Monthly Encouraging Words
November, 2019 | Barbara Fiscus
Thank You, God, that You are creating in me a new testimony. Thank you that You make the walls fall before me. Thank You that You use what the enemy meant for evil and You use it for good. Right now, I am exposing my enemy and his schemes. Through Your Holy Spirit, You made me aware that my enemy has been holding me captive by his lies. This knowledge is like switching on the light in the dark. My enemy shrinks and flees, disarmed of his power. It’s like salt to a slug or water to the Wicked Witch. You are light in my darkness, Lord. Thank You that You are right here in my battle with me. Thank You that You arm me with the sword of the Spirit, which is Your Word. You are glorified when I emerge victorious from a battle that I can’t fight on my own.
God, You are good. And You have been good to me. Thank You for reminding me of other battles You have won in my life. Thank You for Your patience when I questioned Your love for me; in the darkness, I question almost everyone’s love. I am blinded to truth and I doubt my value and worth. Thank You for pulling me out of the miry pit, where my enemy sought to hold me, bound by fear, paralyzed and weakened in my own mind.
Satan is my accuser. He uses the little truths of my failures to worm his way into my mind. Like a flesh-eating parasite, he eats away first at my self-confidence and then--his ultimate goal--at my confidence in God. Undetected, he can destroy his victims. He is able to infiltrate our minds by cloaking his lies in a sheath of truth. Because they are disguised, we don’t recognize and reject them. Once accepted, a single lie can spread like a cancer cell, infecting and distorting the good cells nearby. Truths we once believed can suddenly seem foolish and delusional.
This was my recent experience: the truth that Satan used to gain access into my thoughts is the fact that I have experienced some failures. I have felt frustrated, embarrassed and ashamed as a result. These emotions served to compromise my spiritual immune system and made me susceptible to all kinds of dis-ease. Despite being “healthy” in other ways, I too readily accepted his nearly terminal diagnosis that I was a failure. Similarly, he used the truth of the feeling of rejection in one area of my life to convince me to question multiple other areas. This “cell” of self-doubt quickly metastasized, to the point that I began to question what nearly everyone thought of me, wondering whether they truly liked me or saw worth in me. The devil seemed to have hijacked my mind, twisting my perspective of interactions even with friends and loved ones. As a body responds to a foreign substance, I became inflamed and overly sensitive. I resisted input because I felt the need to protect myself. All of these emotional symptoms happened because I had allowed the devil access to my mind. He used the original truth of a failure to lower my defenses so that I would accept his lies and begin to redefine myself, my relationships and my view of God.
In reality, it’s that last part that is Satan’s true aim. I am not his ultimate target; God is. He means to pierce the heart of God by destroying His beloved, and he learned in the Garden of Eden how effective is the power of deception. Once we take the bait of his lies, we temporarily divorce ourselves from God and His truth. We stop living according to the Spirit and, instead, take counsel from our feelings (or flesh, as the Bible calls it). People become self-destructive, whether directly--as in the case of suicide--or indirectly--by adopting behaviors that are harmful to themselves and others: “…sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like” (Galatians 5:19-21, ESV). All of these are sin, and sin separates us further from God. Therein lies the victory for Satan. Because God desires intimacy and unity with us, it breaks His heart when our ears are inclined toward His enemy.
We are all in the midst of a grand battle that it is fought in our minds. The challenge is that, since we can’t see it, we tend to forget about it and leave ourselves defenseless and vulnerable to confusion and deception. The physical war was already won for us at the cross. However, if we fail to remain cognizant of that fact, we risk approaching the battle as frightened victims rather than victors. In a way, it’s as if the task of our lives is to simply walk through the battleground of a war that’s already been won, not pausing or wavering to look around at the casualties, but keeping our eyes on Christ, using Him and His truth as a lifeline to guide us safely across the victory line. The longer we listen to Satan’s lies, the further we stray in our belief and the more apt we are to get distracted by the destruction around us and fall to our knees in surrender.
Satan is always on the lookout for weak and willing victims who will cave under the pressure of his lies. The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 5:8 (ESV), “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” We must be aware of our adversary, but we must never forget that we also have an Advocate--Jesus Christ (1 John 2:1, ESV). We are not alone; we are not helpless. James exhorted his readers, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7, ESV). If we stand against our enemy, he will flee. He won’t waste time where it is unproductive. Jesus actively resisted the enemy in the wilderness, “And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13, ESV). Staying in submission to God and His Word is a repellent against Satan and his lies.
“Guard your heart” (Proverbs 4:23, NIV) and “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes” (Ephesians 6:11, NIV). The Lord is our “strength and shield” (Psalm 28:7). A shield only works if it’s close to you, however. Prior to this recent attack on my thought life, I had been on vacation for about two weeks. I had a great time and experienced some fun, new adventures. I even broke through comfort zones, and faced and conquered a couple of fears, so I felt triumphant in a way. However, I didn’t spend much time with the Lord, either in prayer or in His Word. I can’t help but wonder whether my spiritual laziness may have led me a little too far from God’s protection and made me vulnerable to the lies of my enemy. While I had struggled regarding my failures prior to vacation, within one week of our return, the enemy definitely had the upper hand on my self-talk. We must be careful not to become so distracted in our lives that we stray away and lose sight of our Shepherd, making ourselves easy targets for our enemy.
One way to tell how far you have wandered is to listen. Become aware of the words you are saying, whether out loud or in your own mind. Then, consider the source. Are they messages that build up or tear down? Do they sound more like the words of a faithful and loving God, (“we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.” 1 John 4:16, NIV) or of the one who is called the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10, NKJV) and the father of lies (“When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44, NIV)? This is akin to what Paul called, “tak(ing) every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5, ESV). As you evaluate each message, remember that having an element of truth is not sufficient evidence to deem it trustworthy. For example, in my situation, the element of truth is that I have had failures; the lie is that, therefore, I am a failure. The enemy baits his hook with partial truths from our lives. Because we can’t dispute those truths, we risk swallowing the entire lie.
What we choose to believe about ourselves and others is critically important to our mental, emotional, spiritual and even physical health. If what we hear sounds more like the words of our adversary than our Advocate, it’s time to reach for the Light. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12, ESV). His truth illuminates our lives. His love rescues our hearts. And His name is a mighty weapon in spiritual warfare (“in my name they will cast out demons” Mark 16:17, ESV). Though Jesus already won the war, we still have this battlefield called life to navigate. We must keep our eyes on Him in order to avoid getting distracted by the enemy. We are warned, “…do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1, ESV). Protect your mind. Be discerning. Consider the source.