Competition For The Mind
In Ephesians 4:26-27, Paul commanded, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil.”
This passage is variously translated. Phillips renders it, “Don't give the devil that sort of foothold. Goodspeed's translation says, “You must not give the devil a chance.” The Twentieth Century New Testament gives it, “And give no opportunity to the Devil.” The thought in all of these is the same: mainly, don't give the Devil residency in your mind.
Someone has said, “you can't keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from nesting in your hair.” In the same way, you can't keep the Devil from making periodic trips through your mind; but you don't have to give him a place to stay.
In this age there is a constant bombardment of the mind by the Devil. He is seeking a place to stay. And one of the ways he does it is by advertising. Our society is addicted to it. Its influence in our lives is astounding.
This competition for the mind is relentless and indefatigable, just as the means is subtle and effective. Secularism is disguised as success; materialism wears the mask of excellence; free love is passed off as freedom of the human expression. The result is indifference toward God.
Those who give over to this cunningly devised plan will find it hard to leave. Once they enter this world of “let me do it my way,” they quickly become so mired that only the strongest will can divorce them from their predicament. The appetite for such loose activities cannot be satisfied and calls for an ever-deepening, always increasing evil just to top the last “satisfaction” enjoyed.
Such careless subscription to the devil's ploys results in disaster. The giving of oneself to a life without restraint results in a cluttered, undisciplined mind, one difficult to penetrate and often without much feeling for others. Such thinking dampens the spirit of purpose, causes its adherent to be tentative in his plans, temporary in his judgment. It restrains the inclination to grow--intellectually, spiritually, or any other way. It is short-sighted, foolish to listen to promises of the sort we see everywhere displayed by our adversary.
Three things stand out to me as necessary to guard against the Devil's efforts to capture the mind.
Make sure your focus is right. Where are you looking? In what direction are you headed? Like Paul, we must “...press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). The Hebrew writer said of Jesus, “...who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross...” (Hebrews 12:2). We need to set before us a focus toward heaven.
Develop a determination toward self-regulation. Paul said it was necessary: “But I keep under (“buffet,”ASV) my body and bring it into subjection: that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (I Cor. 9:26-27). A life not properly managed vacillates, is tentative, not fixed on course. It’s headed toward sure destruction.
Return to regular associations with truth. It is just so that we are influenced by our companions. When we tolerate associations with the Devil, we are just more apt to become like him. “Be not deceived; evil company corrupts good habits” (I Corinthians 15:33). But when you are in constant contact with the truth, it will be the pervading influence in your life. Truth frees!
There is a battle raging--a serious, eternal-life-threatening battle. It’s a personal battle. We can lose it if we are not careful. The mind is the battle ground for the conflict. Be very careful, won’t you?