I want to share some of my own experiences that I have had. In these experiences you will see how I discovered the things found in this book. I hope you realize that these experiences aren't special with myself. God is merciful to all of us and He is waiting to free us from the hold that Satan has on our lives.
One night I was lonely, really lonely. It seemed that an oppressive atmosphere hung over me. It surrounded me with such force that I could actually feel the tension in the air. I felt terrible. My insides were tied up in knots and I felt like crying out to someone. But who would listen or even understand what was happening to me? It might prove to be embarrassing if I talked to someone. They might even think I was losing my mind. When I weighed the discussion that would result, I realized that no one would listen or understand at all.
In this condition, I started to ask myself why I felt this way. "Am I a Christian? Do I have His spirit? If I do, then shouldn't I be happy or peaceful? Don't Christians have the peace that passes all understanding? Where is my peace? Why am I so miserable? If I have God's presence within me why do I feel so lonely and depressed?"
This was a terrible time. I can understand why people are led to commit suicide. If they have no one to turn to, no one to plead for help then life could look very black indeed! Satan is a powerful foe, not someone I want to meet by myself, and yet we all choose to do that very thing. Because we do, most of us fail miserably in our battles against Satan. We just don't have the ability to fight back properly. Why do you think there are so many suicides and killings these days? Satan is literally attacking us and there is no way to win against him without God.
We must realize it does not have to be this way! We have a ready help that is willing and able to support us in our battle against Satan! Remember God's angels are right in the room to help us.
I used to pray to God over this depression and loneliness and I would ask for His help. With tears I would plead for His presence. It always seemed that it would take hours before I would feel better, though there was some comfort in the actual process of asking. I could feel some comfort in His presence, but the oppression always took time to go away, sometimes hours. That small sense of presence was always a promise to me of help and it is what kept me in my pleading. This was always a tearful process. Worst of all this would happen night after night in an unending pattern like a broken record. It seemed I was doomed to a life of hopeless misery and loneliness.
That night I became desperate and I began to wonder if this depression was indeed coming from within me or whether it might be originating from evil angels. I thought about this for awhile before I decided to try out God's promises. So, I asked God, if this was indeed from Satan that He would force these evil angels away from me, thus taking this depression away from me.
Immediately I could actually sense the oppressive feeling leaving me. It took about three seconds but after that, it was gone. I felt normal even happy and I was relieved to know that it was gone. I have never forgotten this event. With eyes wide open I immediately tried to understand what had just happened. Slowly a new awareness crept in with my new found knowledge. God is willing and waiting to answer our petitions if we but ask. We just need to be more specific in our asking. (We also need to speak from the heart. This is not a game.)
I used to be trapped by this desperate lonely feeling to the point that I could not do anything but think of my plight. Now I am rid of it once and for all. I have not experienced it to the same degree since that night. It has tried to come up again at times but I now have a tool for dealing with depression and loneliness. I specifically ask Jesus to drive the demons away who are forcing it on me. So even depression and loneliness can be from Satan. This was quite a revelation to me. Judging from the response of these prayers I know that Christ clearly does not want me to feel this way.
I also know that God wants me to be more specific with my requests. When Satan attacks me Jesus not only wants me to recognize that fact but also He wants me to go to Him in prayer, asking for the specific help that I need.
Another experience I had resulted from my habit of watching TV. I had watched a horror film that actually dealt with satanic possession. Starting from that night I had a hard time falling asleep. This was not for a night or two. This was for months and it wasn't going away. At night I was in stark terror of the things that were portrayed in that film. It was brought to my mind with such a vividness that I was scared to death. I could imagine that something was about to get me. It was very real.
Finally, when I started to learn more of the great war between Christ and Satan, I was able to ask for specific help. I asked that God forgive me for watching that movie. I also chose not to watch those things again. Then I asked that God force the evil angels, that were scaring me to death, to leave and never come back. Again I felt the intense feelings leave. I felt my whole body relax. The change was so dramatic and the relief was so complete that I cannot for a moment say that the devils were not forced away from my presence. I sat there in bed a long time, slowly realizing the love God has for me. He is ever willing to help us. I also thought of the speed at which God came to my aid. God is eager to help us, and He is acquainted with our desperate need for help as well!
Experiences like this should teach all of us something. Satan is truly a defeated foe! We need to know these things so we can ask God to force them away. Sometimes I pray to God out loud asking Him to get rid of the evil angels. I do this so the enemy can not argue that I didn't ask for the specific help that I was getting.
This is not a game. We cannot just mumble a few words to Satan to be gone from us and be done with it because he can come right back. In addition, God's angels have the added ability of knowing what we are thinking. Nothing can be hidden from them.
If we truly love Jesus and plead for His blessings, then He will truly give them to us. The more we think of Him and ask of Him, and if it comes from our new character, then He will surely answer our petitions, thus enabling us to be ever closer to Him and to reflect His image.
How do we win the battles that come our way? Once we ask Jesus to take over in our lives, what do we do then? Is there more to overcoming than knowing where our strength lies and asking for His help?
We already know that asking Christ for help enables Him to change our characters. This makes us stronger to fight the battles we find ourselves in. But remember the grace of God does not take the place of effort. The example of Daniel and his three friends should remind us of that fact. If this point is true, then our effort is extremely important.
Our effort must be done intelligently. My experience has shown me that we need to have a game plan in this battle. We also need to be intelligent in the methods of the enemy. If we know what is happening to us then we can be more intelligent in our petitions to God.
We need to begin the day with God. We need to devote time with Him each morning. It is extremely important that we put Jesus first in our lives. We must not think about other things during this time. Satan, who is well able to put things into our minds during this special time, needs to be controlled. If necessary, we need to ask that Jesus take Satan's influence away so that we can think. It is often Satan's purpose that he keep our thoughts crowded and away from our Saviour. You will be surprised how much more clearly you will be able to think after that prayer. You will also find that your ability to spend that time with Jesus will increase greatly.
I have at times found myself pacing the floor when my time for God arrives. I know I need to talk to Jesus and spend time with Him but I don't seem to be able to settle down. Eventually, I decide to kneel and ask for deliverance from this resistance. In my prayer I ask that He take these evil influences away from me so I can worship Him. It is after I pray this prayer, that I can begin to spend that quiet time with my Lord. Before that prayer I can hardly stay still. I am uneasy and restless, completely unable to study. But after I ask for help, I become relaxed and calmed down. Jesus literally sets me free from the influence of the Devil and his host.
Things don't always happens this way. Sometimes I'm tested for my faith. Sometimes I have to struggle to begin my time with God. However, most of the time I do find special and immediate help that enables me to commune with my Saviour.
We need help from the Lord in every aspect of our lives because Satan can attack us in many different ways. So when you get up, ask God not only to be with you that day but also ask Him to alert you how and when the Devil is tempting you. This is important. We need the Holy Spirit not only to convict us of sin but also to help us know what is happening to increase our awareness of the lies that Satan whispers to us. We also need His strength to resist these temptations when the Devil does attack, so that Satan can be forced to flee.
Often when we think we are safe, Satan chooses to attack. Right in the middle of a Bible study or prayer Satan chooses to act. He whispers thoughts to us in first person as if they were our very own and we take all the guilt. We think we are thinking these guilty thoughts.
Satan saw us on our knees. Do you think he wants us to talk to God? Does he mind? That is the very time He will especially choose to attack. He wants to break our relationship with God so He can control us more fully. He doesn't want us to have any special connection with Jesus.
Often the thoughts that he gives us are down right dirty, and we think we originated the thought. That is not always true! Satan is able to flood our minds with all kinds of suggestions. These thoughts can be of the most obscene nature. What kinds of things does he say to us?
He usually fills our minds with things we have a weakness for. Because of this he is especially fond of presenting sexual situations in our thoughts. He might also gossip or judge other people hoping we will take up the argument and expand on the subject. Thus we take part in the sin that Satan suggests to us. These thoughts can arrive suddenly and rapidly.
There are many kinds of suggestions Satan can give us. He can tempt us to sin. He can discourage us by telling us our sins that we have already committed. He can also cause us to think we are already sinning by the thoughts he inserts into our mind. He can also play with our feelings. Since we don't know Satan is giving us these thoughts, we think it is ourselves.
Various people respond to this onslaught in different ways: "If I can't even get my act together when I am reading the Bible and praying then it's no use. I'll never be saved." Another response might be: "I need to do better the next time. I need to work harder, God expects me to do the best I can if I'm to gain the victory."
Either way Satan has won. We are now concentrating our efforts on something we cannot control ourselves. Another being with a stronger will than our own is forcing these ideas upon us. There is absolutely no way we can control these thoughts.
Another problem is our understanding of the will. We think we are to use our will power in this battle against Satan. This is not the case. We will lose the battle every time because Satan has a much stronger will than our own. We need a right use of the will in this war. If we give our will to Jesus, then, He will give us the power to overcome. Remember it is our privilege to have Christ's divine nature and be changed. We need to learn how to use this will and follow His voice. Notice what Mrs. White says will happen when you give God your will.
"You cannot control your impulses, your emotions, as you may desire, but you can control the will, and you can make an entire change in your life. By yielding up your will to Christ, your life will be hid with Christ in God, and allied to the power which is above all principalities and powers. You will have strength from God that will hold you fast to His strength; and a new light, even the light of living faith, will be possible to you. But your will must co-operate with God's will, not with the will of associates through whom Satan is constantly working to ensnare and destroy you.
"Will you not without delay place yourself in right relation to God? Will you not say, 'I will give my will to Jesus, and I will do it now,' and from this moment be wholly on the Lord's side? Disregard custom and the strong clamoring of appetite and passion. Give Satan no chance to say: 'You are a wretched hypocrite.' Close the door so that Satan will not thus accuse and dishearten you. Say, 'I will believe, I do believe that God is my helper,' and you will find that you are triumphant in God. By steadfastly keeping the will on the Lord's side, every emotion will be brought into captivity to the will of Jesus. You will then find your feet on solid rock. It will take, at times, every particle of will power which you possess; but it is God that is working for you, and you will come forth from the molding process a vessel unto honor." Messages to Young People, p. 152; and 5 Testimonies, p. 514.
Here is another very different description of the right use of the will which complements the previous statements. "All who are striving for the crown of everlasting life will be tempted as was their Master before them. He was proffered the kingdoms of the world if He would pay homage to Satan. Had Christ yielded to this temptation, the world would have passed forever under the sway of the wicked one. But, thank God, His divinity shone through humanity. He did that which every human being may do in the name and strength of Jesus. He said, 'Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve' (Matthew 4:10). If this is the way you meet temptation, Satan will leave you, as he left Christ, and angels will minister unto you, as they ministered unto Him." 2 Selected Messages, p. 137.
Do you hear that? In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, we can tell our tempter to leave us alone. I have already done this in my own struggles and it works. God is ever waiting to help us. Satan is forced to leave our presence. This is what is meant in the verse: "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." James 4:7. We actually resist Satan with God's power in us.
I feel a need to be as practical as possible in this discussion. We need to look at these things with the clearest understanding that we can obtain. After all, this is a battle for our lives!
We need to learn to use our will in a right way. We need to use our will in connection with Christ's leading, remember we gave our will to Jesus. He now has given our will back to us so that we may exercise it under His direction, help, and with our new character that He has given us.
Yes, we need a right use of the will. We need to follow Jesus and seek him. We need to use our will in choosing to seek Christ. Then we need to listen to his voice as Jesus commanded us: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." John 10:27.
Jesus is not the only one speaking to us, here is an example of Satan tempting David: "And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel." 1 Chronicles 21:1.
We need to pray for discernment that we can determine who it is that is talking to us. When we recognize who it is that is talking to us, then our lives will be changed.
When a wicked thought comes to us, we need to analyze where it came from. If we see that our thought is evil, that in itself is enough for us to realize where it came from. We then need to acknowledge that it doesn't come from Jesus. Our new character and the way we want to be, both come from Jesus. The character of Jesus is our goal in life. He is the one who has come to save us utterly from our sins. We both need and want to become more like Him. So we can say, "I gave my life to Jesus. I don't want to have those kinds of thoughts at all. There is only one other source the thought could have come from, and I don't want to have any thing to do with him." We know that Satan's only ambition is to destroy us. We can then ask Jesus to take Satan's temptations away and give us the victory.
Think about this: What happens when we confess our sins and give them to Jesus? What does He do with them? Let's look to Psalms for the answer. "He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us." Psalm 103:10-12.
Do we believe Him when he says he gets rid of our sins? Do we have the confidence in Jesus to know that He has taken our sins away from us, even when our feelings tell us otherwise? We need to pray for this faith!
Once, we have confessed our sins to our Father in heaven, Satan then uses this to his advantage. He sees this as his special opportunity to tempt us. He comes in secret and starts whispering in our ears the very things that we thought we had just gotten rid of. He is actually pointing to the same sins that Jesus had buried in the deep blue sea.
At this point, if we don't have the faith to believe that God will do as He said He would do, then we lose the effect of what He just did. Jesus has to give our sins right back to us because we did not believe Him. Look what Christ said: "And behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. And Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the paralytic, 'Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you'... But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, 'Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.' And the woman was made well from that hour... Then He touched their eyes, saying, 'According to your faith let it be to you.'" Matthew 9:2,22,29.
What do we do now? We already lost the first battle and Satan comes in with his double punch. We start thinking, or is it Satan speaking in us? "Oh, no! I thought I got rid of those things! I still feel guilty. Maybe if I plead to Jesus some more, He will take them away for good."
So we go to our Lord and Saviour again for the same thing we asked of Him before, and He does what we ask of Him.
Satan comes back again with the same sins over and over until we really start to lose faith in God. We may eventually feel that others can be victorious over their sins but we know that it is impossible for us. We know by experience that we lose every time.
Satan has now effectively separated us from our only source of help. We no longer feel that God can help us, or maybe we think that our faith just isn't strong enough. We just sit there not even trying any more. Why try? Jesus just doesn't hear me, or maybe he doesn't care about me. At times we can see that God works for others but we somehow think that our case is different. We must not be worth it! God just doesn't care for us.
We need to realize that the Devil can play with our feelings and emotions. He speaks to us in what we think are our private thoughts, and he destroys our faith in Christ. Our problem is that we listen to these things. We listen to our emotions which are also affected by Satan, instead of following the Scriptures. Hold fast to the Scriptures because they are our life line. Satan in these last days is going to try to do away with our faith all together in God's Word and in Christ Himself. We need to have the faith that will stand against our feelings and emotions as well as the evidences around us. Satan will have control of all of these things except our faith and trust in God. We must not allow Satan to take control of our faith as well! Do not let Satan do this thing. Instead cling to our Saviour who is willing and able to save us from these dangers.
Do not focus on feelings, because Satan is feeding us a line quite literally. Satan just wants to destroy us and we let him do it to us.
Let's look at what is happening behind the scenes. When we ask for forgiveness, Christ takes our sins away and then forgets them. The Devil, however stops Him saying, "Wait a minute. That person does not believe You will take those sins away." At that point the Lord has to test us. Just as Abraham, Job, and others were tested in the past, we will be tested today. Jesus has to wait to see if we take Him at his word. Satan starts tempting us and we fall for it, line, hook, and sinker. Satan again comes back to us and we pray again, "I'm sorry I've sinned."
Satan was right. We didn't believe God's word. At this point Christ has to give us back our sins. We didn't accept His excellent mercy. As we have read in the New Testament over and over again, only those who had faith were victors.
We must make sure that this doesn't happen in our lives. First we must realize the methods of the enemy. If we know how he works, then we won't be fooled as easily. Second, we must have absolute faith in Jesus and His word. Ask that God give you the faith you need so you can act out your faith.
The following series of statements show how this battle might be fought. This is a second look at practical warfare.
1. We need to begin each day with Christ, asking for wisdom and strength to fight the foe.
2. We need to confess our sins to Jesus Christ who will get rid of them and then forget them.
3. When we recognize that Satan is tempting us, we need to use our will by running to Jesus. Ask Jesus to break the hold that Satan has over us. Do not focus on feeling or emotions. These thoughts and feelings will eventually go away. Remember the verse "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9.
4. Remember, our old response to the temptation is still around. We must be ever watchful. Remember the Promise "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." James 4:7.
5. Remember when Satan comes and reminds us of our sins we can say, "Satan in the name of Jesus you talk to Jesus about this, I gave it to Him". Then call on Jesus for help in keeping Satan and his agencies away from you.
When Satan inserts wicked thoughts into our thinking or reminds us of our sins, we can then recognize that it is Satan who is doing this. Rebuke the Devil by saying, "Satan in the name of Jesus you talk to Jesus about this, I gave it to Him." Then call on Jesus for help. He will not allow any attack that is beyond our ability to bear.
6. Now we have the free choice of will to decide which way to go. It may be a stiff battle for a while but as long as we keep our mind on Christ we are safe.
7. When we start calling on Jesus and telling the Devil to take the feelings and go, we can also use the sword of the Lord (the Scriptures). Start memorizing scripture.
8. Satan is forced to leave. He has no more hold on us. Not only have we confessed our sins, we no longer want to sin. He has no control over us.
9. We have been given the victory in Christ. We are no longer forced to commit that particular sin. We can now strive to follow God with the new character that God has given us.
We must remember however that Satan is allowed to test us throughout our lives. Because of this we must never let down our guard.
I feel a special need to express our spiritual warfare in yet another way, making plainer the willingness that our Saviour has to help us. He is as close to us as a whisper any time we need Him.
Keep in mind the real battle that is occurring around us. Also, keep in mind the practical points that have already been mentioned.
We need to realize that we have an Ally who eagerly wants to help us with our problems. Let's start by praising the name of Jesus. Remember, He is making our salvation possible. We need the encouragement of remembering what God is and what He does for us. The Bible stories are a wonderful source for this encouragement. As we read these accounts we can stop and especially think of how God has worked for His people in the past
The best part of this study is to realize that you are now one of His people. You are the apple of His eye. The things you read in the Bible are things that God may also do for you. So please think about the love and the greatness that God expresses in these stories and realize that God is closer to you than you have ever realized before.
Now start talking to Jesus about the predicament you find yourself in. Tell Him everything. Tell Him you see His love for you but you can't seem to respond. God is ever hoping you will talk about these things because it means He can start helping you.
An important step is the forgiveness of sins. Ask that He forgive your sins. It is important that we mention the specific sins we commit. Ask God to remind you of your sins that need to be forgiven. We need to be fully sure that our sins will not separate us from our God. Remember He is quick to forgive us of our sins. We need only ask.
Then start asking for help. It is important that we do this so we can receive additional help. Ask Him for the presence of mind and desire to have daily worship and devotions with Him. If need be, you can ask God to hold back the power of Satan so you can do these things. We need to be filled with God's Spirit, but Satan does not want this to happen. So it is important that we ask God to take over the battle. We are choosing Him and by asking Him to take over our lives, He now has the right to work in our behalf. Remember, it is our privilege.
We can also ask God for wisdom so that we can actually know when Satan is tempting us. We also need to ask that He burn it into our minds to ask for help when the attack comes. If we are to win the battle at all, we need to pray immediately to God for help when Satan strikes.
If we just say no to the sin, we in reality have taken the battle into our own hands. We are actually arguing with Satan or his evil angels. If we choose this route, we will find that the evil forces are both stronger and smarter than ourselves. We may win at first; however, we will find them to be more persevering than we are. They will eventually get stronger and stronger until we give in. They are more experienced than we and they will never give up. Remember they have been doing this to people, generation after generation, for nearly 6000 years. We will always fail if we choose this way.
We know that we have already talked to God about our sins, we have asked for His forgiveness and we have asked for help. We also know that He has promised to help us in this battle and that it is our privilege to live without sin. So ask Him to deal with Satan.
Say, "Father, Satan is attacking me again. You know I want to follow You, I love You, help me to love You more. I choose You as my Lord and Saviour. Please take this evil thing away from me. Drive Satan's host away so that they cannot affect me in any way. Father, please fill the vacuum with Your presence, surround me with Your heavenly influence. I want You and the heavenly angels as my companions. Father, give me Your Holy Spirit. Please guide me and protect me."
When I ask for help in the heat of the battle like this, I have actually felt the urges go away in seconds. I have felt my so-called desire change. At that time I find that it is easier to do what is right because God is there. I now actually want to do what is right so it is easier to say no to sin and yes to Jesus, but before, it was a nightmare. If we keep Christ ever before us, it becomes a joy to do what is right.
I also find I can think more clearly once God fills me with His presence. I find I can once again realize the love that God has for me. Before, while I am being tempted, my mind seems to be very fuzzy. All I can think is: "Wouldn't it be nice to do this thing?" It is an overriding urge that Satan gives us.
This is why I feel it so important that we ask for help in recognizing the attack and for help in allowing us to cry to God when we cannot quite think straight. We need to plead with the one who is merciful that He will help us in these battles.
As time continues, we might find that our minds will become less fuzzy when we are tempted. This means Satan has less effect on our lives. We will be more sure in our choice in choosing Jesus. However, we will never come to the place where we are stronger than Satan's forces. We need always to allow God to fight the battle for us. After all, it is Jesus who died that we would have a chance in this war. Without Christ, we are sitting ducks. But with Christ there is nothing to fear.
Remember to take Jesus everywhere you go. It is important that you invite Him every day. Keep up a running conversation with Him. Remember, He is your constant companion.
Also specifically ask for protection as you go throughout the day. Start at the beginning of the day. But when going out to the car to go somewhere, or when you are tackling some new job, please stop and talk to Jesus. Ask for help and protection. Ask for His presence so that He can be changing you throughout the day. Tell Him how much you enjoy His loving company.
We need to realize fully the power of prayer in the battle. If we understand the realities of the battle that takes place around us, we will be more inclined to cry to Jesus for help when we are attacked. The continued prayer, as described in the Practical Warfare Made Simple chapter, is necessary and we need to understand why. Please read and understand the following description of Satan losing the battle because of prayer.
"I saw evil angels contending for souls, and angels of God resisting them. The conflict was severe. Evil angels were crowding about them, corrupting the atmosphere with their poisonous influence, and stupefying their sensibilities. Holy angels were anxiously watching these souls, and were waiting to drive back Satan's host. But it is not the work of good angels to control minds against the will of the individuals. If they yield to the enemy, and make no effort to resist him, then the angels of God can do but little more than hold in check the host of Satan, that they should not destroy, until further light be given to those in peril, to move them to arouse and look to heaven for help. Jesus will not commission holy angels to extricate those who make no effort to help themselves.
"If Satan sees he is in danger of losing one soul, he will exert himself to the utmost to keep that one. And when the individual is aroused to his danger, and, with distress and fervor, looks to Jesus for strength, Satan fears he shall lose a captive, and he calls a re-enforcement of his angels to hedge in the poor soul, and form a wall of darkness around him, that heaven's light may not reach him. But if the one in danger perseveres, and in helplessness and weakness casts himself upon the merits of the blood of Christ, Jesus listens to the earnest prayer of faith, and sends a re-enforcement of those angels which excel in strength to deliver them. Satan cannot endure to have his powerful rival appealed to, for he fears and trembles before his strength and majesty. At the sound of fervent prayer, Satan's whole host trembles. He continues to call legions of his evil angels to accomplish his object. And when angels, all-powerful, clothed with the armory of heaven, come to the help of the fainting, pursued soul, Satan and his host fall back, well knowing that their battle is lost." The Review and Herald, May 13, 1862.
The reality of the help that we have is only too well known by Satan. Mrs. White says it quite simply: "In the whole satanic force, there is not power to overcome one soul who in simple trust casts himself on Christ. Christ Object Lessons, p. 157.
The reality of this is all through the Bible. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." I John 1:9.
"Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the Lord thy God." Jeremiah 3:13.
"Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you." Ezekiel 36:25.
One other warning is in order. There might be times, because of the controversy around us, that we might be tested as Job was tested. This testing process will show who it is that we are following.
Remember, we will never be asked to endure things we are unable to bear. God will give us energy to persevere, but we must ask for it. Ask for sufficient light and help in these times.
In Ephesians 6:11, we see that we are to put on the whole armor of God. Read Mrs. White's description of this action. "We must have on the whole armor of God and be ready at any moment for a conflict with the powers of darkness. When temptations and trials rush in upon us, let us go to God and agonize with Him in prayer. He will not turn us away empty, but will give us grace and strength to overcome, and to break the power of the enemy. Oh, that all could see these things in their true light and endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus! Then would Israel move forward, strong in God, and in the power of His might." Early Writings, p. 46.
Satan's forces are sneaky, they strike suddenly, repeatedly, often tempting us with something that we had to struggle with in the past. But in the past we had gained the victory. However, this time when they approach, they come to us in a way that we were not expecting.
Each one of us is approached in a different way. To me Satan's angel says that this sin is nothing special, nothing to get over excited about. They don't even call it a sin. You see, before they were hitting me with everything they had. It was a big temptation originally, something that I had struggled over long and hard, but now they make it seem such a little thing. As a result the danger and the urgency that I felt before are totally lacking now. In their trickery, I am led to feel that there is little if any consequence for my actions in this act.
Do not be tricked by them. They are trying to connive you back into your previous hopeless state. Do not do it.
Ask God for special help in these sneak attacks so that we will realize what is happening. Everyone of us is different, Satan will use different strategies with each one of us. However, we can ask for insight and help from God that we can recognize the foe and run to God.
Also remember that if we truly make Christ our constant companion, we will have help when these surprise attacks come. We have a wonderful Saviour, One who truly deserves honor and praise. Because it is He who has provided a way for escape from death and destruction to live victoriously in heaven with Him.
Above all remember, if we make mistakes, not all is lost! He is willing and able to pick up the pieces if we only ask Him all over again. God will not give us up as long as we are struggling. He does not bear grudges. He is not that way. His heart truly breaks when we fail and He is more than anxious that we return to Him.
By this time you will have met with defeat. Yes, the battle is fierce! But if you have taken to heart what was said in the earlier portions of this book, then you have by now seen Satan fall back when you ask God for reinforcements of angels. It is true, Satan is a defeated foe. We know that when we have a crushing desire for satanic pleasure that we can ask God to take it away from us. When we do this, we know that even the desire goes away. We are no longer faced with the passion that we know we can't handle.
However, there is still something wrong. Things are still not as they should be! Yes, we can order Satan and his evil angels away. But they can come right back. Yes, we can ask God for specific help. But sometimes we find we want to do those things so badly that we just don't ask God for help at all.
You see, Satan is controlling us so strongly that he has affected our own thinking. Our wishes and desires are being dominated by him. Often when Satan attacks us we just can't think straight. Our thoughts and feelings are actually centered on the sin that Satan wants us to commit. This is how directly he is able to affect our minds. Some how we must be able to run to God, even when our mind is in a fog.
The same help that God is willing to give us was also given to those who lived before us. We need to study what it is that has enabled these people to be victorious. A prime example for us to study is Joseph. Joseph was able to face a level of temptation that would crush most of us, yet he won his battles not occasionally but continually, year after year without falling. How did he do that? Let's investigate and see if we can learn his secret.
In Genesis we read: "Now it came to pass after these things that his master's wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, 'Lie with me.' But he refused and said to his master's wife, 'Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?'
"And so it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her. But it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside, that she caught him by his garment, saying, 'Lie with me.' But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside." Genesis 39:7-12.
The statement that sticks out is this: "How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" Joseph's first thought against the temptation was centered on God. We need to be like this as well! So let's ask the question: How did he get like that?
The big change in his life came when he was sold as a slave. Mrs. White has written a good commentary of Joseph's life, let's look at her description of the decisions Joseph made: "Joseph believed that the God of his fathers would be his God. He then and there gave himself fully to the Lord, and he prayed that the Keeper of Israel would be with him in the land of his exile.
"His soul thrilled with the high resolve to prove himself true to God-under all circumstances to act as became a subject of the King of heaven. He would serve the Lord with undivided heart; he would meet the trials of his lot with fortitude and perform every duty with fidelity." Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 214.
Notice his resolve. He was determined to not sin against God. Being true to God is important. In fact, his decision allowed God to work more fully in his life. We can see this in the story. However, many of us start with similar resolutions but we fail miserably. How did he follow his convictions year after year?
Let's read on: "Arriving in Egypt, Joseph was sold to Potiphar, captain of the king's guard, in whose service he remained for ten years. He was here exposed to temptations of no ordinary character. He was in the midst of idolatry. The worship of false gods was surrounded by all the pomp of royalty, supported by the wealth and culture of the most highly civilized nation then in existence. Yet Joseph preserved his simplicity and his fidelity to God. The sights and sounds of vice were all about him, but he was as one who saw and heard not. His thoughts were not permitted to linger upon forbidden subjects. The desire to gain the favor of the Egyptians could not cause him to conceal his principles. Had he attempted to do this, he would have been overcome by temptation; but he was not ashamed of the religion of his fathers, and he made no effort to hide the fact that he was a worshiper of Jehovah." Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 214.
Did you see that? It is apparent from Genesis that Joseph did not permit his thoughts to linger on forbidden subjects. As soon as Satan would give him an evil idea, Joseph would throw out the thought! This is easy to see from the Bible, from Joseph's own words: "How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" He was, in reality, rejecting Satan's suggestions.
Joseph simply did not permit himself to argue with Satan. Instead, his mind immediately went to the things of God and His honor. We must do the same! If we don't follow this example and toy with evil thoughts we are actually listening to Satan. When we fantasize we are actually weighing whether the pleasure is worth it. If Satan has any influence at all, he will make sure that we will actually envision the pleasure in our minds and choose to do it. This is why we fail when we consider these sins in our thoughts. Some even try to argue with Satan while they fantasize these thoughts. It will never work. Satan can change our wishes and desires while we are in the very process of arguing with him.
We need to ask ourselves how we can be like Joseph. We need to find out what Joseph's secret was. How was Joseph able to keep his head clear from temptation? How was he able to continually throw out the evil thoughts he had?
The answer to this question is very important. We must choose not to fight against Satan by arguing with him. This is what we are trying to avoid. Instead we need to acquire a special sense of God's presence in our lives. We need to think of God and His help.
In her description of Joseph Mrs. White comments on the presence of God: "As a shield from temptation and an inspiration to purity and truth, no other influence can equal the sense of God's presence. 'All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.' He is 'of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity.' Hebrews 4:13; Habakkuk 1:13. This thought was Joseph's shield amidst the corruptions of Egypt." Education, p. 255.
This shield was Joseph's secret. Joseph was able to be victorious day after day, year after year because he felt and realized that God's presence was with him. We need to acquire this same sense of God's presence in our lives as well. We need to realize that we are always in the presence of God.
Mrs. White also realized the importance of realizing the presence of God: "We are abiding in Christ by a living faith. He is abiding in our hearts by our individual appropriating of faith. We have the companionship of the divine presence, and as we realize this presence our thoughts are brought into captivity to Jesus Christ. Our spiritual exercises are in accordance with the vividness of our sense of this companionship. . . and Christ is dwelling in our hearts by faith when we will consider what He is to us, and what a work He has wrought out for us in the plan of redemption. We shall be most happy in cultivating a sense of this great gift of God to our world and to us personally." Messages to Young People, p. 159.
This is important! The vividness of our sense of God's presence determines how victorious we will be. The more we are aware of His presence, the more our spiritual life will prevail. We need to cultivate the knowledge of His presence, but how?
Bible study and prayer are the primary source of strength that we as Christians have to battle the enemy. This is what connects us with our Saviour. It is through Bible study and prayer that we can gain the knowledge of His presence that we so dearly need. By training our thoughts on God, we become like Him. His thoughts become our thoughts.
Satan, of course, has his own imitations. He has filled our world with his vile thoughts to the point that he has a wide variety for us to choose from. It is by beholding his wares that we become like Satan. In addition, if we choose to get deeper into satanic knowledge we would actually begin to sense the satanic beings around us and we would become more like them. The evil angels would indeed show themselves to us.
Unhappily many have found this to be true. People who talk to the dead, people who study into UFO's, witchcraft, channeling, out of body experiences, etc. eventually are led to accept their presence near them. Many find they are hopelessly trapped when evil angels start forcing their will on their consciousness; however, with God their situations are not hopeless! There are amazing stories of deliverance describing trapped people who literally cried to God for help and they were set free!
We must choose to fill our mind with the things of God instead of Satan if we are ever to develop the sense of God's presence and become like Him.
Mrs. White spoke on this very issue. In addition she also answers our question concerning Joseph: "How was Joseph enabled to make such a record of firmness of character, uprightness, and wisdom? . . . Communion with God through His works and the contemplation of the grand truths entrusted to the inheritors of faith had elevated and ennobled his spiritual nature, broadening and strengthening the mind as no other study could do. Faithful attention to duty in every station, from the lowliest to the most exalted, had been training every power for its highest service. He who lives in accordance with the Creator's will is securing to himself the truest and noblest development of character. 'The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.' Job 28:28." Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 222.
We can see that it was through prayer and the studying of God's works that Joseph gained the special sense of God's presence. We need to do the same thing. We need to spend time with our Lord and Saviour. We need to search the Bible for the great themes that run from one end to the other.
God's presence can be especially close to us when we hunt for and use the promises of God. When we see His promises, our hearts can soar to new heights. The more we read of His promises the more of His love we can see. We will also understand to a greater level of understanding the provisions He has made for us in winning the battle.
Let's just look at one verse that speaks of our hope for a better land: "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." John 14:1-3.
What does this verse do for you? I see that God is making a special effort to help us realize that we never need to be alone. He tells us that He has a place for us in His home for eternity and He will soon take us there. We know we don't deserve the attention that God gives us but He does it anyway. He apparently loves us and needs us.
When I read His promises I am overwhelmed by the love and the desire that Jesus has in taking us home with Him. When I read these promises I am stirred to the very depths of my being, and I know I want to be with Him. There have been times when I was able to open the Bible and see promise after promise right in front of me in His book.
If you ask for guidance and then search for these things you will not only find promises but you will also discover God working within yourself. He will communicate His love for you as you find the texts that He wants you to see.
I have a list of scriptural promises on the next page that you might look at. Please look them up and see if they can be a source of strength for you. But don't stop with these; this should be just the beginning. Start searching the Bible for promises that are special to you, promises that you can hang on to.
|Hebrews 12:10-1||2 Peter 1:4-7|
|(read Hebrews 12:1-15)||Ephesians 6:13-18|
|1 Thessalonians 5:23-24||Matthew 4:4|
|Psalms 51:10-13||Isaiah 55:10-12|
|2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1||James 1:21|
|1 John 1:9||1 Thessalonians 2:13|
|Ephesians 3:20 (read||Job 22:24-30|
|the whole chapter or||Hebrews 13:5-6|
|even the whole book)||Isaiah 49:24-26|
|Luke 12:29-31||Isaiah 54:17|
|1 John 5:14-15||Matthew 18:18-20|
|Matthew 7:7-11||James 5:16|
|John 15:7||Phillippians 2:13|
The following two Bible quotes, one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament, are my favorite promises:
"Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it." 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24. Look at the last phrase of the text, this is indeed a promise of the highest value, "He will do it".
"For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands." Isaiah 55:10-12.
God's peace and joy will not return to Him void. There is nothing that Satan can do to us if we stay in the protection of the Lord! It is because of this promise of a better land that results in the fruit of this promise in Isaiah.
God has given us these special promises so we can understand more fully His love for us. Remember, these promises were made by the Lord of the Universe, the Creator of all things. If ever there was something that we can trust, it is His promises.
When we present these promises to God, He will definitely respond. He actually loves it when we confront Him in this way. He so dearly wants to help us that His heart aches for us, but He cannot help us fully unless we first ask for His help. The more specific we are in our asking for help, the more He can help us outright. Remember, God loves us more than we can know!
As you read and study these promises, think what God is saying to you. Start memorizing them so you can use them anytime. If you can't remember them, if you have trouble memorizing things, then read them to God. Remember He understands everything about you.
When we spend time with these promises, we will not only have a greater trust in our Saviour but we will also gain a greater sense of His presence because we are thinking about Him and realizing His love for us.
Prayer is the key to communion with God. It is through prayer that we may find release from the wiles of the Devil. Prayer redirects our thoughts to Christ and it gives us fresh insights into His nature, thus enabling us to become more like Him. See how Mrs. White describes the need for prayer. "I wish I could impress upon every worker in God's cause the great need of continual, earnest prayer. They cannot be constantly upon their knees, but they can be uplifting their hearts to God. This is the way that Enoch walked with God." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 8, p. 439.
We need to develop set times for God throughout the day. Mrs. White has spoken on this need countless number of times. "Have a set time, a special season for prayer at least three times a day. Morning, noon, and at night Daniel prayed to his God, notwithstanding the king's decree, and the fearful den of lions. He was not ashamed, or afraid to pray, but with his windows opened he prayed three times a day. Did God forget his faithful servant when he was cast into the lion's den? Oh, no. He was with him there all night. He closed the mouths of these hungry lions, and they could not hurt the praying man of God.
"Children, you cannot live without food; you would soon feel the cravings of hunger, and your bodies would pine and die. You need spiritual food just as much, and often, as your body needs temporal food. Three times a day is none too often to draw strength from heaven, or sap and nourishment from Christ, the living vine. Read the words of our Saviour in Matthew 5;6. 'Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.'" Youth's Instructor, Vol. 3, No. 10 p. 81, Oct 1855. (The youth's Instructor Articles, p. 23.)
Personal prayer and time with our Father changes us. God gives us the new man that He has promised to give us. Mrs. White has written much about prayer and its necessity: "Cleanse the fountain, and the streams will be pure. If the heart is right, your words, your dress, your acts, will all be right. True Godliness is lacking. I would not dishonor my Master so much as to admit that a careless, trifling, prayerless person is a Christian. No; a Christian has victory over his besetments, over his passions. There is a remedy for the sin-sick soul. That remedy is in Jesus. Precious Saviour! His grace is sufficient for the weakest; and the strongest must also have His grace or perish.
"I saw how this grace could be obtained. Go to your closet, and there alone plead with God: 'Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.' Psalms 51:10. Be in earnest, be sincere. Fervent prayer availeth much. Jacoblike, wrestle in prayer. Agonize. Jesus, in the garden, sweat great drops of blood; you must make an effort. Do not leave your closet until you feel strong in God; then watch, and just as long as you watch and pray you can keep these evil besetments under, and the grace of God can and will appear in you.
"God forbid that I should cease to warn you. Young friends, seek the Lord with all your heart. Come with zeal, and when you sincerely feel that without the help of God you perish, when you pant after Him as the hart panteth after the water brooks, then will the Lord strengthen you speedily. Then will your peace pass all understanding. If you expect salvation, you must pray. Take time. Be not hurried and careless in your prayers. Beg of God to work in you a thorough reformation, that the fruits of His Spirit may dwell in you, and you shine as lights in the world. Be not a hindrance or curse to the cause of God; you can be a help, a blessing. Does Satan tell you that you cannot enjoy salvation, full and free? Believe him not.
"I saw that it is the privilege of every Christian to enjoy the deep movings of the Spirit of God. A sweet, heavenly peace will pervade the mind, and you will love to meditate upon God and heaven. You will feast upon the glorious promises of His word. But know first that you have begun the Christian course. Know that the first steps are taken in the road to everlasting life. Be not deceived. I fear, yea, I know, that many of you know not what religion is. You have felt some excitement, some emotion, but have never seen sin in its enormity. You have never felt your undone condition and turned from your evil ways with bitter sorrow. You have never died to the world. You still love its pleasures; You love to engage in conversation on worldly matters. But when the truth of God is introduced, you have nothing to say. Why so silent? Why so talkative upon worldly things, and so silent upon the subject that should most concern you-a subject that should engage your whole soul? The truth of God does not dwell in you.
"If professed Christians love Jesus better than the world, they will love to speak of Him, their best Friend, in whom their highest affections are centered. He came to their aid when they felt their lost and perishing condition. When weary and heavy-laden with sin, they turned unto Him. He removed their burden of guilt and sin, took away their sorrow and mourning, and turned the whole current of their affections. The things they once loved, they now hate; and the things they hated, they now love.
"Has this great change taken place in you? Be not deceived. I would never name the name of Christ, or I would give Him my whole heart, my undivided affections. We should feel the deepest gratitude that Jesus will accept this offering. He demands all. When we are brought to yield to His claims, and give up all, then, and not till then, will He throw around us His arms of mercy. But what do we give when we give all? A sin-polluted soul for Jesus to purify, to cleanse by His mercy, and to save from death by His match-less love.
"Those who feel the constraining love of God do not ask how little may be given in order to obtain the heavenly reward; they ask not for the lowest standard, but aim at a perfect conformity to the will of their Redeemer. With ardent desire they yield all, and manifest zeal proportionate to the value of the object of which they are in pursuit. What is the object? Immortality, eternal life." Testimony for the Church, Vol. 1 pp. 158-160.
In addition to developing our own sense of God's presence in our spiritual lives, we should also be concerned with our families spiritual awareness as well. It must be our goal to have all the family depend on God for their lives.
If we are to lead out in family devotions, we need to have personal devotions. Otherwise the time that the family will get together will have little meaning. Remember, there is a war on, we cannot depend upon form. Our faith must be from the heart. We need to ensure that the family is being trained in the Lord, that they will enjoy thinking and talking about Him. The family needs to have as their biggest hope and desire, to see Jesus come in the clouds of glory.
How can this happen if we enjoy watching TV and movies? Our interests cannot be divided. Instead we need to take a position of not allowing Satan's corruptions to prevail in the home. Mrs. White sees this issue as a very urgent one. "If ever there was a time when every house should be a house of prayer, it is now. Infidelity and skepticism prevail. Iniquity abounds. Corruption flows in the vital currents of the soul, and rebellion against God breaks out in the life. Enslaved by sin, the moral powers are under the tyranny of Satan. The soul is made the sport of his temptations; and unless some mighty arm is stretched out to rescue him, man goes where the arch-rebel leads the way.
"And yet, in this time of fearful peril, some who profess to be Christians have no family worship. They do not honor God in the home; they do not teach their children to love and fear Him. Many have separated themselves so far from Him that they feel under condemnation in approaching Him. They cannot 'come boldly unto the throne of grace,' 'lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.' Hebrews 4:16; 1 Timothy 2:8. They have not a living connection with God. Theirs is a form of godliness without the power.
"The idea that prayer is not essential is one of Satan's most successful devices to ruin souls. Prayer is communion with God, the Fountain of wisdom, the Source of strength, and peace, and happiness. Jesus prayed to the Father 'with strong crying and tears.' Paul exhorts believers to 'pray without ceasing,' in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, making known their requests to God. 'Pray one for another,' James says. 'The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." Hebrews 5:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; James 5:16.
"In every family there should be a fixed time for morning and evening worship. How appropriate it is for parents to gather their children about them before the fast is broken, to thank the heavenly Father for His protection during the night, and to ask Him for His help and guidance and watchcare during the day! How fitting, also, when evening comes, for parents and children to gather once more before Him and thank Him for the blessings of the day that is past!
"The father, or, in his absence, the mother, should conduct the worship, selecting a portion of Scripture that is interesting and easily understood. The service should be short. When a long chapter is read and a long prayer offered, the service is made wearisome, and at its close a sense of relief is felt. God is dishonored when the hour of worship is made dry and irksome, when it is so tedious, so lacking in interest, that the children dread it.
"Fathers and mothers, make the hour of worship intensely interesting. There is no reason why this hour should not be the most pleasant and enjoyable of the day. A little thought given to preparation for it will enable you to make it full of interest and profit. From time to time let the service be varied. Questions may be asked on the portion of Scripture read, and a few earnest, timely remarks may be made. A song of praise may be sung. The prayer offered should be short and pointed. In simple, earnest words let the one who leads in prayer praise God for His goodness and ask Him for help. As circumstances permit, let the children join in the reading and the prayer.
"Eternity alone will reveal the good with which such seasons of worship are fraught." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 7, pp. 42-44.
Family worship is a fine beginning for family spiritual health but it is only the beginning. Satan has many tricks up his sleeve to attack our families so it is necessary that we pay special attention to protecting our children.
Children are tempted as we are but often they are unable to defend themselves. Actually we are also unable to protect ourselves; the difference between us and our children lies in the fact that they are not able to reason out the great controversy to the same degree as we can. The realization that Satan is whispering to us, is missed; and thus the inexperience become an almost insurmountable problem for the youth.
Infants on the other hand are completely at the mercy of whatever takes control in their lives. Satan starts attacking every member of the human family at a very early age, long before we are even able to put into words what is bothering us.
Many children are also bothered with special fears. Bad dreams in the night can also be a problem. "Things that go bump in the night." They are often faced with problems that they cannot handle, and they might not be willing to share these things with you as well. Could it be that Satan is suggesting that you might laugh at them?
Why is it, that all of these things are going on in Christian homes? Are we not covered by our Savior's hands? Do we not have the blessed presence of His Angels? Listen to what Mrs. White says on this important topic.
"Children are the lawful prey of the enemy, because they are not subjects of grace, [they] have not experienced the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus, and the evil angels have access to these children; and some parents are careless and suffer them to work with but little restraint. Review and Herald, Sept 19, 1854.
Can you imagine this? We are leaving our young open to the seductive whisperings of the enemy! This is amazing. We know how tough our own temptations are. Can our children face the same struggle and survive? We need to somehow protect our children from temptation and harassment. We need to learn how to be warriors for our children. Mrs. White warns us with good advice: "By sincere, earnest prayer parents should make a hedge about their children. They should pray with full faith that God will abide with them and that holy angels will guard them and their children from Satan's cruel power." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 7, p. 42.
You can pray with your child. Pray together asking for God's special protection. Let the child know that he is not alone. Let him know that he will always have a friend that is a prayer away. Also let him know that he has a special guardian angel that constantly watches over him. Teach him to pray to Jesus when he is in need of help or if he feels threatened.
When the child goes to school, we must pray for him that the angels that excel in strength will go with him and be his guide and his protector. This is a must, or else that child will be totally unprotected. He will be the lawful prey of the enemy!
We must also realize that Satan has the child under his control in different areas of his life and these areas must be taken back individually. Proper correction of the child is absolutely necessary.
Mrs. White urgently warns of this necessity: "I tremble especially for mothers, as I see them so blind, and feeling so little the responsibilities that devolve upon a mother. They see Satan working in the self-willed child of even but a few months of age. Filled with spiteful passion, Satan seems to be taking full possession. But there may be in the house perhaps a grandmother, an aunt, or some other relative or friend, who will seek to make that parent believe that it would be cruelty to correct that child; whereas just the opposite is true; and it is the greatest cruelty to let Satan have the possession of that tender, helpless child. Satan must be rebuked. His hold on the child must be broken. If correction is needed, be faithful, be true. The love of God, true pity for the child, will lead to the faithful discharge of duty." Child Guidance, p. 289.
In addition, Children can also be the subjects of actual harassment by evil angels. We not only need to ask for special protection for these times but we must make it a habit to ask that the whole house and each of the family members will be protected by heavenly beings. There might be occasions when we may need to call out in the name of Jesus, "You will leave my child alone!"
Look at the experience that the White's had with their little son. "That night we were awakened by the screams of our little Edson, who slept in the room above us. It was about midnight. Our little boy would cling to Sister Bonfoey, then with both hands fight the air, and then in terror he would cry, 'No, no!' and cling closer to us. We knew this was Satan's effort to annoy us, and we knelt in prayer. My husband rebuked the evil spirit in the name of the Lord, and Edson quietly fell asleep in Sister Bonfoey's arms, and rested well through the night." Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, p. 138.
We must have the whole family put on the whole armor of God! We must extend the battle from our own perspective to the whole family. We may need to rebuke the evil spirit in the name of the Lord. This is our duty.
Our daily activities need to reflect who it is that we plan to worship. We need to think more on Jesus. We need to spend the majority of our free time refreshing ourselves with the joys that God has to give us. We need to do this in order to counterbalance the flood of sinful innuendoes that Satan is hurling at us. Remember, by beholding we become changed. The great controversy, practically speaking, is a battle for the mind and Satan will use any trick in the book to gain our attention into sinful thoughts and practices and hold us captives. In this time of the end we should feel the need to concentrate on the Lord's saving message of salvation. How else will the pleasures of this world grow dim unless we start ignoring what this world has to offer and concentrate on the love and gifts that Christ has to offer?
Satan has many avenues to reach our minds: Satanic computer games, books, television, videos, rock, and rap are just a few of his traps he has for us. Anything seen on the television, for instance, is literally burned into our minds. It's the very nature of the beast itself. I have especially noticed these things since I've stopped watching TV.
When I have broken down and watched a movie, (and I do not recommend doing that) I have noticed that my mind was filled with the story line that I just saw on the tube. The story line and the depicted settings became my thinking topic of the day. I could not get it out of my mind. Even worse I even began day dreaming, putting myself into the setting of that movie. I see children do the same thing as I have done. They act out in their play what they see on TV.
Satan works to burn into our memories the evil things we see on television. He forces our minds to play the scenes over and over again. He makes sure that our thoughts are occupied with his destroying amusements. This is absolutely diabolical.
All of this activity is occurring around us and yet none of us seem to think much about it. The television absolutely captivates the mind. I think we are so used to the idea of having our minds on Satan's ground, that we don't even notice its influence any more.
Have you ever seen small children watching TV? All they can do is to stare at that thing, taking everything in. It is as though they are in a trance. These children are just too impressionable at that early age. They are being changed by Satan as they watch that glowing tube. This is especially true now since the cartoons and other programs, dwell so much on actual Satanic topics. Many times, the main theme of the program is hard core Satanism! Demons, witches and monsters are the stars.
It is because of this that I will no longer watch TV. (I still occasionally have struggles with this; however, I pray that God will give me permanent victory over this problem.) I do not think that any of us who are trying to fill ourselves with Christ can at the same time be satisfied with the supposed joys of this world. (Viewing of the NEWS and some educational programing may prove to educate us of our world and may not be totally harmful. However, even educational material may have in it intellectual reasons for not believing in God.)
Why is it that we fill ourselves with program material from both God and Satan? Shouldn't we be reducing Satan's input into our lives as much as possible? Remember, we become like our surroundings. Remember, we want to be able to realize God's presence around us.
If you think you are unaffected by this barrage of Satanic information, then try this experiment. Right after watching a movie or your favorite TV show, sit down with the Bible and study the things of God, the things that God has given to help us defeat the enemy.
If you find your mind to be clear and able to discern the things of God, then you are much better than I. (When I do this, I am totally unable to concentrate. In addition, I feel so guilty that I am unable to ask God for help at that time. I am literally weakened by my own parley with the enemy.) If on the other hand, your mind keeps wandering back to what you have just watched, then know that your mind has just been captivated by Satan's forces.
Whom do we want our thoughts to dwell on? Whom do we want to be like, Satan our destroyer, or Jesus our Saviour? If we would only realize how easily we lay ourselves open to Satan's seductive wares. This is all done without our thinking too much about it at all. We even accept this condition as being normal.
Why do we think we like these things so much. Why is it that we actually crave these things. I believe we have a supernatural fascination for these things. Satan is physically playing with our feelings, and emotions. It is he, who gives us these unnatural cravings. It is not originating from us. Read Mrs. White's alarm as she describes how Satan plays with our emotions and interests.
"I feel alarmed as I witness everywhere the frivolity of young men and young women who profess to believe the truth. God does not seem to be in their thoughts. Their minds are filled with nonsense. Their conversation is only empty, vain talk. They have a keen ear for music, and Satan knows what organs to excite to animate, engross, and charm the mind so that Christ is not desired. The spiritual longings of the soul for divine knowledge, for a growth in grace, are wanting." The Adventist Home, p. 407.
In addition, we can see that many of the pleasures we have today are specifically designed to intoxicate us into Satan's world. Remember most of the pleasures that Satan has for us today were not even thought of in Mrs. White's time. Yet look at the urgency written into the warning she gives.
"God's people are to be of a ready mind, quick to see and to avail themselves of every opportunity to advance the Lord's cause. They have a message to bear. By pen and voice they are to sound the note of warning. Only a few will listen; only a few will have ears to hear. Satan has artfully devised many ways of keeping men and women under his influence. He leads them to weaken their organs by the gratification of perverted appetite and by indulgence in worldly pleasure. Intoxicating liquor, tobacco, the theater and the race-course,--these and many other evils are benumbing man's sensibilities, and causing multitudes to turn a deaf ear to God's merciful entreaties." Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, June 23, 1903.
The entertainment world of today is especially designed to captivate its audience. This is witnessed by the success of the commercial business. Be honest, we all realize that TV, and the video scene, has replaced the theater of the past. In addition, the time people spend with these devices has greatly increased. Today people watch TV by the hour, sometimes all day. This was not the case years ago when Mrs. White wrote her warnings.
Also we must realize that the satanic infiltration of the programing itself has greatly increased. The sex and violence that is so rampant today would not have even been tolerated on the stage in Mrs. White's time 90 years ago.
If you think there is nothing to this TV possession, then turn off the TV for one day and see what happens to your emotions. How about a couple days? You might even find yourselves staring at the TV looking for something to fill that empty feeling that the TV had previously been filling up.
Whom do we think has been filling our whole society for years? Why is our society so violent today? Why is everyone so attracted to television programming?
Only occasionally do we realize we are still empty inside. Jesus and His love is the only thing that can fill this empty feeling within each one of us. TV and all of Satan's other attractions are only a temporary fix. As a result, we must be continually filling ourselves with Satan's attractions so we can be somewhat content. These things fill us only as long as we keep watching and listening. As soon as we stop, or as soon as that thing breaks down we almost feel desperate. If things ever slow down, it is then, that we can realize more easily that there is something missing. Our need to be continually stimulated by Satan's wares, is what keeps us in his grasp. We are Satan addicts and we will be totally trapped until Jesus releases us.
Listen to Mrs. White's description of how Satan influenced the mob that attended Christ's trial on Earth. "But the only begotten Son of God has looked upon the scene, has beheld human suffering and misery. . . . He looked upon the schemes by which Satan works to blot from the human soul every trace of likeness to God; how he led them into intemperance so as to destroy the moral powers which God gave to man as a most precious, priceless endowment. He saw how, through indulgence in appetite, brain power was destroyed, and the temple of God was in ruins. . . . The senses, the nerves, the passions, the organs of man, were worked by supernatural agencies in the indulgence of the grossest, vilest lust. The very stamp of demons was impressed upon the countenances of men, and human faces reflected the expression of the legions of evil with which they were possessed. Such was the prospect upon which the world's Redeemer looked. What a horrible spectacle for the eyes of infinite purity to behold!" God's Amazing Grace, p. 161.
If this scene was horrible for Jesus to behold, what should it be for us? We have examples of those in the past who valued their connection with God so much that they physically made a hedge about themselves. They went off into secluded areas so that they could be of better service to their Maker. If this was necessary in the early part of this world's history, what should we expect to be necessary in today's world where Satan has succeeded in infiltrating almost every aspect of the Christian home.
Mrs. White describes the example of these early people. "Distressed by the increasing wickedness of the ungodly, and fearing that their infidelity might lessen his reverence for God, Enoch avoided constant association with them, and spent much time in solitude, giving himself to meditation and prayer. Thus he waited before the Lord, seeking a clearer knowledge of his will, that he might perform it." Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 85.
"He (Enoch) did not make his abode with the wicked. He did not locate in Sodom, thinking to save Sodom. He placed himself and his family where the atmosphere would be as pure as possible. Then at times he went forth to the inhabitants of the world with his God-given message. Every visit he made to the world was painful to him. He saw and understood something of the leprosy of sin. After proclaiming his message, he always took back with him to his place of retirement some who had received the warning." Manuscript 42, 1900.
"We are abiding in Christ by a living faith. He is abiding in our hearts by our individual appropriating of faith. We have the companionship of the divine presence, and as we realize this presence our thoughts are brought into captivity to Jesus Christ. Our spiritual exercises are in accordance with the vividness of our sense of this companionship. Enoch walked with God in this way; and Christ is dwelling in our hearts by faith when we will consider what He is to us, and what a work He has wrought out for us in the plan of redemption." Messages to Young People, p. 159.
"The Godly character of this prophet represents the state of holiness which must be attained by those who shall be 'redeemed from the earth' Rev. 14:3 at the time of Christ's second advent. . . . Like Enoch, God's people will seek for purity of heart, and conformity to his will, until they shall reflect the likeness of Christ. Like Enoch they will warn the world of the Lord's second coming, and of the judgments to be visited upon transgression, and by their holy conversation and example they will condemn the sins of the ungodly. As Enoch was translated to heaven before the destruction of the world by water, so the living righteous will be translated from the earth before its destruction by fire." Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 88-89.
We need to emulate Enoch and the other early followers of God. We, as did Enoch, are to warn the whole world of an impending disaster that is about to come crashing on each one of us. We need to show them that our loving Saviour has plans to save us if only we respond to His love. This can be done only by those who truly love God.
This same love, because of its nature, is also directed to the peoples of the world. The warning message, the three angels messages is a warning of love to a dying world, but we must be Christ-like in order to give it.
The question, "who shall be able to stand when He appeareth," should bring all of us to our knees. Will we be covered with God's armor or will we be passed by? Will the angels break out in rapturous song over our reflecting Christ? Will we have sufficient love to give the warning message to the world? Will receptive people see God in us or will they see people who are fanatical? (Those who are not receptive to God's leading almost always see His people as fanatical. Even Noah was considered fanatical in his day.)
These are serious questions all of us need to ask! I must have Christ at the head of my life. I pray He will provide me with His grace (His Power to be victorious as well as His gift of eternal life) so that I will prove faithful to the end.
God wants all of us to struggle with Him. Time and time again Mrs. White saw the righteous struggling at great lengths while the others (the majority) are careless and indifferent. If we never struggle with God, as Jacob did, we will never be led to a life that God can use in His work. Read this warning from Mrs. White.
"You must be in earnest to secure your soul's salvation. You must begin the work of overcoming now. Don't put it off. It will soon be forever too late, and the lamentation upon every side will be 'The harvest is past, the summer is ended and my soul is not saved.' Let not the opinions of your young companions affect you. You may think you have a great sacrifice to make, but to look at the matter in its true light, you have none to make. You change only bad for good, sin and evil for righteousness, death for life. If you cannot give all for heaven, you cannot have it. Will you give up every idol? If there is one thing that you cannot give up, that is your idol. That will shut you out of Heaven.
"There is one that has made a sacrifice; one who is high and lofty. One who left the glory that he had with his Father before the world was, and came into the world and bore all the slight of man, suffered every indignity, and opened not his mouth who, at the same time, could have had legions of angels by asking his Father. Yet he was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Why was all this? O, the sacrifice had to be made to save lost man. Christ was nailed to Calvary's cross, to make a way of escape for you. He for your sakes became poor. He died that you might live. O What a sacrifice was this! The tongue of an angel cannot tell the matchless depths of a Saviour's love." Jesus is your pattern. He is your example; and if you come short of the true pattern, you will have no excuse. Do not measure yourself by others; but Jesus, Jesus is your pattern. Strive to pattern closely after him. Encourage your soul to be a partaker of his divine character. Pray and cherish in your heart a hungering and thirsting after righteousness. O, will you be a sufferer with Christ, that you may be a partaker with him of his glory.
"Be a living devoted Christian. You must give up pride of dress and appearance, and pride of opinion. You must be decided about it. Half-hearted work will never avail anything. You must come right down with God's humble people. God is purifying unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works. This people are peculiar. They do not dress or act like the world. Their conversation is in Heaven. Shake off every shackle, and take hold for the salvation of your own soul,and that of your brothers sisters and friends around you. They look to you for example. Lead them right. Try to save their souls. Love honor and respect your parents; and in the end you will find you have sacrificed nothing; for you will have a rich and glorious reward." Youth Instructor, Oct. 1855.
We are now living in the last days of this world's history. Soon, very soon, Jesus is coming. We need to determine in our hearts to follow Jesus wherever He leads us so that we can be accounted worthy of His love. He so dearly loves us and He wants us to respond to His love. His help is readily available to us. He is by our side to help us, not to snitch on us when we fail. That is Satan's lie. Satan wants only to destroy us anyway he can. So let's ignore those thoughts and throw them out just like Joseph did in his time. Let Jesus be the center of our thoughts.
These last days will mark increased efforts on Satan's part to completely crush and annihilate us. But we know that this need not happen with the ever ready help that we have in our Lord Jesus Christ. Help is always available by our side.
We need to seek that help with all of our might. That means praying, asking for the help of the Holy Spirit and the holy angels that God places by our side. We also need to seek God in the messages He has given His prophets in the past. The Bible has specific help and instruction for us here and now. Especially in Daniel and Revelation is this help found. We need this help against the onslaught of satanic evil that we are to face in the last days.
So we must study these things. But we must not fall into the trap of arguing over these prophecies. Arguing over last-day events will destroy us. Remember Satan, if it were possible, can change some of the greatest blessings that God has for us into curses.
Let's use Daniel and Revelation for what they were meant. They were written for our survival. So let's use them for that purpose. Mrs. White mentions how important the use of these books is: "When the books of Daniel and Revelation are better understood, believers will have an entirely different religious experience. They will be given such glimpses of the open gates of heaven that heart and mind will be impressed with the character that all must develop in order to realize the blessedness which is to be the reward of the pure in heart." Testimonies to Ministers, p. 114.
When the plan of redemption is studied in these books, when we can see what God has planned for us, then we will be electrified. We will then understand the reality of heaven and its nearness. Remember, the Lord truly loves us to the extent that He wants us to live with Him. This is not wishful thinking. He even now is working on our behalf to save us from sin. He is now preparing to take us home with Him. So let's plan to be among the saved. This will be the biggest homecoming that we will ever experience. The whole universe is looking forward to it. We must not miss our chance to witness and feel the happiness of those who love the Lord. We must experience the joy of winning with Christ!