The Battleground in The Mind
There are people, even some believers, who think that because Satan is a defeated foe there is no real need to be concerned with spiritual warfare. Yes, Satan is a defeated foe. No doubt, it was through the Lord Jesus`s death, burial and resurrection that Jesus broke Satan`s grip on humankind. For sure, the victory at the cross was decisive, and forever determined the outcome of this war. However, my brothers and sisters I humbly pray that you thoroughly understand that although the devil is defeated, he is still very active. And so, its with this understanding that we teach spiritual warfare. Subsequently we still must battle.
The mind is where many battles are won or lost. It is significant to know the three dimensions from which humankind can sin. (1) Thought (2) Word (3) Deed. The first obviously occurs in the mind. Bishop Noel Jones says, "If you lose the battle in your mind you are already defeated on your way to committing an action you will be sorry for committing later. Your actions will just flow with the defeat of the mind." This statement is so true, and it points to various reasons why the enemy often approaches through the mind. This means that your actions will not only flow with the defeat of the mind, but because this maneuver will more than likely enable Satan to remain undetected while manipulating the flow of the psychodynamic interactions occurring in the mind. 2 Corinthians 10"4-5 " (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 exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." Each lesson in this series will reinforce how to pull down, cast out, challenge every high thing and check every thought that doesn`t line up with godly standards.
Some have been taught that Ephesians 4:27 "Neither give place to the devil." means that we can keep the evil one from entering our minds. However, any territorial battle, and this is what the passage speaks of, is fought most of the time after boundaries have been crossed. At other times preparatory reinforcements are the best that can be done. Perhaps a misconception of the first clause in 1Peter 1:13 has caused some to think that we can deny Satan access to our minds. "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober..." Maybe some misinterpret "girding up" with preventing. Actually, to gird up means to prepare your mind for action. The expression gird up in biblical days comes from men rolling up their long robes so they could run. Therefore the image is that of someone tucking his skirts under the belt, so he can be free to run. Not fleeing! But running towards something. 1 Samuel 17:45-48 "Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee....And all the assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD`S, and he will give you into our hands. And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came and drew nigh to meet David, that David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine." The rest is history; David through faith girded up the loins of his mind, and ran toward the massive giant named Goliath, and not only defeated him, David cut his head off.
Another biblical image of "girding up" is that of pulling yourself together , getting a grip, or rolling up your sleeves, preparing for the confrontation or the conflict. In other words we must mentally roll up our sleeves prepared to fight with biblical truth. When David saw how huge Goliath was David had already mentally rolled up his sleeves, for the words he spoke in the above passage confirms what God had assured David victory no matter how big Goliath stood. In Ephesians 6:14, this is what Paul was conveying when he wrote, "Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth..." Know this, although guardian angels protect us from a lot of unseen assaults, we still retain sinful tendencies which provide the evil one with access into our minds. But, true believers have the authority to make them leave. It is very significant to grasp the following biblical truth. Evil spirits are not bound by laws of physical nature and matter that govern all our human exercise of power in the physical and psychic orders. In other words they can enter people, animals, and objects. High ranking evil spirits can even manipulate laws of nature.Furthermore, the very function or mental operation of becoming aware of Satan`s presence reveals entrance to the human mind. Oh yeah, by the time most people discern or recognize an evil presence, access to their mind has already taken place. Even if you have developed strong discernment, the best you will be able to do, at times, is to recognize or sense the penetration while it is happening. Again, the function of penetrating human consciousness is mental, mental functions are psychological processes which occur internally. Put simply, to recognize being personally attacked, subtly assaulted, or tempted by an evil spirit is to know that it has entered, or is entering or perhaps injecting evil thoughts into your mind.
The following chart is not a precise illustration of what goes on within the mind. And so, its use is not an attempt to pin point all the deeply embedded psychological characteristics of human personalities, thinking patterns, or behaviors. Certainly "The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Jeremiah said it well, "Who can know it?" Therefore the purpose of the chart below is to enlighten those who are serious about renewing their minds in ways which promote strong godly character. I created this chart some time ago and use it as a visual aid to illustrate various ways the evil one and his cohorts attack the human mind. The thin arrows are entry points into the human mind by demonic attack. Note how the large thick black arrows are pointing in both directions which mean "vice versa". If we think about something long enough we will produce a mental image of what we are thinking of, and vise versa, if we visualize something long enough it will produce specific thoughts about what we visualize. This 'vise versa" works with desires and emotions too. Satan is an evil puppet master who seeks to inject sinful thoughts, manipulate memories, desires, stir emotions and if possible he ultimately seeks to control the human will. This is the battleground.
Evil One Manipulating Human Memory
Let`s start by examining the attack at the top right side of chart. Prayerfully consider how the evil one attacks by injecting thoughts that arouse memories; the memories may be painful or pleasurable. Numbers 11:4--5 is key to understanding how Satan` slithered undetected into position. "And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish, which we did eat freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick." When God delivered his people out of Egypt they didn`t cross the red sea alone. Others who were side by side with God`s people in bondage were freed too. You see, because the "mixt multitude" (non-believers) sinful flavors have not been subdued they are still led by their "flesh" and consequently still under Satan`s grip. In this case the succulent bait Satan employed was the memory of the fish, and everything else they ate while in slavery. Satan often uses this same "mixt multitude" approach against believers today. I mean he will send family members that aren`t saved, associates from your past, old friends, co-workers, people you hung out with while doing things you don`t do now, back into your presence. At times they really don`t just pop up in your life. How conveniently they fit into his diabolical plan to manipulate your memory. The fact that you had been around them in the past enables them to remind you of painful or pleasurable things in your past. They may just be reminiscing, but maybe they are not. On one hand, some may not even know they are being used by the evil one. On the other hand, some people don`t have your best interest at hand. Oh yeah misery loves company. This is how the devil often remains cloaked whereby he is working as a thief. This thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. But he almost always initially approaches as a thief. In this context the assignment is to steal your focus, by awakening the "old you" and stimulating specific feelings directly associated with the specific memory that's recalled. Oh yeah, Satan is a master thief.
In the text, when you read, "We remember the fish, which we did eat freely...." is when the dysfunctional turn into sin is made. This means that at this moment the believers chose to agree with the evil thoughts that were being injected into their minds. We know this is true because although they did eat the fish while in Egypt they did not eat freely. They were in bondage under a Pharaoh who was brutal. In psychology, this is called "selective recall" where you only remember what you want to. It seems ok to reminisce about the good old days when you were selling dope, or using drugs getting high, drinking. etc, but don`t forget about how you were always looking over your shoulder for law enforcement, sick as a dog from a hangover, spending all your money partying yet unable to pay your bills the following day, etc.. Real talk, the old me, the old you, always wants to regain control in our lives. Let me be clear, the old me, the old you defines your old sinful self, thought patterns, behavioral patterns, our uniquely sin-filled flavor. Some say we need to kill him daily! However, this is spiritual warfare, that said, I need to kill the old me situationally. Get this in your spirit, my brother, my sister, you see multiple temptations, subtle demonic attacks, don`t occur once a day, but throughout the day. You and I must kill the old us situationally, not daily. Moreover Luke 9:62 Jesus said, "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." My brother, my sister, keep it moving, onward and upward!
Satan employing Intrusive Thoughts
One of the most brutal demonic methods employed by Satan is "intrusive Thoughts" which are unwelcome involuntary thoughts that are upsetting or distressing and can be difficult to manage or eliminate. 1 Samuel 16:14-15 " But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from God troubled him. And the king`s servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee"
Get this in your spirit: We can forfeit Gods protection by continuously disobeying him. At this point in Saul`s journey he has continued to disobey God (1Sam. 14:24, 15:19-26) . It`s based on these truths that the evil spirit was permitted to torment King Saul. It`s a dangerous thing having tasted Gods goodness, mercy, and grace and then decide to keep doing things our own way, instead of following God. Please don`t get it twisted by wrongly thinking that because God permitted the evil spirit to torment Saul that God sanctioned it. In essence in situations like this God removes his grace (takes his hand off) whereby allowing things to take their own course. He will never force us to obey him, but after a while God will let you have your own way.
Knowing that King Saul was the earthly leader of God`s people, how determined to you think the devil was when it came to attacking him? The diabolical assault would start in Saul`s mind and would be based on what the devil knew about Saul`s uniquely sinful tendencies. As recorded in the text, the Spirit of the Lord`s departure from King Saul caused a highly noticeable ugly change in the kings demeanor. If the change was that noticeable publicly, what do you suppose the torment was like within Saul`s mind? It was brutal. The moment Saul started feeling rejected was the very moment Satan began employing intrusive thoughts. The evil one identifies so closely with the human need to "belong" receive affirmation and to have strong fulfilling relationships. Therefore he attacks with specific kinds of intrusive thoughts that stir feeling which are directly opposite to the human need to "belong". For example, Satan may magnify a sense of feeling obsolete within the mind of a victim who is highly qualified but the younger qualified person got the job. He may,amplify experiencing the reality of a not-by- choice-aloneness, to a victim who`s spouse has left him/her for another. He may use provocative questions
He knows the various types and stages of grief quite well. Say, for example, Satan knows that grief produced by being rejected can be worst than grieving the lost of a deceased love one, because in such cases the person`s not dead, but has chosen not to be with you. These are just a few illustrations to show why and how intrusive thoughts can be employed to torment, and further fuel emptiness, gloom, hopelessness, a lack of meaning or purpose, and a sense of failure. Don`t take the word "intrusive" lightly; such thoughts bombard the mind. To add insult to injury, the evil one also knows that it`s impossible for humans to dismiss what we feel. Consequently, in King Saul`s case the mental anguish was immense. King Saul could not simply wish away the pain of rejection. The key is for us to acknowledge what we feel, identify what`s behind it, and challenge its presence. Then check it according to scripture. For example; Be angry and sin not. King Saul did not do this. Consequently, the torment got progressively worst.
Although it`s crystal clear that Saul brought these things upon himself, our focus is on the mental, emotional, and spiritual consequences that we need to understand. Why? Because Satan gravitates toward these internal psychodynamic interactions. I can`t overemphasize Satan knowing that when humans feel rejected we feel like what we had to offer has been examined, appraised, and rejected as not good enough or invaluable. The evil intent is to compliment this painful emotional state by injecting suggestions that are in conjunction with its painful flow arousing a sense of: I`m worthless, I`m inadequate, Nobody wants me for who I am, etc." Such thoughts bum rush the mind. The evil one wants us to accept these thoughts and the feelings they stir as confirmations of not only what past struggles have meant for along time, but he wants us to link the similarities between past pain-filled experiences with the pain of the moment! The diabolical scheme is intended to overwhelm you, bust you up, or create a mental "melt-down". He ultimately wants to break your spirit. This is why it is so important to challenge what we feel and think and even what role we allow past pain-filled experiences to play in the very heat of a pain-filled situation as the incident unfolds.
Let`s look just a little further down the road, into the battlefield of King Saul`s mind. After the Spirit of the LORD departed the king,(keeping in mind his emotionally debilitating condition) scripture records the following incident. 1 Samuel 18: 6-9 "...when the victorious Israeli army was returning home after David had killed Goliath, Women came out from all the towns along the way singing and dancing for joy with tambourines and cymbals. However, this was their song; "Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands!" Of course Saul was very angry. "What`s this?" he said to himself. "They credit David with ten thousands and me with only thousands. Next they`ll be making him their king!" So from that time on King Saul kept a jealous watch on David. The very next day, in fact, a tormenting spirit from God overwhelmed Saul, and he began to rave like a madman. David began to soothe him by playing the harp, as he did whenever this happened. But Saul, who was fiddling with his spear, suddenly hurled it at David intending to pin him to the wall. But David jumped aside and escaped. This happened another time, too, for Saul was afraid of him and jealous because the Lord had left him and was now with David."
King Saul, as noted, was already losing the battle in his mind. Step back and imagine what it was like for King Saul from start to finish. He starts out having no relational knowledge with God. Then, God shows up and blesses Saul by having Saul appointed king over God`s people. Naturally following upon this he experiences Gods supernatural presence, protection and the influential fruit producing power thereof. I mean Saul initially had the "Midas touch." Everything he did was fruitful. However, due to his continued disobedience the Spirit of God leaves Saul and the debilitating emotional stages kick in and the downward spiral progresses. Accompanying this torturous sense of emptiness is the reality of his crumbling prestigious image. Saul could also sense what the people around him sensed about him. Based on his character, in particular, at this point he is thirsty for what he misses the most: the accolades, the high honor`s which were bestowed upon him during the gloriously high peeks of his kingship. Keep in mind the precision of periodic demonic assaults coming and going within his mind too. Get this in your spirit: Demons and Angels operate with supernatural precision. Their timing in the spirit realm is impeccably accurate.
This brings us to our text. Here we find King Saul leading his army back home after the stunning victory, when Goliath was defeated. No doubt as they moved closer to home the king began having flashbacks in his mind. Just as King Saul began recalling the glorious moments of being honored in the past, Satan unleashed the evil spirit of selfishness who in turn stirred up specific thoughts causing Saul to remember vivid mental pictures of women singing and dancing at other times when he led his army gallantly to victory. Never, ever forget, that Satan is a poised opportunist. Always seeking whom he can devour. The flashbacks are so vivid that it was easy for the evil spirit of selfishness to get Saul to focus on himself. Subsequently the king began to see only himself being honored. He not only expected such honor, King Saul craves it. Know this: it`s a dangerous thing to crave what you expect.
Evil spirits attack by provoking or arousing desires to resent
1 Kings 22:7-8 "And Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD besides, that we might enquire of him? And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is one man. Micaiah the son of Imiah, by whom we may enquire of the LORD, but I hate him: for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so."
In context, King Ahab was the ruler over God`s people but he repeatedly did evil in the sight of God. On previous occasions God sent his prophet Micaiah to check and chastise King Ahab with the intent of getting the king to repent. At this point King Ahab is contemplating going to war, and has asked King Jehoshaphat to team-up with him to ensure victory. King Jehoshaphat has heard from Ahab`s "yes-men" kind of prophets which said, in essence, "The combined strengths of two superpowers surly guarantees our victory. Lets do this, sayeth the LORD." Jehoshaphat is not so certain and seeks to hear from God 4real, 4real. Just because he/she wears clergy gear don`t mean he/she represent God. you feel me?
King Ahab`s hatred wasn`t just based on Micaiah repeatedly checking him. You see, his initial anger was intensified based on the prophet confronting him in the presence of others. Oh yeah, lets not forget, Ahab was the king. Moreover, know this: Anger is a hot emotion which turns cold when we stay angry too long. Its called rumination, meaning, dwelling on what`s upsetting way to long. To do so, produces bitterness, unforgiveness, revenge, hatred, and murder. All of which define cold emotional states. This is why Eph. 4:26 instructs us not to let the sun go down upon our wrath.
Let` go deeper. You see, Satan knows rumination well. Get this in your spirit: Resentment can be triggered by an emotionally disturbing experience FELT AGAIN or RELIVED in the mind. This truth points to how and why King Ahab`s hot anger grew cold, compelling him to hate the real prophet of God. Every time he relived being chastised the anger resurfaced simultaneously with vivid mental pictures of Micaiah chastising him around others. They were defining moments within his mind which reveal not only how his hatred was produced but how his hatred grew stronger and stronger. He should have challenged his thoughts and identified what was behind his anger. He chose not to do so, focusing on the messenger instead of the message.
Consequently, and tragically his hatred for the one God sent blinded him from being able to receive godly instruction. Next, King Ahab honors King Jehoshaphat`s request by sending someone to get Micaiah. The plot thickens, 1 Kings 22:13- "The messenger who went to get Micaiah told him what the other prophets were saying, and urged him to say the same thing.