Demonic Distraction

I’m not likely to elicit the services of a prostitute. I’m not likely to get a bottle of scotch and polish it off in a sitting. I’m not likely to hunt down someone I dislike and take them out with one, ridiculously accurate shot between the eyes. There are probably a thousand different things I can list here that I probably won’t do (though, because of my sin nature, I can never say I’m incapable. There’s nothing a sinful heart is incapable of). However, there are simply things that don’t tempt me very much; tactics the soldiers of darkness would be foolish to engage me in.

What I’m coming to realize more and more, though, is that there are some things that I seem to be predisposed towards. Things that always seem to cause me a great fight and, sometimes, I just can’t seem to hold up. Of course, some of these are shrouded in clouds of deception; covert attacks in which I am outflanked and hit without even so much as knowing I’ve been outwitted, outlasted or outplayed.

“Squirrel!”

Take my most susceptible area of weakness: distraction. I have rarely been able to detect this one, mainly because there’s nothing particularly “evil” about the things I’ve been doing. It’s not like I’ve jumped online to check out the latest porn features or spent time chatting with “lovely Korean girls who are waiting for your call”. In fact, many of the things that have been used against me are quite inoccuous. We’re talking watching a funny video that someone posted on Facebook or “cute kittens at play (after all, I’ve been told that laughing at cats falling off of slippery cars and jumping into screen doors is therapeutic) and not realize that I mindlessly just let the next 5 or 10 funny videos that follow autoplay. Maybe I do a “quick search” for something I’ve been wanting to check out only to get lost for the next half hour in the endless tree of links that are related. Simple stuff. Innocent stuff.

Not So Innocent

It’s crazy how easy it is for the “innocent” or morally neutral to cause me to sin. Now, I know that to call it sin might be debatable by some, but it’s certainly not for me. Here’s why. If there is anything that has kept me from making the things of God primary in my life, I am guilty of idolatry. After all, idolatry is, most simply, anything that takes the rightful place of God. When I let anything detract my affections away from the primacy of Christ, idolatry has been birthed and will not stop until it is full-grown and has become a major sin in my life.

Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with pursuing interests, spending time on Facebook or anything else that can be either good or bad, but I know me. I tend to get sucked in and all of the time I’ve been given to pursue that which I SAY is of primary importance in my life is now gone because of all the little things that have robbed me of the opportunity I had. Man, I’m telling you, if I was out to get you to take your eyes off of Jesus, I wouldn’t need to make you bad so long as I could make you distracted; if I could make you too busy or preoccupied with the mundane.

Taking Back the Land

Military history all the way back to biblical days has shown us that, even after terrible defeats, if an army can manage to rally and take back even a little previously-lost territory, it can lead to greater confidence to take it all back and win the war. That’s what I have determined to do, even though it’s surprisingly difficult!

I’ve only been off of social media for 24 hours and I feel like an addict going through withdrawals. I was so accustomed to mindlessly picking up the iPhone during moments of down-time and seeing what everyone was posting, that I find myself wanting to re-download the apps. I’m starting to realize just how frequently I was checking those stupid things. Why? I allowed myself to be fooled into thinking it was no harm, but little by little, the joy of the Lord in my life was fading because I wasn’t pursuing it. How could I? Every spare minute was spent trying to see what everyone else BUT God was saying.

So, I will work through the withdrawals, endure the cold sweats and refocus my time and attention on the most important things in my life. I will retake the land and determine that I will no longer allow demonic distractions to rule my life. I will practice the skill of self-examination and submit my free time to the freedom I have in Christ to grow into the design God has for me.

Maybe God isn’t calling you to give up social media, even for a season, but are there “demonic distractions” in your life that are secretly keeping you from living up to your potential? Is there something or even someone in your life that has quietly and slowly led you into idolatry? Time is fleeting, the moments are passing…grab them! Take control of your time and submit it under the control of the Holy Spirit. Do it now while you still have TIME.

Peace.

Idols of the Heart

Rarely do I teach a class or deliver a message that hasn’t already penetrated my soul and taught me first.  I think that the only way a message is really exceptional is if the Holy Spirit has brought the hammer down first in the teacher/preacher’s life so that the passion can come from a place of real, deep conviction.

Last night, however, as I taught on really believing the Gospel (*see below for explanation of “Gospel”), the real weight of that came at that point and later as I reflected on it more and more.

I taught about how we say we believe the Gospel and and we do a lot of things that would be considered right for a disciple to do and yet it seems we tend to battle with the same surface sins over and over.  Why is that?  I say surface sins because those are the ones that we can see.  However, usually the surface sins indicate something much deeper: what Bob Thune and Will Walker, authors of The Gospel-Centered Life, call “Idols of the heart”.

Here’s the example we looked at last night – gossip.  Everybody knows when they gossip, right?…usually.  Anyway, so we realize we’re gossiping and so we feel convicted by it and repent.  Then we run along and gossip somewhere else. Doh! Why can’t we break that?! What’s going on that I keep gossiping when I know it’s wrong and don’t really want to (or do I?)

The question we explored last night was, “Why do we gossip?”  Here are some reasons suggested by the above-mentioned authors listed as “heart idols”:

  • »  The idol of approval (I want the approval of the people I’m talking to)

  • »  The idol of control (Using gossip as a way to manipulate/control others)

  • »  The idol of reputation (I want to feel important, so I cut some-one else down verbally)

  • »  The idol of success (Someone is succeeding—and I’m not—so I gossip about him)

  • »  The idol of security (Talking about others masks my own in- security)

  • »  The idol of pleasure (Someone else is enjoying life—and I’m not—so I attack her)

  • »  The idol of knowledge (Talking about people is a way of show- ing I know more)

  • »  The idol of recognition (Talking about others gets people to notice me)

  • »  The idol of respect (That person disrespected me, so I’m going to disrespect him)

What’s the problem?  I haven’t really believed the Gospel to the point that I don’t need these idols to make me feel successful, validated, accepted, respected, etc.  I haven’t realized that IN CHRIST, I am complete so that my validation, acceptance, respect and on and on are found in and completed in HIM.  I don’t need to serve and/or be held captive by these idols IF I TRULY BELIEVE THE GOSPEL and so I am freed from fear, anxiety, low self-image and all the other deep-seeded problems that are MANIFESTED through actions like gossip, lying, etc.  Make sense? 

So, I’m left with the question of whether or not I truly BELIEVE the Gospel.  If so, it should have an absolutely RADICAL affect on my entire life.  As we said last night, my whole life and everything in it should be leveraged for the sake of the Kingdom of God. That includes my family, my stuff, my money…everything.

Are you content to give lip-service to your “belief” in the Gospel of Christ?  Do you feel the same level of conviction I’ve felt?  If so, it’s time to do some spelunking of the soul and figure out what idols are living why down deep in caves and crevices of your heart.  Ask God to shine the helmet light on them and start breaking them down.  Clear them out! Be free from fear, depression, anxiety, anger and all the other manifestations that come with failing to believe in the deliverance and power of the Gospel. 

Am I minimizing or over-simplifying deliverance from things like depression, anger, etc? Absolutely not! Many, if not most of these things require some help both in identifying and removing them.  Seek Godly, qualified help and accountability if you are wrapped up in these things, but I encourage you to follow my example on this and start addressing it today. Stop saying you believe the Gospel but living as if you’ve never even heard it.

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* In this post, I am referring to the Gospel (which literally means “Good News”) as the revealed message of the work of Jesus Christ to bear the wrath of a just God towards sin and, thus, serve as a substitute for sinners in order that they can then be at peace with God, having been cleansed and adopted by God Himself. The only proper response to hearing the Gospel is to believe it and repent of the sins that evoked the wrath of God and precipitated the sacrificial death of Christ.  For more information on the Gospel, feel free to email me.

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