Last week was a very difficult week for me personally. It felt like the perfect storm where all things surrounding me had spiraled desperately out of control. I fell into despair and wondered where God was in the midst of each of these situations. It was a very dark place for me, and for a time, I forgot that our battle in this world is not against flesh and blood but “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12). We are in a spiritual battle and I failed to recognized that I was standing in the line of fire. I was listening to the lies of Satan about me and about each of these situations, and it felt overwhelming and depressing.
And as I cried out loud, “Please help me God, where are you??” I saw Him reveal Himself in four specific and clear ways throughout the week, even in the middle of my despair. I won’t share about each of them because some are very personal to me. But I did want to share one amazing way God touched me this past week. God led me to a particular sermon by David Platt that I desperately needed to hear.
Part of my routine this summer has been running at the park in the morning with my boys and another sweet family. While I run, I normally listen to a podcast by Matt Whitman called Ten Minute Bible Hour (I highly recommend it - he does a fantastic job!). However, I happened to glance at the screen before I fired up the next episode and saw the title of a podcast by David Platt. It was called “The Battle Between Our Ears.”
Without even knowing what exactly he would discuss, I knew that described what I was experiencing, especially this particular week. “The battle between my ears.” That is where that true spiritual battle happens.
When the Bible says the devil is prowling around like a lion looking for whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8), it would almost be easier if it were a real lion. Then it would be visible. You could see where he was about to attack and you could see where you were vulnerable. You would know better when and how you were being attacked.
But that’s not how Satan attacks. He starts with our minds. He whispers into our thoughts. He deceives us with subtle lies. He reminds us of our failures. He exaggerates our circumstances. He encourages us in our pride. And he can become almost undetectable. This place in our minds is where the battle is being fought, therefore this is where the battle must be won.
You don’t have a choice about this battle either. You can’t just decide you’re not going to fight. Satan is attacking you whether you want to be involved in the fight or not. So it’s best that you are prepared.
In this sermon, David Platt talked about the importance of our thoughts as we engage in this battle. There are so many verses that emphasize this.
--- In Matthew 22:37, Jesus said the greatest command was to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
--- We are to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
--- The peace of God will “guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)
--- And even Peter says in preparation of that lion to “be sober minded.”
All of these deal with our thoughts, our minds. What you think and what you focus your mind on matters because ideas have consequences. Our ideas is what drives our actions. So it is ever important to set your mind on things above (Colossians 3:2).
Then Platt related this to one of my favorite verses. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
I love this verse so much I even bought a shirt with it on it. I’ve used it often to answer my son when he asks why we don’t watch certain things or listen to certain things. I always answer him in return, “Is that true? Is that noble? Is that pure or lovely? No. Then we don’t fill our minds with that.”
And while that is still absolutely true – you can’t think on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, or admirable if you’re filling your mind with stuff that isn’t, I realized I always stopped short in applying the full meaning of this verse. It isn’t just about watching, reading, or listening to things that are wholesome and not watching things that are unwholesome. Because both of those things are passive, not active.
Paul says “think” on these things. Not just passively watch and listen to these things. But think on them. This is what I had failed to consider. I wasn’t taking those thoughts captive into obedience unto Christ. I wasn’t thinking on the things that were true and noble, that were pure and lovely. I was thinking on the things that were lies, that were unlovely, and that were not praiseworthy.
Thinking is an action. We must be intentional with our thoughts, actively thinking on things of God, on things that are true and noble and pure. And we must be intentional to stop focusing on things of the earth, on things that are not true and not noble and not pure. All of this is done only through the power of the Holy Spirit.
This was the message God wanted me to hear as I had been lazy in my thinking. I was allowing Satan to have the upper hand in the battle of ideas. I wasn't being intentional to think on the truth from God. In other words, we need to think about what we're thinking about. Is this a thought that is truth from God? Is this something that is commendable to God? Is this something that is praiseworthy? If not, then change your thoughts to things that are.
The following Sunday morning in a sermon from my pastor Blake Kersey, I was reminded again of this spiritual battle as he was discussing Ephesians 6. Paul uses an analogy of the Roman soldier’s armor for the things God has given us so that we may stand against the devil’s schemes in this spiritual battle. The first piece of armor Paul references is the belt of truth. We are to stand with truth buckled around our waists. In other words, whatever is true, think on these things.
So I encourage you, when you feel those moments of despair, know that the enemy is prowling around wanting to devour you. And his strategy is to change our thoughts. Just like with Eve in the garden, Satan says, “Did God really say…?” He challenged her thoughts about who God is and who she was to God. Satan does the same with us today. Did God really say you are forgiven? Did God really say you are redeemed? Think about what all you have done! Did God really say you belong to Him?
I’ll close this with these words from Pastor Blake Kersey. He uses the first three chapters of Ephesians to remind you who you are in Christ if you have given your life to Him:
You have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. You have been chosen before the foundation of the world. You are holy and blameless. You have been adopted and loved. You have been redeemed through Christ’s blood. You have obtained an inheritance in heaven. You have been sealed with the Holy Spirit. You have been made spiritually alive together with the Holy Spirit. You have been seated with Christ in the heavenly places. You have been saved by God’s grace through faith. You have become God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works. You have been brought near to God by the blood of Christ, and Christ Himself is your peace. You have access to God through Christ. You are no longer a stranger and alien, but now you are a fellow citizen and a member of God’s household. You are a fellow heir and fellow member of the body of Christ. You are a fellow partaker of the promise of Christ Jesus through the Gospel. You can enter boldly and confidently before the throne of grace because of what Jesus has done for you.
That, my friends, is the truth of who you are in Christ Jesus. Do not let the lies from the great deceiver tell you otherwise. Take those thoughts captive into obedience unto Christ, and instead think on those things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, excellent, and praiseworthy.