The Third Gateway to the Heart: The Thoughts-Part 5: Demolishing Strongholds in Our Thinking-The Lessons of Jericho

One of the greatest sections of Scripture concerning this great war for the thought life of the Christian is in 2 Corinthians:

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (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. (10:3–5, KJV)

We all have strongholds in our thinking that must be demolished. We cannot destroy them by the weapons and strategies of the flesh. No psychological counseling, self-help book, or life class can completely annihilate these strongholds without Christ. It is like shooting a BB gun at a Navy battleship. The weapons of the flesh lack the spiritual power to blow these strongholds out of our minds and hearts. These fortresses can only be obliterated by spiritual weapons rooted in Jesus Christ. Only God’s mighty weapons have any chance of tearing down every brick of the strongholds that captivate our hearts.

The Greek word translated “stronghold” means fortress, castle, or prison. It was used in Greek literature to describe a strong military installation and a fortified place. This is the only time this Greek word is found in the New Testament, but the word is found thirty-two times in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. These usages shed some additional light on its meaning.

The first use of this word in the Bible concerns the prison that Joseph was cast into.

Joseph’s boss took him and put him in prison, the place where the men who did wrong against the king were put in chains. So there he was in prison. But the Lord was with Joseph, and showed him kindness. He gave him favor in the eyes of the man who watched over the prison. (Genesis 39:20–21, NLV)

Remember me when it is well with you, and show me kindness. Say a good word about me to Pharaoh. Get me out of this prison. For I was stolen from the land of the Hebrews. And here also I have done nothing for which they should put me in prison. (Genesis 40:14–15, NLV)

Joseph was an amazing man of faith whose heart was a wonderful example of trust in God even in life’s most difficult circumstances. He was taken away captive from his homeland and unjustly thrust into prison, and his great heart cry has become the cry of every child of God: “Get me out of this prison! Deliver me from this dungeon! Take me away from this stronghold!”

We were all stolen from the Garden of Eden, our true homeland, when Adam and Even sinned. We were thrust into the dungeon of our sin nature, and our hearts became captive to the power and weight of sin.

Joseph was not delivered from the dungeon by his own strength, power, or ability. He was only set free and given a place in authority next to the king because God was with him, and the mercy and favor of God rested upon him.

God sets the pattern in this first use of the word stronghold in the Bible. The only way to be delivered from the dungeons that hold us in captivity is through the mighty power of God. Only God can answer the cry “Free me from this prison and tear down this stronghold!” Only God is strong enough to demolish every stronghold.

What are these strongholds? How are they built? How do they capture our hearts?

A stronghold is an entrenched or fortified way of thinking that has become so engrained into the mind that it produces habits of character and ways of life. These strong fortresses have been built by the brick and mortar of our thoughts. Brick by brick we construct these fortresses by our thinking.

In the Old Testament, the word stronghold was used to describe the fortifications of a city when its builders formed a formidable wall around it for protection. It was constructed to resist all attacks, allowing it to be more easily defended.

In Bible times, a stronghold around a city consisted of stone walls that were often fifteen feet thick and twenty-five feet high. It was extremely difficult for an army to successfully defeat an enemy protected by such a stronghold.

A stronghold represents a place in our minds and hearts where the Enemy has become entrenched and where we have become in bondage to Satan.  It becomes a secured sanctuary where the Devil can exercise influence and authority over our lives. It is where the Devil can run his covert operations and wreak havoc in our hearts. It is his military base, where he launches his fiery darts into our hearts in an attempt to steal, kill, and destroy the knowledge of God and the image of Christ from producing fruit in our lives. A stronghold is a point of operation where Satan can keep a person captivated, incapacitated, and under control. It is an emotional, mental, or experiential mind-set that thrusts the heart into bondage and keeps it from growing spiritually in the Lord. It is a mental fortress of wrong thinking.

One of the Hebrew words for “sin” means to slowly twist a fence around a person. Strongholds are like fortresses with huge barbed-wire fences around them, built by the power of sin, with a sign hanging at its entrance that says, “Keep out! This is the property of Satan. No trespassing allowed. This is the realm of darkness, and no light is allowed here. God is not wanted here!”

These strongholds feed off of sin, and the fences grow higher, thicker, and more twisted the more sin dominates our thinking. The heart was never designed to have these barbed wires like us in mental and spiritual prisons. God wants the heart free from every fortress of bondage.

Strongholds are designed by Satan to enslave us. Their purpose is to keep the life and glory of God from being manifested in our hearts and setting us free to love Him. Strongholds rearrange the boundaries that God has set for our hearts and fence us in, so we live, breathe, and move in captivity. Strongholds are the tool of the Devil to hinder the purposes of God in our lives and destroy our God-given calling. Strongholds are one of the great enemies of the heart. The strategy of the Devil for every man, woman, and child on earth is to build these wicked strongholds in the heart. He marshals all the spiritual forces of his entire kingdom to this end, as each stronghold is cleverly designed to turn the heart away from God.

A stronghold is always rooted in a faulty thinking pattern based on lies and deception that exalts itself above the knowledge of God contained in His Word. Deception is the glue that holds every stronghold together. Every stronghold cleaves to a lie that our thinking patterns have been twisted to believe.

Beth Moore, in Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds, says:

Basically, a stronghold is any argument or pretension that “sets itself up against the knowledge of God.” A stronghold is anything that exalts itself in our minds, “pretending” to be bigger and more powerful than God. It steals much of our focus and causes us to feel overpowered. Controlled. Mastered. Whether the stronghold is an addiction, unforgiveness toward a person who has hurt us, or despair over a loss, it is something that consumes so much of our emotional and mental energy that abundant life is strangled—our callings remain largely unfulfilled and our believing lives are virtually ineffective. Needless to say, these are the enemy’s precise goals….Based on my understanding of Scripture, anything that steals, kills or destroys the abundant, fruitful life of a believer can be considered a stronghold of the enemy. [i]

Strongholds can literally rewire our brains if we continue to reinforce toxic and ungodly thoughts. A stronghold can actually be visually viewed in images of the brain. It looks like a huge tree with branches that have spread its root system into the physical structure of the brain. A stronghold is woven into our genetic makeup and even restructures our cells to create emotions that are harmful to our spiritual well-being. These strongholds will imprison us and hold us hostage until they are torn down.

God designed the brain so that we can demolish strongholds and effectively rewire the brain. He also designed the brain so that we have every opportunity to eradicate these toxic thoughts before they become strongholds. If we take control of our thought life, become aware of what we are thinking, and take vigilant watch over our thoughts, these strongholds will wither and fade away. Otherwise, the stronghold can spread its roots deep into the physical brain and become strongly embedded in the heart.

A stronghold can be any area of sin that has risen to dominate our thinking to the point it becomes entrenched in our way of life. What are some of the strongholds that Satan loves to build as fortresses in our hearts?

Fear is a huge stronghold and is the foundation of many other strongholds.

Unbelief is a common stronghold. Every stronghold has at its core a disbelief in the promises and faithfulness of God. Rejecting the truth of Scripture allows false reasoning and erroneous logic to control the thinking process.

Unforgiveness is another colossal stronghold, and many other strongholds grow out of an unwillingness to forgive. If left untreated, unforgiveness becomes a spiritual cancer, poisoning the heart with its root of bitterness. Satan takes immediate advantage of any unforgiveness in our lives and uses it to build powerfully effective strongholds that can crush our heart.

Pride, guilt, lust, greed, depression, covetousness, and addictions are some of the other strongholds that can torment our minds and destroy our hearts. A stronghold is tangible evidence of the pursuit of the unholy in our thought life.

Do these strongholds only afflict the unbeliever who has not accepted Christ? Are they only the problem of the unbelieving world and not the concern of the Christian? Absolutely not! Strongholds and dungeons of captivity are running rampant in the minds of Christians and greatly hindering our walk with God and our Christian growth.

Beth Tirabassi, in Sacred Obsession: What You Chase After You Become, expounds on this enormous problem:

You cannot imagine how many people I meet who say they know God but are broken and confused, hiding their true selves, addicted to a substance, involved in emotional affairs, extremely overweight and battling with food every day, defiantly bitter about something, angry and easily able to wound with their words, abused, trapped, and desperate, obsessed with the illicit, habitual liars, too self-centered to love those who need them, and consumed with chasing after the unholy. They believed the lie that the sacred is not enough. Instead of being obsessed with the sacred…instead of loving God and others with intimacy and intention, instead of being free to dance on the inside or outside, instead of being able to laugh with pure joy and lift their hands with extreme freedom, instead of caring for the needs of others with selfless abandon, instead of being aware of God’s presence, when His blanket of comfort or power comes over them…they are numb….I don’t totally understand the dynamics of every addiction, but I do intimately understand the relentless pursuit which gets a hold of you—almost to the point of complete destruction. And I am guessing that you understand addictive compulsive obsessions too. You’ve felt their impact on someone you love. And you know if you don’t do whatever it takes to get the addiction out of your life; it will consume everything you love. Everything you are.[ii]

In 2 Corinthians 10:4 God commands that these fortresses must be pulled down and eradicated from our hearts. The Greek word for “pulling down” is kathairesis, which means to take down, to destroy, and to bring to extinction.

The first usage of this word in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, is enlightening as to the deeper meaning of this word.

You must not worship the gods of these nations or serve them in any way or imitate their evil practices. Instead, you must utterly destroy (kathareisis) them and smash their sacred pillars. You must serve only the Lord your God. (Exodus 23:24-25, NLT)

The root of every stronghold is idolatry—the worship and service of rival gods that have established a fortified dwelling place in our hearts.

We cannot serve the Lord our God if these dungeons of idolatry are dominating our hearts. These strongholds are like tumors that have fastened to our hearts and attempt to utterly consume it. When you are diagnosed with a tumor, you go to the doctor to get it surgically removed so it will be eliminated from your body. Likewise, God does not want one fortified stronghold to remain in our thinking or our hearts.

Do not give the devil a foothold. (Ephesians 4:27, NIV)

Leave no such room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him]. (AMP)

In the Greek, this is a present imperative and could literally be translated “Stop giving the devil a foothold in your heart and life!”

The Greek word for “foothold” means territory and a defined area like a district, town or dwelling place. We cannot give the enemy an inch of territory in our thoughts.  We cannot give him a dwelling place in our minds. If we give him a foothold, the Devil will aggressively take territory and build fortresses. If we give him a deed of land in our minds, he will stake out more boundaries to control as much real estate as he can. He is a spiritual squatter who attempts to gain legal title to property by a hostile, continuous possession, to the exclusion of its true owner. The owner, through neglect, has failed to protect the land against the actions of its adverse possessor who has treated the land as his own for a significant period of time. Eventually he is recognized by the law as its new owner.

The Devil has no legal right, by the authority of the finished work of Jesus Christ, to occupy one blade of grass in the real estate of our minds. Don’t give him any land on which to build a fortress. Don’t let him establish a military base. Don’t allow him to become the owner of one square inch of your thinking through neglect or inattention.

The Lesson of Jericho

There is a beautiful illustration of this truth in the book of Joshua. When Joshua was about to lead the nation of Israel into the Promised Land, he faced thirty-one hostile nations that were not about to surrender their territories to the people of God. These hostile empires were thirty-one strongholds, most having heavily fortified cities, and were described as giants in the land of Canaan (Numbers 11:31-33). The Devil placed these nations right in the heart of the Promised Land.  If Israel was to inherit the land God had promised them, they would have to defeat these nations and tear down their strongholds.

God told Joshua that not one nation, stronghold, or person could stand against him. Joshua was to courageously advance into enemy territory and conquer every stronghold in the name of God Almighty. God encouraged Joshua to not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God was with Him. God was going to show in spectacular fashion in the presence of His people that no stronghold can stand against His mighty power.

The first kingdom-city that stood in the way of Joshua and all of Israel was Jericho a formidable, heavily fortified city. This stronghold had to be demolished, but human logic and reason would label this task as impossible. Jericho was one of the greatest cities of its day, and was surrounded by a great embankment with a stone retaining wall twelve to fifteen feet high. On top of the retaining wall was a mud-brick wall six feet thick and six to eight feet high. At the crest of the embankment was another mud-brick wall that was forty-six feet above the ground level outside the retaining wall. If you were standing in front of this city, the walls would be close to seven stories high.

This stronghold’s massive fortifications dared any soul, army, or nation to attack it. Joshua could have easily thought, “Are you kidding me? This is impossible! This stronghold is impregnable!” But is anything too hard for God? What people say is impossible, God says is possible with Him! (Luke 18:37).

On the eve of this battle, God Almighty sent Joshua a heavenly visitor to put things in spiritual perspective and to confirm that this stronghold was going to be demolished by God. The Lord of Hosts would fight on the frontlines of battle as a great warrior to tear down every fortress that stood in the way of God’s people entering into the Promised Land.

When Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. (Joshua 5:13–15, NIV)

God sent the commander of His army, the captain of the Lord’s mighty host, to show Joshua that this battle to tear down the stronghold of Jericho was God’s battle. These walls would only come down through the mighty weapons of God Almighty.

God does not engage in battle to lose. He is always victorious and He never fails on the battlefield, no matter how formidable the enemy. Our God is a warrior against every evil stronghold and He always brings overwhelming victory to His children who trust and obey Him and absolute defeat to all those who oppose Him.

God’s plan to demolish this stronghold did not include battering rams, or a massive frontal attack of troops, or some otherworldly tactic of war. His weapons made it one of the most unconventional battles in the history of the world. Only God could get the glory and praise for this type of battle plan. Only He could win this war.

Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you. For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” When the circumcising of the whole nation was finished, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed. And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” And so the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day. While the people of Israel were encamped at Gilgal, they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening on the plains of Jericho. And the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priest shall blow the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.” But Joshua commanded the people, “You shall not shout or make your voice heard, neither shall any word go out of your mouth, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout.” But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction. (Joshua 3:5; 4:23–24; 5:8–10; 6:2–7, 18a, ESV)

It was by faith that the walls of Jericho collapsed, for the people had obeyed God’s command to encircle them for seven days. (Hebrews 11:30, PHILLIPS)

The Battle of Jericho: 8 Keys to Demolish Strongholds

In the battle of Jericho God sets forth the pattern of how we should approach the tearing down of every stronghold in our minds and hearts.

Come out of the Wilderness

First, if we want God to deal with our strongholds, we must come out of the wilderness of sin and the world. We cannot have wilderness thinking and lifestyles and expect our strongholds to come tumbling down. Actually, the opposite happens. The strongholds built by sin strengthen their fortifications in our hearts as long as we play with the golden calf in the wilderness. We wander about in spiritual blindness and stumble in the darkness, not knowing where we are going, as long as our hearts treasure the wilderness more than they treasure God. We must follow Jesus and let Him lead us out of the wilderness and into the promised land of a new life in Him.

We must never turn our gaze back to longing for the wilderness. We must fix our eyes on our Lord. We should seek His face, hunger for His presence, passionately pursue Him as our first love, and walk out of a past dead in trespasses and sins into the transforming power of our awesome God.

Consecrate Yourselves

The second thing we must do to tear down any stronghold is to consecrate ourselves. The Hebrew word translated “consecrate” is qadash, which means to be set apart, sanctified, holy and pure, and is used to describe what is set aside for God’s purposes. Qadash is to be completely dedicated to God for His glorification. It is a holy separation, where we pursue the sacred and consecrate all to Him. Our actions, words, and thoughts become instruments for His glory. Everything in our lives is set-aside for Him.

We must not conform to the world’s way of thinking or mold our lives after the fleeting mind-set of this age. We must boldly come out from among the world in our thought life, and separate our thinking from the evil spiritual atmosphere that has been orchestrated by the Prince of the Power of the Air in every area of society.

Becky Tirabassi says in Sacred Obsession:

We have allowed culture to consume us and make us like it. The average Western Christian is much more like his culture than his God….We have become incredibly ineffective as children of the King—no longer considered by ourselves or others as a holy, set–apart people of the living, loving God.[iii]

Do not allow the culture to consume your thought life and make it a wasted opportunity for the King of Glory. Our thinking must live under the banner of holy separation from the evil of this world. When we consecrate our thoughts to Him, God can tear down the strongholds caused by destructive thinking. The presence of God should penetrate our thoughts like beautiful rays of sunshine breaking forth in celebration of a new day. We must renew our minds by bringing our thinking to a new quality that is branded by God as pure, selfless, and compassionate.

What label would characterize your thinking? Would it be the brand of Christ or the brand of the flesh? Would it characterize the beauty of God or the ugliness of sin? It is time we examine our thought life to see what label it carries. Our earnest desire and driving passion should be that God is glorified by our thinking. We should be passionate to consecrate our thought life to the glory of God, for no stronghold can withstand the power of a consecrated thought life dedicated to the honor, praise, and majesty of our God.

Our Spiritual Circumcision in Christ

Thirdly, for God to tear down the strongholds in our minds, we must boldly stand in our spiritual circumcision in Christ under the new covenant, allowing God to circumcise the old ways of the flesh from our hearts. In that circumcision, the flesh will be pulled away from its grip on the heart and the power of sin broken in Christ and rendered inoperative. We do not need to have a slave’s habitual obedience to the flesh anymore. This circumcision is the enablement to break free from all sin, and to live in the freedom of our new life in Christ.

At the foundation of every stronghold is the carnal thinking of our flesh, fed by our sin nature. We can claim the benefits of the new covenant, which freed us from the power of sin controlling our lives and its relentless building of strongholds in our hearts. We can now walk by the Spirit of God and allow its holy work within us of burning the chaff, tearing down strongholds, and purifying our hearts.

Communion: The Power in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ

Fourthly, for the stronghold to be demolished, we need to know and believe the amazing power in the body and blood of Jesus Christ memorialized in the communion ceremony. Just like the Israelites who observed Passover before the walls of Jericho came crashing down, we can walk in the magnificent power of our redemption, accomplished through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The power of Satan to maintain strongholds in our hearts was permanently broken, crushed, and defeated at the cross, and His authority to rule our lives was overthrown and destroyed by our Lord Jesus.

Every captivity that has held the heart a prisoner in its strongholds has been blown to smithereens by Jesus Christ. No stronghold can stand against the blood of Jesus Christ. No stronghold can stand against the body of Jesus Christ. Our salvation is so complete that it can tear down the walls of any physical, mental, or spiritual stronghold, no matter how long it has been rooted and engrained in our hearts. When He cried out on the cross, “It is finished,” He was declaring the death sentence for every stronghold that has ever held us captive and oppressed our hearts. When the angel declared, “He is risen!” it was a heavenly declaration of a new age for all those who choose to believe.

Salvation is now available through Jesus Christ. In this salvation there is no room for the old strongholds to continue to plague and control our lives. Praise God there is a new freedom in Christ from every stronghold. The power of the Holy Spirit can reduce these fortresses to ashes in the unquenchable fire of God’s holy presence.

We must elevate our thinking to our heavenly position in Christ. Our thoughts must be filled with the truth of our redemption in the body and blood of our Lord Jesus if these strongholds are to come tumbling down.

The Battle is Not Yours but God’s

The fifth truth illustrated in the battle of Jericho is to realize that the battle is not ours, but the Lord’s. Joshua saw the commander of the host of heaven’s armies, and he had no doubt that the mighty God of Israel was going to fight for His people and bear His mighty arm against Jericho.

Only by the powerful weapons He has given us, like prayer and the sword of the Spirit, can we engage in this battle. Trust God to bring these strongholds to nothing. Believe God is our warrior and cry out in victory, “If God be for me, if God be on my side, what stronghold can stand against me?” Even if the wall is seven stories high and seems impossible to overcome, our God created the heavens and earth and can demolish any stronghold.

No stronghold can stand against the Almighty God! He will simply breathe on any stronghold and its walls will crumble. Believe in your awesome God. Trust in your Almighty God with unwavering devotion. Know that He is faithful to demolish every stronghold.

We can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is with us and in us, and we have nothing to fear. Never let unbelief in God and His Word raise its ugly head and take root in your heart. Unbelief is the fuel of every stronghold. It is the great enemy that will try to overtake your thinking patterns.

The altar of unbelief is established in the heart through our thought life. We cannot succumb to thoughts that God does not care, that He doesn’t deliver, and that He is not trustworthy. Unbelief doubts the character of our God and allows the Devil to build strongholds of unbelief in our hearts.

Unbelief doubts the integrity and accuracy of the God-breathed Word of God.

When unbelief toward God and His Word is demolished in our thinking, the miraculous God can rise up and do His mighty work of destroying these fortresses so they no longer control our lives.  We must lay every single battle to demolish these strongholds at the feet of our God and let Him arise in our hearts and take out these bastions of the Enemy.

The Ark of the Covenant: The Power of God’s Word and Presence

The sixth truth is, just as the Ark of the Covenant was marched around the walls of Jericho for seven days, we can take the Word of God and march it around every stronghold, confessing its truth and claiming its power. The Word of God is the mighty weapon in our thinking that will tear down the bricks of unbelief, fear, and doubt that have built their strongholds in our minds. We must know the Word, meditate on the Word, confess the Word, and believe the Word if these strongholds are ever to come down.

God declares in Jeremiah 23:29 (HCSB): “Is not My word like fire…and like a hammer that pulverizes rock?” The holy fire of God’s Word will melt any stronghold. The mighty power of God’s Word will pulverize the walls of any mental fortress. The hammer of God’s Word is the great weapon to demolish all these strongholds. This is why the Word of God must live and abide in our thought life.

The great philosophies and religions of the world are like a plastic toy hammer against these strongholds. They are powerless to bring the walls down. Only God’s holy Word, which He has magnified above all His name (Psalm 138:2), can crush these fortresses that have established residency in our hearts.

The ark also represented the presence of God, where God lived and met His people. When God is present, strongholds dissolve and crumble. No stronghold can remain in the light of His presence. We must hunger after God’s presence to be a living reality in our hearts. We must practice the presence of God in our thought life if these strongholds are to dissolve. God is calling us to carry His presence into battle and let our hearts be a living ark that radiates the glory of God Almighty.

Do you hunger after God’s presence like a newborn bird craves food from its mother? Do you pant for God’s presence like a thirsty deer pants for water? Do you know that God is with you and in you every moment of the day? It is time we set the glory of God’s presence before the walls of every stronghold that captivates our minds and holds us in bondage.

Tell the stronghold that you want to introduce it to the Almighty God whose power and majesty is beyond measure. These dungeons of bondage melt when they touch the glory of our God. God cries out to us like He did in Isaiah 45:2, “I will go before you and level the mountains. Bronze doors I will shatter, and iron bars I will snap!” Our mighty God will level every fortress and shatter every stronghold that stands in defiance of His truth if we only let Him. Let the weapon of God’s holy presence be carried into battle for the destruction of these strongholds and stand still and see the salvation of our Lord. When God is vitally present in our thinking, then the victory is assured over every stronghold that has ever tormented our lives and held sway over our hearts. The trumpets of God must once again sound in our hearts announcing to the world that the presence of God has arrived and the judgment of destruction on every stronghold has been pronounced from the throne of God.

Have Unshakeable Faith in God and His Word

The seventh truth is to have faith in God and His Word. Only by the exercise of faith can God move into action and accomplish the impossible. Our faith rests on the truth that with God all things are possible and nothing is too hard for Him.  Strongholds are so prevalent in the hearts of Christians because there is a vast shortage of believers who have childlike faith that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. We have more faith in the power of the enemy to defeat us than in the power of God to deliver us. Faith is an unwavering trust and confidence in our God that he will never fail us. It is to be fully persuaded that what God has promised, He is able to perform. No stronghold is demolished without faith. Strongholds arise when there is unbelief dominant in our thinking.

Faith always begins at the thought level. The strongholds of Satan will sift our hearts like wheat if we don’t have strong faith and confidence in our God. Take the shield of faith into battle against these strongholds to quench all the fiery javelins of the wicked one.

Faith not only tears down strongholds in our hearts, but also prevents new strongholds from finding a dwelling place in our minds. Faith comes by hearing the mighty promises of the Word of God and believing what God has spoken. God does not lie. His promises are always true. His promises cannot fail. As Jesus proclaimed again and again: “O ye of little faith! Why do you doubt?”

Our entire culture is designed to build fear and unbelief in the promises of God and God’s true character. We have made God too small; our vision is too mundane and we do not understand the greatness of our God. Strongholds abound as our faith is miniscule and shipwrecked on the island of doubt, worry, and fear. Truth faith has absolute confidence that God is able and willing to bring about the miraculous and the extraordinary in our lives. True faith has absolute confidence no matter how high the walls, that it can demolish any stronghold that grips our thinking with fear. True faith not only moves mountains, but it smashes strongholds into pieces. Faith is the key ingredient to keep our hearts healthy and free from these fortresses of bondage.

Wait on the Lord

The last truth in the Battle of Jericho is that we must wait on the Lord. God did not move to demolish the walls of Jericho until the seventh day. The Israelites were commanded to wait patiently for their God and not even utter a word until God’s appointed time. They were not to analyze God’s battle plans or have discussion groups about the best way for God to handle the situation. They were not to hand God an agenda and a timetable to try to get His approval. They were to be still in their thoughts, hearts and mouths and see the mighty salvation of the Lord.

God does not need an advisor. God does not need a counselor. God does not need a time scheduler. God needs people who will simply trust, obey, and wait for Him to act. Isaiah 64:4 boldly promises that God acts on behalf of those who trust in Him.

One of the most beautiful acts of faith in our Lord is to wait on Him for we know He is never late. God’s timing is always perfect. Many strongholds fail to crumble because we get inpatient with God as our flesh takes over and we take matters in our own hands. We attempt to tear down the stronghold in our own strength and worldly wisdom. It never works. It is like trying to destroy a military installation with a bb gun. It is a recipe for failure and never effective in demolishing strongholds in our hearts. Strongholds can never come down until we learn to wait upon the Lord and move when He moves and act when He acts, and faithfully follow His triumphant battle plan.

It is absolutely essential if strongholds are to be demolished and our heart set free, that we cultivate thinking patterns of waiting on the Lord. We cannot let anxiety and fear control our thinking where we develop an “I want it now” mindset and fail to wait on our God. We have become such an inpatient generation and we hate to wait on anything. But as in any battle, any movement of troops made in haste against the commands of its general, leads to disaster and often a crushing defeat. The soldier must trust the general’s heart and His commands and not allow his thinking to commit rebellion against his commander-in-chief.

The nature of our flesh does not want to wait on anyone. The flesh is incredibly impatient, demanding, and arrogant as to its ways. The flesh never understands the great truth of God’s faithfulness. The flesh deceives us into thinking we do not have to wait upon the Lord. Don’t make this disastrous decision to the health of your heart by following the flesh’s advice.

Waiting on the Lord is to trust in His faithfulness. Waiting on the Lord is to trust in His promises. Waiting on the Lord is to place our hope only in Him. God will absolutely never fail to perform what He has promised. He cannot lie. He did not stutter when He promised to demolish every stronghold if we trust Him and do what He has told us to do.

We should be like David who cried out in the Psalms 62:5: “My soul only waits on God for my expectation is from Him.” and in Psalm 25:5: “Lead me in thy truth and teach me for you are the God of my salvation and on you I wait all the day long.” David was a man after God’s own heart because his soul waited on the Lord day and night and his hope rested in the Lord.

David set forth the keys on waiting on the Lord in Psalm 37 which is to first trust in the Lord, then delight in the Lord, then commit our way to the Lord and then rest in the Lord. The actions of trusting, delighting, committing and resting, prepares our heart to wait patiently for the Lord. No matter how long it may take, we wait on the Lord for He will bring deliverance and salvation from every stronghold that captivates our hearts. He is our expectation. He is our hope. He is our confidence. Never get discouraged. Never lose heart. Never give up.

The Hebrew word for “wait” is qavah and it means to wait with breathless anticipation and to earnestly look towards something with great expectation. Qavah also means to be gathered together in unity. It comes from the root meaning to twist and bind together like a rope, which becomes strong as many strands are intertwined together. When we wait on God our heart becomes knit together in strength with God and like a mighty rope our heart becomes intertwined with the very heart of God and everything He is. We become one in purpose and in action. We are bound together in a loving union of trust and confidence. We wait in eager expectation for we are excited to stand still and see how the magnificent God of wonders will act. There is no “maybe” or “perhaps” in waiting for the Lord for we have absolute confidence in God. When we wait upon the Lord a wonderful transformation of our heart takes place where the shackles of doubt are replaced with an unwavering confidence in God.

As Christians we have had too many walls of Jericho in our hearts for far too long. Fortresses stand in the way of the glory of God being manifested in our hearts. We have betrayed our hearts by allowing these strongholds to remain deeply rooted, distorting the image of Christ. As Saul lost his kingdom because he failed to eliminate the Amalekites, we have lost the true king from reigning on the throne of our hearts because we have failed to tear down the fortresses of our flesh. God is crying out to us daily: “Remove these strongholds from my dwelling place!” They have no right to be there. They must be demolished if God is to rule in our hearts.

[i] Beth Moore, Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds (Nashville: B& H Publishing Group, 2009), 3,14,15.

[ii] Beth Tirabassi, Sacred Obsession: What You Chase After You Become, (Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 2006), 6,7,11.

[iii] Ibid., 123.

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The Third Gateway to the Heart: The Thoughts-Part 4: Pleasing God with our Thought Life

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2, NLT)

Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect. (NCV)

As Christians we must demonstrate a way of thinking that is not molded or shaped by the world. We cannot copy the thinking patterns of the world for our hearts will never be transformed into the living image of our Savior. The truth of the Word of God must be the solid foundation of our thought life. There is life-changing power in the partnership of truth and the Spirit of God. When these two pillars of transformation are at work in our thought life, we will think, act, and be just like Jesus. We will shine brightly to the world the inner reality that Christ lives in us.

Each day we walk in this way of thinking, more of the glory of the Lord will be manifest in our lives. We will know Jesus more intimately as we press into truth in our thought life, for He is the truth. The more we think according to truth and walk by the Spirit in our thought life, the more Jesus can burn the chaff of selfishness, fear, unbelief, and every other attitude that dishonors God from our hearts.

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:1–4, NASB)

The words “set your mind” come from the Greek word phroneo, which means thinking to the point it moves the will, reasoning and emotions. It is thinking with a purpose and a direction. This verb is in the active voice in the Greek, which means we must choose by a decision of our will to think this way. It is in the imperative mood, which means this is a command of God Almighty. It is also in the present tense, which means that this way of thinking should be our habit and way of life.

Are your thoughts a dwelling place for God Almighty? Are your thoughts like a little bit of heaven? Do your thoughts reflect the pattern of the majesty and glory of heaven, or are they entrenched in the things of this world?

God wants the habit of our thought life to be the spiritual things of His kingdom, not the temporal things of this earth. We choose whether our thoughts are directed upward or focused downward. Our spiritual position in Christ is that we have been raised with Him and are seated in the heavenlies. Why would we want our thoughts to be consumed with the trivial things of this earth instead of the eternal truths of heaven? We have died to our old ways of life. Our new life is centered with Christ in God. For Christians, Christ is our life now, and this should be reflected first and foremost in our thinking.

A.T. Robertson, in Word Pictures in the New Testament, says:

It does matter what we think and we are responsible for our thoughts. Paul does not mean that we should never think the things upon the earth, but that should not be our aim, our goal and our master. The Christian has to keep his feet upon the earth, but his head in the heavens. He must be heavenly-minded here on earth and so help to make the earth like heaven.[i]

God commands us to think from a heavenly perspective, with eternity stamped on our thoughts, and to no longer allow the temporal things of this earth to control our thought life. Our new life in Christ demands a new way of thinking. Our vision is to be uplifted to where our Lord is seated on the right hand of God. We must keep our gaze fixed on Jesus, looking full in his beautiful face. The glory and holiness of our Lord bursting forth from his heavenly throne should be the image we frame our thoughts around. How could anything on earth compare to this?

The illusory reality of the world of material things produces uncertainty and emptiness at every turn in life and ultimately enslaves the heart in bondage. If our thoughts are centered on the things of this world, we will be plagued with defeat, frustration, and despair.

Bishop K. C. Pillai, in Orientalisms of the Bible: Volume 1, has an enlightening translation of Matthew 6:19-21.

Let not your thoughts be centered in material things where fears and worries breed defeat and frustration, and where doubts break through and steal your thoughts. But let your thoughts be centered in the Spirit, where neither fear or worry breeds defeat or frustration, and where doubts do not break through and steal your thoughts. For where your thoughts are, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6:19–21)[ii]

If we stake our thought life on Him who is unchangeable and forever faithful, and whose goodness is from everlasting to everlasting, then the thieves of doubt, worry, and fear will never break through and steal our thoughts. God should be the solid rock and firm foundation of our thought life.

When worldly thoughts become the focus of our thinking, they dim our spiritual vision and cause us to lose our sense of eternal value. James Alexander Stewart, in Opened Windows: The Church and Revival, describes the tragic consequences when worldliness dominates our thinking:

Worldliness robs the Christian life of its radiant dynamic character. Worldliness is anything that takes the keen edge off my spiritual life and dims my vision of the Lord. Worldliness is anything that robs me of my deep inner love-life with my glorious Redeemer. Worldliness is anything that takes away my burden for souls. Worldliness is anything that hinders my spending time in the closet in earnest intercession, by the power of the Spirit, for the church and the world.[iii]

One day in the future, we will reign with Christ for all eternity. This wonderful truth should always be in our thoughts. Barclay, in his Letters to the Colossians, states:

From now on Christians will view everything against the background of eternity and no longer live as if this world is all that mattered … Christians will no longer worry about things that the world thought important. Ambitions which dominated the world will be powerless to touch them … They will set giving above getting, serving above ruling, forgiving above avenging. The standard of values for Christians will be God’s, not the world’s … In the light of that cross, the world’s wealth and ambitions and activities are seen at their true value—and Christians are enabled to set their hearts on the things which are above.[iv]

Eternity Conscious

Oh, how life changes when we begin to view things from a heavenly perspective. Things above should be the center of our thought life. Then all the problems and worries of this world will fade and lose their grip on our hearts. Everything we think about should be filtered through the lens of eternity.

A.W. Tozer, in Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in Christian Life, states:

We who live in this nervous age would be wise to meditate on our lives and our days long and often before the face of God and on the edge of eternity. For we are made for eternity as we are made for time, and as responsible moral beings we must deal with both.[v]

A spiritual revolution and earth-shaking revival can be birthed when the body of Christ allows eternity to grip their lives and drive their thought patterns.

Leonard Ravenhill, in Why Revival Tarries, says:

Oh that believers would become eternity conscious! If we could live every moment of every day under the eye of God, if we did every act in the light of the judgment seat, if we sold every article in light of the judgment seat, if we prayed every prayer in the light of the judgment seat … then we would have a Holy Ghost revival that would shake this earth and that in no time would liberate millions of precious souls.[vi]

All of the desires for our lives dramatically alter when we think about eternity. The judgment seat of Christ has nothing to do with obtaining salvation, as we are saved by grace because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ paid the price for our salvation, and we have eternal life as a gift of God’s grace. Christian believers will already be in heaven with the glorious new bodies we received after the Rapture, when we stand before Christ’s judgment seat. This judgment will determine our eternal rewards and our positions of responsibility in His kingdom. God will examine the fruitfulness of our lives and the pattern of our conduct while we were on the earth. God will bring to the light the plans, purposes, and motives of our hearts and give amazing rewards for those works of goodness that pass His test.

Do you see why a thought life that is focused on eternity changes everything? I have in my house a poster from the movie Gladiator that says, “What we do in life echoes in eternity.[vii]” Eternity never ends. Eternity is forever. How can we compare seventy or eighty years of life on this earth to eternity? Where should our priorities lie: the pleasures of this temporal life or eternity?

The judgment seat of Christ will issue forth the final verdict as to our eternal rewards and our destiny in His kingdom. Will we be decorated with rewards and victor crowns, and given great responsibility before God and His Son, Jesus Christ, in the future kingdom? Or will we barely get through the door and only by the grace of God?

Our lives are the testing ground for eternity, as each day we are either making or marring a destiny, winning or losing a reward, and securing or losing a crown. Will our motives, plans, purposes, and works withstand the test of fire at the judgment seat of Christ?

As Christians we need to set our hearts on eternity and adjust our motives and hearts accordingly. It is never too late to begin to accumulate and earn future rewards in the service of our Lord.

God has equipped us with everything we need to walk in obedience to His Word. Our thought life is the critical component to the final verdict that Jesus Christ issues about our eternal responsibility in His kingdom. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “God has set eternity in the hearts of men.” We cannot allow anything in our thought life to cloud, mar, or dim the vision of eternity. We must set the GPS of our hearts on eternity and judge every thought, action, and motive in the light of this heavenly vision.

Romans 8:5–8 says:

“Those who are habitually dominated by the sinful nature, put their minds (phroneo-think) on the things of the sinful nature, but those who are habitually dominated by the Spirit, put their minds (phroneo-think) on the things of the Spirit.” For to have the mind (phroneo-think) dominated by the sinful nature is death, but to have the mind (phroneo-think) dominated by the Spirit is life and peace; because the mind (phroneo-thoughts) dominated by the sinful nature is hostile to God, for it does not marshal itself under the command of the law of God, neither is it able to. Moreover, those who are in the sphere of the sinful nature are not able to please God. (WUEST)

What nature is driving your thought life? Is your thinking habitually dominated by your old sinful nature inherited from Adam or by the new nature, the Spirit of God that was birthed within you when you were born again? Our thinking is never neutral; it is always being dominated by either our old or our new nature.

The consequences are monumental, the implications are staggering, and the repercussions are life-changing in regards to which nature controls our thought life. The most important consequence of our thinking is the effect it has on our relationship with God. The Bible is clear on this significant truth. If our thinking remains in the sphere of our sinful nature, we can never please God. If our thinking remains under the control of our sinful nature, we take up a hostile position against God. We will build in our hearts a pattern of hating the things of God.

Pleasing God Begins With Your Thought Life

Pleasing God begins with our thought life. Do you want to please God? Do you want to live a life that is well-pleasing to Him? Then you must take control of your thought life. The way we think determines the quality, intimacy, and depth of our relationship with our Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Carelessness in our thought life, by allowing the sin nature to control it, is dangerously destructive to our walk with God.

Do you want to become an enemy of God in your thinking? Do you want your mind to be classified as a rebel to God, and hostile to the purposes of God in your life? Do you want your heart to be branded as the property of your spiritual enemy? If not, then you must habitually renew your mind to the Word of God and walk by the Spirit in your thought life.

Sin must not be the slave master of our thought life. Through the overwhelming victory of Jesus on the cross and His resurrection, sin no longer has a right to reign over our thinking. Our old way of thinking was nailed to the cross and died in Him, so our thought life no longer has to be an instrument of sin in our lives. Our thinking should be dead to sin and alive to God. Our thought life should be rooted in God’s love, grace, and mercy. Our thinking life should be rooted in holiness. We must keep our thinking pure if we want to have our hearts transformed into the image of Christ. This is the demand of the lordship of Jesus Christ.

One pattern of thinking produces death: death in our relationship with God, death to the fruit of God in our lives, and death to God’s deliverance being manifested in our lives. The other pattern of thinking produces life and peace: the life of the Christ flowing through us, which produces the beautiful fruit of the Spirit in our hearts. The peace of God mends our broken and agitated hearts, giving us a godly calm and assurance even in the midst of the most difficult circumstances.

Which pattern of thinking is going to control your thought life—the fleshly pattern of death or the spiritual pattern of life? Choose this day what god your thoughts are going to serve and what nature your thoughts are going to bow to.

Depending on when we became Christians, most of us have had decades of practice where our thinking was controlled exclusively by our sin nature. Thus it is a radical departure from our normal thinking patterns to allow the Word of God and the Spirit of God to become the center of our thought life. I never said this was easy. Thinking rightly is a growth and training process. But we must approach our thought life with the same discipline as an athlete in training for the Olympics. We must approach our thinking with the same intensity as a cyclist training for the grueling Tour De France. We must approach our thought life with the same relentless dedication of a prizefighter’s training for a heavyweight boxing championship. But the stakes are much higher and the reward is much greater.

The urgency of our times demands discipline, sacrifice, and commitment. Who would make such a ridiculous demand of us? Who would require that type of dedication? God!

Sin is relentless and is always crouching at the door of our thought life, ready to infiltrate it and turn it as a rebel against God. The Devil wants to take the fight out of you. He wants to brand your thought life with apathy for the things of God. He wants to make you lazy and spiritually asleep so he can come as the thief in the night and sow tares of fear, doubt, and unbelief in your thinking. We have been asleep at the switch for way too long. Wake up and exercise discipline and eternal vigilance over your thought life!

Approaching our Thinking with the Discipline of a Spiritual Athlete

More than any other Christian who ever lived, the apostle Paul understood the importance of discipline in the Christian thought life. He used God-inspired images and words to illustrate the truth that the Christian is an athlete of the Spirit and must approach the Christian walk with the discipline and training of an athlete.

Train yourself for godliness. (1 Timothy 4:7, NIV)

I have fought the good fight. I have finished my course. I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7, KJV)

The desperate, straining, agonizing contest marked by its beauty of technique, I like a wrestler have fought to the finish, and at present am resting in victory. My race, I like a runner have finished, and at present am resting at the goal. The Faith committed to my care, I like a soldier have kept safely through eternal vigilance, and have delivered it again to my Captain. (WUEST)

We must fight the good fight of faith in our thought life and train our thinking for godliness. The Greek word translated “fought” is agonizomai. It was a familiar term in Greek writings concerning military and athletic endeavors. It was used to emphasize the discipline and effort needed to win in both arenas. In the athletic sense it means to contend in the games for a prize with great physical exertion and intensity. It is an all-out push for victory with every ounce of physical and mental strength. It was used of a runner straining every muscle to reach the finish line. Nothing is left on the sidelines. Nothing is left in the locker room.

The root of this word comes into English as the word agony. These Greek athletes were engaged in the intense competition of the games even to the point of physical agony. This Greek word is in the present tense and imperative mood, which means that God is commanding this level of spiritual discipline as a continuous, daily habit of life.

Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!

All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step, I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24–27, NLT)

Should we have any less intensity and passion for God than the Greek athlete had to win a prize? Should we labor any less fervently for Christ than the Greek athlete labored in the games? We should make it our aim as Christians to fight the good fight and finish the race God has called us to with everything we have. No half-hearted, weak effort is acceptable. We are at war! So fight the good fight!

This fight begins with our thinking. If the battle for the thought life is lost, the heart is lost. We cannot let our hearts be a casualty of war because we were lazy and undisciplined in our thinking. God has given us everything we need to fight the good fight. God is our team captain, and He urges us to get into the spiritual arena to wrestle for His purposes. We should accept nothing less than an all-out effort in this fight with the rigorous discipline of an elite athlete or top soldier.

Unfortunately, the majority of Christians have been too undisciplined, entangled, apathetic, and soft to fight with the intensity of an athlete. Are you willing to lay everything on the line for the Lord Jesus Christ and change the way you think? Or is your Christianity a convenient Sunday show for an hour that does little to wake up your thinking to Christ.

We are in an intense fight for our thought life. It is the ultimate contest, the supreme event, and the final championship match for control of our hearts. We can either get into the ring and fight for our thinking or stay on the sidelines, never adventuring to take the hand of God as our team captain. It takes courage, conviction, and tenacity to stand for Christ in our thinking.

Are you willing to make the sacrifice necessary to take control of your thought life? Are you prepared to push yourself to the point of physical and mental exhaustion for the purity of your thinking in your walk with Christ?

[i] A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2000), 499.

[ii] Bishop K.C. Pillai, Orientalisms of the Bible: Volume 1.

[iii] James Alexander Stewart, Opened Windows: The Church and Revival, (Ashville: Revival Literature, 1958).

[iv] William Barclay, The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1975), 171-173.

[v] A.W. Tozer, Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1961), 42.

[vi] Leonard Ravenhill, Why Revival Tarries (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1959), 47.

[vii] David Franzoni, Gladiator, Movie, directed by Ridley Scott, (Los Angeles: DreamWorks, 2000).

Excerpt from The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life 

https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Key-Everything-Christian-Life/dp/1483447928/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1499477494&sr=1-1&keywords=heart+key+to+everything

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The Third Gateway to the Heart-The Thoughts: Part 3-The Three Pillars of Jesus Christ’s Thought Life

Philippians sets forth three pillars of Jesus Christ’s thought life that we should model our thinking after. They are humility, passionate service for God and others, and unwavering obedience to God. If we want to think like Jesus Christ, we must train our mind to think thoughts rooted in humility, service, and obedience.

There is no selfishness in humility. There is no pride in humility. There is no self-exaltation or self-glorification in humility. Humility is always bowed in loving reverence and adoration at the throne of God. Out of humility flows all true service to God and all faithful obedience to Him. We cannot serve God if we are not humble. We cannot obey God if we are not humble. We cannot love God if we are not humble. If humility does not dominate our thoughts, we cannot love, serve or obey God with all of our heart. Humility recognizes a complete dependency on God in everything. Humility recognizes that God is our sufficiency, our provision, our strength, and our all in all. Humility realizes that with God we lack nothing and have everything.

Without humble thoughts being the pattern of our thinking, our hearts become proud and hardened against the ways, purposes, and counsel of God. Pride is the opposite of humility, and God hates pride.

Our thoughts are either dominated by pride, which is rooted in selfishness, or by humility, which is rooted in the fear of God. When we peel away all the layers, we could characterize every primary thought pattern of our minds as either humble or prideful.

The first checkpoint for every thought that occupies our minds should be “Is this thought full of pride or humility? Is it full of selfishness or selflessness?” If it is full of pride, then deny it access into your heart. If it is full of selfishness, turn it away before it does more damage. Never welcome pride or selfishness into the home of your heart, or it will soon move in with all its friends and take over. If pride is currently dwelling in your heart, give it an eviction notice immediately. It must leave if Jesus is to make His home there.

God sets forth very clearly in His Word in Philippians 2 that the most important trait we can ever have in our thought life is humility. When our thoughts are humble, we will be walking in great love for God; we will be worshipping and obeying Him, and giving Him the proper place in our hearts. When our thoughts are humble, we will be loving and serving others with the love of Christ and working tirelessly to help, minister, and care for their needs. All self-sacrifice for God and others flows out of a thought life that is consumed with godly humility.

Humility realizes we are nothing without God, but it also recognizes the glorious privilege and blessing it is to be called a son of daughter of God. Humility is not to have a horrible opinion of ourselves, but seeing ourselves as God sees us. God made each of us lovely and acceptable according to Ephesians 1:4-6. God has beautifully created each one of us to be a masterpiece in Christ. He has birthed us as children and with this honor comes great responsibility to think and act with the heart of Jesus.

Do you want your heart to be a beautiful reflection of Jesus? Do you want the love and compassion of Jesus to flow like a mighty river out of your heart? It begins with having thoughts filled with the humility of Jesus. People will never see Jesus in our lives unless we are humble. Nothing kills the reflection of Jesus in our hearts quicker than pride and selfishness.

Dangers of Prideful Thinking

James 4 sets forth why humility is so important.

The grace that God gives is even stronger. As the scripture says, God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6, GW)

The Greek word translated “resists” means to set an army against and to line up in opposition. This is a military term that paints a picture of a great army taking its position in battle to wage war against its enemy. Pride calls out God’s armies to battle! God sets Himself and the host of heaven in defiance against every form of pride.

Trench describes pride as “human nature in battle array against God.[i]” Do you want to battle against God? Do you God to oppose you in the things you do? Or do you want God’s grace to super-abound in your life? Seek out and destroy every remnant of pride that raises its ugly head in your thoughts and learn to think humbly according to God’s Word. God goes to battle against pride and sets Himself in strong opposition to any heart that is centered in pride.

Pride is lethal because it lifts up the heart against God. Pride is God dethroned and self-enthroned. Pride is self-exaltation and self-glorification in a foolish attempt to disown any trust or reliance upon God. Pride cherishes its role as the supreme ruler of life, and arrogantly declares its independence from God. Pride is ultimately built on contempt and disdain for God and even other people, because it declares it is too good to need anyone’s help.

Richard Wolff, in General Epistles of James and Jude, Contemporary Commentaries, explains that the Greek word for pride in this verse “reflects a false self-estimate which manifests itself in arrogance. The emphasis of the Greek word falls on thought, not speech, as an attitude cherished in the secrecy of the heart.”[ii] All pride begins with a thought, and the thought is normally rooted in a mistrust of God’s character, faithfulness, and love. All rebellion against God and His truth has at its foundation a heart that has sold out to pride. All pride begins in our thinking, when we take our eyes off the Lord.

David Ravenhill, in Surviving the Anointing: Learning to Effectively Experience and Walk in God’s Power, expounds on humility and pride:

Surely there is no greater need in the body of Christ today than for truly humble men and women of God. The Puritans used to say, “Pride is the last thing that leaves the human heart, and the first to return.” … Pride is a terrible thing. It is the root of all sin. Yet it’s one of those sins that we sometimes become accustomed to. Often we fail to recognize it or we simply overlook it … When we talk about David’s greatest sin, most of us immediately think about his sin with Bathsheba … As a result of that sin, Bathsheba lost their baby … However this was not the greatest sin in David’s life. One day while David was sitting in his house, the enemy came and began to incite him into thinking about his own great power and might. Soon David became intoxicated with pride as he tried to imagine all those under his authority. Within minutes he had summoned Jacob to take a census throughout the land of Israel … David was not interested in the type of census that God told Moses to take, but rather he had requested a specific census that would determine how powerful he was militarily. David succumbed to the wiles of the enemy by taking his eyes off the Lord and His strength, and looking instead on his own … God was angry at what David has done and sends the prophet Gad to give him the word as to what was going to happen … the end result being that David loses 70,000 men. I will never forget the day I came to realize that David’s sin of passion cost him one life, but his sin of pride cost him 70,000 lives![iii]

David’s prideful thinking caused seventy thousand people to lose their lives. Lucifer’s prideful thinking caused God’s second-in-command and one-third of the angels to be kicked out of heaven. Prideful thinking caused an entire civilization to be wiped out by the flood in the days of Noah. Pride has been the key ingredient in ruining many Christian ministries, marriages, and lives. No wonder God warns us in Proverbs 16:18 that “pride comes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Establishing thought patterns of pride in our daily thinking is like playing with spiritual dynamite. It is powerful enough to destroy not only our lives, but also the lives of many around us. We can never take the glory or the credit for anything. Only by the grace of God can we do anything. It’s all about Him working through us and in us to accomplish His magnificent will and purposes.

Every thought should bring God glory. Only when our thoughts are grounded in humility can God get the glory He so richly deserves.

In that way, no man can be proud as he stands before God. It is as the Holy Writings say, “If anyone is going to be proud of anything, he should be proud of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:29, 31, NLV)

That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.” (MSG)

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:32, ESV)

Ian Thomas in The Indwelling Life of Christ: All of Him in All of Me says:

The Christian life can be explained only in terms of Jesus, and if your life as a Christian can still be explained in terms of you—your personality, your willpower, your gift, your talent, your money, your courage, your scholarship, your dedication, your sacrifice, or your anything—then although you may have the Christian life, you are not yet living it! … True Godliness leaves the world convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that the only explanation for you is Jesus Christ.[iv]

No Fear in the Thoughts of Jesus

Jesus Christ also did not have one ounce of fear in his thinking. During a great storm on the Sea of Galilee, waves pounded on the tiny boat He was in, and it was filling with water. Jesus was sleeping soundly when He was frantically awakened by His disciples. He rebuked the wind, crying out, “Peace be still” (Mark 4:39), and reproved His disciples for their lack of faith.

No fear, anxiety, or worry ever entered the thought life of Jesus. He taught His followers to not let their hearts be troubled (John 14:1, 27). The Greek word translated “troubled” means agitated, disturbed with various emotions, and restless. Jesus Christ had complete inner tranquility in his thinking. He had no thoughts of agitation, restlessness, or emotional turmoil. Nothing disturbed or agitated Him. His thought life never collapsed into fear, no matter how dire and distressing the circumstances.

Deep Compassion of Jesus’s Thoughts

Jesus had great compassion for people who were hurting and suffering from physical and spiritual ailments. He healed the sick, cast out devil spirits, fed the hungry, taught those who lacked understanding, and touched the untouchable. With great love He went into the valley of human need and ministered to the undesirable, the outcasts, the despised, and the unwanted. His thoughts were full of love and compassion as He reached out to the rejected and forgotten. He constantly thought about setting the captives free, healing the brokenhearted, and delivering the downtrodden.

There was deep emotion in the heart of Jesus Christ. But this emotion was never out of control. It was always centered in the will of God. This emotion turned into powerful action because Jesus was in tune with the heartfelt emotions of His Heavenly Father. Jesus was moved, Jesus cried, Jesus was touched, Jesus was zealous, Jesus was angry, Jesus loved, Jesus cared, Jesus was joyful, Jesus was grieved, Jesus groaned, Jesus was indignant, Jesus was compassionate, Jesus was patient, Jesus was kind, and Jesus was sympathetic. These emotions moved Jesus to accomplish God’s will in the needs that were thrust before Him.

We can never let our thought life be dead to the passions of our God. The heart of God is full of wonderful emotion, and we must tap into this emotion in our thought life so it moves us with compassion to do the works of God. Our thoughts should be full of great compassion, empathy, and love for all who are broken, crushed, and beaten down in life.

Many of the fruits of the spirit listed in Galatians 5:22,23 are emotions that are birthed in the spirit and not the flesh. These are powerful spiritual attitudes that flow out of our new life in Christ. All great passion for God begins with the spirit of God being energized in our thought life. We must follow in the steps of our Lord Jesus Christ and never lose our zeal for God. Like Jesus, we must think thoughts of relentless love, unquenchable joy, and undying compassion for our God and for others. Then we can truly do the work of His kingdom on the earth.

No Unforgiveness or Bitterness in Jesus’s Thinking

Jesus never had a thought of unforgiveness or bitterness. These twin toxins to the heart have dominated the thought life of every generation in human history. Unforgiveness and bitterness have destroyed relationships, taken down kingdoms, and caused sickness and death. Jesus was the first person to never exercise one ounce of unforgiveness or bitterness in His heart. Jesus took forgiveness to a whole new level that is almost incomprehensible. He demonstrated great mercy and forgiveness in his thinking, no matter what the circumstance or offense. He forgave the woman caught in the act of adultery when everyone else was ready to cast a stone and condemn her (John 8:3-11). Jesus did not beat people over the head with religion or their past mistakes, but He showed wonderful mercy and loved them unconditionally.

He never gave bitterness a passing thought, for it would poison His spiritual life. He was not offended when people rejected His teaching, ridiculed His name, and even spat in His face. He was not offended when He was viciously beaten to the point that no one could even recognize he was a man. He was not offended when He was mocked as King of the Jews and a crown of thorns was shoved into His brow. He was not offended when He hung on a cross in great agony for over six hours, even though He was completely innocent. He forgave every one in the mob who yelled, “Crucify Him!” He forgave the religious leaders, who had broken numerous Hebrew laws in plotting His death, and the Romans who carried out the terrible sentence. He knew that to be the Savior of mankind, He had to have forgiveness that was deeper than the deepest sea and higher than the highest mountain. He never allowed a root of bitterness to grow in His thought life.

Scripture is the Measuring Rod of our Thought Life

Jesus Christ’s thought life was a beautiful illustration of the Word of God. The Scriptures dominated and controlled His thinking. Jesus is the Word, but Jesus also thought the Word. His thinking exemplified the great battle in the wilderness with the Devil when He overcame each temptation with an “It is written” mentality. Jesus’ mind was fixed like a laser on truth, as He never allowed any thought to stray from the truth of Scripture. Every thought was measured by Scripture, every thought was tested by Scripture, and every thought was judged by Scripture. The beauty and purity of the Word of God was the foundation of His thought life. Jesus Christ is the truth, and everything He thinks is the truth.

John 1:14 says that Jesus Christ is completely and perfectly full of truth and that truth fully came on the stage of this world with Jesus Christ. Every thought, word, and action of Jesus Christ was built on truth.

God wants each Christian believer to come to the knowledge of the truth according to 1 Timothy 2:4 and allow the greatness of truth to sanctify and purify our thought patterns. Jesus tells us in John 8:31-32 that when we continue in the Scripture, reading, memorizing, and reflecting on its words, we shall know the truth and the truth will set the heart free from any prison that is holding it captive.

Truth in our thinking leads to great physical, mental, and spiritual freedom in our hearts. If we want to be set free from whatever burden is holding us back from living passionately for God, we must allow the truth of the Bible to govern our thought life. Either the truth of God or a lie is controlling our thought life. God gives truth, and the Devil speaks lies and deception. We must decide which takes control of our thought life. If truth does not live and breathe in our thinking, we will eventually fall into the snare of the Devil, and our thinking will turn from the truth of God and embrace a lie. The Devil is always trying to turn our thinking away from the truth.

It is important to establish patterns of truth in our thinking so our dominant thoughts center on the truth of the Bible. That is the only way we can stand against the onslaught of our enemy in spiritual warfare. Ephesians 6 states that our minds must be clothed with the truth, for this is part of the whole armor of God.

The Devil is always after the truth. He wants us to doubt, resist and reject the truth in our thinking. He wants to eliminate every vestige of truth in our thought life. The Devil hates the truth because it brings glorious light and reveals that he is a failure, a liar, a deceiver, an imposter, and a counterfeiter, doomed for destruction. He opposes the truth with everything in his kingdom, but the truth will always prevail, for it can never be broken, eradicated, or overcome.

Eric Ludy, in The Bravehearted Gospel, says:

Our archenemy Satan has always had it in for the Word of God. His goal from the beginning has been to remove its credibility, diminish its value, twist its words, and ultimately empty it of its power. In the Garden of Eden, he slithered onto the scene whispering, “Did God really say?” … Satan’s whispering is relentless, and it all centers on one very important theme: the credibility of the Bible … The Bible is truth by revelation. It is God’s Word revealing His will to humanity. And we are not its editors but its servants! … The Bible is more than mere literature. It is more than letters on a page. It is the mind, heart and love of Jesus Christ made available for us to enjoy, drink in, soak up, bask in, and fully know … To yield our hearts, minds and bodies to anything but the truth as revealed in Scripture is to sleep with the enemy.[v]

Are we sleeping with the enemy in our thought life? Are we yielding our thoughts to the slithering deceit of our spiritual adversary? Is our thinking a testimony to truth? Or is it a testimony to the prevailing winds of our culture? Does the Bible, with its message of truth, have any place in our thoughts? Or has truth fallen by the wayside and become the missing ingredient in our thinking? Where does truth stand in relation to the way we think? Are we too busy for the truth? Do we even believe there is such a thing anymore?

Where your thought life stands in relation to the truth of God revealed in Scripture is directly related to the spiritual health of your heart. Without truth your heart will always be a dust bowl of confusion. You will not know the destructive path your heart is stumbling on. Truth is the lifeblood of the heart. Truth is the food the heart needs to grow spiritually into the image of Christ.

How much truth does your heart have? The amount of truth that dwells in our hearts is determined by how much truth occupies our thinking patterns.

God has given us a magnificent gift to keep the heart centered on truth. God gave us a wonderful helper and companion to help us with our thought life: the gift of the Holy Spirit, which we receive when we are born again. This is the Spirit of truth. As God’s Spirit lives and moves within us, it guides our thinking to the truth if we have ears to hear and eyes to see. We need the help of the Spirit of God, the Christ that lives within us, to think properly and accurately according to truth.

We cannot get our thinking on the proper track and keep it on the path of God without help from God. He always brings our thought patterns back to truth if we listen to Him. Without our thinking rooted in truth, we will be blown about, like a tumbleweed in a windstorm, by the philosophies, ideas, attitudes, and beliefs of the world. We will have no stability in our thought life because it is not built on the rock of truth, but on the sinking sand of opinions and lies.

Every word in Scripture is God-breathed, and only the Word of God can transform our thinking to reflect the glory, grace, and beauty of our God. Transformed thinking transforms the heart. It moves the heart to do the will of God and molds the heart into the image of Christ.

[i] Richard Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company 1953), 102.

[ii] Richard Wolff, Contemporary Commentaries, General Epistles of James and Jude, Contemporary Commentaries, (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 1969).

[iii] David Ravenhill, Surviving the Anointing: Learning to Effectively Experience and Walk in God’s Power (Shippensburg: Destiny Image Publishers, 2007), 135, 136.

[iv] Ian Thomas, The Indwelling Life of Christ: All of Him in All of Me (Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2006), 151.

[v] Eric Ludy, The Bravehearted Gospel (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2008), 167, 168, 174, 183.

Excerpt from The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life, 

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The Third Gateway to the Heart: The Thoughts, Part 2: Honoring God with our Thought Life

As Christians our thought life should honor God first and foremost. The Greek word translated “honor” in Romans 1:21 means to make glorious, to adorn with splendor, to make excellent, and to cause the worth of something to be made known. Our thinking should glorify God and adorn Him with splendor. Our thoughts should magnify God daily and give Him the dignity He deserves. Our thoughts should be flooded with thanksgiving to God for His blessings, love, mercy, and grace.

Do your thoughts glorify God daily? Is your thought life a model of honor and thanksgiving to your God? We must never give the glory of our thoughts to another. We can never glorify God with our lives if we are not glorifying Him with our thoughts.

Noah’s thought life was different because he chose to walk with God. It must have been possible for all of those millions of people on the face of the earth to do the same. But in their thinking and ultimately in their hearts, they refused.

Before Noah, Enoch also walked with God for hundreds of years. So all these people had a choice to follow God and let Him govern their thought life, or to reject God and walk in alignment with their own sin nature. In the Hebrew, “to walk” is to form habit patterns that determine your way of life. It is the way we live our lives daily. To walk with God is to form a habit pattern of thought and action that conforms our way to God’s revealed truth.

It is impossible for any human being without God to make life work and keep himself from evil. We must walk with God for life to have true meaning. Walking with God on its most basic level is walking with God in our thought life. Our thoughts should be filled with God’s presence, truth, and nature. A thought life without God is ultimately an exercise in foolishness, and it always leads to dangerous consequences for the heart.

If we do not control our thought life, it has a tendency to run toward evil faster than a speeding train. Without God’s revelation to guide our thought life, it wanders aimlessly in darkness and stumbles into every trap of the enemy. A thought life not centered upon God always leads to rebellion against the way of God.

God cries out to His people to get their thought life in line with His revealed Word.

I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, according to their own thoughts. (Isaiah 65:2, NKJV)

Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:7, ESV)

Every day we should check our thought life and bring it to the feet of our Lord. Our thoughts should be preparing the way of the Lord in our hearts. Each day we should be doing a spiritual check-up of our thought life by asking God to examine our thoughts and reveal to us any trace of rebellion, selfishness, and sin that is dominating our thinking. We should forsake these thought patterns, ask God for forgiveness, and ask Him to cleanse our thinking with the blood of Jesus Christ and return our thoughts to the Lord.  Read and study the Bible daily, meditate upon it, ponder it, memorize it and keep it before your eyes. Spend time alone with God every day (one hour minimum) in prayer and praise. Practice the presence of God. Sing daily songs in your heart to the Lord. These daily habits will help you to develop a disciplined godly thought life.

The Devil is always trying to turn our thoughts away from the Lord, and he has a whole arsenal of weapons that barrage our minds with distractions, lusts, images, and temptations to accomplish this spiritual strategy. Thinking is the last filter that any image, word, or idea goes through before it enters the heart. We may be bombarded by images, words, or ideas, but we process them and ultimately accept or reject them by thought. We determine by our thinking what will enter into our hearts.

This is why our thought life is always on the front lines of spiritual warfare as we engage in a thought-by-thought combat for our hearts. We cannot stand for God against the powers of darkness without a vigilant and constant effort of renewing our thoughts and bringing them in line with Scripture. Allowing thought patterns of unbelief, fear, anxiety, anger, lust, and bitterness to govern our thinking is playing right into the enemy’s camp.

God is so concerned with our thought life that He stretches out His arms in love each day with the encouragement to think in a way that glorifies Him. Our thoughts should be holy, for He is holy. Our thoughts should be righteous, for He is righteous. Our thoughts should be just, for He is just. Our thoughts should be love, for He is love. Our thoughts should be peace, for He is our peace. Our thoughts should be joy, for He is our joy. Our thoughts should be compassion, for the Compassionate One lives inside us. Our thoughts should be kindness, for He is kind. Our thoughts should be built upon our great reverence for God. Our thoughts should rest on the mighty splendor and majesty of our God.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8, NLT)

This verse summarizes what should be the makeup of the thoughts that occupy a Christian’s mind. We can use this as a checklist to determine whether our predominant thinking is glorifying God.

What would the ingredients label look like on the thoughts that entertain your mind? Is truth an ingredient? Honor? Purity? Are the contents of your thoughts things that God would consider excellent and worthy of praise? Or does your thought life look like a fast-food restaurant full of spiritual junk food?

In our partnership with God, we need to become spiritual repairmen and begin to fix our thought life. We need to become spiritual health specialists and begin to detox our thought life.

Do you want to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength? This love for God begins with your thought life. Do you want to have great faith that will move mountains? This mountain-moving faith begins with your thought life. Do you want to manifest the character and life of Jesus Christ in everything you say or do? Do you want to live with a passion for God and fulfill His purpose for your life? It all starts one thought at a time.

Toxic Thoughts Poisoning our Spiritual Life

As Christians we cannot afford to neglect our thought life. We cannot be fooled into thinking, Oh, it is just a thought. It’s harmless. Toxic thoughts are like a spiritual cancer to the heart.

Dr. Carolyn Leaf, in Who Switched Off My Brain? Controlling Toxic Thoughts and Emotions, explains:

Toxic thoughts are like poison, but the good news is you can break the cycle of toxic thinking. You can reverse the effects of toxic thoughts. And once that cycle of toxic thinking has been broken, your thoughts can actually start to improve in every area of your life—your relationships, your health and even your success. A thought may seem harmless, but if it becomes toxic, even just a thought can become physically, emotionally or spiritually dangerous. Thoughts are measurable and occupy mental “real estate.” Thoughts are active; they grow and change. Thoughts influence every decision, word, action and physical reaction we make. Every time you have a thought, it is actively changing your brain and your body—for better or for worse….Toxic thoughts don’t just creep into our minds as a result of abuse or an especially horrible trauma. Toxic thoughts affect people in all stages of life, in every part of the world, every day. Even something as small as a minor irritation can become toxic, and these thoughts need to be swept away….You have been experiencing the effects of all of your thoughts your entire life and may not have even known it!…In fact, your thoughts create changes right down to genetic levels, restructuring the cell’s makeup. Scientists have shown this restructuring is how diseases are all to take hold of the body….You can take back control of your body and mind! It is possible to lead an emotionally happy and physically healing lifestyle simply by learning to control your thought life.[i]

Never underestimate the power of one thought as it can become spiritually dangerous and lead to an entire pattern of thinking that becomes toxic to the heart. One thought can open up the floodgates to a way of thinking that corrupts the way of God and is the access point for the Enemy to ride into our hearts. One thought can be the first drop of spiritual poison that erects an altar of unbelief in our hearts.

We must learn to think as God wants us to think if we want to have healthy spiritual hearts for the Lord. How we think influences every part of our life. We must become the watchmen of our thought life and with untiring vigilance guard it from being controlled by our sin nature or by the impulses of the world. The battle line is always drawn in our thought life. This is where the war for the heart is either won or lost.

No one understands the danger of toxic thoughts more than God Almighty. He saw toxic thinking grip the hearts of every man, woman, and child on earth. He saw toxic thinking destroy the hearts of the entire human race. He saw the evil that toxic thinking produces in people’s lives. The toxic thinking of men and women whom He created for His glory crushed God’s heart.

To understand why these thought patterns are so dangerous to the spiritual health of our hearts, we must have some understanding of what happens in our brains when we have toxic thoughts.

Dr. Carolyn Leaf, in Who Switched Off My Brain: Controlling Toxic Thoughts and Emotions, says:

Toxic thoughts are thoughts that trigger negative and anxious emotions, which produce biochemicals that cause the body stress. They are stored in your mind, as well as the cells in your body….The surprising truth is that every single thought—whether it is positive or negative—goes through the same cycle when it forms. Thoughts are basically electrical impulses, chemicals and neurons. They look like a tree with branches. As the thoughts grow and become permanent, more branches grow and the connections become stronger. As we change our thinking, some branches go away, new ones form, the strength of the connections change, and the memories network with other thoughts. What an incredible capacity of the brain to change and rewire and grow! Spiritually, this is renewing the mind….The chemicals are like little cellular signals that translate the information of your thought into a physical reality in your body and mind, creating an emotion….Your thoughts create changes right down to genetic levels, restructuring the cell’s makeup….The first step in the process of forming a thought, gathering these electrical impulses, makes sense of the information coming from your five senses. The incoming information then travels through some astonishing brain structures that flavor, enrich and distribute the information all along the way. The information is taken to a place where you decide on the permanence of that information and whether it becomes a part of who you are. The most exciting facts of this journey are the brain’s ability to react to toxic versus non-toxic information and the many opportunities we have to accept or reject incoming information. You can control the incoming information and get rid of what you don’t want before it wires into your brain and affects who you are….After the gathering stage, electrical information created by our thoughts moving toward the front of the brain. The information stays in the hippocampus for 24 to 48 hours….The amplification means the thought is very conscious and becomes “labile” or unstable, which means it is moldable and can be changed….The science of thought demands that change must occur—either reinforcing the thought as it is or changing some or all of it….So if we don’t get rid of a thought we reinforce it. Thoughts are constantly remodeled by the renewing of your mind….When we do this, we actually change the physical structure (called neuroplasticity) of the brain, because thinking causes really important neurotransmitters (chemicals in the brain that carry electrical impulses) to flow. These neurotransmitters…cause changes deep inside the cell, affecting genetic expression and protein synthesis….Remember our behavior follows our thoughts. … Analyzing and addressing our thoughts are key components of conquering the habits and behaviors that seem to hold us hostage.[ii]

Think Like Christ

God sets the standard high for our thought life in the book of Philippians.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:5, KJV)

Think the same way Christ Jesus thought. (CEV)

In your lives you must think and act like Christ Jesus. (NCV)

Have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. (GW)

God would not command this if it was not possible to accomplish with His divine help.

The Greek word translated “mind” or “attitude” is phroneo, and it means thoughts. It is the thought patterns of one’s mind. It is the deliberate setting of the mind upon something through the habit of thought. Phroneo emphasizes the content of the thoughts. It is thinking to the point that thought moves the will, the reasoning, and the emotions. It is thinking with a purpose and a direction as the thoughts bend the mind toward the object of their desire. It is a thought that is cherished to the point that a mental habit is built.

Phroneo is our frame of mind and attitude built by our thoughts. This Greek word is in the present tense, which indicates that it should be a continual, habitual action of our lives; it should be our lifestyle. It is also in the imperative mood, which means it is a command of God Almighty that calls for us to perform this action.

We are to have the same thought life that Christ Jesus had. We are to have the same attitude and habit of thought as Jesus. The purpose and direction of our thinking that moves our will, reasoning, and emotions should be the same as Jesus. We should have the same frame of mind as Jesus in every circumstance of life. The thoughts that Jesus cherished, I must cherish. The thoughts that Jesus fixed his mind on, I must fix my mind on. The thought patterns of my mind should be the thought patterns of Jesus.

The day-by-day habit of our thinking should be a model and reflection of the thought life of our Savior. If we have the same thoughts as Jesus, our hearts will be the same as His. Our hearts will reflect the love, compassion, and touch of Jesus in everything we do or say. What an amazing and inspiring goal! We must reject the toxic thoughts that try to dominate our minds, for Jesus never had one toxic thought. Check your thought habits at the feet of Jesus and ask God whether this is the type of thinking that Jesus had.

We must filter our thoughts through the heart and mind of Jesus Christ. When we are tempted to allow bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, hatred, covetousness, or selfishness to dominate our thoughts, we must stop this way of thinking, because we know Jesus did not think these types of thoughts. God commands us to not allow any thoughts to occupy our minds other than thoughts that would be worthy of Jesus. This is the gold standard for our thought life. We cannot do this in our own ability, but only through the power of Christ that is at work within us.

How did Jesus Christ think? What kind of attitude did He exhibit? What type of thoughts occupied His mind? The Bible is full of examples of Christ’s attitude and thinking in every circumstance of life. The four gospels give us valuable information about Jesus’ life and ministry, and we can vividly see the character of his thought life. Many other books of the Bible also paint a picture of our Savior’s attitude when He lived upon the earth, when He sat down at the right hand of God as our intercessor and advocate, and when He comes back as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We must look at this full spectrum of Christ’s life, from His time in the temple at the age of twelve all to the way to the establishment of His eternal kingdom on the earth, to get the complete impact of His thought life. We need to go no further than the context in Philippians 2 to see what characteristics dominated the thought life of Christ.

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:3, 6–8, NASB)

But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. (Verse 7, KJV)

No Selfishness in Thoughts of Jesus

Selfishness did not exist in the thought life of Jesus. Conceit, pride, or rebellion against God never entered His mind. Jesus emptied Himself and made Himself of no reputation.

How contrary this is to the culture of our day, where everything revolves around the exaltation of self. Everyone is trying to make a name for themselves; everyone is trying to be successful; everyone is trying to become the star of his own world; everyone is worshipping at the altar of self. So many relentlessly pursue fame, reputation, and self-glory. It’s all about me: what I want, what I need, how it makes me feel better, how it makes me look better, how it makes me richer, and how it advances my reputation. Everything people do and everything they think is to promote and advance self, often to the detriment of others. This is extremely dangerous thinking. This sets the heart on a path that ultimately leads to its destruction.

Eric and Leslie Ludy, in Meet Mr. Smith: Revolutionize the Way You Think About Sex, Purity and Romance, describe the danger of selfishness:

Selfishness…that’s the sickness. That’s the problem. It’s that simple to describe. Selfishness is the essence of everything wrong…on planet earth….Selfishness…works underground. Most people don’t even realize it is there, which is precisely why it is so dangerous. Selfishness works in secret, behind closed doors, on the black market, plotting and planning our destruction. Selfishness is the Mob boss of the soul. In fact, without selfishness, you wouldn’t have murder, hate, holocaust, slander, genocide, betrayal….Simply put, selfishness is the sickness behind all other sicknesses….Selfishness is you having the gall to actually sit in the president’s brown leather chair and try to rule over your life as if you were, in fact, the real authority. You are not the rightful authority over your life. God is. But you sat down in the chair and claimed it for yourself….Selfishness is a messy, miserable problem. But there is a way out….It involves giving up your life as you may know it. It involves giving the brown leather chair back to God and allowing Him to rule your life from this day forward.[iii]

Selfishness has contaminated the witness of the church. Spiritualized selfishness has infiltrated the churches and pulpits of our land. Christians often think, “Look how great my ministry is. Look at my good works. Look how much of the Bible I know. Look how much more spiritual I am than people in other churches. I’m glad I’m not like that poor fellow!” This baptized selfishness brings no glory to God. Jesus Christ is not being awakened in our culture by living self-indulgent lives. We have called Jesus Christ Lord in name only as we clothed our hearts in robes of self-righteousness.

Why are we so concerned for making a name for ourselves? Why does everyone have to sing our praises? Why are we so concerned about exalting self at the expense of others? Would we sacrifice our reputation for the Lord? Would we empty ourselves and make ourselves of no reputation?

Self-exaltation was birthed in Lucifer, as he was the first one who tried to exalt self above God. Selfishness is the dominant characteristic of our sin nature and is at the root all sin. Selfishness breeds pride and rebellion against God. We should never let selfishness be the guide of our thought life.

The Bible is clear that nothing we do should be done out of vanity, self-glory, ambition, and pride (Philippians 2:3) The Greek word translated “empty” in Philippians 2:8 was used to refer to pouring something out until there was nothing left. We must pour out of our thinking every vestige of selfishness.

Are you willing to be counted as nothing in reputation and status in order to serve our Lord? Are you willing to be the Hudson Taylor, Amy Carmichael and C.T, Studd of this generation who gave up all for Christ?

God does not want one sliver of selfishness to occupy our thoughts.  He must increase and I must decrease in our thinking (John 3:30). The majesty, honor, and glory of God should be manifested to a faithless world through my thought life, as it molds my heart into a masterpiece that reflects the image of God in brilliant splendor. For Jesus Christ to be Lord of my life, He must first be Lord of my thoughts.

 

[i] Dr. Carolyn Leaf, Who Switched Off My Brain: Controlling Toxic Thoughts and Emotions, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2009).

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Eric Ludy, Meet Mr. Smith: Revolutionize the Way You Think About Sex, Purity and Romance (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2007), 19,20.

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The Thoughts: The Third Gateway to the Heart, Part 1: You Are What You Think

Nothing is more important to our Christian life than the thoughts that occupy our minds on a daily basis. If we are to walk with God and do His will on the earth, we must take control of our thought life. The critical question becomes “What are you thinking?”

Our hearts are built on the foundation of our thoughts. The heart is molded and shaped by our thoughts. In fact, the heart is the sum total of our thoughts. Thoughts are the blueprint of the heart, and the heart becomes the image of its thoughts. Scripture sums up this truth wonderfully in Proverbs 23:7: “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” We are what we think. Our thinking is daily changing the composition of our hearts as it chisels our character and behavior.

However even for Christians, their thought lives are a hodgepodge of scattered confusion. The pattern of their thoughts is infused with fear, worry, impatience, and spiritual dullness. As Christians, we have become lazy and inattentive to our thoughts, which is a recipe for disaster for our hearts. We cannot ignore the importance of our thinking if we want to love God with all our hearts.

A.W. Tozer, in True Revivals Are Born after Midnight: Spiritual Renewal Comes to Those Who Want it Badly Enough, enlightens our understanding on the significance of the Christian thought life:

Our voluntary thoughts not only reveal what we are, they predict what we will become. Except that conduct which springs from our basic natural instincts, all conscious behavior is proceeded by and arises out of our thoughts. The will can become a servant of the thoughts, and to a large degree even our emotions follow our thinking….Anyone who wishes to check on his true spiritual condition may do so by noting what his voluntary thoughts have been over the last hours or days. What has he thought about when free to think of what he pleased? Toward what has his inner heart turned when it was free to turn where it would? When the bird of thought was let go, did it fly out like the raven to settle upon floating carcasses or did it like the dove circle and return to the ark of God? Such a test is easy to run, and if we are honest with ourselves we can discover not only what we are but what we are going to become. We’ll soon be the sum of our voluntary thoughts. While our thoughts stir our feelings, and thus strongly influence our wills, it is true that the will can be and should be master of our thoughts. Every normal person can determine what he will think about.[i]

As Christians, we must become masters of our thought life. We cannot let our thoughts wander aimlessly wherever they desire to go without boundary or limitation. We cannot become indifferent to what we are thinking because our thoughts are a true gauge of the spiritual condition of our hearts. Our thoughts determines how ablaze our hearts are for God and how tender our hearts are to His gentle touch. Our thoughts determine what direction our hearts will turn and what paths our hearts will follow.

Tozer encourages Christians to “form the habit of a holy thought life.”[ii] God has called us to think rightly, holy, and godly. Our thinking should be a reflection of our love for God and our obedience to Christ. Our thoughts should be a testimony that we treasure God and seek His face above anything else. We cannot have passion for God if our thinking is in the garbage dump.

God commands us to love Him with all our mind (Luke 10:27). John Piper, in Think, says this means “to direct our thinking in a certain way, namely our thinking should be wholly engaged to do all it can to awaken and express the heartfelt fullness of treasuring God above all things.[iii]” He continues:

Thinking is indispensable on the path to passion for God. Thinking is not an end in itself. Nothing but God himself is finally an end in itself. Thinking is not the goal in life. Thinking, like non-thinking, can be the ground for boasting. Thinking, without prayer, without the Holy Spirit, without obedience, without love, will puff up and destroy (I Cor. 8:1). But thinking under the mighty hand of God, thinking soaked in prayer, thinking carried by the Holy Spirit, thinking tethered to the Bible, thinking in pursuit of more reasons to praise and proclaim the glories of God, thinking in the service of love—such thinking is indispensable in a life of fullest praise to God.[iv]

Our thinking is to be borne from the Almighty, who is living in our hearts. It must be immersed in prayer, rooted in the Bible, inspired by the Holy Spirit, cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ, and built upon our intimate relationship with God. Our thought life should prepare our hearts for the Lord so that He might live and reign from its throne room.

Our thoughts condition our hearts to do either good or evil. King David, in his last admonishment to his son Solomon and the children of Israel, exhorts them to frame their thoughts carefully so God can prepare their hearts to love and serve Him above all else.

Thine, O Jehovah, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Jehovah, and thou art exalted as head above all.

O Jehovah, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this forever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee; And give unto Solomon my son a perfect heart. (I Chronicles 29:11, 18–19, )

The Heart is A Mirror Reflecting the Image of Our Thoughts

The Hebrew word translated “imagination” means to frame, form, or shape a purpose or desire. Forming an image in the mind drives the heart toward to it. Every thought in its most basic sense has an image as its foundation. This image could be a person, object, idea, or desire. The image is the fuel of each thought.

When certain thoughts begin to dominate our minds, they carry their images into our hearts. The heart begins to take the form of these images. The image formed in the heart can be amazingly purifying or incredibly destructive.

The heart is like a mirror, reflecting the image of its thoughts. God should be the only image that dominates our thinking. He is the pole star, the rock, and the focus of our thoughts. Our thinking provides a framework for our entire life, as it continually molds and shapes our hearts.

Our transformation into the image of Christ, and our spiritual growth into a mature Christian, always passes through our thought life.  Our hearts become complete and perfect in Him when God is the center of our thoughts. We must become keenly aware of what images our thoughts are bringing into our hearts. Ask yourself what image is directing my thoughts? How easy it is for this image of our thoughts to become skewed in its focus and a breeding ground for evil.

The first use of this word “thoughts” in the Bible sets the pattern throughout all of Scripture, It illustrates what happens when we do not control our thinking and our thoughts are fashioned according to the wrong image.

The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. (Genesis 6:5–6, NLT)

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination and intention of all human thinking was only evil continually. (Verse 5, AMP)

It is sobering to see what happened to the human heart because of a reckless thought life.

It did not take long after sin had poured into the human race in the Garden of Eden for men’s and women’s thinking to go down the tubes. Almost immediately Adam and Eve let fear dominate their thinking when they hid from the presence of God. God was no longer the focal image of their thoughts.

Corrupt thinking only worsened, as Cain murdered Abel when thoughts of jealousy and anger shaped his heart into a murderer. Sin was crouching at the door of Cain’s thought life, and he failed to master it. Each succeeding generation continued to allow sin to crowd God out of their thinking.

The Days of Noah: The Point of No Return

In Genesis 6, people’s thought life had so corrupted their hearts that it reached a point of no return. Every thought, imagination, and intention of their human thinking was consistently and totally evil from morning to night. The Bible does not say some of the imaginations and thoughts of the human race were continually evil, but all of their images, desires, intentions, and inclinations, in every single thought, were evil.

The Hebrew word translated “continually” means daily or at all times, which emphasizes that this was not just some weekend fling. It was their thinking from the time they got up in the morning until the time they went to bed at night. There was not a moment in the day when this evil thought process was not actively controlling their minds and shaping their hearts. Their hearts were ready to do evil at all times because they refused to think rightly according to God’s holy standard. The image that they fashioned in their thoughts was pure evil. It poisoned their hearts so that they would never repent, turn to God, and forsake their evil ways. Evil had completely consumed their hearts, and they wanted absolutely nothing to do with God in their thinking, actions, and ultimately in their hearts.

The psalmist affirms this destructive habit of wrong thinking to the human heart:

The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts. (Psalm 10:4, NKJV)

In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. (NIV)

This wicked and rebellious people in the time of Noah did not seek God in their thinking. God was not in one single thought. God is the most awesome, majestic, and honorable thing we can ever think about, but these people were so deceived that they did not believe they needed God. They simply had no room for God in their thinking, and this opened the door for every kind of destructive thought that eventually shaped their hearts into a monument of evil.

This is the tragic height of selfishness. This is the ultimate ego trip. This is the most dangerous thinking pattern on the planet. Without God in our thoughts, we have written the death sentence to the magnificent purpose God has prepared for our lives. To never know Him is the greatest catastrophe of the ages. He deserves the honor to be first in our thinking.

God cried out day after day to this generation’s rebellious hearts to forsake their unrighteous thoughts and turn their thinking to the Lord. If they had done so, He would have had mercy and abundantly pardoned. But they turned a deaf ear and cleaved unto their evil thoughts which led to their destruction.

In Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clark, he describes this destructive condition of thought:

All the imaginations of their thoughts were evil—the very first embryo of every idea, the figment of every thought, the very materials out of which perception, conception, and ideas were formed were all evil; the fountain which produced them, with every thought, purpose, wish, desire, and motive, was incurably poisoned.[v]

The catastrophe of the flood in the days of Noah was caused by wrong thinking. The seed and root of every single thought was evil, and it produced desires, motives, and deeds that were only evil. The fountain of their thought life became corrupt, and as its waters flowed into the heart, it poisoned every purpose, desire, and action.

James Allen, in As a Man Thinketh, says:

A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts. As the plant springs from and could not be without the seed, so every act of a man springs from the hidden seeds of thought, and could not have appeared without them….Cause and effect is as absolute and undeviating in the hidden realm of thought as in the world of visible and material things. A noble and Godlike character is not a thing of chance, but is the result of continued effort in right thinking, the effect of long-cherished association with Godlike thoughts. An ignoble and bestial character, by the same process, is the result of the continued harboring of groveling thoughts….In the armory of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself.[vi]

Our Thought Life: A Weapon for Good or Evil

Our thoughts are a mighty weapon that can forge our hearts into a steel fortress for our God, or they can be a stealth bomber that penetrates our inner life and destroys our hearts. Thoughts are a much more powerful weapon than any nuclear bomb. They are the critical component to our spiritual growth. We must have a disciplined thought life that is focused like a laser on God and His Word, or our hearts will become a mush of spiritual apathy and worldly lusts.

The Devil is a master general at attacking the thought life of a Christian. His war strategy involves tactics of deception, pressure, and enticement to turn our thinking away from God and toward his kingdom. The Devil knows that every action that flows out of the human heart originates from our thoughts. He knows that our moral character is an exact image of our thinking. Our thoughts determine whether our character drifts toward good or evil.

The Devil knows that in order for a person to do evil, he must first think evil. He attacked Eve’s thought life in the Garden of Eden with subtle suggestions that caused her to entertain thoughts of doubt about God’s Word. When Eve followed the Devil’s way of thinking, sin poured into her nature and separated her from God. Eve’s careless thought life caused devastating consequences to the human race.

The Devil continued his relentless attack on the thought life of human beings. Within ten generations he was so successful that only one person on the entire earth had godly thoughts. The population of the earth at the time of the flood was between 235 million and 7 billion people. In approximately 1,656 years after the fall in the garden, sin had spread like wildfire and contaminated every single thought of what was probably billions of people. To imagine that only one person out of this massive population had his thought life together is mind-boggling.

The thoughts of every human being other than Noah had become worthless to God because they were always evil. Nothing in their thoughts reflected the image of God and not one thought brought glory to God. They were wise, rich, sophisticated, and cultured for their time, but the defining characteristic of their age was wickedness because of their thinking.

A civilization that is centered on an ungodly thought life is built on sinking sand. This civilization in the days of Noah received the fruit of their thoughts, which was wickedness and corruption that multiplied on the face of the earth. This rotten thinking caused the heart to become so saturated with evil and so hardened with unbelief that nothing could alter it.

Only Noah was thinking rightly and found favor with God. No one else held the image of God and His words as the standard for thoughts. No one else was guarding their thoughts. No one else cared that their thought life had nothing good in it, but was a breeding ground for evil. Only Noah had righteous thoughts that built his faith and fueled his obedience to God. Noah’s thought life was pure and free from evil because he walked with God.

Is Your Thinking Breaking God’s Heart?

Genesis 6:6 reveals how the toxic thinking of the human race affected God’s heart. These verses contain the first usage of the word heart in the Bible, and they describe a heart that is in deep sorrow.

And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. (Genesis 6:6, NKJV)

The toxic thought life of His precious creation, men and women, broke God’s heart.

Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible in Genesis 6:6 says, “It grieved Yahweh that he had made man in the earth and he took sorrow unto his heart.” The Hebrew word translated “grieved” means to draw the breath forcibly, to groan, to sigh, and to lament. It is a heart in agony, a heart that is full of terrible pain.

The Hebrew word for “sorrow” means to hurt, to be in pain, to be vexed, to be distressed and to be tortured. Words fail to describe just how hurt Almighty God was over the evil that penetrated every thought of His children whom He had lovingly created for Him. God’s heart was in horrible agony and pain as He groaned in sorrow over the condition of the heart of every member of the human race. God’s heart was crushed in pain as He cried in agony that His people refused to honor Him with even one thought.

Is our thought life any better? Does our thinking bring great agony to the heart of God? How God must grieve today over the thought life of so many Christians. How it must hurt God’s heart when He sees the way we think.

In this first usage of the word heart in the Bible, God is sounding out a clarion call to all who would listen that what we think is critically important to the heart of God. He knows He cannot have your heart if He does not first have your thoughts.

I don’t want to break the heart of God because of my toxic thinking. I want to bring glory to God with my thinking. I want to honor Him with every thought. I do not want any virus to infect my thinking and take out the operating system of my heart.

Could God have made it any clearer how concerned He is with the content and images that dominate our thoughts? A reckless thought life led to the annihilation of an entire civilization. Do you see how significant your thinking is to God?

Charles Spurgeon, in his sermon “Thoughts and Their Fruit,” expounds on this truth:

The Lord is constantly watching our thoughts. He knows them before they are known to us. “Thou understandeth my thought afar off.”…Do not, therefore, make light of evil thoughts….A steeled and seared conscience may look upon them with indifference; those whose hearts are not right towards God may sneer at the idea of any evil consequence coming from what they simply turn over in their minds; but if you have a tender heart…you will say at once, “O save my soul from base and wicked thoughts!” That thoughts are of the utmost importance may likewise be inferred that God makes them here the grounds for punishing his people. He speaks of the fruit of their thoughts….The thought in itself may not be a very great thing, but what will it come to? It may even be a very little thing, but what will be the end thereof? …The thought of evil paralyzes the finer faculties of the soul….I do not believe that a man becomes a villain all at once. He puts his soul to school, his thoughts are his teachers, or rather they are the school-books in which his soul reads; and at last he becomes capable of transacting the deeds of a scoundrel. If you think long upon any sin, the chances are that, as soon as the temptation to that sin comes, you will commit it….If you introduce these evil thoughts into your habitation, you cannot wonder at the consequence….It is certain that thoughts are the eggs of sin. These are the embryos out of which sins spring—the spawn in which every form of iniquity is developed….Therefore as God takes cognizance of our thoughts, let us be mindful of the responsibility they entail upon us.[vii]

All of us are responsible before God for our thought life, but reasoning based upon thought cannot save us. The wisdom of this world proclaims that it can reason away evil and come up with a solution outside of God. Ecclesiastes 7:29 declares that men have “engaged in too much reasoning,” and 1 Corinthians 1:20-21 declares that the world in its own wisdom cannot know God for He has made foolish the wisdom of this world. Reason alone cannot get us out of our dilemma. Our thought life must be based on the revelation of God to deliver us from evil and to keep our hearts pure.

Reason without the boundaries of God’s revelation leads us over a cliff just like Noah’s generation. No matter how enlightened and how intelligent we think we are, without God’s revelation we still end up in the grave right next to the fool.

Scripture declares in 1 Corinthians 3:20, “The Lord knows the thoughts and reasonings of the humanly wise and recognizes how futile they are.” God knows that thoughts of human reasoning and wisdom that ignore His instruction are worthless in directing the heart in truth and righteousness.

Skip Moen, in Spiritual Restoration: Volume 1, declares:

One of the fundamental differences between the Greek worldview and the Hebrew worldview is the place of reason and the place of conduct. For the Greeks, reason was the supreme path to salvation. “As I think I am” would be a very Greek motto. The Greeks believed that correct thinking was the solution to life’s problems. Therefore, the truth was found in correct thought….The Hebrew worldview takes a completely different approach….From the Hebrew perspective, dependence on thinking alone is dangerous. The Bible cautions us to not lean on our own understanding….From a Hebrew perspective, men are riddled with sin and so is their thinking. The truth is not discovered by thought. It is appropriated by action—and that action must be in accordance with what God says is true. From the Hebrew perspective, I do not have to think my way out of the box. I have to obey God, who has already told me the right actions to get out of the box….I cannot think my way into correct action because all my thought is tainted by sin….I must depend on God’s revelation of true and faithful behavior….No man sees the big picture well enough to know how to solve the problems of life. What man can do is to listen to God and obey Him. Rather than rely on my mind, I must rely on God’s Word, even if I don’t always understand what God is doing. … For me to rely on any other source for decisions that affect life or death is not only utter stupidity but outrageous arrogance….Left to my own reasoning and human wisdom, I can’t find my way to the personal God. His holiness is completely beyond me. I don’t have the spark of the divine within. What I have within is the result of thousands of years of distilled disobedience. I was born in a swamp of human arrogance and I have been drinking and breathing that environment since conception. Unless God reveals the wisdom I need from above, I am lost even if I win one Nobel Prize after another….The only real wisdom comes from God. [viii]

Exaltation of Human Reasoning Above God

The book of Romans describes what happens to the thinking of a person and their heart when human reasoning is exalted above God.

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. (Romans 1:21–23, ESV)

The human race has no excuse for a thought life that excludes God and exalts human reasoning. The human race has no legal defense before the throne of God.

The entire creation bears witness to the awesome nature of our God and He should be occupying our thoughts. The revelation of God in His creation and revealed Word should be the food that our thoughts are feeding upon. Yet their foolish thoughts were I don’t need God! I can do this on my own. By their thinking they rejected a relationship with God as their thought life robbed them of intimacy with their loving Creator. Their thinking enslaved them to a life of hopelessness with a gnawing emptiness that clung to their souls.

God says in Romans 1:21 their thinking became futile and it caused their foolish hearts to be full of darkness. The Greek word translated “futile’ means to be worthless, empty, devoid of truth, and to have no intrinsic value. They thought they were wise; they thought they had the world by its horns; they thought they were successful and had everything they needed. But they played the fool. The great exchange had taken place in their thought life. They exchanged the glory of God for an image representing the glory of mortal man and other earthly things. This was a raw deal for the human race. This futile thinking had a profound and lasting impact on the heart, causing it to be darkened and lifeless toward God. Their hearts did not reflect the image of God or His glory, not even in once crevice.

The word translated “darkened” in the Greek means without insight or understanding, unintelligent and to be covered in darkness. The word was used of a heavenly body that was deprived of light. Their foolish thought life caused their hearts to be covered in darkness, with no spiritual understanding. The heart was deprived of the light of God that it needed so desperately to grow and be spiritual healthy.

The thought life of the world has caused the hearts of people in every community, city, and nation to be covered in darkness. When the heart is covered in darkness, it is blind to the direction it is going. It gropes around helplessly in its search for truth. It cannot see the beauty and wonders of God all around it. It cannot live, function, and grow in the way God intended.

Evil thrives in a heart covered with darkness, and many people become so used to this condition that they run from the light, refuse deliverance, cringe at truth and mock salvation. This sad state all begins with futile, worthless thinking that refuses to give honor and thanksgiving to God.

[i] A.W. Tozer, True Revivals Are Born after Midnight: Spiritual Renewal Comes to Those Who Want it Badly Enough (Camp Hill: Wing Spread Publishers, 1959), Kindle Edition, 448,480.

[ii] A.W. Tozer, The Price of Neglect (Camp Hill: WingSpread Publishers, 1991).

[iii] John Piper, Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010), 19.

[iv] Ibid., 27.

[v] Adam Clark, Commentary on the Bible, Volume 1 (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1810).

[vi] James Allen, As a Man Thinketh (New York: Tribeca Books, 1910), 10.

[vii] Charles Spurgeon, Thoughts and their Fruits, Sermon 3257, published on July 6, 1911, Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

[viii] Skip Moen, Spiritual Restoration: Reclaiming the Foundations of God’s Word (Maitland: Xulon Press, 2008), 44.

Excerpt from “The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life” https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Key-Everything-Christian-Life/dp/1483447928/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1499477494&sr=1-1&keywords=heart+key+to+everything

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The Prince of the Power of the Air: The Spiritual Battle for the Ears

Scripture is clear there is another voice, that is not the voice of God, that desperately seeks to dominate and control the human heart. We have studied this in some detail, but there is another aspect of this truth revealed in Ephesians that we must look at to fully understand the devil’s influence over the ear of mankind. Paul calls Satan “the prince of the power of the air,” and indeed the devil has shown himself to be the great broadcaster to the world in the media age:

And you [He made alive], when you were dead (slain) by [your] trespasses and sins, in which at one time you walked [habitually]. You were following the course and fashion of the world [were under the sway of the tendency of this present age], following the prince of the power of the air. [You were obedient to and under the control of] the [demon] spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience [the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving, who go against the purposes of God]. (Ephesians 2:1–2, AMP)

The New English Bible calls the devil in this verse “the commander of the spiritual powers of the air,” while the Concordat Literal New Testament calls him “chief of the jurisdiction of the air.” Jurisdiction is a legal term that defines the limits or territory where authority may be exercised. The devil exercises his authority and power in the air as well as upon the earth. As a ruler, commander, and chief of this world, he moves with extreme influence and power in the atmosphere.

Air is the common name for the atmospheric gases that surround the earth and are vital to the sustaining of human life. Oxygen enters the blood through the air we breathe and is carried to every part of the body. Without air it is impossible to have physical life.

Air is also the realm through which most communication travels, as air makes both audible and electronic communication possible. Sound is possible because of the vibration that travels through the air as a sound wave. Radio electromagnetic waves are broadcast through the air and received by your radio. Satellites relay television and radio signals around the world, and these communications travel via the air. Cellular phones and wireless networks also send their signals through the air, allowing us to communicate through computers, the Internet, and countless applications of our mobile phones.

We have seen through Emoto’s work that spoken words are vibrations that travel through the air and have the ability to bring life or destroy as evidenced by their effect on crystal formation in water. We have just touched the surface in understanding this type of communication, but we know that the devil utilizes words to his advantage.

The Rebellious Broadcaster Who Never Goes Off the Air

As Prince of the Power of the Air, the devil broadcasts his rebellious attitudes to the world, and air is the medium of his corrupting communication. The devil rules the airwaves, and he compels the human heart to tune into his wavelength. His ungodly words and pictures can now be communicated instantly through the air, and the devil is always broadcasting. Within seconds, the Prince of the Power of the Air can bombard the human heart with his twisted, evil thoughts, ways, and purposes.

Satan’s programming never takes a break. His broadcast has no commercials (or rather, most commercials encourage sinful thoughts and are an important part of the devil’s program schedule). It is uninterrupted broadcasting of rebellion and chaos against God and his truth twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The devil’s agenda is brilliantly wicked and subtly adapts its messages to appeal to the hearts of every man, woman, and child. These messages may subtly or grossly promote rebellion, distrust, indifference, and disgust against God and the truth of His Word, while drowning hearts in lust, jealously, anger, pride, envy, greed, selfishness, ingratitude, disobedience, and impurity.

Just as everywhere you go in this world, there is air that we breathe in, so the influence of the Prince of the Power of the Air is felt in every city, nation, and continent. Paul says that before we were Christians, we walked according to the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:1–2, NKJV). The Greek word translated “walked” means “to order your behavior or conduct your life.” It can be illustrated as a sphere in which a person regulates, conducts, and lives his or her life. The Greek words translated “according to” are indicative of domination and control.

It’s incredible to think that most people live their entire lives regulating their behavior according to and in the sphere set up by the Prince of the Power of the Air. He dominates and controls the unrepentant heart, shaping it to his wicked blueprint by controlling the sphere in which it lives, breathes, and functions.

The Course of This World

In this same passage from Ephesians, Paul also says that the unrepentant walk according to “the course of this world.” Have you ever seen an oval racecourse? Once the race begins, the cars all follow the same course, around and around the racetrack. The course does not take them anywhere, but the drivers just go around in circles as fast as they can in an attempt to win the race. Likewise, the devil has set up a course where people lost in sin wander aimlessly in circles, trapped, moving in a hopeless journey in one direction.

“Course” in this passage is translated from the Greek word aion, which gives us the English word “eon.” But this word is not simply a span or period of time. Rather, aion emphasizes the characteristics, culture, and heartbeat of an age. It refers to the signs, the energy, the essence of the times. “Atmosphere” is a great word to describe it. It’s an entire living, breathing atmosphere that is absorbed into the heart through the eyes, ears, and thoughts. It can overwhelm you, mesmerize you, hypnotize you, and draw you in like a magnet. It can become the essence of your hopes, your dreams, and your aspirations. But in fact the course of this world is a black hole, a swirling abyss that can suck you into its vortex of ungodly ideas, opinions, and fashions.

The course of this world can so easily become a person’s god. It can seize the throne of a heart with great subtlety, but also with great fanfare. Its iron tentacles wrap around the heart and squeeze the very life out of every fiber of a person’s being. It is as big and pervasive as the atmosphere, which surrounds us and is present every place upon the earth. I have seen many Christians swept away by this mighty surging river of the course of the world, destroying their witness for Christ and their God-given calling.

Do not be fooled. This is extremely powerful and influential and must be resisted by the Spirit of God and His Word in our hearts. We must guard against the “course of this world” by remaining vigilant and alert as to what our eyes are beholding, what our ears are hearing, and what our minds are thinking. Whose wavelength are we tuned into? Whose broadcast are we watching and listening to? On which course are we running the race of life?

John Ritenbaugh, in his Forerunner commentary “Communication and Leaving Babylon,” writes that this is what Germans termed zeitgeist, the spirit of the age.[i] The Apostle Paul’s usage of the word “course” comprises the whole mass of elements that encompass the conduct and attitudes of the times, the aion, the zeitgeist. Of course, the zeitgeist would not be the same all over the world, because its expression among different peoples would differ depending upon many factors. However, according to Paul, its elements will invariably be carnal and evil because the spiritual source, Satan, is himself evil.

The Prince of the Power of the Air sets up an atmosphere in every age and culture where people breathe it in and it becomes their life, the essence of their conduct and manner of thinking and speaking. The aion is molded after Satan’s twisted heart and is a reflection of his intense hatred for the things of God. The aion is built on deception and fascination and has a powerful, magnetic influence designed to draw in and capture us. We absorb the Prince of the Power of the Air’s influence through the communication of the beliefs, values, and practices of the culture we are born into. Many of these characteristics and values are instilled within us, meeting little or no resistance because is a course that is burned deep into the culture.

The World System of Evil

The Greek word translated “world” is kosmos and in this verse means “the satanic system of world order with its seductive system of values, priorities, and beliefs that excludes and actively opposes God.” This world system is set up to draw one’s affections away from the one true God and His goodness. It’s interesting that the word kosmos can also refer to an ornament, decoration, or dress.

At its root is a word meaning “to polish, cut, or carve into a perfect arrangement.” The devil’s world system of evil is highly ornate and looks so pleasing to the human eye. This is part of the subtle attraction that deceives people and pulls them into its snare. But if you peel away the layers, this system is dark, empty, and totally devoid of God.

Marvin Vincent’s Word Studies of the New Testament says kosmos is “the sum-total of human life in the ordered world, considered apart from, alienated from, and hostile to God, and of earthly things which seduce from God.[ii]” Kenneth Wuest, in his Word Studies of the Greek New Testament, defines it as follows:

The word kosmos is used to refer to the world system, wicked and alienated from God, yet cultured, educated, powerful, outwardly moral at times, the system of which Satan is the head, the fallen angels and the demons are his servants, and all mankind other than the saved, are his subjects. This includes those people, pursuits, pleasures, purposes, and places where God is not wanted.[iii]

In fact, the world system that frames the spirit of the age can appear cultured, sophisticated, and civilized at one end of the spectrum, while at the same time being lustful, animalistic, and lawless on the other end. But it is driven by one central aim, which is to continually squeeze the heart into its unholy mold of godlessness and selfishness so that people will live and act accordingly.

This world system has infiltrated and dominated the hearts of the great majority of all peoples upon the earth. Unfortunately, this holds true for many Christians. Because God’s people do not put up much of a fight, this kosmos molds the moral character and attitude of the nations and extends its sway into all segments of society, including politics, education, religion, entertainment, and the economy.

Yet not one iota of this world system dwelled in the heart of Jesus Christ. In John 14:30, He called the devil “the prince of this world,” for Jesus knew beyond any shadow of doubt that the devil was the ruler of this kosmos and that God had no part in it. Jesus clearly taught that He is not of the world, that His kingdom is not of the world, and that the fallen world hates Him and everything He stands for (John 15:18). The world always stands in direct opposition to Christ and has relentless hostility for the one God ordained as its Savior and Redeemer. The world absolutely detests the Word of God and its message of truth and sets itself up in opposition to every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

This world system has never known God in any intimate manner, and it is committed to driving hearts away from knowing and experiencing Him. This world system is His sworn enemy, and Christ is considered a forbidden outlaw whose presence is not wanted.

Jesus had absolutely nothing to do with this world system of evil. He did not conform to it. He did not declare a peace treaty with it. He did not soften His teaching so the world would like Him more. He stood against the kosmos in word, action, and character and refused to be contaminated by its pollution. Jesus Christ lived among us as the exact opposite of everything the world worships and adores. The intense bitterness and enmity of Lucifer, the fallen archangel, fuels this world system and its objective to oppose Christ at every level of its operation.

William McDonald in Believer’s Bible Commentary says:

The [kosmos] is the system which man has built up for himself in an effort to satisfy the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. In this system there is no room for God or His Son. It may be the world of art, culture, education, science, or even religion. But it is a sphere in which the name of Christ is unwelcome or even forbidden, except, of course, as an empty formality. It is, in short, the world of mankind outside the sphere of the true church. To be a friend of this system is to be an enemy of God. It was this world that crucified the Lord of life and glory….How unthinkable it is that believers should ever want to walk arm in arm with the world that murdered their Savior! [iv]

We dishonor the Lord when we allow our hearts to become so receptive and open to the communication and atmosphere of the world that they begin to reflect an image of the world. We must make sure our hearts are centered in the sphere of Christ and not the sphere of the world if we are to be spiritually vibrant and of value to the advancement of His kingdom. Oswald Chambers said “Satan’s great aim is to deflect us from the center. He will allow us to be devoted to the death to any cause, any enterprise, to anything but the Lord Jesus.”

In Love Not the World, Watchman Nee writes:

There is a spiritual force behind this world scene which, by means of “the things in the world,” is seeking to enmesh men in its system. It is not merely against sin therefore that the saints of God need to be on their guard, but against the ruler of this world….When we are faced with alternatives and a choice of ways confronts us, the question is not: Is this good or evil? Is this helpful or hurtful? No, the question we must ask ourselves is: Is it of this world or of God? For since there is only this one conflict in the universe, then whenever two conflicting courses lie open to us, the choice at issue is never a lesser one than: God…or Satan?[v]

Do Not Be Fashioned to the Image of the World

As Christians, we must never allow our hearts to become fashioned in the image of this world. God commands us in Romans 12:2 to resist the mold of the kosmos:

Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs]. (AMP)

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world. (NLT)

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. (MSG)

The Greek word rendered in most translations as “conformed” means “to form according to a pattern or mold, to fashion alike, to outwardly conform to something that is not a true representation of what is on the inside, to strike or imitate a pose and an inward assimilation of a mode of conduct.” It means to mold one’s behavior in accordance with a particular pattern or set of standards. The pattern or set of standards referred to here is the one set up by the Prince of the Power of the Air.

Have you ever poured something into a mold, like Jell-O or clay or the “plastigoop” used to make those Creepy Crawlers toys popular in the 1960s and ’70s? Once it’s poured into the mold, the liquid substance adapts exactly to the shape of the mold, solidifies, and emerges as an exact replica of the mold. It carries the design, details, and shape of the mold. We can never allow our hearts to be poured into the mold of this age, where it will set and harden.

The heart ultimately has two alternatives as to the image it will reflect and the mold it will represent. A heart can reflect the image of the world, or it can reflect the image of Christ. Those who are born again have the awesome beauty of Christ inside us, and we must let His splendor shine from our hearts to the world. But if we are not careful to protect and guard our hearts, the beauty of Christ can be veiled and our hearts corrupted and conformed to the image of the world. As the seventeenth-century English clergyman William Gurnall said, “It is the image of God reflected in you that so enrages hell; it is this at which the demons hurl their mightiest weapons.”

The world exerts tremendous pressure, usually through an appealing façade, to just give in and go along with it. But we must be nonconformist when it comes to the world and its way of thinking, for the world has no respect, awe, or adoration of God. Our heart is to be unspotted by the things of this world. For as we drift toward the ways of the world, our love for God begins to wax cold. Our affection for God begins to wane, and the flame of the Holy Spirit in our heart flickers dangerously low to the point of being extinguished. If we love the world, we cannot love God:

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. (1 John 2:15-17, NLT)

The heart was designed to love God above all else, and even after the Fall, this blueprint of love is a fundamental characteristic of the heart. The heart yearns to love. But through the influence of sin and the spirit of the age, this desire becomes skewed and directed toward another. Yet we must never give away our hearts to the world. The world must never become more precious to us than God. The world wants our love; the world demands our love; the world wants to be our exclusive lover.

The Greek word translated as “love” in 1 John 2:15 is agapao and means a love that is awakened by a sense of value in an object that causes one to prize and treasure it. This love springs from an appreciation of the value and worth of an object, its preciousness. It is to love with wonder and admiration, to cherish with reverence. It is a love that compels one to sacrifice oneself for the benefit of the one being loved. Are the things of this world so precious to you that you would sacrifice your relationship with God? Do you wonder and admire all the world’s trappings while forgetting the magnificent splendor of our Lord?

Yes, the devil has designed the kosmos with a great enticement to fall in love with it. It seems so harmless at first as we allow the world to draw our admiring gaze and tickle our ears with sweet nothings. But this infatuation will begin to grow and consume our hearts. The transference of our affections from God to this world may be slow and subtle, but it is a methodical, spreading disease that eventually deadens and hardens the heart. It’s a basic truth that what the heart chases after, what the heart loves, the heart becomes. The warning that echoes down every generation from the heart of God is to not fall into this treacherous trap. We must fight daily to protect ourselves from the molding influence of the world.

A Heart in the Hands of the World

You must never give to the world the agapao love that should only be reserved for God first and foremost. Your heart is either cherishing God or cherishing the world. Which is more precious to you? Where does the treasure of your heart lie? You cannot straddle the fence between God and the world for long. There is no neutral zone in the war for your heart. You cannot pursue the world, lending it your eyes and ears, and remain loyal to God. James 4:4 (PHILLIPS) declares this truth in no uncertain terms:

You are like unfaithful wives, flirting with the glamour of this world, and never realizing that to be the world’s lover means becoming the enemy of God!

Do not give yourself to another like an unfaithful lover. You were created to love and to serve only one master. It is impossible to love the world and love God at the same time. They are mutually exclusive. There is no way to have the best of both worlds. The master of your heart is either God Almighty or this world system orchestrated and manipulated by the Prince of the Power of the Air. Ultimately, you will love one and hate the other. You will choose to serve one and turn your back on the other.

Make no mistake: The world wants you. It wants your attention, your time, your money, and your affection. In return the world promises you satisfaction, fulfillment, riches, and control. But it is all lies. The truth is that world is dying. The world’s days are numbered, and its days of glitter are quickly coming to end. The glory of the world will soon turn to dust.

Nothing in this world lasts for long. Everything is changing, decaying. Indeed, it is an act of spiritual suicide to place your heart in the hands of the world. You must never forget that once you peel all the layers away, the world hates Christ and His devoted followers with an intensity that grows relentlessly with every moment. This hatred is the driving force of the spirit of the age. In his Forerunner commentary “The Christian Fight,” John Ritenbaugh writes:

The spiritual reality is that, as we might say today, “The world stands ready to eat us alive.” It chews Christians up and spits them out. If permitted, it can trash spiritual realities that may once have been cherished hopes and dreams. [vi]

Sometimes the world’s enmity for Christ and His followers is bold, direct, and even violent, as evidenced by the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and Far East. Most times, however, the world’s approach is much more subtle. Ritenbaugh says:

Satan’s pitch to mankind is aimed directly at exciting human nature’s self-indulgent cravings. Due to this satanic effort, even though we are converted, we are apt to become misinformed, lackadaisical, disinterested, and discouraged. We must be aware of it and absolutely resist it. …“Evil company corrupts good habits” (1 Corinthians 15:33, NKJV). Friendship with the world corrupts. [vii]

We cannot become lazy or indifferent when it comes to our affections. We must be spiritually aware at all times, for the heart is bombarded with Satan’s pitch and propaganda the moment we turn on a radio or television, log on to the Internet, or walk out the front door. We must become keenly aware of his messages—and resist them—if we are to keep them from taking root. We must always strive, as Scripture says, to keep our hearts from “being polluted by the world” (James 1:27). The world is toxic—a true environmental hazard—and its polluting contaminants can cause the glory and beauty of God to fade from our hearts.

You might find it enlightening to grab a notebook pad and write down just what you spend your day listening to and watching. Note how much time you spend on each activity. Compare this time with how much time you are spending with God each day, praying, reading and meditating on His Word, listening to spiritual songs that glorify God, reading Christian books, listening to godly sermons and teaching, and participating in worship activities with your church. Who is winning the war of time with your heart?

If your daily diet consists of cable television, secular radio, fashion or sports magazines, worldly movies and novels, and self-help books expounding the spirit of the age, your heart is getting “punked” by the world. The noise of this world is shaping your heart to reflect its own image, attitudes, and beliefs. The heart is an image bearer and will always reflect what it is seeing and hearing. We cannot allow our hearts to be consumed by the culture of this age instead of being consumed with God.

In his book Desire: The Journey We Must Take to Find the Life God Offers, John Eldredge provides some sound advice when it comes to the allure of this world:

We are at war, and the bloody battle is over our hearts. I am astounded how few Christians see this, how little they protect their hearts. We act as if we live in a sleepy little town during peacetime. We don’t. We live in the spiritual equivalent of Bosnia or Beirut. Act like it. Watch over your heart. Don’t let just anything in, don’t let it go just anywhere. “What is this going to do to my heart?” is a question I ask in every situation. [viii]

We must ask this question concerning everything our ears hear and our eyes see. What is this going to do to my heart? As Christians, our hearts are to be living proof that God is far more precious than anything the world has to offer. We must magnify God above the trinkets of the world.

Never Fear: Our God is Greater

The evil of this world is but a grain of dust compared to the power and might of our awesome God. God is infinitely greater in authority, power, influence, and grandeur. Always remember that He is the Creator of the universe and is so magnificent that even the heavens cannot contain Him. God is unlimited and unmatched in His greatness and majesty. The world looks like a cheap toy in His glorious presence. God is a trillion times more powerful and glorious than the entire world system that the devil has set up in the kosmos and the aion of these present times.

God is love (1 John 4:8) and everything He does is motivated by love. The kosmos is evil, and everything this world system does is motivated by evil. God so loved us that He sent His Son into the midst of the kosmos to offer redemption, deliverance, and eternal life to all the peoples of the earth (1 John 4:10). God has given us an overwhelming, crushing victory in Jesus Christ over the devil and all the influence, power, and destruction of this world.

Never fear the world for the limitless, almighty God lives within us and He is our Rock, our Protector, our Refuge, our Warrior, our all in all (1 John 4:16–18). All the anxiety, fears, worries, oppression, and darkness of the world melt in His presence. We must never forget just how awesome our God is. Nothing in the heavens or the earth compares in greatness to Him. Therefore we must rise up with the heart of a lion and the courage of a thousand armies and brilliantly display the beauty and splendor of a son or daughter of God in the midst of this crooked and twisted world:

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4, NKJV)

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.] (John 16:33, AMP)

For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:4–5, NIV)

And the secret is simply this: Christ in you! Yes, Christ in you bringing with him the hope of all glorious things to come. (Colossians 1:27, PHILLIPS)

No matter how powerful, influential and dominating this kosmos seems, as born-again sons and daughters of God the power and glory of Christ that rests in us is infinitely greater in strength and ability. We have been filled with all the fullness of God. What a power source! What an incredible amount of authority and ability! Do you realize how much power is living within you as a Christian? This is not the power to destroy, hate, condemn, judge, or ridicule. This is the power to live like Jesus did upon the earth, the power to touch and change the hearts of people with the love and compassion of God.

Jesus Christ overcame this world system of evil by His victory on the cross, permanently crushing the power of the enemy, that crafty serpent and deceitful slanderer. Our Lord has set us free indeed (John 8:36), obliterating every yoke of bondage that held us in its grasp (Galatians 5:1). We have been given a new destiny. Sin, death, and the Prince of the Power of the Air no longer have any hold over us, any claim on us, but we must claim this victory in Christ by faith in His finished work and the promises of His Word.

Our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the kingdom of Satan and all the spiritual forces of evil. We must put on the whole armor of God if we are to effectively stand against the powers of this dark world and walk in the sphere of Christ’s magnificent work on the cross (Ephesians 6:11–12). We must never give ground to one ounce of fear when it comes to this kosmos, yet we must be wise as to its enormous influence in our culture and its ability to capture and turn the human heart. We must remember who we are in Christ and, having no fear, do battle against the Goliaths of this world. We breathe in the transforming presence of God, confident of His protection and power, knowing we are more than conquerors through Christ in any circumstance of life (Romans 8:37).

The allure of the kosmos pales in comparison to what pleasures of Jesus Christ. The gaudy winds of the Prince of the Power of the Air are deflated by Jesus Christ, who exposes Satan’s schemes of the kosmos and aion. He has dismantled the devil’s power to hold the heart in bondage for all those who would believe on His name. Having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, shaming them publicly by his victory over them on the cross (Colossians 2:15). There is no excuse for allowing the world to mold our hearts into its image any longer. The choice is quite clear.

God has delivered us from the dominion of darkness, and now we must rise above the world and let our lives shine with the glory of God. What will it matter in the end if we gain the whole kosmos and lose our heart and soul? All the wealth, all the glory, all the fame in the kosmos are not worth a fraction of the value of your heart. Is it worth sacrificing your heart to enjoy the pleasures of the kosmos for a season? Is anything worth giving your heart away to the Great Pretender and letting your eyes and ears serve him?

The World Never Satisfies Like God Satisfies

The world will never love you like God loves you. He will never leave or forsake you, and He will always lead you in the path of true righteousness. Isn’t He worthy of owning ALL your heart and not just part of it? Why give away even the smallest part of your heart to the world? The world will never satisfy like God satisfies. It will only betray you in the long run like an unfaithful lover and lead you down a path of destruction.

Has your hearing become so dull, our eyes so blind, that you are giving leftovers of your heart to God? Francis Chan, in Crazy Love, says:

God wants our best, deserves our best, and demands our best….[Yet] God gets a scrap or two only because we feel guilty for giving Him nothing. A mumbled three-minute prayer at the end of the day, when we are already half asleep. Two crumbled-up dollar bills thrown as an afterthought into the church’s fund for the poor….We say to the Creator of all this magnitude and majesty, “Well, I’m not sure You are worth it. You see, I really like my car or my little sin habit or my money, and I am really not sure I want to give them up.”…How can we think for even a second that anything on this puny little earth compares to the Creator and Sustainer and Savior of it all?[ix]

This is the great deception of the kosmos, that God is not worthy of our best love, our first love, our greatest love. We give God only leftover scraps from the table of our hearts and forget His majesty and grandeur and how much how much our hearts need Him. Jesus declares to the church at Ephesus, “I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first” (Revelation 2:4). Everything about the spirit and heartbeat of this age, this kosmos, is designed to deceive us into forsaking our first love. We are told daily that God is not necessary, that He is distant (if He exists at all), and that He does not love us or care about us. The devil wants to divert our attentions, to make us think there are better things to love and treasure.

So many in the church have been tricked into believing this great lie! The beautiful and mighty purpose that God has ordained for our lives turns to dust and is blown away by the breath of the kosmos. The magnificent works and glorious blessings that God had destined for us before the world began have been carelessly tossed aside and fade into the night as we wallow in the garbage of the kosmos.

I am not advocating that we run for the hills and isolate ourselves in some remote cave far removed from civilization. God wants us to shine our light in the world with all the magnificent glory of the Christ. He has commissioned us to reach out to the lost, to break the power of Satan and the kosmos in people’s lives by the mighty demonstration of the love of God. Jesus prayed on the night before His crucifixion:

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. (John 17:15–18, NIV)

Jesus has sent us into the world with His words of truth to deliver the message of the gospel to every corner of the earth. But we can never be effective ambassadors of Christ if we allow ourselves to be in love with the world.

[i] John Ritenbaugh, Forerunner: “Communication and Leaving Babylon,” December 2005.

[ii]  Marvin Vincent’s Word Studies of the New Testament, Volume II (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1900), 45.

[iii] Kenneth Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, Volume 1, Ephesians and Colossians (Grand Rapids: Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Company 1961), 61.

[iv] William McDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, Inc., 1980), 79432, Kindle Edition.

[v] Watchman Nee, Love Not the World, A Prophetic Call to Holy Living (Fort Washington: CLC Publications 1968), 19.

[vi] John Ritenbaugh: Forerunner: “The Christian Fight” May 2007.

[vii] John Ritenbaugh: Forerunner: “The Christian Fight” May 2007.

[viii] John Eldredge, Desire: The Journey We Must Take to Find the Life God Offers (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2000), 209, 210.

[ix] Francis Chan, Crazy Love, Overwhelmed by a Relentless God (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2008), 90, 91, 96, 97.

 Excerpt from “The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life.” https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Key-Everything-Christian-Life/dp/1483447928/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1499477494&sr=1-1&keywords=heart+key+to+everything

 

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The Ears: The Second Gateway to the Heart: Part 4: Have We Lost Our Hearing of the Voice of God?

The Importance of Spiritual Leaders

So often spiritual leaders fall away because they have lost their hearing and alertness to the voice of God. They are not listening. They have tuned God out. His words are falling to the ground, as they cannot take residence in His people’s hearts. It is written that in the times of Eli, the high priest, “the word of the Lord was rare in those days” (1 Samuel 3:1). God’s voice is rare today for the same reason it was rare then. It’s not because He isn’t speaking. It is rare because no one is listening.

Why is this so important? History is replete with this lesson that one leader can lead the heart astray; one leader can turn the heart to destruction or to life; one leader can move the heart into an indifferent and callous hardness against God and deafness to His words; one leader can lead the heart to the altar of an idol, or one leader can lead the heart to the feet of Jesus where the captive and broken of heart are set free. What leader have you opened the door of your heart to by lending them your ear?

God’s stern judgment against the prophet and the priest was due to their ultimate failure to lead the hearts of God’s people to the heart of God revealed in His words. The beauty of a heart that belongs to God and in which His glory is manifested is unparalleled in human history. A leader can bring the beauty and glory of God or the ugliness of a counterfeit god into the heart and both ride into the heart by the words the leader speaks and the example the leader provides. The leader brings either light or darkness into the hearts of men, women and children and the spiritual health of the heart either flourishes brilliantly or suffers miserably because of it. The leader can incite the heart to action in either the service of God or the rebellion against God. The heart becomes and reflects the image of its leader. What the heart beholds, listens too, and follows the heart becomes. This is why Jesus said in the gospel of Mark “be careful what you listen to” which in essence is be careful who you listen to, for the life and health of your heart depends on it. A. W. Tozer, in God Tells the Man Who Cares says, “The history of Israel and Judah points up a truth clearly taught by all history that the masses are or soon will be what their leaders are.”[i]

The devil is one of the most efficient leaders of all time. Leadership was birthed in his being since the day he was created. He knows how to capture the heart; he knows how to build an army of followers. He knows what to speak to captivate the ear. He knows how to fascinate, how to motivate, and how to birth desire in the depths of the heart. He convinced one third of God’s created angels to turn their backs on God and their heavenly responsibilities and follow him to war against their Creator. In the book of Revelation, the devil is bound and shut up in the bottomless pit for a thousand years while Christ rules perfectly on the earth with peace, justice, righteousness and love. The people living on the earth have never seen anything like it. When these glorious thousand years are ended, the devil is released from his prison and immediately begins to deceive the nations from the four corners of the earth to follow him in battle against God. His leadership skills are so effective that he quickly recruits an army so great that “their number is like the sand of the sea” (Revelation 20:8, ESV). He leads his newly converted follows into a frenzy as they march over the broad plain of the earth and surround the camp of the saints and the beloved city of Jerusalem. They are absolutely blind and deceived by their leader as they walk into their own destruction, from which there will be no escape.

The devil is wise beyond human comprehension in the ways of leadership. He uses his leadership skills to entangle the human heart in his snare. He is a cruel puppet master that through the eyes and ears enslaves the heart, pulling strings to get people to do his bidding. The devil has always had human leaders in every sphere of influence that carry out his bidding without their even realizing who they work for.

But no one who has ever lived on the earth, strode through hell, or graced the halls of heaven is a greater leader of men and women than Jesus Christ. No one has more power to change and transform the heart. Jesus came to lead hearts into glorious freedom by breaking the chains of sin, disease, bondage, and oppression and bring them into rich fellowship and intimacy with God. He came to rebuild the ruins, to restore what was devastated, and bring the heart back to a vibrant new life where it reflects the splendor of Almighty God. Out of the ashes of hurt, rejection, addiction, and oppression, the Lord heals, cleanses, and transforms the heart, bringing it into the glorious liberty of a child of God. What Jesus Christ can do for the heart is nothing short of miraculous, and there is no heart, regardless of its condition, that He cannot touch and change.

Look in Mark 5 at the man living among the tombs. No one could help him; no one could subdue him. He lived among the dead, and the beast within roared in torment and agony. He would cry out in anguish and desperation every night and day from the tombs, cutting himself with stones, and the world was helpless to do anything for this man’s twisted and chaotic heart. Jesus spoke eight words and completely healed him. His heart was touched by the Prince of Peace and became calm, peaceful, and full of joy. His heart was released from darkness, and light flooded the depths of his soul. This was a miraculous transformation of a chaotic heart into a heart full of love for Jesus. The devil’s chains were shattered and the prison door kicked wide open so that the man could once again breathe free. He tuned his ear to just eight words from the Lord, and his heart was changed forever.

Nicky Cruz, a poor child from Puerto Rico who was raised in the occult and became a violent gang leader on the streets of New York, tells the story of the effect Jesus Christ had on his bitter, angry and violent heart in his book One Holy Fire:

In my heart I still see myself as a helpless and needy nineteen-year-old boy, kneeling before the altar, weeping in repentance and asking God to come into my heart and be my Savior. Like a baby longing for its mother’s milk, I drank deeply of God’s love and forgiveness. I could almost feel his gentle arms wrapping themselves around my cold body, comforting, warming, snuggling. For the first time in my life I felt loved … When I speak, I often search my vocabulary for ways to express this supernatural sensation, the moment when Jesus stepped in and changed my life, but I’ve yet to find a way to do it justice … I tell people that I felt as if I were on an operating table, cold, angry and confused, and Jesus was the surgeon standing over me. My heart was broken. He gently reached over and closed my eyes, then he opened my chest and reached deep inside me and pulled my heart out. He held it in his hands, a heart filled with hatred and anger and bitterness that consumed me—the brokenness of my past and the curse that was destroying my life and soul. Then Jesus slowly took my heart, brought it to his lips and kissed it. He caressed it and mended the wounds. Then he placed it back in my chest and closed me up. I knew in an instant I was better, that my heart was no longer broken. At that moment I knew I was a new creation. I had a new heart—a heart of love and compassion and repentance. All the feelings of hate and resentment were gone. My sins were forgiven. At long last I was free … I look to Jesus for help and guidance in everything I do, and he has never failed me. He has always been there when I needed him.[ii]

What a Savior! What a Healer! What a Leader of restoration to the human heart! Jesus Christ is the flawless model of leadership and the head and leader of the Body of Christ, and the church is in desperate need of leaders who imitate the heart of Jesus. O how these leaders must take heart to the words of God: “This is my beloved Son, hear him!” (Mark 9:7).

The Fall of Leaders

The spiritual anemia in the hearts of so many Christians can be traced directly to poor leadership in the modern church. Our leaders have cared more about ambition, money, fame, and earthly glory than about the hearts of their flocks. Contemporary Christian leadership has failed miserably, which has caused the hearts of believers to become weak and malnourished.

Hearts are broken, crushed, and hurting in every pew around the world, as we all desperately need a leader in the mold of Jesus Christ who teaches the words of God, who comforts people in times of sorrow, who turns hearts from the darkness and leads them into the light. Sadly, the leaders of the church—like the prophets, priests and Pharisees—have not watched over and taken care of their own hearts. They have been careless with their own eyes, ears, and thoughts, which has caused evil to develop a stronghold in their hearts and the hearts of their people. This has caused many pastors to simply quit the ministry and fall away from their calling.

David Ravenhill, in Surviving the Anointing: Learning to Effectively Experience and Walk in God’s Power, shares some sobering statistics on ministry leadership:

God’s army of soldiers are “dying” at a faster rate than ever before. According to John Maxwell, only one out of every ten people entering the ministry today will still be in it at the age of 65. That’s a 90 percent dropout rate. Dr. James Dobson estimates that there are some 1,500 ministers a month leaving the ministry. If the body of Christ continues to hemorrhage at this rate, we’ll soon be the laughingstock of the world, not to mention the evil hordes of darkness … The devil’s strategy is both old and reliable: “Strike the shepherd and scatter the flock.”[iii]

No one knew better than our Savior the importance of a keen ear spiritually alive to the voice of God. Without it, a pastor can never truly lead with the heart of Jesus Christ:

“For the heart of this people has become dull, with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes, otherwise they would see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I would heal them. But blessed are your eyes for they see; and your ears because they hear.” (Matthew 13:15–16, NASB)

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell-and great was it fall.” (Matthew 7:24–27, NASB)

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27, NASB)

“Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” (Luke 11:28, NIV)

There has been a great fall of leaders from pulpits across our land because the ears of pastors and teachers have become dull and scarcely hear the Word of the Lord. The noise of the world has crowded the voice of the Lord from their hearts, so they do not act on His instructions. The storms of life have slammed their ministries, and they have crumbled like sand and collapsed because they were not built upon the Rock, Jesus Christ. All their God-given abilities, all their potential to do the works of God, fall by the wayside and are swept away by floods of sin, pride, and arrogance. It’s one of the great tragedies in church history that so many of our spiritual leaders have missed the magnificent blessing of hearing the Word of God and obeying it.

The destruction of a leader’s calling and ministry almost always begins with the eyes and the ears. Pastoral burnout is often a direct consequence of having undisciplined eyes and straying ears. Their failure in turn causes the hearts of God’s children to turn away from Him. I can only imagine how deeply this must grieve God’s heart. He so wants to show Himself strong on behalf of His children (2 Chronicles 16:9)! He yearns to be their first love and their only God, that their hearts would be completely devoted to Him. I can feel God’s heart crying out, “My children, my children! Why have you forsaken my embrace and thrust me from your presence? Why am I not good enough for you? Why am I not everything you need? Why won’t you hear me? Why do you forget me days without number? Why do you love something more than me?”

Listen to His heart’s cry to Israel:

Listen, O heavens! Pay attention, earth! This is what the Lord says: “The children I have raised and cared for have rebelled against me. Even an ox knows its owner, and a donkey recognizes its master’s care—but Israel does not know its master. My people do not recognize my care for them … They have despised the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him. Why do you continue to invite punishment? Must you rebel forever? Your head is injured, and your heart is sick.” (Isaiah 1:2–5, NLT)

The children of Israel, the chosen people, amazingly did not even know God! They never experienced His goodness in their hearts. Despite all the magnificent and wondrous things He did time and time again to demonstrate His love and mercy, they cast God aside like a dirty rag. They were blind and did not recognize how much God cared for them. His children turned their backs on God, covered their ears, and ran in the other direction. Much of the Old Testament is the story of the rebel heart of God’s children that turned against their Father God because they failed to open up their ears to His words. God was crying desperately to their ears and hearts, “Must you rebel forever! Are you ever going to grow up and see my heart! Don’t you realize how much of a special treasure you are to me? Don’t you know how much I long for you? Don’t you understand that I want to be joined with you at the heart and experience the deepest bond of love with you?”

Listen to Jesus as He wailed from the depths of His heart and burst into tears over Jerusalem and its children:

And as he came still nearer to the city, he caught sight of it and wept over it, saying, “Ah, if you only knew, even at this eleventh hour, on what your peace depends—but you cannot see it. The time is coming when your enemies will encircle you with ramparts, surrounding you and hemming you in on every side. And they will hurl you and all your children to the ground—yes, they will not leave you one stone standing upon another—all because you did not know when God Himself was visiting you!” (Luke 19:41–44, PHILLIPS)

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” (Matthew 23:36–38, NIV)

Christ heart was filled with sorrow over the great potential of Jerusalem’s people that had gone unfulfilled because their eyes did not see and their ears did not hear Him. He longed to gather His children under His protective wings and give them help and support in every season of life, but they refused and thrust Him away.

Forty years later, the Roman armies ran Jerusalem into the ground and caused the people to be a house of desolation, all because they stubbornly refused to believe that God would have conquered their every foe, lifted their every burden, and healed their every wound. They had stoned and killed those who spoke the words of God because they did not want to hear what God had to say. Jesus wept over this great tragedy of Jerusalem, that its inhabitants throughout history had not recognized God’s many visitations and pleas to return to Him. The ultimate slap to God’s face was soon to unfold in the rejection and murder of His only begotten Son, the promised Messiah.

Is Jesus Crying Over the Condition of Your Heart?

Is Jesus crying over you this day? Is He heartbroken over the condition of your heart? Is He crying out to you, ‘’Must your heart rebel against me forever? I gave my life for you. You have so much potential, so much promise, so much power because of my sacrifice! Why are you wasting it? Why are you not walking in my victory, letting me live through you? Why are you letting your heart become entangled in the trivial matters of this world that have no eternal value?”

Jesus weeps over the wasted potential of His church and what could have been. He weeps over the many hardened hearts. He weeps over those who have been deceived. He weeps over those who are enslaved to sin. He weeps over the hearts that have waxed cold and forgotten their first love. He weeps over those who have closed their ears to His voice because they are offended at His words.

To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the Lord is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it. (Jeremiah 6:10, NIV)

Yet it is still possible for us to know and experience the beauty and perfection of Jesus Christ in our hearts. He longs to lead us into the blessings of His victory and carry us to spiritual frontiers we haven’t imagined possible. Indeed, He is calling us to the greatest adventure on planet Earth, and that is to love like Him, to have mercy and compassion like Him, to touch lives as He did, to pray like Him, and to heal many as He did.

Be Still and Listen

One encounter with the voice of God can change your life forever. Moses, Samuel, Paul, and many others can attest to this truth. Nothing in the heavens or the earth compares to the voice of the Lord:

“Whenever this happens, my heart stops—I’m stunned, I can’t catch my breath. Listen to it! Listen to his thunder, the rolling, rumbling thunder of his voice. He lets loose his lightnings from horizon to horizon, lighting up the earth from pole to pole. In their wake, the thunder echoes his voice, powerful and majestic. He lets out all the stops, he holds nothing back. No one can mistake that voice—His word thundering so wondrously, his mighty acts staggering our understanding.” (Job 37:1–5, MSG)

“Pay attention heavens and I will speak; listen, earth to the words of my mouth. Let my teaching fall like the rain and my words settle like the dew, like gentle rain on new grass and showers on tender plants.” (Deuteronomy 32:1–4, HCSB)

God’s voice sounds throughout the earth with great majesty, power, and wonder. Nothing can silence it. Nothing can overpower it. Nothing can stop it.

From the beginning, when God spoke to the darkness and said, “Let there be light,” His voice thundered like a mighty storm and, at other times, softly like the gentle rain. Can you imagine being awakened each morning by the tender, gracious, and loving voice of the Creator of all things? It’s so much better than an alarm clock, a Starbucks coffee, or the morning newspaper! Nothing is more satisfying to the heart than to hear from God as a new day dawns. Can you imagine having your ears so attuned to God that every day you hear His voice encouraging and helping you to be your best in your service for His kingdom? We are so accustomed to spiritual deafness that such an idea seems far-fetched and beyond our reach, but God wants you to know His voice like a loving Father and faithful friend. Pray that God awakens your ear to His voice, for it is critical to the condition and health of your heart. If your ears are not awakened, your heart will become callous, indifferent, and of little use to our Lord.

Across the world the church needs an awakening to the voice of the Lord. Psalm 46:10 declares, “Be still and know that I am God.” We must once again develop this stillness of the heart that David knew. We cannot be so agitated, anxious, and stressed by the noise and commotion of the world that we miss the stillness and quiet beauty of His voice. We must be still to know the greatness of our God and experience His voice. For it is in these quiet times with God that renewal, confidence, peace, joy, and healing flood into the heart like a river and sweep away all the fears, doubts, and worries of this world.

Be still and know that He is God. Still your heart and hear His voice! Quiet your heart and experience His presence! Let your heart come home to Him. We must have a modern day prayer closet where we can spend time alone with God and still our hearts. Make time to meet Him there. This is not an option for the modern Christian! Find a place to spend quiet time with God daily and praise, worship and pour your heart out to Him in prayer. I converted a space in my basement to a prayer room where I can pour out my heart out to Him and listen for His voice.

Our culture is addicted to noise with our televisions, computers, radios, and iPods blaring nonstop. Our hearts do not know what to do with silence. Yet a quiet, reflective time with God where we listen to Him and meditate upon His Word is the greatest medicine and healing balm available to our hearts. Jesus would get up before sunrise to spend hours of quiet time with His Father. He showed us by example how important it is to still our hearts in the presence of God with an attitude of thankfulness and praise so that we can hear what He is saying to us.

Make time to find true rest in the embrace of God. This is how you begin to cultivate eyes that see and ears that hear. This is a time of full sharing where we meet God in the laughter, tears and pressures of life and bear our entire heart to Him. In the solitude of His presence, hold nothing back. Learn how to listen for His guidance, comfort, and instruction. If you can find time to spend with a favorite sports team or television show, surely you can make time for our awesome God. I challenge you to spend quiet time with Him daily and watch for the transformation that occurs in your heart and life. Your spiritual eyes and ears will become keenly tuned to the heart of God the more time you spend with Him.

God is waiting for you to know Him, to experience Him, and to love Him. But to do this, you must spend uninterrupted time with Him. He wants to spend time with you more than you could ever imagine. He is waiting and looking, like the father of the prodigal son, for your heart to come home to Him. If you are truly interested in guarding your heart, then nothing is more important than giving God some exclusive alone time. Your heart will never be healthy without it. You will not hear His voice without it. You will not grow spiritually without it.

Accept God’s invitation to come to Him and fellowship with Him in the deepest bonds of intimacy and love. Awaken each morning to His loving voice and His tender touch. Make God your greatest desire each day, and He will strengthen your heart into a mighty fortress for Him, untouched by the noise of this world.

[i] A. W. Tozer, God Tells the Man Who Cares (Camp Hill: Wingspread Publishers, 1993).

[ii] Nicky Cruz, Holy Fire: Let the Spirit Ignite Your Soul, (Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press, 2003), 142.

[iii] David Ravenhill, Surviving the Anointing: Learning to Effectively Experience and Walk in God’s Power (Shippensburg: Destiny Image Publishers, 2007), 14, 15.

 

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