Wow, I can’t believe that picture was taken 20 years ago. John is skinny, as a rail now, and wears his hair cropped short. My son John really didn’t like to play football. But, for me, he did play one season of football when he was in Jr. High school out in Ellicott.
Football season has begun, and many of us in Colorado were delighted with the game last Sunday. The Broncos’ recovery of the fumble the other team made, was a highlight of the game for me.
Football teams study videos of the team they are going to play against. In that way they learn the strengths and weakness of the other team, and strengths of certain players on that team. They learn to recognize certain plays, so that they can anticipate, and outmaneuver their opponent.
2 Corinthians 2:11 says “we are not ignorant of his (the devil’s) schemes.” We Christians need to know things about our opponent. If we don’t recognize him, if we are ignorant of his schemes, he can, and will take advantage of us. That word advantage, in this verse, is a Greek word meaning to step beyond the boundary line. So you see, that it is even more important for us, who know JESUS, to know our enemy’s tactics, than for a football team to know their opponents moves. They are just playing a game, but we are fighting a war.
I remember a time, when I was 1st learning about spiritual warfare. When I was being tempted to do wrong, inside me, I was impressed with the thought, “It’s the battle, Sharon.” Until then, I thought the temptation came just from myself, and so I wasn’t fighting against it that much. Because, I figured, I couldn’t fight myself and win. But, GOD took pity on me, and spoke to me, “It is the battle, Sharon.” I knew then that the temptation came from the outside, from the devil, and not me, so I fought back, denied my flesh, and won.
I was losing the battle, until I knew I was dealing with the enemy. Now, I realize how very important it is to recognize the enemy.
Let me list for you just a few of our enemy’s ways, that I have learned:
The devil tempts us, as he did JESUS, by twisting scripture (Luke 4:1-13).
He calls GOD a liar, and says GOD is unfair- not caring for us, or trying to keep good things back from us. Genesis 3:4,5
He tempts us to love this world and the things of this world, for the whole world lies in his arms (I John 5:19).
He tempts us:
with the desires of our flesh: To go beyond God’s preset boundaries for food, sex, pleasures, drugs and so on. with the desire for things we see: like a new car, a fancy this or that, something belonging to our neighbor, anything that looks good to us.
with pride: I’m 1st, my way, power, position and the like (I John 2:15-16).
He attempts to take advantage of us, by pretending the things he tells us are our own thoughts, and he is quite the impersonator.
He lies, actually, he is the father of lies and very convincing (John 8:44).
He whispers doubts and accusing thoughts to us, about ourselves, and others, (and his words sound just like us) for he is the accuser (Revelation 12:10).
He tries to stir up anger, and cause division. When we refuse to forgive, at his constant grumbling in our ear about an offense, he takes advantage of us, and gains a foothold in our lives (2 Corinthians 2:10-11, Ephesians 4:26-27).
Today I want to highlight one specific scheme of the devil.
“But, I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, so your minds (thoughts) may be corrupted (seduced/led astray) from the simplicity, and purity that is in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3 explanations added in parenthesis).
We know that JESUS is pure and holy, and our focus should be on HIM, for HE is the object of our faith and the ONE leading us the way we should go (Hebrews 12:1-3). The enemy, however, attempts to distract us, and get us to focus on anything rather than JESUS. He tries to corrupt our thinking, from the simplicity of going straight to Christ about everything (Proverbs 3:5-7a), so that we will struggle on our own with the thoughts, and problems, and temptations that come our way. For instance, he gets people to feel that believing in JESUS just isn’t enough to save us. He insists there is a whole bunch of other things they must do in order to be saved.
In a practical way, the simplicity of going to JESUS helps me. Since our battle begins in the mind, we must battle wrong thoughts given us by the devil. Often the devil mocks us for having the thoughts he placed there to begin with.
Those thoughts, like a colorful lure attracting a trout, can seem overpowering. I have found that to win that battle, to shut up the devil, I don’t do the fighting. I simply go to JESUS, and say “here are my thoughts.” As I take every thought to JESUS, HE impresses on me a piece of a verse that shows me a different perspective of the situation, the truth. Then, the moment I inwardly choose to obey the instruction within that word, HE floods me HIS peace as confirmation. Actually, just being in HIS Presence, seems to open me up to hear. This is what I mean when I say I talk to JESUS about struggles. It is what the Word of GOD instructs me to (Proverbs 3:5-7; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Hebrews 4:16). For JESUS takes my thoughts, and exposes them for what they are. My whole perspective changes. The battle is won, for what a person thinks in his heart, that he will eventually act on. Now, the devil may give me another sneak attack, but, all I have to do is run back to JESUS.
Don’t let the devil catch you in his snare of deception. Take every thought to JESUS.
Looking unto JESUS, the Author and Perfecter of my faith.