Satan and his forces can do nothing about our position in Christ (Helmet of Salvation), but if they can, they will cloud our perspective (Faith’s Shield) and dull our effectiveness in our ministry of reconciliation. No body loses control to Satan and his forces overnight; it is a gradual process of deception and yielding to their subtle influence.
Many of the body of Christ, instead of recognizing that their minds are being peppered by the fiery darts of the enemy, they think the problem is their own fault. “If those foul thoughts are mine, what kind of person am I?” they wonder. So they end up condemning themselves while the enemy continues their attack unchecked.
Satan and his forces are created beings, and they do not perfectly know what we are thinking. By observing us they can pretty well tell what we are thinking, but they do not know what we are going to do before we do it. They can put thoughts into our mind, and they will know whether we buy their lie by how we behave.
Satan and his forces can try to influence us by planting thoughts in our mind, but they cannot read our thoughts. If we are going to resist Satan and his forces, we must do so outwardly so they can understand us and be put to flight. We cannot expect God to protect us from Satan and his forces influences if we do not take an active part in God’s prepared strategy.
When Satan and his forces tempt us through the channel of the lust of the flesh, they will invite us to fulfill our physical needs in ways that are outside the boundary of God’s will for us. Whenever we feel enticed to meet a legitimate physical need by acting independently of God, we are being tempted though the lust of the flesh.
The lust of the eyes subtly draws us away from God and eats away at our confidence in God. We see what the world has to offer and we begin to place more credence in our own perspective of life. Fueled by the lust for what we see, we grab for all we can get, believing that we need it and deceived that God wants us to have it. Wrongly assuming that God will withhold nothing good from us, we lustfully claim prosperity.
The temptation of the pride of life is intended to destroy our obedience to our ministry of reconciliation by urging us to take charge of our own lives. Whenever we feel that, we do not need God’s help or direction, that we can handle our life, that is the pride of life. Every temptation that Satan and his forces throw at us will challenge one or more of these values.
They will watch us to learn where we are most vulnerable and will tempt us in any area that we leave unguarded. Satan and his forces know they can never own us again, but if they can deceive us into yielding control of our life to them in some way, they can neutralize our growth and our impact of our ministry of reconciliation.
“There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.” Where is the escape hatch that Paul is talking about here?
In the same place, temptation is introduced, in our mind. Every temptation is first a thought introduced to our mind by our own carnality or the tempters themselves. If we ruminate on that thought and consider it an option, we will eventually act on it. Instead, Paul instructs us to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.
Escaping temptation is to apprehend every thought as soon as it steps through the doorway of our mind. Once we have halted a penetration thought, we need to evaluate it on the basis of Paul’s criterion for what we should think about.
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Ask yourself, “Does this thought line up with God’s truth?
Is it suggesting that I do something honorable? Just? Pure? If this thought becomes action, will the outcome be lovely and contribute to excellence in my ministry of reconciliation? Will other believers approve of my actions? Is it something for which I can have praise from God? If the answer to any of those questions is no, dismiss that thought immediately. Do not have anything more to do with it.
If it keeps coming back, keep saying no. When we learn to respond to tempting thoughts by stopping them at the door of our mind, evaluating them on the basis of God’s word, we have found the way of escape that Paul talks about.