I was doing some research in my study this morning for a class I am creating (The Eagle of The Lord – Soaring With Jesus) when I came across a little book I hadn’t read for years: How To Discipline Your Flesh by Kenneth Copeland. As I took a moment and read it for the umpteenth time I was challenged all over again in a very important area of my life.
I just love it when I find myself struggling and God just brings me back to a very simple and basic truth that provides the answer. I have always hated book reports and I am not about to write one now, but there are a number of key truths in this little book that I will incorporate here as they have proven themselves valid to me time and time again. Thanks to Kenneth for being in the right place in my library at the right time!
In my teaching and writing on the Word I have quite often referred to Heb 12:1-3 for many reasons.
1. Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
One of these reasons concerns the battlefield on which Satan has chosen to challenge our spirit. That very spirit which was reborn the moment we submitted to the saving Grace of our Lord through His Son, Jesus. In studying this subject for many years I have come to one certain and definitive conclusion … our mind is the only place Satan can challenge us. And it is ALWAYS with the same weapon.
Now, before we go too far, let’s remember that his battle against our spirit was lost the moment Jesus defeated him on the cross. That victory became ours at the moment of salvation when the Holy Spirit took up residence within us. Our spirit is safe and secure, paid for by the blood of Jesus. So why if the Word says I am not only a conqueror but I am more than a conqueror (Rom 9:37) am I not victorious on the battlefield? Why is my spirit in such turmoil if Satan has already lost that battle? The answer lies in one simple word …deception.
Deceit is the one and only weapon Satan has to employ against the believer. He is an absolute master at utilizing it and he knows the weak areas in our life where it will be effective. But, deception can only be effective if the one being deceived buys into it. Let me throw out a history lesson as an example of what I mean.
Think about Hitler for a moment. He lost the battle ofNormandynot because he wasn’t prepared or well equipped with men and material. He lost it because the Allies deceived him by staging a false invasion at the Pas-de-Calais with a make believe stick and canvas army. But what made him believe it? They put General George S. Patton in charge of this false army and Hitler believed so strongly that Patton would lead the invasion at Pas-de-Calais that he would not release his Panzer divisions to the battle atNormandy. The result is history. But how did this happen?
Hitler wasn’t just all of a sudden presented with this deception. It was a very well played out charade, which began with little bits of false information being fed to Germanyby the Allies. As Hitler began to consider this information (implanted thoughts) the Allies enhanced the lies until he was fully convinced that it was the truth. Even at the very moment the Allies were crossing the beaches at Normandy Hitler clung to the lie as though it were an unshakeable truth. When he was finally convinced that it wasNormandy and he released his prized Panzers the Allies once again gave him pause for thought and he recalled them. Had he released them in the beginning the D-day invasion may have been the greatest of disasters. As it was … the deception worked andGermany paid the price.
Isn’t that just what the enemy does to us? He knows that the battle of the spirit realm has been lost. He knows that our spirit is safe and untouchable … guarded by the Holy Spirit. He therefore employs the one sure weapon he has, the weapon the Word warns us about over and over and over – the only one he uses over and over and over.
Let’s go back to Heb 12 and look closely at something Kenneth pointed out that often gets overlooked:
Heb 12:3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
Here the Word warns us that the battlefield is our mind. It is the only place where the weapon of deception is effective. When I read that I am left with the impression that this is a long-term process. We only become wearied and faint after we have been doing something for some length of time. And that’s just how Satan works. He first plants a little seed of doubt in our mind about the truth, causing us to wonder about it. He then begins to water it and watches our flesh respond. As we begin to buy into the lie he feeds it a little more and, just like Hitler, we become convinced that the false is in fact reality. This is nothing new however; he has been using it since the beginning of time.
What was Satan’s plan of deception in the Garden of Eden? The first words spoken by Satan were recorded in Gen 3:1:
… and he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
It started by casting a doubt against the truth of God’s Word and look where he cast that doubt … directly into Eve’s mind. Then what happened? Instead of standing on God’s Word Eve thought about what he said and entered into a dialogue with Satan in an attempt to defend God’s Word:
Gen 3:2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
Not only did she start to talk to Satan but she also added to what God had said. In effect she lied to Satan:
Gen 3:3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
God never told them not to touch the fruit, just not to eat it. Now I suppose you could split hairs here and ask how you could eat it without touching it but that’s not the point. The point is that God didn’t say that. Look at what happened then. Satan now had her engaged in “wondering” about the Word and he enlarged his deception:
Gen 3:4-5 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
See what he did? He took a partial truth and twisted it because God did say:
Gen 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
However, God did not say anything about Adam and Eve becoming gods. The result, however, did open their eyes to the knowledge of evil and that, unfortunately, came at a very big price. Satan had spoken the truth in part but not in full. Now just to take this to its ultimate conclusion and look at Eve’s response to the expanded lie:
Gen 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
There you have it! The battle was lost in her mind as Satan fed lies to her flesh. What do you mean her flesh? Well look at how she responded:
(1) she looked and saw with her eyes
(2) it appealed to her appetite
(3) it was pleasing to her eyes and
(3) it fed her ego … it would make her wise … like God.
Now let’s compare this to our walk through the world we live in, facing the same enemy Adam and Eve did.
In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul wrote about this battle of the mind:
1Cor 10:13(a) There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man:
The key here is that it is common to man. Satan engages his campaigns against all of us in the soulish realm by directing his attacks at our mind through the gateways of the flesh. He gets us to begin wondering about some truth and then, as we engage him in the flesh, he expands the temptation by getting us to focus more and more on the unholy trinity … me, myself and I. His plan is never changing: and Kenneth summarized it very clearly in his book:
His plan is to pressure you into yielding to the weakness of your flesh until that weakness begins to dominate you (Kenneth Copeland).
I have found through painful personal experience that the when I begin to wonder (unrestrained thinking) the end result is always the entry of doubt upon the scene. As my dear friend Dr. Martin Oliver put it, when we open the door to Doubt’s knocking, Fear enters in.
So, Tom, I understand the problem, I’ve been living with it all along but what’s the answer?
Let me answer that with two of my favorite scriptures. First let’s go to Paul’s letter to the Romans.
Rom 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Our minds are renewed by the Word of God and by no other means (they may be filled with other things but not renewed). It is only by the truth of His Word that our spirit will ever dominate our flesh. Remember that Satan really doesn’t war with our spirit because that battle was lost. His full force and direction is toward our mind … the seat of our fleshly responses. Our job is to use our spirit to renew that part of us (our mind) that was not regenerated the moment we were born again. This is a life long process and the battle will rage on and on until we find ourselves, ultimately and assuredly, in the arms of Jesus. Until that time we are to put on the Armor of God and stand firm in the victory that has already been given us. One of the ways we do that is to learn from Eve’s mistake.
2Cor 10:3-5 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4. (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5. 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;
How many times have we read these verses or heard them used in a bible study? If Eve had cast down the imagination that Satan was presenting to her what a different story the rest of the bible may have been. When Satan casts an imagination (a wondering thought) in the direction of our flesh we must immediately cast it down and bring it into captivity. Every thing in our life is to be under the authority and control of Jesus. If it conflicts with Jesus (The Word) we are to immediately cast it down. What if Eve had said that isn’t what God said and then walked away and told Adam and then the both of them had walked with God in the Garden that same evening and said, what’s up with this serpent? Well, it didn’t happen that way and you won’t get there either unless you walk down the only path that leads to victory … the renewal of your mind by the Word of God.
You have to spend time in the Word, thinking about it and running it over and over in your mind like a cow chews on a cud. She keeps bringing it up again and again until she has gotten every bit of nutrition out of it and into her system. Well, when you have chewed on the Word to that degree it will be well planted in your spirit man and available at an instant’s notice. Remember, that’s how Jesus dealt with the “imaginations” Satan tried to deceive Him with in the wilderness (Matt 4). You will also notice that Satan tried the same thing with Jesus that he did with Eve. He took a truth and twisted it to elicit a response and a dialogue. Unlike Eve, Jesus refused to enter into a discussion … He refused to “wonder” about the thought. He responded quickly, precisely, accurately and with finality … It Is Written!
So, in the end, the only advantage Satan has is the one we choose to give him. Our job is to deny him that opportunity (2Cor 10:5). We are to be forewarned of the enemy’s devices and so be prepared for his advances. The failure to do so is very costly both personally and corporately. The Body of Christ cannot function when it is submitted to the attack and engaged in an ongoing dialogue with the enemy concerning its fleshly weaknesses. It is a perilous path that will always result in a defeat for the flesh and a setback for the spirit.
… It’s a deadly sequence and it works the same way every time. Satan plants the thought – which gives birth to the words – which give birth to the actions and events around you. Unrestrained thoughts lead inevitably to an unrestrained life – and an unrestrained life is doomed to destruction (Kenneth Copeland).
But the good news is that we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us (Rom 8:37). We, as born again believers, have the power to be over comers but if we don’t understand how the enemy works we are going to continually be overcome. That ought not to be so … Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world (1John 4:4). If you just remember that one truth then you will never be wearied and faint in your minds (Heb 12:3).
Let me close with one last quote that really sets out the challenge and the solution:
If we’re going to live out the victory God has given us through the cross, we must do it with the Word of God hidden in our hearts, alive in our brains and flowing out of our mouths. The Word must be first place in our lives, to believe it and act on it even when (especially when) all hell breaks loose around us.(Kenneth Copeland).
That, my friends, challenges me and causes me to pause and reflect on my current situation. Am I conquering or am I engaged in a discussion with my enemy? Without the Word firmly planted in my heart as a result of the renewing of my mind I am afraid it’s the latter. But with the former I can really foul up the devil’s whole strategy by taking charge of my thoughts and bringing them in line with the Word of God.