Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Intruding Thoughts

I have discussed the idea of Satan giving us "intruding thoughts" in an older post (Dealing With Temptation).
In this post I wanted to outline the idea from my own experience.

Once first encountering this concept, that Satan and his demons had the ability to project thoughts into our minds, it was quite transformational in my own life and so I have many instances I can share that would help to flesh out what this really means, to have thoughts put into your head from an outside source.

Now honestly, had someone told me about this a year and a half ago, I probably would have thought they were crazy and that this was something loosely derived from scripture to support a fanatical movement on the fringes of the Christian community.

When my eyes were opened to the reality that this was something well grounded in scripture and not an unknown teaching in the ministries of many prominent pastors, I began to implement this way of thinking about the thoughts in my head and their origination. I can clearly see how Satan blinded me in keeping me from understanding this teaching. I had heard it multiple times, but it never "clicked".

Prior to believing this biblical concept of intruding thoughts, I would often fail to see when I was being tempted or not know how to handle it when it was happening. Because I didn't recognize that it was Satan who was tempting me I failed to "resist" him and just fought the thought by trying not to think about it. You know what that is like. We are never told in scripture to resist temptation, we are told to resist the tempter. If I am trying to resist temptation then guess what my focus is on, the temptation! If, rather, I saw the temptation as being sent from Satan, then I could effectively see that it is him that I should be resisting.

Something that I have recently noticed though is the fact that we can not only be tempted with evil things but with "good" things as well. Recall the temptation of Jesus. One of the temptations was to turn stones into loaves of bread. There isn't anything inherently evil about the action that was proposed. Do we often heed good or even religious thoughts for the wrong reasons? We have to ask ourselves are we being directed by the Spirit or just following whatever thought enters our head.

I am always fighting my legalistic tendencies. One day I was reading a good book and made it to a nice stopping point. I set it down at a convenient spot, next to my bed, and instantly I was confronted with fearful thoughts. I had set the book ON TOP of the Bible! I did not discern what was going through my head very clearly but I am sure that I was being told that somehow, someway, by setting another book on top of my Bible, I was surely in danger of losing favor with God.

Haha! I am sure I am not alone in this experience. Really though, has anyone else noticed how we always have these upside-down pyramid stacks of books with our over-sized Bible at the very top? What are we afraid of? Oh, sure we want to be reverent to the Holy Scriptures but I think we take it too far when we begin acting as pagans of old, afraid of being jinxed by our use or misuse of items. Plain superstition. That is all it is and I would argue that Satan is behind it all. What other ways are we walking fearfully when we could be running, jumping and singing in the glorious freedom we have in Christ!
Perhaps I am alone in this nuttiness, but it serves my point.

On the same note, I recall not too long ago, noticing how someone else had used their family Bible along with other books as a place to set a lamp, "How irreverent", I thought. Tsk tsk tsk. Oh yes, my standard is pleasing to the Lord and so I can look down my nose at these poor irreverent souls.

Satan wins a double victory when he gets us to accept a standard that is not biblical. We fall into bondage to useless rules that we probably won't be able to live up to anyway and then we feel self-righteous about our obedience as compared to other's failure to heed "God's word".

Back on subject; Intruding thoughts are very real and ought to be realized by the valiant Christian.

Recently, I found myself getting angry about something. Moments earlier my mom said something that hurt my feelings and I was reciting all of the ways she was wrong about what she had said. The fact is that my mom didn't really mean for her words to be hurtful, but Satan was twisting them to make me think there was a hidden message she was trying to get across to me. I was fuming, but then suddenly I realized that I was not reasoning properly and I noticed how it had been Satan who was "stirring the pot" of anger and making me feel offended where no offense was meant.

How many other times have I allowed intruding thoughts from Satan to guide my thinking about a certain person or words spoken to me?
I recently heard one friend speak at a conference. She had intruding thoughts that related to violent acts. She would be putting away the silverware and while grasping a knife would have thoughts of killing her family. I know, it sounds awful, but you see there is nothing wrong with having the thought (being tempted) the problem comes when we take the thought as our own, whether we act out on it or not. You see, she was in great turmoil over the fact that she could have such evil thoughts. She beat herself up over receiving temptation because she thought she must be some kind of psycho for ever having the thoughts. This drove her into depression which brought its own set of problems. By God's grace she came to realize that these thoughts were not her own, they were Satan's thoughts that he was putting into her head.

Jim Logan, in his book, "Reclaiming Surrendered Ground" says, "I pity the man who thinks that every thought that enters his head is his own."

Thank you for reading. As I have said, this teaching was revolutionary in my own life. I want to speak out about it because if there are others who are believing the fallacy that everything that enters their head is their own, I want to see them come to freedom. This was huge in my life. Please reflect upon this to see if you might be in the same situation as I and my friend were.

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