Jesus told His disciples that it
was better for Him to go away because if He did so, He would send the Holy
Spirit to them (John 16:7). Could
anything be better than having the physical presence of Jesus with us? Jesus thought so, because the Holy
Spirit is not limited in time and space but can indwell each of us. Jesus lives within us by His Holy
Spirit. Living from the Spirit
within is living a life in close fellowship with Jesus, knowing what He is
saying and doing.
But there is also another factor
to consider. There is someone else
who would like to penetrate our thoughts.
“Satan is prowling around like a roaring lion seeking whom He may
devour.” He can impact us in a
number of ways. For example, maybe
we are watching the news on television, and feel too lazy to turn it off when
the news is over. All of a sudden,
we find ourselves watching semi-pornography. The enemy has used our sight (physical) to get to our mind. Or maybe we are concerned over a
situation—finances are difficult, for example—and we find ourselves becoming
depressed and anxious. Daniel 7:25 in the NASV says of Satan, He will speak out against the Most High
and wear down the saints of the Highest One. The word translated “wear down”
means to harass constantly.
The main spiritual battleground occurs
in our soul. Satan tries to gain
control of our thoughts and emotions.
In John 10:10 it says that the thief, (Satan) has come to steal, kill
and destroy. He steals our joy and
gives us depression; he steals our peace and gives us fear; he condemns us and
lies to us (John 8:44). Praise
God, Jesus has won the victory over Satan for us.
So our thoughts can come from three
different sources, ourselves, Satan or God.
The majority of our thoughts are
our own ideas and ramblings. Most
of us have a constant stream of them running through our heads. All of us are familiar with this. We think about the task we are doing, we
mull over something that happened yesterday, we plan our next vacation. These are our normal thoughts.
However, sometimes our thoughts
might take a darker turn. Maybe we
imagine a certain scary scenario occurring, and fear enters our minds. Or we rehearse something that has
offended us and we become angry. Usually, if the reaction that a thought
produces is negative, we can reckon that it comes from Satan and we should refuse
to entertain it. Jesus told us that we know the source of something by its
fruit. If the fruit of a thought
is negative, then we can reckon its source is certainly not from God and is
probably from Satan. In 2 Corinthians 10, we are told to take every thought
captive to Christ. There is a
battle going on for our minds. The
weapons that we are to use in this battle are spiritual ones; praising or using
the Word of God will send those thoughts running.
However, often God speaks to
us. He too will generally speak
through our thoughts. The fruit of
His speaking is always good—it brings peace or clarity to a situation. Even if He is speaking something
negative, for example, convicting us of sin, it is specific rather than general
and convicts rather than condemns.
So, for example, if Satan is speaking, he generally offers a blanket
condemnation. “You are just too
bad. If you lived a better life,
this would not be happening to you.”
In general, when Satan condemns, he is not specific and offers no way
out. And the way to deal with his
thoughts is through spiritual warfare.
On the other hand, when the Holy Spirit convicts, He will tell you of a
specific situation you need to put right, and He will tell you what to do about
it. And the fruit of obeying Him
brings great peace and joy.
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One reply on “Where do our thoughts come from?”
Great topic, Felicity!
In my experience, even though we talk about hearing God’s voice in general terms, a great many Christians (even Christian leaders) don’t understand what He sounds like or how to hear Him. And, they often don’t believe that He wants to carry on a regular, daily conversation with them.
Maybe the most important thing we do now in making disciples is actually sitting down and doing this (listening) with people. (We find Virkler’s process to be the easiest to use. Theophostic is another process that helps people actually experience hearing God.) Although it is helpful to talk about hearing God, what people most need is repeated experiences of actually hearing Him. And, it’s in this context that we can help them discern by practice between their own thoughts, the Enemy’s thoughts and God’s thoughts.
This seems central to everything. If His sheep can really hear their Shepherd’s voice (Jn. 10), everything else in the Christian life begins to make sense. On the other hand, imagine what happens to sheep who aren’t able to hear their Shepherd’s voice.
We try and reinforce this at every level. Listening is central to each person’s individual time with the Lord. Then, it is central to the CO2s (churches of two). Then, it is central to the gathering of house churches. we practice it in every meeting. And, finally, it is central to the regional leadership teams.
I would love to hear how others are equipping people in this most important skill.