – our soul. We have to become a faithful sentinel over all our senses if we are to control our mind to prevent vain and corrupt thoughts from staining our soul. It is only the power of Grace that can accomplish this work.
She goes on to say:
‘Satan’s strategy is to confuse the senses by ignoring God. To so engross and absorb the mind that God will not be in their thoughts. The education they have received has been of a character to confuse the mind and eclipse the true light. Satan does not wish the people to have a knowledge of God; and if he can set in operation games and theatrical performances that will so confuse the senses of the young that human beings will perish in darkness while light shines all about them, he is well pleased’.
The mind is fertile ground. What we put into it is what we get out of it. In our modern world there is more temptations to distract the mind than in the whole of earth’s history. Our eyes are bombarded with carnal images on TV and movies and everyday our ears hear profanities. Smells come from everywhere to tempt us to over indulge our appetites and overconsumption of junk food is slowing down our thought processes, making us lethargic and unable to concentrate on studying God’s Word. With such lethargy we prefer to place ourselves in front of the TV and be bombarded with unhealthy images. The internet is absorbing our youth on a minute by minute basis. Everyone is walking around with their heads down and fingers moving over virtual keyboards – texting, skyping, searching for worldly gossip and acceptance by others. Not living in the real world but living in a cyber world – obsessed with knowing the latest trend in clothes or music or world news. Ellen White says that the opening of the door of the mind weakens resistance. We are therefore to avoid walking close to the brink of the precipice to avoid the danger of falling over. We must have moral purity, self-respect, and a strong power of resistance to sin. These must be developed and cherished as though they were pure gold. Just one discretion, one act of familiarity by departing from the correct route will jeopardise the soul by opening the door to temptation and the power to resist will be severely weakened. The invisible forces of evil can be overcome by our persistence in doing what is right and with the help of holy angels who themselves are exerting heavenly influences upon our hearts and minds. These with the Holy Spirit working within us will accomplish what we cannot do for ourselves. We should be always aware that we are exposed to unseen and invisible enemies of the soul but we should also be aware that they cannot harm us without first gaining our consent.
So to help us to begin thinking correctly, we have to understand how our brain works.
1. Never believe everything that you think!
Our minds can be made up by the things we have heard, seen or been taught and therefore what we think might not be the truth. Just because we think it does not make it true. Every day we are bombarded with vast amounts of information. Satan is active in filling our minds with many lies that are given to us through the media or through others. What we read, see and hear should not be taken at face value. There is a lot of false information out there so the truth is buried under a stack of lies and sifting through this information for the truth is a mammoth task. Unfortunately many of us are not equipped mentally to handle the vast amount of information and can come to a wrong understanding or conclusion and believe that what we believe is truth when it could be a lie.
Mental illness has affected us all. Every one of us has a mental illness. Does that shock you? What is this mental illness? It is called Sin and it is spoken of many times in the Bible, which uses phrases for our mind such as: Confused, Anxious, Closed, Evil, Restless, Rash, Deluded, Troubled, Dull, Depraved, Blinded and Corrupt. Our mind - the one God intended for us, has been taken captive by sin and as long as we are in this body, we will not be able to control our mind to avoid sin unless we are connected to God. When that connection is made, we are saved from our sins, past, present and future.
In Jeremiah 17:9it says:
‘The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, who can know it?’
Of course we know that Jeremiah was speaking about the mind. We have a great amazing capacity to lie to ourselves and to believe what we have told ourselves is true. You only have to have a conversation with an ardent evolutionist, who has never took the time to study anything else to see how the lie he has received is believed and violently protected against all other viewpoints.
We all lie to ourselves most of the time. We convince ourselves that we are happy when we are not. We say we are okay when we feel awful. We lie to others every day, sometimes a big lie to make us feel important and at other times a lie to save some ones feelings.
The Bible tells us that we cannot be trusted to tell ourselves the truth. That’s why we have to question ourselves about what we think. Just because we get a thought that sounds plausible does not mean that it is correct. Look at terrorists who have their minds set on destruction. They have convinced themselves that what they are doing is for their god because they believe in their mind that it is. All sin begins with a lie and Satan is the father of lies. (John 8:44-45).If he can get you to believe a lie, then he can get you to sin. Any time that you or I sin, we are actually saying we know better than God. In fact we are questioning God every time we sin. God has said this, but we say well what about this? Sin in the transgression of God’s law. (1 John 3:4)
1 John 1:8: Tells us that: If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
Every one of us has background biases or we jump to conclusions, which is why we are told in Romans 2not to be quick to judge because we may condemn ourselves. We get trapped in the strongholds of our mind and therefore we are unable to see that there may be more than two sides to every argument, so we can miss the big picture. Every one of us sees only what we want to see!
The Optic Nerve
Did you know that the optic nerve actually transmits more information forward than it takes in what we are looking at? Consequently our brain is telling us what we see, not our eyes. It is formulating an object from what you or I think it is, even if that object is not what it actually is. Your brain has preconditioned you to see what it wants you to see. That’s why two people looking at the same object or event can paint a different picture because their brain has conditioned them to see what it wants them to see. Brainwashing technics put information into the brain, which allows others to controlit, just as hypnotism can make people do things they would not consciously do. So you see, what you put into your mind is important because what is in there will determine your views and actions.
Today we have a great value placed on authenticity, but with such an abundance of facts presented on the Internet and through the media, how can anyone find out the real facts?
We all have our blind spots and at times fail to notice important details or we never stop to think before we jump in with both feet. I have already said we have background biases and jump to conclusions, only seeing what we want to see. Therefore we must not always believe everything we think!
2. Rubbish in – Rubbish Out
The second thing you have to do with you mind is: Guard your mind against rubbish. The computer cliché, in the American vernacular: ‘Garbage in - Garbage out’ is still true today. It’s the same for our minds, if we put rubbish into it, we will get rubbish out.
Proverbs 15:14 says:
‘A wise person is hungry for truth while the fool feeds on trash’.
A nutritionist will tell you there are three kinds of physical food that will either keep you in good health or make you ill. First there is brain food that makes you smarter and keep you alert and healthy. This is good wholesome nutritional food made by God for our health and wellbeing: Fruits, Vegetables, Legumes, Seeds, Nuts etc. Then there is junk food, which contain large amounts of calories from sugar or saturated fat and have very little protein or vitamins and minerals - most snacks and ‘take away’ fast foods. And then there is toxic food. Everyday we eat processed foods that have ‘man made’ chemical additives to preserve their shelf life. If we consumed only processed foods on a daily basis throughout our lives, our cells will degenerate and we will become sick with diseases and die prematurely.
The same is true in the material world. What you see and what you hear and allow into your mind will nourish you or destroy you. For example, good spiritual books, especially the Bible will enhance the brain. They make you smarter more Godly and more emotionally mature. Then there is junk food. Fiction books, TV and movies may not be unlawful but they make your mind lazy and take your time away from spiritual matters so you cannot prepare your lamp for when the Lord returns for His children.
You remember what Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 1:14:
‘I have seen everything that is done under the sun and behold all is vanity and striving after the wind.’
I would like to modernise this verse by changing a couple of words.
‘I have seen everything that is done under the sun and behold all is trivia and striving after the things of this world’
Most people today do not know who Paul is in the Bible, but they can tell you who won the cup four seasons ago. We should fill our minds with the right things. How can we become successful in our witnessing and bear good fruit if our minds are filled with unnecessary worldly trivia? Jesus cursed a fig tree because it did not bear fruit, that is how important God views fruitfulness from his children. Psalm 101:3 says:
‘I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless’.
Yet we do this every day. Therefore, we must guard our minds against the rubbish of the world.
In Philippians 4:6-7, it gives us two ways to guard our mind. One is ‘conversational prayer’ (pray about everything) and the other is ‘concentrated focusing’ (fixing our thoughts – don’t let the mind wander).
Let’s read Philippians:
‘Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God’.
And it goes on to say in verse 7:
‘and the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus’.
How can we know that you have the peace that passes understanding? When we understand why God does what He does and you accept what He does through faith, then you have that peace. Pray and He will guard your hearts and mind. Verse 8says:
‘Whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things’.
Talk to God constantly throughout the day. You don’t need to get on your knees all the time, Just talk to him. Yes we all need a special time of prayer but for the rest of the day just talk to him as a friend. This will guard your thoughts from wandering into the rubbish bin.
We should never worry about anything, instead we should pray about everything. By telling God what we need, He hears us. When we have asked for what we need, thank Him for what he has done for us and for answering our prayers.
There is a little tip to overcoming temptation. Don’t resist it - replace it. When we are tempted God is with us and His expulsive power will direct our thoughts away from the temptation and it will go from our mind and be replaced with something better.
3. Never give up learning about God.
Growing churches need growing teachers and every one of us is a teacher, not just the Pastor.
‘The mind of a smart person is eager to get knowledge. The wise person listens to learn more.’
And Proverbs 10:14says: Wise men store up knowledge.
When you get the chance, jot down all you learn about God. I might suggest that you keep a diary of what you have learned. This can be handed down to your family who can read what you have learned and add to it in their lives.
‘We need more knowledge of God’
“My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.”
We should never follow God blindly by listening to what others believe. We are to check everything from His Word. To gain a better perspective of God is to become wise. Isaiah says of God in Chapter 55:8:
“I don’t think the way that you think and the way you work is not the way I work.”
God is not human. He cannot be brought down from heaven into a cup. We cannot begin to imagine how puny we are when we come close to God. He is vastly superior and we will never attain His status, but He has given us understanding of His kingdom and the work that He has done and is doing for us now. The more we think like Him, the closer we become to Him and He will hear our prayers. Conversely, the less we get to know Him, the further away from Him we travel until eventually He lets us go into the devils hands.
1 Thessalonians 1:5tells us that the gospel wasn’t just given in words, but it came with the power of the Holy Spirit to give us deep conviction. Without the gospel and the Holy Spirit we will never be convicted in our hearts to keep close to God.
When we think or do carnal things, we cannot be of spiritual benefit to others. It’s like having a blunt axe and trying to chop wood. We must first sharpen our mind from God’s Word and increase our skills to become successful. Ecclesiastes 10:10.
4. Feed Daily on God’s Word
The word of God is the bread of life. If we do not feed on it daily, our spiritual life suffers. It is food for the mind and must be consumed on a regular basis if we are to grow in Christ. As Christians we are not to believe in just the parts of the Bible that appeal to us. We are supposed to be doers of the Word. We can learn a lot but unless we become doers of what we learn then our learning is unfruitful, therefore we have to feed on God’s Word every day. Every one of us should be studying the Bible. We need more of the bread of life to sustain our spirituality. Matthew 4:4
Isaiah 26:3tells us that we will have perfect peace if we trust God and fix our thoughts on Him.
5. Let God Stretch Your Imagination
It is God who will strengthen our imagination. We need to be great dreamers because where there is no vision the people will perish. Proverbs 29:8
In Acts 2:17, it says:
“in the last days, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams”.
When men start dreaming of greater things, when visions occur, action usually follows. What is your dream? What is my dream for the next 10 years? For the church, for the family, for the Glory of God? Are we innovators who ask questions that nobody else asks, or dare to dream and ask God to give us courage to act on our visions and help God fulfil His plan for us all through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3: 2-21)
Make a mental covenant with yourself as follows:
I am going to control my mind and not let it wander aimlessly onto worldly matters.
I am going to avoid watching rubbish programmes and listening to ungodly music and trivia.
I want to do more for God and help others to know Him so they too can enter the kingdom of heaven.
With God’s help I will concentrate on Spiritual matters and avoid and supress my carnal nature.
I will keep on learning about God and Jesus and call daily upon the Holy Spirit to help me.
I will read His book (The Bible), every day to get a deeper understanding of the true doctrines of Christ.
With God’s help I will never give up the race.