We have started a series of Langstaff Letters on “Renewing Your Mind.” Last week we looked at the need to have your minds renewed. In today’s letter, we will look at how the enemy, Satan, works to control our minds. Remember, the battle is for the mind.
HOW SATAN ATTACKS OUR MINDS
In James 1:1-5 and 12-16, the apostle James gives us insight into how the enemy attacks us. In James 1:12-16 (NKJV), it says:
“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.”
Let us begin by stating: God does not tempt us, but He does allow temptations to come into our lives. (See Job 1:6-12 & 2:1-6). However, temptation can also bring testing and a time of trial. So let us differentiate between these three difficulties.
- Temptation – An enticement to commit sin. Negative pull on our minds. (James 1:13-15).
- Testing – A challenge to choose the right thing, to obey the positive pull. (James 1:3).
- Trials – Hardships, ordeals, difficult circumstances, etc. Our response may either be positive or negative.
Notice that these three challenges can line up. A trial can become a test of our faith in which we can be tempted to give up, throw in the towel.
THE 4 STEP PROGRAM OF SATAN
The enemy knows how to attack our minds, and basically, he uses a 4 step strategy.
Step 1 – Evil Thought
Everything starts with a thought. You can’t stop thoughts from coming to you, but you can resist and overcome them. As it has been said, “You can’t stop birds from flying over your head, but you can stop them from making a nest in your hair.”
Step 2 – Imagination
If you don’t deal with your thoughts, by bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (See 2 Corinthians 10:15), your emotions will be stirred up, and your imagination will take over. You will start to imagine yourself acting upon the thought.
Step 3 – Desire
The next step the enemy takes is to inflame the passions of our flesh; lust begins to take over. The desire to do something wrong grows within the mind, we can picture ourselves committing the sin, and we desire to.
Step 4 – Evil Act is Committed
It all leads to a person committing sin, which is the ultimate goal of Satan’s attack on your mind. If the sin is committed, then Satan has won the battle for your mind.
HOW TO DEAL WITH THESE ATTACKS
This 4 step attack on the minds of believers, the phases of temptation, that can lead to sin have to be dealt with at step 1. The level of the evil thought when it first arrives.
It has to be dealt with:
An example of how to do this is seen in the life of Jesus in Matthew 16:21-23. Jesus and His disciples are at Caesarea in Phillipi, where Peter confesses that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God. However, then Jesus began to tell His disciples that He was going to suffer and be killed. Immediately Peter began to rebuke Jesus declaring, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” (Matthew 16:22, NKJV). This was a temptation to avoid the cross, but Jesus knew how to deal with such a temptation. He did it immediately and aggressively, saying to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:23, NKJV).
Now let us look at a summary of the three areas of temptation.
THREE AREAS OF TEMPTATION
(1 John 2:15-17 and Genesis 3:6)
I don’t know where I first saw this diagram, but it summarizes the three areas of temptation:
TO BE FOREWARNED IS TO BE FOREARMED
So, we have looked at Satan’s tactics, the ways he uses to attack and control our thoughts and consequently our action. Let is note: “To be forewarned is to be forearmed.”
Remember too, what James wrote: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4, NKJV).
Finally, remember this: “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”