Thoughts create emotions which influence our perceptions of future thoughts. These perceptions, thoughts, and emotions influence our decisions, actions, and behaviors – which often either imprison or set us free. Thoughts don’t destroy us – it’s how we label and acts upon what we think. Thus, to be free, we must know the difference between truth and falsehoods.
For example, one summer night, driving home from a Rhett Walker Band concert, at Spring Arbor University, my mind was being bombard by “intrusive thoughts” telling me “I am no good and unloved”, triggered by my associating college students at SAU with my past experiences of being rejected at Tris-State University. As the spiritual battle between believing I was good based upon the opinions of past people to I am special creation of God, anxiety incited. Past hurts got recalled, and the emotional responses and perceptions incited. As you play the game, the devil (just like Jesus being tempted in wilderness) waited for my weakness, frailties, and vulnerabilities to get attacked, and all of a sudden, when nearing a time where it is critical for you to drive under control and car, you experience intrusive thoughts, of killing self through reckless driving.
In life, we all face troubles, fears, unworthiness, frailties, and temptations to give up. We are human and imperfect, which makes us vulnerable and weak. However, there is hope, if we can only know the difference between truth and lies:
Truth # 1: We have an enemy to face.
Especially, in the midst of our troubles, we are constantly in a spiritual battle versus the devil, “a roaring lion” who uses lies and fear in hopes of devouring people (1 Peter 5:8). To destroy us, Satan tries to create strongholds in us by exerting pressure upon our fears, frailties, sufferings, and painful memories. His deceit works to impair our decision making by influencing what perceptions we “label” of situations and of circumstances. He also likes to make potential misfortune seem more threatening and more likely to occur than in reality, hopes to arouse negative emotions to intolerable levels, lie about what threshold of suffering we can endure and that there is no escape route through the struggle, and finally, make us believe God is not in control. “If you feel so overwhelmed, engulfed, and inundated by your problems and difficulties that you want to give up, stop, and think. It may be the Enemy at work.” (Pedro Okoro, see above).
“Spiritual warfare is very real. There is a furious, fierce, and ferocious battle raging in the realm of the spirit between the forces of God and the forces of evil.” ― Pedro Okoro, Crushing the Devil: Your Guide to Spiritual Warfare and Victory in Christ
Truth # 2: Satan knows our weaknesses: fear, low self-esteem, and our tendencies to sin.
In the garden of Eden, man learned to sin, which had separated every man from God, until the cross (for believers). Feelings and fears of inadequacy and shame, false perceptions that our Father in Heaven will not always love and accept us, hatred and selfishness, and life trials and sufferings have since then tyrannized man, as we are controlled by our tendencies to do evil. The devil knows all this. So he implants thoughts that incite fear, self-rejection, and low self-esteems as he tempts us to make bad, often sinful decisions. Please read the follow quotes:
“Many Christians… find themselves defeated by the most psychological weapon that Satan uses against them. This weapon has the effectiveness of a deadly missile. Its name? Low self-esteem. Satan’s greatest psychological weapon is a gut level feeling of inferiority, inadequacy, and low self-worth This feeling shackles many Christians, in spite of wonderful spiritual experiences and knowledge of God’s Word. Although they understand their position as sons and daughters of God, they are tied up in knots, bound by a terrible feeling inferiority, and chained to a deep sense of worthlessness.” ― David A. Seamands, Healing For Damaged Emotions
“Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity, and power can indeed present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of the much larger temptation to self-rejection. When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap, however, is self-rejection. As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking, “Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody.” … [My dark side says,] I am no good… I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected, and abandoned. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved.” Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.” ― Henri J.M. Nouwen
Worthlessness, self-rejection, and fear – Satan knows our weaknesses and frailties. When we sin, we feel these experiences as Satan the Accuser and Father of lies, likes to “rub salt into our wounds.” Or, he may use the rejecting and hurtful words / actions of those around us, to do the same. He may put trials in our lives to deceitfully make us “believe God doesn’t love us”, or that “God won’t deliver us through the trial”, which could also lead us to doubt God’s unconditional love of us. The point is, Satan knows we are powerless when we feel discouraged, unconfident, and separated from God. Bob Sorge, author of Glory: When Heaven Invades Earth, reinforces these points: “The nature of the enemy’s warfare in your life is to cause you to become discouraged and to cast away your confidence. Not that you would necessarily discard your salvation, but you could give up your hope of God’s deliverance. The enemy wants to numb you into a coping kind of Christianity that has given up hope of seeing God’s resurrection power.”
Satan will continue to attack our vulnerabilities until we prove to him they are no longer a weakness. Pedro Okoro said, in Crushing the Devil: Your Guide to Spiritual Warfare and Victory in Christ: “The devil doesn’t really have any new schemes, ideas, or initiatives. He keeps on recycling and reusing the same temptations, adorning them in different attires.” So how we defeat the enemy?
Truth #3: Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Pedro Okoro, same book, says “To effectively combat the devil, you need to pray”. Unfortunately, he also writes, “If you do not pray, you easily become a prey.” Faith in prayer is the secret to unleashing God’s power in our times of need, as we ask the Creator of the heavens and earth in trust to help win the victory over the Enemy. 1 John 5:14-15 says, “And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that He will give us what we ask for.” “ John 14:13, John 15:7, and John 16:24 also reinforce that bible truth:
“And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son (John 14:13).
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. “ (John 15:7)
“Until now you have asked nothing in My name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be made full” (John 16:24).
“As a believer, you have the authority to tell the devil what to do in the name of Jesus” ― (Pedro Okoro, Crushing the Devil: Your Guide to Spiritual Warfare and Victory in Christ). However, when we sin, we lose fellowship to Christ and His power source until we repent. Thus, many times, in life, we are often weak because of our sins. Thus, Satan tries to lead us away from Christ through temptations to sins, and once he does, he tries to make us doubt God’s love and willingness to help us in our times of need. Deceptions, temptations to sin, and accusations are the tricks of the devil.
Faith and prayer frees us, doubt and fear imprisons. As Pedro Okoro says, “Knowledge comes by revelation through the study of the Scriptures.” This means, in order to have faith, which requires believing in the truth of God’s scriptures, we must daily study God’s Word, so we will have the “knowledge” background to know the difference between God’s Word and Satanic lies. (For example, by studying the Bible, you can learn truths like Romans 8:38-41, “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”)
When facing life struggles, know the difference between Satan’s lies and Biblical Truths, as well as fact from truth. Pedro Okoro expounds on this statement:
“There is a difference between the fact and the truth. The fact is what you may be experiencing at any particular point in time in your life, the day-to-day reality of life, the struggles, the challenges, the issues and the problems that you face on a daily basis. On the other hand, the truth is what God’s Word says about the particular situation you are going through or the challenges you currently face…God expects you to confess and proclaim the truth of His Word, not the fact of your daily struggles!” ― Pedro Okoro, Crushing the Devil: Your Guide to Spiritual Warfare and Victory in Christ
”Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil.” (See Ephesians 6).
“In this battle, there is no room for turning back. You have to be on the offensive. You have to keep attacking the Enemy; and on account of this, your back is left bare. You cannot afford to turn back once you have put your hand to the plow and agreed to follow Jesus! To do otherwise is to leave yourself open to the Enemy’s attack.” ― Pedro Okoro, Crushing the Devil: Your Guide to Spiritual Warfare and Victory in Christ
“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world”, Jesus said in John 16:33. People need something and someone to believe in; what they need, is to see Christ in us. God has a giant-sized purpose for both you and me. “Change your thoughts and you change your world.”(Norman Vincent Peale).
Every human is faced with a personal Goliath which only the Trinity can conquer. When life giants, storms, and mountains get into our path, we must realize that, even though seemingly equipped with “five stones and a sling”, we will always have God on our side, who will never leave nor forsake us. If you let Him, He will make you into a spiritual giant that dwarfs your troubles. And the whole world will know that there “is a God in this world.”
“Spiritual giants are only willing, available and thirsty spiritual babies who paid the price for the prize, who waged a war for the victims to become victors, just like the courageous Davids that kill the big Goliaths” ( Ikechukwu Joseph, Strategic Spiritual Warfare). Are you willing to surrender your life to God’s dream for you, not matter the cost, and trust Him daily as He delivers you through one trial after another? Freedom happens when we place our lives into His hands!
“Battles are won, not with weapons, but with God. They are won where the way leads to the cross.” ― Megan McKenna, The New Stations of the Cross: The Way of the Cross According to Scripture
“In spiritual warfare, faith is the currency that releases your prayer. It is the instrument (or weapon, if you like) that activates and sets loose the answers to your prayers.” ― Pedro Okoro, Crushing the Devil: Your Guide to Spiritual Warfare and Victory in Christ
“Just as you cannot stop a bird from flying over your head, in the same way you cannot stop the devil from dropping ideas into your mind. However, in the same way that you can stop a bird from building a nest on your head, you can stop the Enemy’s suggestions from wandering without restriction and taking root in your mind.” ― Pedro Okoro, Crushing the Devil: Your Guide to Spiritual Warfare and Victory in Christ