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.You only need to ask yourself why in specific areas of your journey is it so difficult to come out, move forward, or reach higher ground? One biblical answer to this question assures us that we wrestle not against flesh and blood. Subsequently we still must battle with the evil one. And so, its with this understanding that we teach spiritual warfare.
The mind is where many battles are won or lost. It`s 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 chart on this page 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. Know this: The devil is a spirit and therefore moves in the spirit realm, and so, he does not need a physical body to communicate to us. Let`s put it another way. John 10:27 Jesus said " My sheep hear my voice..." 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 occurred. This turn refers to the very 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 self-centered, manipulating others, 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 psycho-dynamic interactions. I can`t overemphasize how Satan knows that when humans feel rejected we tent to believe what we had to offer has been examined, appraised, and rejected as not good enough or deficient. The evil intent is to compliment this painful emotional state by injecting suggestions that are in conjunction with its painful flow, whereby reinforcing the arousing 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. Get this in your spirit: Demons and Angels operate with supernatural precision. Their accuracy (timing) in the spirit realm is impeccable.
This brings us back to our text. 1 Samuel 18:6-11 "But something had happened when the victorious Israeli army was returning home after David had killed Goliath. Women came out from all the towns along the way to celebrate and to cheer for King Saul, and were 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 will 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 had 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."
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, perhaps 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 during previous occasions when they honored the king after he led his army gallantly to victory. (Obviously I say "perhaps" Satan unleashed this specific evil spirit because the text remains silent until they actually reach the city.)
However, never, ever forget, that Satan is a poised opportunist. Always seeking whom he can devour. Therefore, it is a strong probability that Satan entered the king`s mind when Saul was returning from this particular battle. The evil one is notorious for showing up right after victories, promotions, blessings, etc. Therefore, I suggest that King Saul was definitely expecting a hero`s homecoming as he approached each town, and Satan surly knew it. The flashbacks are so vivid that it would have been very easy for the evil Spirit of Selfishness to get Saul to focus on himself. Subsequently the king would have began to see only himself being honored. And so, envision the scene, as he approached each and every town, he not only expected such honor, King Saul craved it. Know this: it`s a dangerous thing to crave what you expect.
Keep in mind that the king`s cravings for what he expected were intensifying because the torturous sense of emptiness had gone from bad to worse. Saul is very thirsty for the accolades, and high honor`s. Oh yeah, Satan employs succulent bait! He knew the kings strengths and weakness, and what Saul desired the most. Then here they come; women running out singing and dancing as music filled the atmosphere. Next ( in King Saul`s mind the unthinkable , the unbearable, hits Saul like a ton of bricks:BOOM) as he hears the women singing, "Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands." As stated above, Satan gravitates toward human psych-dynamic interactions. He knows that when humans feel rejected we hurt deeply and think that what we brought to the table has been examined, appraised, and rejected as not good enough or deficient. In this particular case, the text provides us with a peek into King Saul`s mind when it records 1 Samuel 18:9 "What`s this?" HE SAID TO HIMSELF. They credit David with ten thousands and me with only thousands. Next they will be making him their king!"
You see, although King Saul was "talking to himself" he was not by himself. Not just humans, invisible spirit beings, both good and evil, were there too. This truth points to how everyone on the scene anticipated a hero`s homecoming. Spirit beings have superior intellect over humans and so they knew quite well what kind of atmosphere they could help create, and then participate in as it all unfolded in the physical realm.
My focus is still on the battlefield in the mind. Subsequently, concentration remains on the evil spirits influential impact prior too Saul`s arrival and upon his actual arrival to each town. In the text we find King Saul responding to the women singing a song whereby a comparison is made between himself and David. Base on superior intellect, how do you think the evil one viewed this particular opportunity? It is here, where the dark kingdom gained more ground within the king`s mind.
You see , spirit beings have a deep understanding of how and why humans often make social comparisons. Oh yes, they`ve not only observed us comparing ourselves to others, but have gained much understanding about the comparisons we make. However, they focus mostly on all the negative "pain-laced feelings" humans often experience when we`re compelled to make upward comparisons. Upward comparisons involve comparing yourself to someone perceived as better off.
In the text, we find King Saul compelled to consider such a comparison. Furthermore, the specific comparisons were the very instruments King Saul thought would provide every thing he expected and craved. However, they were showered upon David, instead of him. Moreover, evil spirits knew exactly how the king would view this and based on their knowledge of Saul`s strengths and weaknesses they surly knew that negative feelings of deep dissatisfaction would take center stage within King Saul`s mind.
Much more is revealed when the text records that King Saul was "talking to himself." He is not merely observing how the women came out, nor just dissatisfied when interpreting the lyrics of the song. The pain penetrates much deeper because he is digesting it all SILENTLY. And this torturous process is repeated, over and over as King Saul, and his army approached each and every town
Talking to himself, in essence, this silent kind of digesting, of what was before him tells us that impulse control had to be employed consistently. This means that Saul had to restrain himself in order to maintain the outer-appearance that all was well. It wasn`t! Oh yeah, this is the battlefield in the mind!
Final note.1 Samuel 18:9-10 Its significant to point out when we read, "And Saul eyed David from that day and forward. And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul...." My focus is upon how the passage informs us that King Saul chose to hold on tightly to his anger overnight. It`s not only dangerous to crave what you expect; letting the sun go down upon your wrath is equally hazardous. Although this red hot emotion does have a positive side, below we will examine what is called "rumination" which is one of the unhealthy aspects of staying angry entirely too long.
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 inquire of him? And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is one man. Micaiah the son of Imiah, by whom we may inquire 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 red hot anger grew icy cold, compelling him to hate the real prophet of God. Every time he relived being chastised the anger resurfaced simultaneously with vivid flashbacks 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.
Seducing Spirits stimulate/ excite pleasurable desires in the human mind
Those called to lead are often seduced by spirits specifically in ways that seemingly: provide, protect, or secure recognition, positions of power, control and fame. Let`s consider the office or status of the "Rabbi". According to the bible a rabbi was well versed in the Law of Moses, and thus highly qualified and capable of breaking down scripture clearly and explaining it to others. Furthermore, those who obtained this distinction held high ranking authority and gained reputations for solving puzzling religious and philosophical questions and also for settling disputes. (see Luke 12:13). Subsequently, such skill sets brought them great honor and the highest applause. Many scholars have shown, and my research also confirms that many teachers of the Law loved being called; "Rabbi". With these truths in mind, the question then becomes, " how do you think the evil one and his cohorts approach those seeking to be or those who are already holding the office of a Rabbi"? Observe
1 Timothy 1:7 Apostle Paul writes; "Desiring to be teachers of the Law, understanding nothing what they say, nor whereof they affirm". Here, Apostle Paul reveals how some of these so-called-Rabbi`s did not understand the true nature of the Mosaic Law. This led to an improper use of the Law, which in error manifested as either strong legalistic or lackadaisical attitudes within religious circles. Even today, many struggle with understanding the difference between being "under the Law", and being "under Grace." Moreover missing the true nature of the Law revealed how they were clueless of God`s perfect spiritual intent and purpose for establishing the Mosaic Law in the first place. The question, then, becomes "how?" How could so many religious leaders not understand the true nature of the Mosaic Law? Paul answer these questions when instructing Timothy through these Pastoral letters.
In the context of the above passage he writes 1 Timothy 1:3-4 "As I said when I left for Macedonia, please stay there in Ephesus and try to stop the men who are teaching such wrong doctrine. Put an end to their myths and fables, and their idea of being saved by finding favor with an endless chain of angels leading up to God-wild ideas that stir up questions and arguments instead of helping people accept God`s plan of faith." We learn from this context and the following (1 Tim. 1:18-20, 4:1-2, 2 Tim.2:16-17, 3:1-9) that Timothy was given instructions on how to confront an evil ungodliness that had infiltrated the church. This evil infiltration continues by way of false doctrine, and ungodly self-centered behavior.. In a nutshell, the lifestyles of these teachers and impure doctrines were absolutely opposite of the Gospel truth. Make no mistake, such false teachers were not only making a living off of their naive supporters and followers, but they were leading them away from the very presence and transforming power of the word of God. This tells you and I what was going on. (And it still is)
Now that we understand what was going on, we can prayerfully consider how it actually took shape. Leaving 1 Timothy 1:3-7 when we get to chapter 4:1-2 is when Paul addresses why false doctrines were able to successfully infiltrate the church. Paul does this by lifting the veil whereby uncovering the wicked collaboration between evil spiritual beings and humankind. It is here, where the Holy Spirit clearly reveals too and through Apostle Paul the role of the seducing spirits, and how they set up shop within the minds of religious leadership. Observe. 1 Timothy 4:1-2 "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron." Let`s carefully consider the implications as the Holy Spirit makes it glaringly obvious that some will "depart" (abandon the faith). The phrase: "Depart from the faith" is a translation from Strong`s lexicon. The word Aphistemi pronounced "A-fe-sta-me" does not mean that people simply fall away or drift away from what they once professed to believe. No, Aphistemi means to instigate a full blown separation by-way-of revolt. To abandon or renounce what you previously professed to believe.
It is here; "giving heed to seducing spirits..." where we are actually shown how religious leaders loss the battle within their minds. You see, "giving heed" is a translation from Thayer`s Greek lexicon: "Prosecho" pronounced "Pros-e-kho" which means to turn your mind to, to be attentive, to attach one`s self to, to cleave to." Keep in mind that according to this passage the Holy Spirit is the one revealing how and where seducing spirits confront humankind. Obviously, when reading; "to turn your mind to," confirms and pinpoints that such a confrontation occurs within the human mind. You see, their initial assignment is to contradict the word of God. It`s of further significance to note that whenever a conscious choice ( i.e, giving heed) is made, and we decide to cleave to, or turn our mind in a specific direction that we are simultaneously rejecting the previous direction or position we supposedly held.
Not long ago I was teaching a series relative to this matter at the Christian Counseling Center. Some of the brothers in the group were struggling immensely. A strong indication of losing the battle in ones mind is revealed when the individual chooses to ignore, fails to pinpoint, or flat out refuses to acknowledge the dysfunctional turn whereby they are compelled to gravitate back to unhealthy relationships, places and things. Such dysfunctional turns often start by embracing bad, negative, non-productive, unhealthy thoughts or ideas. Get this: embracing dark thoughts provide doorways for demonic influence. When we hide, protect, entertain, or fail to address possible reasons for our dysfunctional turns the consequences will be costly. Make no mistake, this particular price is inevitable and the cost of admission refers to dark influential forces gaining ground within the mind.
Know this: seducing spirits are released against your mind, imagination, and emotions. Their diabolical task is to do the "Prep-work" so the spirit of bondage can create a bond within your soul. They know that for humans to be truly tempted we must gravitate too, and/or be enticed. What I mean is that they clearly understand that for humans, the object of desire is only as strong as the inner desire for it. We must be draw to it. With such knowledge about us, seducing spirits use succulent bait based on what is tailor-made for each would be victims uniquely sinful tendencies.
Following upon this its imperative to consider what kind of pleasurable desires, sinful tendencies ( are in the mind of each religious leader) that make the bait so succulent. Get this: Scripture describes such desires as "deceitful lusts." J Eadie, D. D. writes "These lusts are "Lusts of deceit", inasmuch as they seduce and ensnare under false pretensions. And they are numerous." Eadie goes further, "This deceit is not simply error. It has assumed many guises. It gives a refined name to grossness, calls sensualism gallantry, and hails drunkenness as good cheer. It promises fame and renown to one class, wealth and power to another, and tempts the third onward by the prospect of brilliant discovery." You see, the evil one knows that every strong desire that rises up in humans apart from God personifies lust. Functionally, manifestations of such deceitful lusts separate us from God. This separating process when unchecked is where, and how our deceitful lusts merge with the succulent bait employed by the evil one. This merger equates to two thirsty lovers reuniting every time we decide to step away from godly standards.
Consider another example, lets say a pastor enters adultery. At first he/she feels guilty and does everything imaginable to hide the sinful activity. But as time goes on the seducing spirit is knitting. This knitting refers to the "prep-work" mentioned above. This knitting describes the process whereby the victim is compelled not to repent, but to meet with his/her adulterous partner again and again. Often the lust of the eye and the lust of the flesh are stimulated by awakening mental images of the previous time the sinful partners got together. The gratification conveyed in the mental pictures are so vivid that the righteous guilt starts to fade and often pride replaces it. All of this strengthens the victim`s ability to ignore God`s way. Refusing to repent (giving heed) in the mind PRIOR to each act functionally describes nodding in agreement with Satan. Every agreeing nod increasingly strengthens the evil grip upon the unrepentant soul.
As the righteous guilt progressively fades out, the evil contaminating process increases, causing the conscience to malfunction. Tragically, its no longer able to function as God intended. Consequently, the malfunctioning contaminated conscience causes the victim to become so desensitized that he/she sinful activities don`t even bother them anymore. Therefore they proceed, however, now instead of hiding their sinful activity they often openly rationalize it. Following upon this, the righteous guilt will be thoroughly quenched. Now its official: the victim`s conscience is seared with a hot iron. It is at this very moment when the spirit of bondage relieves the seducing spirit and takes charge. And so, the pastor, in this example, and the Rabbi in the previous one, continues to get up preaching and teaching as if they are still operating under the anointing. The lie becomes the truth. The Devil is a liar!
The spirit of bondage is so brutally clever that at this point it will have the pastor; adulterer, adamantly preaching, for example, about wrongfully judging others. Matt 7:4-5 "Should you say, "Friend, let me help you get that speck out of your eye," when you can`t see because of the board in your own? Hypocrite! First get rid of the board, then you can see to help your brother." 1 Tim.4:2 " Speaking lies hypocrisy..." Preaching about hypocrisy while personifying it. Imagine that! These examples reveal Satan`s knowledge about and capacity to exploit human weaknesses and strengths and how he does it. Looking back to the Rabbi, 1 Tim. 1:7 "Desiring to be teachers of the Law..." Genuine God ordained satisfaction can never be achieved without God. And so, these desires and pursuits leave victims like Samson after Delilah. I conclude that, it is wise to question oneself as to the real driving force behind the desire to teach, lead, or as in these examples be called "Rabbi" or "Pastor."
Acting Independently from God
I Samuel 22:5-19 " One day the prophet Gad told David to leave the cave and return to the land of Judah. So David went to the forest of Hereth. The news of his arrival in Judah soon reached Saul. He was in Gibeah at the time sitting beneath an oak tree playing with his spear, surrounded by his officers. "Listen here you men of Benjamin!" Saul exclaimed when he heard the news. "Has David promised you fields and vineyards and commissions in his army? Is that why you are against me? For not one of you have ever told me that my own son is on David`s side. You`re not even sorry for me. Think of it! My own son-encouraging David to come and kill me!"
No doubt that at this point King Saul is extremely paranoid. It`s important to note that people who are paranoid unknowingly make themselves a target for rejection. What I mean is that because he views himself as a victim who is absolutely committed to a view that David is out to get him, that his constant complaining progressively annoyed those around him. Further significance is based on how the evil one; Satan knows that people who are paranoid are always seeking assurance from others, and/or trying to recruit others into their drama.. You see, at this point, all Satan has to do is compel the king to intensify his need for their loyalty in ways that further irritated those around him. Such pressure, in turn, would naturally increase the annoyance of those around the king. However their fear of the king`s power would hinder most of them from visibly showing how deeply annoyed they have become. Get this: when they chose to hide their deep annoyance, by remaining silent, choosing silence, empowers Satan. This means that the evil one manipulates their silence whereby deceptively leading the king to view the silence as a confirmation that everyone was against him.
Lets go deeper. Lets say, we were studying paranoia, and went to a psychiatric ward to observe patients suffering with this condition. Upon entering the patient`s room we might find the patient hiding, or peeking through a window from a slightly cracked curtain, or perhaps in a defensive posture as we enter his/her room. They may even attempt to attack you first based on thinking that you are trying to hurt them. Their is nothing wrong with their emotional state. What they feel is correct. You see, what they feel is based on what they think. They think everyone is out to get them. In reality David was not his enemy, nor was David trying to kill him, nor was Saul`s son against him. If you know the story between these two you know that King Saul struggled unjustly with David just like Trump struggles with former president Obama, the media, and immigrants. If people feel anxious or inadequate at any level in an organization, job, White House, they will more than likely try to get rid of these unwelcome feelings by projecting them on other people- identifying and consequently treating others as trash or useless. The evil one, Satan, in such cases just sits back and admires his work.
The next passage records, "Then Doeg the Edomite, who was standing there with Saul`s men, spoke up. "When I was at Nob," he said, "I saw David talking to Ahimelech the priest, Ahimelech consulted the Lord to find out what David should do, and then gave him food and the sword of Goliath the Philistine."
Some scholars suggest that Doeg spoke up quickly so as to prevent the others from saying anything. It`s interesting to note that Doeg is the subject of many rabbinical legends, the origins of which are found in part in Psalms 52 which was written by David to protest against his enemy Doeg, Keep in mind our sub-title; Acting Independently From God. You see, Doeg`s approach to King Saul was full of subtlety, diabolically smooth and saturated with mischief. I say this because although what Doeg tells King Saul did occur, however its what Doeg intentionally omitted that was pure evil. Doeg knew that David ( on the run,hungry, and out of desperation) deceptively led Ahimelech to believe that King Saul was the one who sent David on a mission.
Subsequently, Amimelech when meeting David`s needs, did not know that David was actually hiding from King Saul. Therefore Doeg could have cleared Ahimelech from what looked like high treason. Instead, Doeg relished this particular opportunity not only to eliminate his enemies but to simultaneously obtain higher status by getting closer to King Saul. Oh yeah, Doeg sought glory through malice. He not only hated David, he equally hated God`s priest; Ahimelech' , and obviously godly standards. According to David, Doeg loved evil more than good. Hermann Venema said it best as recorded in Charles Spurgeon`s The Treasury of David;
"verse 3.- "Thou lovest evil more than good"-Thou hast loved evil, he says, "more than good," not by simply preferring it, but by substituting it; so that in the stead of good he hath done evil, and that from the inmost love of his soul, bent upon evil; wherefore he does not say that he admitted, but loved evil, not moral only, but physical, for destruction of his neighbours ; so to have loved it, that he willed nothing but evil, being averse to all good." Reader, keep in mind, what`s displayed above on my Battlefield in the Mind chart, where it points to how Satan ultimately wants us to surrender our will.
Doeg embraced this opportunity to ingratiate himself with the king, howbeit, by mischief; he told Saul exactly what he wanted to hear. Next, after listening to Doeg, King Saul immediately summoned Ahimelech and all his family and all the other priests at Nob. When they arrived Saul shouted at him, "Listen to me, you son of Ahitub!" "What is it?" quavered Ahimelech.Why have you and David conspired against me? Saul demanded. "Why did you give him food and a sword and talk to God for him? Why did you encourage him to revolt against me and to come here and attack me?
Let`s consider King Saul`s approach. It`s significant that he starts out by asking "leading questions". These questions were skillfully phrased,( just as skillfully as Doeg`s evil approach to Saul). The king`s sole intent was to put his own words into the priest`s mouth. Oh yeah, they were specifically crafted and forcefully employed as a means to manipulate Ahimelech into providing King Saul with the exact answers that Saul desired! These leading questions not only reveal the kings motives and desires, their forcefulness also reveal King Saul`s state of mind. As conveyed above King Saul was extremely paranoid and irrational. Observe Ahimelech`s response to the leading questions and then how quickly and harshly King Saul pronounced his verdict: "But sir," Ahimelech replied, :is there anyone among all your servants who is as faithful as David your son-in-law? Why, he is the captain of your bodyguard and a highly honored member of your own household! This was certainly not the first time I had consulted God for him! It`s unfair for you to accuse me and my family in this matter, for we knew nothing of any plot against you. "You shall die, Ahimelech, along with your entire family! the king shouted. He ordered his bodyguards, "Kill these priests, for they are allies and conspirators with David, they knew he was running away from me, but they didn`t tell me!" But the soldiers refused to harm the clergy."
It`s significant to note that based on King Saul`s state of mind that he was not even listening as Ahimelech explained his position when David came to him seeking help. Nor did it matter whether or not Ahimelech intended to enter into what the king viewed as a conspiracy against him. You see, this was a defining moment, where when as the King of Israel ( over God`s people) Saul was supposed to uphold God`s law. Deuteronomy 19: 15 " One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses." You see since Doeg was the only so-called witness, Ahimelech would have had to confess wrong-doing before King Saul could justify convicting him of a crime. My point is that the moment the king sentences Ahimelech and the other priests to death that he was acting independently from God. In other words Saul was putting himself above the will of God by ignoring God`s law. Equally important is how this particular episode not only reveals how everything about this verdict was wrong but it reveals when King Saul had more likely than not completely surrendered his will to the evil one. Supporting evidence of such a surrender is shown when his bodyguards and soldiers refused to harm the clergy.
Next we read: Then the king said to Doeg, "You do it." So Doeg turned on them and killed them, eighty-five priests in all, all wearing priestly robes. Then he went to Nob, the city of the priests, and killed the priests families-men, women, children, and babies, and also all the oxen, donkeys, and sheep. Only Abiather, one of the sons of Ahimelech, escaped and fled to David." Obviously, Doeg had completely surrendered his will to the evil one as well.
In conclusion, Its wise to understand that the prophet Gad was sent to David with God-given instructions. Therefore when he tells David that it was time to come out of hiding and get back to Judah that Gad did so because God wanted David to come out of the cave and reveal himself at this particular time. Doing so assures us that David would be following the "will of God."
My focus is on the contrasting positions whereby we see at this very moment that David is hiding in a cave from King Saul because he knew that Saul was determined (wrongfully so) to kill him. Its important to note that David had a high degree of discernment which enabled him to understand that evil spirits had progressively gained ground within King Saul`s mind. (1 Samuel 16:14, 19:9) Oh yeah, King Saul was thoroughly intimidated by David`s success, which opened the door for demonic spirits whereby allowing them to play tag team within Saul`s mind. Evil spirits travel in packs just like wolves, here, the evil spirit of jealously, evil spirit of envy, and the evil spirit of anger were having their way within Saul`s mind. However, the leader or strongman in this demonic pack was the spirit of murder. While David was in the cave wrestling with all this, others who were struggling with various issues have gravitated towards him in the cave. The Prophet Gads arrival and instructions reveal that when David comes out of hiding that he is positioning himself within the center of Gods will. The contrasting positions I refer to show David`s position based on his obedience to God and Saul`s position based on his disobedience to God. Just like you and I, David and Saul had to deal with this battlefield in the mind.
Please get these spiritual truths: On one hand, when we consistently decide to act according to the Holy Spirit`s instructions, first and foremost we bless God, the Holy Spirit is "joy-filled" and we will be operating under God`s anointing which produces the greatest opportunities and advantages of fulfilling our God-given assignments. On the other hand when God has his hand on you and you consistently decide to act independently from God what you are doing equates to grieving the Holy Spirit. Grief is the direct opposite of joy. Every time we agree with what God defines as evil the Evil One gains ground within the human soul. This, I repeat, is why Apostle Paul warns us in Eph. 4:27 "Neither give place to the devil."
You see, evil spirits can`t just pounce upon you at will, they need your consent. Know this: Once they gain initial consent, their follows a period where when the victim(if a believer) grieves the Holy Spirit, by making personal judgments that are being deeply altered by the demonic influence (demonic oppression) within the human soul or when the victim (if a believer) quenches the Holy Spirit by surrendering his/her will completely (demonic possession). As shared above, King Saul had moved progressively from demonic oppression to quite possibly completely surrendering his will to demonic possession. Keep in mind Saul`s consistent disobedience to God. Then link such constant disobedience with the aiding and abetting of the demonic spirits working within the kings mind. See these two influential forces perpetuating and reinforcing evil options at the same time that Saul is trying to rap his mind around the fact that David has come out of hiding. Add this progressive mind-altering process with how the evil one employed Doeg, and we have precisely the predicament King Saul placed himself in.
The strong probability that King Saul may have completely surrendered his will is based on how he had Ahimelech the priest and his entire family executed and then orders the murder of 85 priests and the entire city of Nob. Doing this alienated the entire religious community of Israel. Although Satan simply sat back and admired his work, Gods providence was also at work. I refer to how the principle of sowing and reaping was always operating whereby Saul would be removed and David would be elevated. It is written Romans 5:20 "Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more." Amen.