We are at war!
Bullets are flying. Bombs are dropping. The enemy is closing in. Destruction is all around. There are casualties everywhere. But in our war, you can’t see any of this. Well, you can see the effects of it all over the place in the brokenness, chaos, and pain around us, but this war is invisible.
We are not fighting each other. Our war is not against “flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). And we are not fighting with physical weapons. We fight what is unseen with weapons that are not wielded by human hands. Our battle is spiritual, and so are the weapons we use. The gospel is the power of God for salvation. And our enemies are the Devil, the world, and the flesh.
The Devil screams out: “God is evil. I hate him and I will do everything to oppose him and destroy what he has made.” The world screams out: “This world is best without God, and you are best when it’s all about you.” And the flesh screams out: “I don’t need God because I am god. It’s all about me and it’s all dependent upon me.”
So what are we to do in this battle? The Bible tells us to (1) take our thoughts captive and examine them, (2) bring them into submission, (3) consider the fruit, and then (4) fight with gospel truths. For now, we focus on the first.
What is going through your mind? What do you regularly hear spoken in your head? What are you believing about God, his work in Jesus, others, yourself, and what you should do? This is why it is so important to know the gospel, rehearse it in our minds, and remember it. We cannot defeat the enemies of our souls without becoming more gospel fluent. And part of growing in gospel fluency is learning how to recognize what is not from God—what is not in line with the truths of the gospel.
So how do you know if what you’re thinking lines up with what is true in the gospel? Well, remember that the gospel literally means “good news.” So ask yourself: “Is this good news that I’m thinking? Is it tearing God down or lifting him up? Is it tearing others down or building them up? Is it tearing me down or encouraging, exhorting, or equipping me?” The enemy of our souls [lies: Satan] brings to our minds thoughts and words that are lies about God… One good way to learn how to discern the truth from a lie is to continue reading Scripture. If what you hear disagrees with the Bible, it’s a lie.
Satan also accuses: He loves to tear us down with accusations. And most often he tries to deny what is true of us in Christ—what Jesus has done to change us. He doesn’t want us to live boldly for Jesus, so he accuses us of things that are not true of us so that we will cower in fear, guilt, and shame… He also tempts us with promises of fulfillment through sinful pleasures or pursuits. He tries to convince us that God’s ways are not good. And he loves to offer seductive short-cuts to fulfill our longings and desires. He often tries to make sin look attractive to lure our hearts away from obeying God… The enemy also loves to divide and isolate through gossip, slander, and bitterness.
The means vary, but our enemy loves to get us to turn against one another. He loves to erode our trust and give us reasons to separate or divide. And one of his greatest schemes is to isolate us as he does it. He wants us alone so he can pick us off one by one with no one around to encourage us or speak the truths of Jesus into our lives. Watch out for the schemes. In all of them, our enemy is dead set on our destruction.
The first step is to capture the thought and examine it. Train yourself to regularly stop and closely examine what you are thinking, feeling, or believing in light of the truths of the gospel.
(Taken from Gospel Fluency by Jeff Vanderstelt, ©2017 Crossway.)