Newsletter for Mar 2010
Recently I learned that a friend of mine tragically took his own life. This was a man who had been wondrously delivered from substance abuse by the power of God. I had even ministered to him at the rehab center where he lived for a while and really enjoyed being around him. He was born again, filled with the Holy Spirit and seemed to be so happy.
No one has yet discovered a suicide note and there are many questions concerning why he would do something so drastic. While we may never know the specific reasons he chose such a desperate course of action, I can tell you exactly why it happened: he fell prey to the lies of Satan. Look at the revelation Jesus gave us about the devil,
. . . He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8:44)
The lies of Satan are wrapped in a logic that all too often appeals to our senses. This is why people choose to do such things as drink, use drugs, steal, engage in sexual immorality and commit suicide. These lies, coupled with trying circumstances, begin to make sense to the individual and he develops an irrational pattern of thought which leads to a path of distorted reasoning. To him, his subsequent actions are based on very sound judgment; but to those around him they make no sense at all. Said another way, the devil's lies if not dealt with will produce deceptive imaginations.
The longer we tolerate these imaginations, the further our mind drifts away from God and who we are in Christ. Things we would have never before considered doing gradually begin to seem reasonable: The physical gratification of immoral and sinful acts now hold more value than the purity of holy living; the mental sedation of drugs or alcohol is more appealing than the peace of God which passes all understanding; committing suicide appears to be more rational than trusting in the Lord with all our heart.
God, through the Apostle Paul, has given Christians the best counsel we could ever receive when it comes to dealing with Satan's deceptions: Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
The phrase "casting down" comes from the Greek word "kathaireo," and there is nothing passive about this word. Have you ever seen professional wrestling on television where one of wrestlers picks the other up over his head, then violently slams him full-force onto the mat? That is precisely the image Paul is giving when he uses the word kathaireo: if a thought or imagination tries to redirect our focus away from the things of God, we are to show it no mercy, casting it full-force out of our mind and life.
I once asked God why it is that so many Christians have problems with their thoughts. In His answer He shared that, "The reason they are having problems in their thought life is because they are not thinking like I think. The more they think like I think, the fewer problems they will have with their thoughts. My word is a revelation of how I think. The more you put my word into your mind, the more your way of thinking will become like my way of thinking."
Consider what the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:2,
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Paraphrased, this verse is saying, "As a Christian, do not remain conformed to the world's way of thinking and reasoning. Be totally transformed in the way you think and reason by developing a new way of thinking. In doing this, you will come to clearly know and understand the fullness of God's will for every part of your life."
You see, many Christians seem to think that once they are born again their thought process will automatically change. However, this is not at all true. It is our spirit that has been born again; our mind must still be transformed. All of our lives we experience constant input from the world through television, radio, movies, newspapers and so on. We end up with a mental storehouse filled with the empty ways of the world which exalt themselves against the knowledge of God.
Though it appears as ink on paper, the Bible is the written form of God's life; even Jesus said in John 6:63, "the words I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." The more we input (read and meditate) God's word, we are imparting life into our mind; the living words of God which work to renew our thinking so it lines up with the spiritual life we received from Him at salvation.
The book of Hebrews gives us colorful imagery to illustrate the effect scripture has on our way of thinking,
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
The twenty-inch, two-edged sword of a Roman soldier was one of the most terrifying weapons of its day. The steel was hardened to withstand the most intense fighting. Both edges were honed nearly to the sharpness of a razor. The tip was crafted to have a needle-like point, capable of piercing some forms of armor. In close combat, the highly trained soldiers of Rome could use this sword with skilled, lethal accuracy as they would stab and literally slice open enemy warriors, leaving them to die on the field of battle.
The writer of Hebrews is telling us that God's word is more effective than this feared and deadly weapon of Rome. The word of God pierces into the very depths of our being to cut away thought patterns which contradict everything about our life in Christ. It examines those things we believe, consider and think on, differentiating between that which is of God and that which conflicts with His truth. It works to cut a new path of thinking so that Psalm 19:14 becomes a living reality in our life: Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
However, Satan is the greatest liar and deceiver in all of history. His methods are so subtle that many Christians ignore the warning signs that he has launched an attack against their mind. Any time he speaks a lie into our lives, the conscience of our born again spirit will produce that little, uneasy feeling deep inside. The reason we have that feeling is because the words of Satan are the words of death; God's words are always words of life. When words of death come in contact with our born again spirit of life, there is a reaction.
The problems begin not with the lies - for Satan will lie to all of us - but when we begin to sear our conscience to that inner-warning. The more we think on the lies, the more the lies will begin to seem true. Over the years I have had some very interesting conversations with people who have come to me wanting to discuss the troubles they are facing. If I were to summarize those talks, it would be like this:
"You know, Brother Jones, what you're sharing is not what the Bible has to say."
"I know, Pastor Martin, but things just aren't right."
"But if you get into God's word and pray, you'll begin to see things differently."
"Yes, that's true, but there is so much going on."
"You are indeed facing challenges. But in God's presence you'll have the peace and wisdom you need."
"Yes, I know you're right. But I just don't know how much more I can take."
I wish I were only exaggerating. When people get to this point, they are agreeing with me only because they know that is what they are supposed to say. The truth is they have allowed an imagination to exalt itself over the things of God and believe the imagination more that what God has said. What is the imagination? That the present circumstances are too great for even God or His word to overcome; for if such people were thinking clearly, they would have run into God's presence the moment the problems arose.
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 4:15-16)
I don't know what you are facing, but I can tell you for a certainty that God's word is the only truth that will sustain you through every trial and problem. Every thought that exalts itself against the word of God is a LIE from Satan. Take control of those deceptive imaginations and cast them out of your life. Stay in God's word and let it create divine patterns of thought that will help you discern His will for your life. Walk the path of His will and you will walk the path of His presence!
Your servant in Christ,