Original image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of J Brew
Have you ever run through a patch of bull nettles? Well, neither have I, but Superman once did and told me what it was like.
I've experienced the spiritual equivalent many times. I'm nipped, pinched, and stung until I take off at an aimless sprint, desperate to find my way out only to find myself farther in.
That restless nettling is often accompanied by words. Words of condemnation.
You are filthy with sin.
How can you think something like that and call yourself a child of God?
You may look good on the outside, but you know you're rotten at the core.
You're a failure.
You're an addict.
Look at how much time you wasted today.
You always say the wrong thing.
You don't deserve to be healed.
You're a sad excuse for a mother.
Look at you. You can't help yourself. How can you expect to help others?
When I stop to identify the tone and timbre, I know immediately--that ain't my Shepherd's voice. This isn't the way God deals with His kids.
But recognizing the presence of the Enemy is just the first step. I can't simply wish him away. I have to engage. Whether I feel like it or not.
And let me tell you something--he's fiercely clever and more patient than I'll ever be in this life. He always pounces when I'm too tired or sick to fight. He hits me where I'm weak.
And 99.9% of the time, he attacks me with the truth.
Satan may be the Father of Lies, but he knows me. He sees me read my Bible. He watches as I soak up solid teaching.
An outright lie won't work on me. When one comes, I literally laugh out loud, and say something like, "Seriously? That's what you're going with today?"
So he comes at me with half-truths.
It's true that I'm filthy with sin, that my thoughts are impure, that I'm rotten to the core. That I'm a failure, an addict, a time-waster. I do say the wrong thing at the wrong time. I don't deserve to be healed. I am a sad excuse for a mother. I can't help myself...much less anyone else.
How to fight little-'t' truth:
I had the pleasure of falling asleep last night and waking up this morning to bull nettles.
Those fiery little arrows were aimed as true as the words. They paralyzed me. Until God reminded me of a battle tactic I learned from family friend, Deb McCracken, a few years ago--
"Agree with the Enemy."
It may seem counterintuitive, but I've found it exceedingly helpful.
Think about it. When the Enemy attacks with the truth, should we counter truth with a lie? Does it really help to say, "Pssshhhaw...I'm not a sinner. I'm just fine, thank you very much. I'm a great mom. I do deserve to be healed. By the way, why haven't I? What gives, God?"
Umm....no. Let's not abandon truth just because it hurts.
Instead, we zero in on the weakness in the Enemy's attack. You can bet your bottom dollar that he will never come at you with the whole Truth.
So agree with the Enemy, and then...
Complete the Sentence.
When the Enemy comes at us with half-truths, it's our job to complete the sentence. Writer type that I am, I always enjoyed these exercises in elementary school. Even if you didn't, you must learn the skill if you want to win the battle.
A helpful hint: All Truth ends with Jesus, and it can only be found in God's Word. (This is why it's so important to know the Bible. You can't walk in victory without it.)
When you've completed the sentence...
Preach to Your Soul.
Soul preaching is an important skill for all believers because our feelings don't always align with the Truth. Take a page out of David's book (Psalm 42), and preach Truth to yourself.
Yes, I'm filthy with sin, but Jesus died for me while I was at my worst (Rom. 5:8; Eph. 2:4). If He gave His life for me then, He won't abandon me now (John 10:28; Heb. 13:5).
My thoughts aren't always pure, but Jesus is transforming me by renewing my mind (Rom. 12:2). Lord, help me to think on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, good, and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8).
My Pharisaical tendencies break my heart. I'm sure they break God's heart, too. But Jesus loves Pharisees. It was to Pharisees Jesus said, "How often I wanted to gather you together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings" (Matt. 23:37). Praise the Lord, I'm willing to be gathered!
What does it matter that I'm a failure when Jesus has fulfilled the law for me (Rom. 8:3-4)?
Show me the man or woman who isn't an addict. God loves addicts! Addiction cannot separate me from the love of God (Rom. 8:38-39). Lord, heal my addictions by satisfying me with Yourself.
Thanks for pointing out that I wasted time today. Lord, I repent. Thank you for never wasting a minute of your life on this earth. Help me to follow your example.
I totally said the wrong thing today. Jesus, thank you for your promise that all things work together for good to those who love you--even my failures (Rom. 8:28). Transform and purify what I said. Teach me your ways and words. Fill me with your Spirit so that I may speak the truth in love and keep silent when silence is best.
I don't deserve to be healed, but I open my hands to whatever good gift it pleases you to give for the good of your Church. Help me be a faithful witness to your grace, whether it be delivering grace or sustaining grace.
I'm not a great mother, it's true. I thank you, Jesus, that my children's salvation doesn't depend on my mothering skills but on your marvelous grace. Cover my efforts with that grace.
God, it's true that I can't help myself. But you say, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:3). You didn't come to help the strong, but the weak. Because your strength is made perfect in my weakness, I trust you to empower my poor efforts to strengthen my brethren. I thank you that you are our Helper and that no one counts on me (Heb. 13:5-6).
As you can see, these preaching sessions can easily turn into prayer, and that's how I found my way to freedom this morning. May this bit of battle strategy help you find a little freedom, too.
"There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit."