Stay a Christian for long and soon enough you will hear about the enemy. The father of lies. The wedge-driver. I think every believer has heard Ephesians 6:12 many times:
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
I am not about to launch into an explanation of this verse because, in all honesty, even the most passionate student of the Bible can only go so far with this one. Hints of demonic realms in Daniel and even Jesus’ casting out of demonic presences can’t fully clarify what is meant by principalities, powers, and rulers. The Bible doesn’t really delve all that deeply into demonology, or even angelology, for that matter.
And I am, if anything, a very practical theologian. I don’t care so much about etymology and ancient languages as I do information that I can use. So I am told that it isn’t flesh and blood that I wrestle with. There have been times in my life where that didn’t seem remotely true. And yet, free now of my abuser, and enjoying a fulfilling marriage currently, looking at the past, I can see that what I wrestled with was less about my ex-husband and more about the lies I believed.
The enemy is a liar. God tells the truth. If I had a quarter for every post and sermon on the topic of taking thoughts captive and renewing my mind, I could probably take my husband on a decent date. And the lists of Bible verses that are made to combat anxiety or anger or whatever are endless. I used to believe that if I made these lists and studied them over and over, my problem would vanish. For me, the results were somewhat uneven.
Before any hackles get raised, please know that I believe a thorough knowledge of the Bible is crucial to any spiritual life. At times of heartbreak, I kept an encouraging verse in each pocket and looking at one got me through another fifteen minutes. And another. And I firmly believe the Holy Spirit brings verses to mind at just the right time. And if I hadn’t read those nuggets of truth, they wouldn’t surface when I needed them.
But the enemy is a liar. And he is so very easy to agree with. Everything the enemy says feels true. I am never getting out of debt. I am a failure. Something bad is going to happen. People don’t really like me. Any of these feel familiar? These thoughts are usually accompanied by feelings of anxiety, dread, and shame. Mix them together and suddenly we don’t have the strength to carry on.
I recently met with a young woman who had a whole list of things that she didn’t like about herself. Well, that may be understating it. She hated these things about herself. What is worse is that she was utterly convinced that each item was not only true but unchangeable except through immense effort. She couldn’t name anything that she thought she was succeeding at.
The enemy is a liar and he is also really loud. Have you ever known someone who didn’t listen to you? They just spoke over you, getting louder in order to drown you out? That is what was happening to her. She was being lied to by herself and by the enemy of her soul.
But wrestling with a liar is like wrestling with a snake. Oh wait, the enemy is a snake, too. He worms his way into our thought life and then our feelings rise to confirm what we have just thought. And then we are in the pit, whether anxiety, depression, or self-pity doesn’t matter. They all stink.
But here is something I have learned in my now forty-four years as a believer. And I learned it much later than I ought to have. Have you ever noticed that Jesus prayed out loud? The disciples did too. And they quoted the Bible frequently.
Apparently, our subconscious minds believe what they hear. This includes the things we say. Our conscious minds are generally more skeptical. But when we cry at fictional movies, our conscious minds are fully aware that what we see is not real. But our subconscious minds believe! And what we speak out loud, our subconscious minds absorb and process.
Google ‘subconscious’ and you will get a whole bunch of fiddle-faddle about the laws of attraction and harnessing the power of your subconscious mind. And yet. I believe that the enemy is a liar. This means that if the world is trying to harness your spiritual powers and help you unleash the power of your mind, then a truth exists that the devil has twisted into a lie.
Solomon’s temple had closets in the Inner Courts. They didn’t open into the Holy Place or the Holy of Holies. The Inner Court is a type for the soul, while the Holy Place is a type of the spirit. Or so Schofield the scholar says. For a more detailed explanation see the link at the bottom where I explain the metaphor of the temple and the believer in more detail. Another name for these closets are the Cheder, or Hidden Chambers. Israel was instructed to store their good histories and trophies of war in these Cheder.
Several times various kings cleaned them out in sort of spiritual decluttering. And guess what they found. Idols. Pagan idols are pretty grotesque. They are violent, sexually perverted, and frightening. Sometimes our thoughts are too. Our subconscious minds are like these closets and they need emptying. Therapists often call the subconscious area of our minds the back seat driver. Why? Because they store up all manner of behavior and emotional patterns from our childhood and tell our conscious minds what to do.
Filled with good things, our subconscious minds produce truth. This is why we are told to fix our eyes on that which is noble, good, and pure. Because while God’s love is the fuel on which we run, His truth provides the roadmap for where we are going.
This young woman wrote out a list of all the things for which she despised herself. Together, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we wrote out a new list based on the truth found in God’s Word. And then we burned the old list. We got rid of the junk in her hidden parts, at least some of it. And we replaced it with the truth. And we said it out loud because her mind was listening to her speak these things.
If the enemy is whispering lies in your ear (and he will) then consciously feeding your subconscious on the good things God has for you is some of the most intense wrestling with the enemy you will do. The power of life and death is in the tongue. Disagreeing with the enemy, out loud, by proclaiming what God says is true may feel awkward at first. In time though, your closets will be emptied of the junk and filled with treasure. Watch your mouth. The devil and God are listening. Maybe more importantly, so are you.
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