Last week we talked about Satan’s primary attack – our mind. It’s easy to know some of the wrong thoughts – lust, rape, murder, theft, lying, extramarital affairs, etc. Some attacks are more subtle. How do we know what’s good and what’s not?
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 (ESV)
How do we do this? It’s so easy to look at the things of the world – the sensuality, the advertisements that make us want to buy stuff to find happiness, the “entertainment” that we feel we need to watch so we can fit in with our peer group. Some of that is beautiful, of course, but what of the things that are just a “little” bad? Can we safely interact then?
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. 2 Corinthians 10:5-6 (ESV)
Unfortunately for us, the answer is a clear NO. If we don’t focus on the true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise, we are disobedient. We are either in God’s will or we are sinning. It’s black and white. We would all like some wiggle room, but it’s just not there!
Are thoughts bad? Absolutely not. What we do with those thoughts is the problem. If we have an ungodly thought and we turn to God for help, we’re in His will. If we continue on with the thought, it can lead to an ungodly action. That’s a sin. If we continue with the same ungodly thoughts, it can become a stronghold or what Paul calls a fortress. God has given us a way out!
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 2 Corinthians 10:4 (ESV)
We must take time to ask God to help us take down our strongholds. This includes thoughts that could lead to sin. We can’t do it alone. We need His help. Any stronghold is a hiding place for Satan – and those areas are places where Satan becomes victorious.
If you have the courage, take an hour or so and examine your life with pen and paper (or computer) at hand. Honestly evaluate your thoughts and actions from today. Write down every possible stronghold:
Vocabulary used to fit in with your peer group
Visuals you should not have continued to look at
Bitterness and unforgiveness
Music with inappropriate lyrics
Lustfully looking at another human being
Envy of an acquaintance’s new possession
Desire to “slack off” when the boss isn’t looking
Temptation to forego reading God’s Word or praying because of your busy day
The list could be endless. With relentless soul searching, prayer and study of God’s Word – and with God’s help – you can begin to tear down your strongholds. Evaluate your thought life today and begin to step closer to God’s will!
See you Thursday.