As I began the course “Counseled By God” (i.e. CLU graduate level college version of this training) I had no idea how much it would change the way that I look at situations in my life. Although there were many areas that the Holy Spirit touched on through this course, I believe the lesson that had the greatest impact on my life currently was discerning the accuser’s thoughts versus the Comforter’s thoughts. Before I learned how to hear the voice of God and recognize it as spontaneous thoughts that light upon my mind I found myself constantly struggling with all the thoughts that came into my mind.
Although I knew that there was a great battle going on in my mind, I didn’t seem to have much victory in overcoming negative or critical thoughts. Seeing all the names of satan in the Scriptures and how these negative and accusative thoughts lined up with his character helped me to begin to see that just because I had a thought it didn’t mean that I was the source of it. That’s the way the enemy works, especially as the accuser. He wants me to think that every thought I have is my own and then condemns me and accuses me for having such a thought and calling myself a Christian. I knew from Scripture that satan accused Job before God and told God that the only reason that Job served Him was because of the protection that God had around Job and his family. However, God knew much more about Job and his character than satan did and allowed him to test his theory on Job but God would eventually work everything out for Job’s good. This was not an easy test for Job but God saw him through to the end. Serving the Lord does not mean that difficult times will not come into our lives but God has promised to never leave us or forsake us. In my past I would get pretty discouraged and frustrated because of these thoughts but I am now thankful that I feel much better equipped to deal with them. It’s when I try to do this on my own (self-effort) that the real frustration begins because God never intended for me to do that but has placed His Holy Spirit within to lead me and guide me. The Spirit is our power source and when we fail to draw upon Him and His wisdom we will fall. The enemy wants us to believe that there is no hope and that we might as well give up but that’s because he is a liar. God has told us in His Word that “The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:4-5)
When I asked God to talk to me about these two verses this is what I received from Him: My dear son, I have provided everything that you need to face the enemy in battle. These are weapons that I provide, divinely powerful weapons to destroy any strongholds that the enemy tries to raise up. In order to be successful in battle, use My weapons. Remember to examine negative thoughts as they come to you and determine their source. The only thoughts I want you to really follow are those that I give to you. I want you to obey My thoughts that I give to you. It is by these thoughts that you receive counsel from Me. Watch Me , listen closely to My voice and walk and live in the flow of My Spirit within you. Rest in Me, My son.
We have thousands of thoughts on any given day and it takes a conscious effort to analyze each thought and take it captive to the obedience of Christ. However, when we recognize that satan is the accuser, a liar, our adversary, an angel of light, and a thief, we are better equipped to get rid of these negative critical thoughts, rather than incubating them, and to ask the Holy Spirit to replace them with His thoughts. When I asked the Lord to show me where I am pondering and receiving thoughts that line up with the names of satan, this is what He spoke to me:
My dear son, Whenever you ponder and allow negative, critical and accusative thoughts to take root in your mind, you are allowing satan and his minions to defeat and discourage you. Remember, My child, I came to give you life, not destruction. Replace those negative thoughts by asking Me for positive ones. Thoughts that are true, honest, pure and that build you up and encourage you. I want you to be able to recognize the lies and accusations that satan brings against you and take all of these thoughts captive to Me. I love you and am proud of you. There is no condemnation to those who belong to Me. You have let satan belittle and beat you up long enough. I have defeated him and set you free. Begin to live in that freedom day by day as you discern My thoughts from satan’s thoughts. The longer you wait when an accusative thought comes, the more discouraged and defeated you can become. Take action immediately and rebuke that demonic thought and command it to leave and ask Me to replace it with a thought from Me. Live from the flow of My Spirit within you.
Lord, How do you want me to resist and overcome the enemy’s lies?
Response: My son, It is very simple. I want you to keep your eyes fixed on Me and bring all his lies and accusations to Me by taking every thought captive. When you bring these thoughts to Me I will destroy them and you can ask Me to replace these thoughts with good ones that come from Me. Ask, My son, and you will receive. I have provided everything that you need to be victorious against the enemy and his lies and deception. Utilize what I have provided for you through My Spirit who lives within you. Always remember, My child, that the precious and holy blood of My son Jesus has defeated your enemy and all his forces. He came to destroy the devil’s work. Walk in the freedom that He died to give you. Greater is He who is within you than he who is in the world. I love you!
It was a sobering thought to me when I realized how many times during a day that I allowed negative thoughts to stay in my mind rather than immediately taking action against them. This is not an easy habit to break but I have certainly made significant progress in the last few months. I know that I have spent years thinking this way and I still have some struggles in this area but having the awareness of the problem is the first step to healing. The power and the authority of the Holy Spirit within is our greatest gift and resource to overcome the enemy and walk in the victory that Jesus died to give us. Learning to replace the negative lies of the enemy with the truth of the Word of God has helped me to really utilize God’s gift of the Holy Spirit in my life. He, the Holy Spirit, in contrast to satan is the Spirit of truth. I am thankful that Jesus sent Him as my helper and the one who is called alongside to comfort me. There are many voices that are competing for our attention and the only one that I need really to focus on is the voice of God. I was encouraged with Philippians 4:8 and God’s guidance as to what kinds of thoughts He wanted my mind to dwell on. “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.”
Lord, what would you like to say to me about this verse in my life at this time and how you want me to apply it?”
His response: My dear son, What you think about is so important in your life as a believer. The enemy is constantly at work trying to get you to think of anything other than Me. I want you to think about good and true things. You can’t live and walk in the Spirit without a renewed mind. You live in a broken world and there are negative influences all around you. Do not focus your mind on these things but upon Me and My love for you. Nothing, absolutely nothing can separate you from My love. You must learn to rest in Me and My care for you. This is what trust is all about. Trust Me to replace the negative, critical thoughts with pure and lovely thoughts. Do not trust in your own abilities but rather abandon yourself to Me in childlike trust. I love you! Rest in that love, My child, rest.
It is still a challenge learning to only incubate the thoughts that come from God and His Word but I know that as I continue to let God fill all my senses with His Spirit and I become more aware of His presence with me moment by moment that I can walk in victory. Just having the awareness now of how much negativity I had allowed to come into my mind and that I have all the resources to combat these thoughts through the Holy Spirit has brought me a significant measure of success. Have I completely arrived yet, I don’t think so, but I am much further down the road walking in victory than I used to be and I am thankful for that. I know that each day I will get stronger as I keep my eyes focused on the Lord Jesus Christ. I am learning the importance of seeing God everywhere that I look and I was encouraged as I asked the Lord about this in some of my journaling of the last chapter of the text. I asked the Lord how I can see Him more clearly everywhere that I look and this was His response to me:My dear son, As you ask My Spirit to open the eyes and ears of your heart He will. You can see Me everywhere if you will just look. Most people aren’t looking because they are too focused on other things like circumstances, problems, even other people. I want your focus to be on Me, only then can you see Me everywhere; in the sunrise, the sunset, the birds, the flowers, the rain, all of my creation declares My glory. Start looking, Keith, and you will see. Trust Me and don’t allow worry to enter your life but rather bring all your anxiety to Me for I care about you more than you can imagine. You are much more valuable to Me than birds and flowers yet look at how I care and provide for them. How much more will I care for you? The key, My child, to seeing is to keep your eyes focused on Me and look at every situation knowing that I am in control and that I am present with you. The enemy constantly tries to distract you and speak lies to you but he has no power over you. I defeated him through the power of My death and resurrection. Now My son you can live through Me. I am your very life. Live, My child, live through the power of My Spirit joined to your spirit. I love you!
Note from Mark Virkler: My 10-year-old granddaughter is learning to make computer animations, and this is what she has created to illustrate the message of this blog. Click the green flag to watch: