Posted by: Veroni Kruger | February 9, 2017

Which Truth Is Your Truth?

I find myself thinking a lot about truth lately. Maybe because of the abuse of the word “truth” I see around me?

Someone said about a ministry colleague that he was not lying. “It’s only that his concept of truth differs from yours.”  Someone else was talking about a family dispute and said “the problem is you are all living in a lie”.  If truth is truth, in both these cases, someone is lying.  The ultimate aim should be to discover the truth.  Anything else is a copout

People often vehemently protest that their point of view is truth.  Politicians especially are adept at this kind of persuasion.  However, to the honest observer it quickly becomes apparent that there are different “truths”.  That is the only explanation for the often opposite viewpoints that are promoted by different people as being truth.

There are different kinds of truth.

It is an absolute truth that the earth is round.  However, the fact that there are still some people who believe it is not round attests to the fact that we actually often believe what we want to believe rather than believing the real truth.

There is what I would call faith truth, like Jesus is God.  We base our faith on that on the trust that the Bible is true, and our experience of our relationship with Jesus. We cannot prove it scientifically, just as we cannot really prove scientifically that God created the universe.  It begins to look like proof when we realize that more questions are answered when we we believe that God created the universe, that Jesus is God, and all the things that go with that, than not believing it.

Then there is purely subjective truth: “Pap and vleis are the best food ” – a traditional South African delicatessen.  Only those who love it would agree with this statement.

It is not wrong for us to have different viewpoints.  Where it becomes wrong, maybe even dangerous, is when we consider ourselves to be the expert in every area of life; when we deny others the privilege of having their own opinion.  Most dangerous of all, is when our motive is proving that we are right rather than seeking truth.

We should first of all recognize our own fallibility. How’s that for an absolute truth!  We should also recognize what kind of truth we are talking about when we bandy the word “truth” about.

There are “people of the lie” (see M. Scott Peck wrote a book “People of the `lie”).  They are a a certain kind of person who never wants to accept responsibility for their own mistakes or weaknesses, even perhaps wrongdoing, but constantly hides behind others, blaming everyone else for everything that is wrong in their lives.  In that respect that kind of person is like Satan, who is the inventor of the lie.

Can truth hurt?  It only hurts those who do not want to hear it.  We need to realize, and this applies particularly to Christians, that the manner in which we convey truth can also hurt.  That is why the Bible exhorts us to “speak the truth in love.”

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Posted by: Veroni Kruger | January 25, 2017

What do Christians make of and do under present circumstances?

In both of the two countries of the world that I am most closely involved there is much turmoil at present.  My website is not a news programme, nor am I a journalist, so I will not try to tell you what’s happening.  You can find that out for yourself on the news.  The countries are the United States of America and (The Republic of) South Africa.  It is quite significant that there is turmoil in many other countries also.  However, I will limit my focus to these two countries because I am more intimately involved with them than with any others.  The principles I am about to emphasize apply to the whole world.

The important question is “What do we as Christians make of and do under the present  circumstances?”

Violent protest is definitely not an option.  Neither is purely partisan political activity.  Nor a head-in-the-sand attitude of “my home is in heaven” and I don’t care what happens here.  Whining also does not really help, except as a futile venting of emotions.

The principles that we adhere to are that God is in control, and that our calling is to remain obedient to Him.

In atypical fashion, Scripture talks about God laughing in the second Psalm.  The reason for his mirth is not joy, but derision.

The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them (Psalm 2.4).

The reason for his derision is stated in verses 1-3:

Why do the nations conspire and the people plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,  “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.”

Who is Donald Trump, and who is Jacob Zuma?  Merely human beings who are functioning in a particular role for a limited time, and then will disappear.  A secular writer with much insight into human affairs said the following about life:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more.  (Shakespeare, Macbeth)

So what are Obama, Trump, Zuma, Putin…?  Of course they are significant because of the positions afforded them through political processes.  But in the large scheme of things, they are really only human participants that will disappear again, while the unfolding of God’s plans is eternal.

God is the Maker of history.  His purposes are inescapable.  His methods are relentless, in the positive sense.  He wants good for all, and He pursues that objective relentlessly.

What are we supposed to do?

We exercise our civil privileges:  Freedom of religion and speech, with all the other privileges our citizenship brings.  We fulfill our civil responsibilities: Obey the law, pay taxes, with all the other responsibilities our citizenship brings.  We make ourselves heard: Vote, write, protest as long as it is peaceful.  Above all, we obey the laws of the Kingdom of God:  Love our neighbour, even when he/she is most “unlovable”; do unto others as you would want them to do unto you…

We also exercise our “secret weapon.”

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor 10.4,5).

Says another “secular” wise man:
More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.  (Alfred Lord Tennyson)

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | January 19, 2017

Speechless

Can you translate the whispers of the deep into spoken words? Can any amount of music or painting come close to revealing true beauty? Can a foggy mirror produce the same clarity as the thing it re…

Source: Speechless

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | June 6, 2016

Radical Lifestyle? Fanaticism?

Living radically

On May 8 (my previous blog), I suggested that the drastic times we live in require Christians to follow a radical lifestyle.  I mentioned two aspects that characterize a radical lifestyle:  Holding fast to the faith, and perseverance.  Lip service to either does not imply living radically.  Radical adherence to both does.  Living out what you profess to believe requires quite a large amount of sacrifice.  E.g. what do you do about the poor?   Are any of your actions or words racist?  Will you easily lie to save your own skin?   When confronted with persecution for Jesus’ sake?  How are you doing with the non-life-threatening persecutions we now may suffer?  What will you do if you are ever really in danger for your faith?

Living radically may bring on persecution

I warned that we are bound to be persecuted for our faith.

How will we survive?

Two things guarantee that we will be able to make it: Building our lives on the Word of God as it appears in the Bible, and relying on the power of the Holy Spirit.

So what does that mean?

It means that we love and respect the Bible.  The expression that became fashionable in the seventies – “God said it; I believe it; that settles it” – should be part of our daily approach to life. The Bible makes sense if you believe it. There is a step of faith that is required in our association with the Bible that, if taken, makes everything falls into place. That step is a child-like acceptance of the Book as containing everything that God wanted us to know about Him, “for life and faith”.

It also means we cultivate a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. God intended that the ministry of the Holy Spirit should as much a part of our lives as it was of the early church. The translation of the Greek word often associated with Him as “helper” describes quite accurately how He wants to be known by us – that he should be involved in every aspect of our lives, spiritually as well as in a very practical sense, as our guide and adviser.

Concomitant with the appreciation of and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit we should live with the very real expectation that He will intervene in our daily lives in a powerful manner. I have seen this expectation being fulfilled in many miracles occurring before our eyes. Of these, the change that came over people’s lives at being born again is undoubtedly the greatest. Other signs of the power of God are miracles of healing and deliverance from all sorts of demonic oppression.  Countless examples of answers to prayer would also be counted among the instances of the evidence of the power of God.

Church meetings should be characterized by the very real awareness of the powerful presence of God. Of course, this is only possible if churches are committed to following the leading of the holy Spirit rather than clinging to some ecclesiastical programme.  (Somewhat edited, from my book:  What Has Your Church Become, available on both Takealot and Amazon).

And what about the naysayers?

So what about all the issues, questions, so-called logical objections, arguments, differences of interpretation…?  These are usually because people simply do not want to accept the simple message of the Bible.  What about the mistakes Christians make?  Yes, so what?  Do you know anyone that never makes a mistake?  We are not supposed to be perfect, only to profess that we serve a perfect God – who, by the way, is the only God.

Christians cannot be blamed for all the errors of the past or present.  We can only endeavour to live by the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit, and leave it to each person to decide for themselves what the truth is.  (See https://attemptingauthenticity.wordpress.com/2016/05/25/thursday-thoughts-i-am-not-a-trashcan/)

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | May 8, 2016

Drastic Times have Become More Drastic

In January 2015 I posted a blog titled Drastic Times Call for Drastic Measures.  Reviewing the blog and observing the times we live in, I believe it needs to be posted again.

Has anything changed?  Basically two things:  Indications that times are drastic have increased in intensity.  And the antics of politicians have become more circus-like (at least in the two countries that matter most in my life, the USA and South Africa).

Here is the blog from 2015 then, somewhat edited.

 There can be no doubt that we are living in drastic times

*          The truth is being attacked from all sides:

*          Increasing secularization is making it seem old-fashioned and foolish to                  persevere in faith.

*          Within the church the truth is being compromised increasingly in a false  attempt to be acceptable.

*          The Gospel is often diluted because the cross of Jesus Christ is even more of a           disgrace today than it ever was before.

*          Increase of violence all over the world.

*          Increasingly militant Islam.

*          Economic pressures.

 What are Christians to do in these times?

 We should realize that we are radical people with a radical beginning who expect a radical outcome.  Therefore our conduct must be radical.

The radical outcome

Jesus will come as the King of all Kings.  Every knee shall bow before Him and every person confess that He is Lord and Christ.  The Kingdom of God will be consummated, meaning everyone will know that God is God and He alone.

We are heading for the radical manifestation of the kingship of God, that will last for eternity.  The end of all resistance, the sterilization of the powers of evil, the termination of all suffering, the achievement of God’s ultimate purposes with creation.  The fulfillment of what Paul calls the “Hope of Glory”.

The radical beginning

There are many different ways in which people find God, but one thing is certain:  there needs to be a commitment to begin with.  This entails the realization of lostness without God, confession of sins, acceptance of Christ Jesus as the Saviour, and a decision to serve God.

This decision is blessed by God through granting us to be born again, that miracle of becoming a new creation through the work of the Holy Spirit.  Being born again is a radical transformation of a person’s inner life.  The Bible says it is as radical as exchanging a heart of stone for a heart of flesh.  It includes receiving the law of the Lord in one’s innermost being.  That means we are given a desire to obey God.  Where before we wanted to live lives dedicated to ourselves, we now find we want to please God.

A RADICAL COMMITMENT TO JESUS CHRIST BRINGS ABOUT THE RADICAL TRANSFORMATION OF OUR INNER BEING, RESULTING IN THE TRANSFORMATION OF OUR ENTIRE LIFE!

 The radical lifestyle

We hold fast to the faith

Hebrews 10.38  “… my righteous one will live by faith.”

We are strange people, who live with view to a future you can only expect by faith, who obey a God you can only know by faith.  That is our strongest weapon, to live by faith.  Paul says “we live by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5.7)  That is why we are able to live by the paradoxical comparisons in 2 Cor 4.7-10:

7 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 4.8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 4.9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 4.10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”

We are called on to persevere

Hebrews 10.36  “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”

By God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can press forward regardless of what circumstances may bring.  We have the assurance that our perseverance will bring rewards: “Therefore, …stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor 15.58).

 There may be persecution, in fact more probably than not

At least some of us experienced degrees of persecution at the beginning of our lives as Christians.

Hebrews 10.32

Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering.  10.33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated.

 10.34  You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.

A radical Christian lifestyle may bring about persecution.

How Will We Be Able To Do This?

 *          The Word of God is the only never-changing thing in the lives of humans. 

 If we build our lives on the Word of God as it comes to us through the Bible, we have a secure foundation for our whole life.

 *          The Holy Spirit is God in the world today:  Empowering,      inspiring, leading, protecting. 

            It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us that we will be able to see Ephesians 6.13 fulfilled:  “…that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | April 4, 2016

What Must We Do

“Nero fiddled while Rome burned” describes the attitude of people who either don’t realize what is going on when things are falling apart, or don’t care.  But what are we as Christians supposed to do when we see things around us going wrong, especially in our own country/ies, or in the whole world?

Realize that no earthly governmental system can be seen as the perfect representation of the Kingdom of God

Jesus said his kingdom is not “of this world.”  While we pray that the principles of the Kingdom of God may prevail in our earthly cultures, we realize that no earthly system can ever be equated with the Kingdom of God.  Nor can any nation ever be seen as “the people of God.”  God’s people are to be found in the great diversity of cultures all over the world. Every culture contains something Godly. Yet none can be said to be the embodiment of Godliness. British Israelism, Afrikaner Israelism, American Israelism… – all are a fallacy.

Exercise your dual citizenship

Believers have dual citizenship.  You are a citizen of your country of birth;  you are also a citizen of heaven.

As the citizen of a country you have certain rights and privileges as well as responsibilities.  God expects you to exercise those to the benefit of your own nation and the nations of the world.  Vote and pay taxes are two of these privileges and responsibilities. Never become “so earthly minded that you’re no earthly good.”

As a citizen of heaven you are the sign of the future, representative on earth of King Jesus, possessing authority in Jesus to stand against evil, certain of the protection of God Almighty… You have weapons that “are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”  Paul says “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God…” 2 Corinthians 10.4,5.  God expects us to use those weapons.  One of the most powerful weapons we have is the weapon of prayer.  Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote these powerful words: “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.”

Rejoice in the fact that God controls history, in fact, makes history

He is never caught off guard, never at a loss as to what to do.  The Psalmist writes:

Why do the nations conspire
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,
“Let us break their chains
and throw off their shackles.”
The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.
He rebukes them in his anger
and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,
“I have installed my king
on Zion, my holy mountain.”  Ps 2.1-6)

Look forward with joyful anticipation to the consummation of the Kingdom of God

We are heading to that wonderful day when

“at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2.9-11)

“The joy of the Lord is our strength”(Nehemiah 8.10). Our joy derives from our relationship with Him, and from our expectation that the end will be good. A secular authority (sic) echoes this: In the end everything will be allright. And and if it’s not alright yet, it’s not the end yet (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel).

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | March 26, 2016

Does Easter Have Any Bearing On Racism?

Of course it has!

Jesus died for all humankind, and never made any distinctions between people of any race.

Last week I posted Alexander Venter’s Pledge on Racism and said it provided a good programme for anyone who wants to rid themselves of racism.  Today I want to lend some more assistance, utilising  the main points in the pledge and giving practical tips.  In order for us to rid ourselves of racism, we should do the following:

Examine ourselves to see if we are harbouring racism

In another context, Alexander Venter describes four different kinds of racists.  here are some extracts from his description:

  • Confirmed racists are those who are still prejudiced and are open about it.  The attitudes of this group are hardening.
  • Suppressed racists are those who are still prejudiced, but have suppressed it in the name of political correctness, or keeping-the-peace, or fear of reprisal, or because of self-deception and psychological denial. Recovering racists are those who have acknowledged and faced their racial conditioning—racism is inbred if you were raised in SA—and are taking responsibility for it by consciously working on their thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and actions.
  • Recovering racists are those who have acknowledged and faced their racial conditioning—racism is inbred if you were raised in SA—and are taking responsibility for it by consciously working on their thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and actions. They have dealt with their guilt and are free.
  • Suppressed racists are those who are still prejudiced, but have suppressed it in the name of political correctness, or keeping-the-peace, or fear of reprisal, or because of self-deception and psychological denial. Recovering racists are those who have acknowledged and faced their racial conditioning—racism is inbred if you were raised in SA—and are taking responsibility for it by consciously working on their thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and actions.
  • Pre-racists or innocents are those who are in the pre-prejudice stage—our children. They are the racially innocent people, unless their parents or others have already infected them with their prejudice.
pp.124-125 in Doing Reconciliation – Racism, Reconciliation and Transformation in Church and World. [http://alexanderventer.com/product/bundle-doing-reconciliation/ and http://alexanderventer.com/racist-polarisation-in-sa/

Where do we fit in?  As we all know, self-awareness needs to lead to repentance if it is to mean anything.  The following points are helpful in this regard.  We should:

Acknowledge our participation in our nation’s racism

Our whole nation is suffering under the burden of a national racist legacy.  In order to rid our nation of this, each one of us should admit to the fact that apartheid was an evil system.  Sure, we may not be directly responsible for its legacy.  Nevertheless, we are responsible for how we respond to it today.

Cooperate with the Holy Spirit in bringing about reformation in our own minds and lives

With God’s help we can remove all prejudice from our hearts and minds.  God, whose vision for us is that we should become like His Son, is eager to work with us to make sure we  “do not conform to the (thought) pattern(s) of this world, but (are) transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12.2, parentheses mine).

Undergo a change of attitude

Having renewed minds should result in a change of attitude.  This will lead us to respect the dignity of every individual regardless of race, and we should give evidence of this changed attitude practically, in what we say and what we do.

Take up the correct position

Adopt a position that is in accordance with our changed attitude.  We should see ourselves as standing in solidarity with victims of hatred and violence.  This means we identify with them rather than watching from a distance what is happening.  Does news of bad things happening to people of races other than our own touch us as intensely as when the same things happen to people of our own race.

Allow all of the above to manifest in our daily lives

Changed attitude and assuming the correct position should manifest in our daily lives.  We may find that we are so accustomed to using certain expressions (e.g. “… typical of such and such a group/race, isn’t it?”) that we have to watch closely what we say.  I recommend we ask close friends and acquaintances to help us here by lovingly making us aware where we follow old habits of expression and behaviour.

We will also find it necessary to speak up in situations of prejudice, racism and exploitation of any persons.  This becomes very difficult where we feel threatened by what other people may think and even do to us, e.g. in public.  (Have you considered how those who are being disrespected or exploited feel?)  It also becomes difficult when we are in a close relationship with the perpetrators of racism.  We need real wisdom from above to know how to maintain relationships while asserting non-racist principles.  Biblical advice on this is to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4.15).

We have the privilege to be involved in the ongoing dialogue on racial equality in our country.   To be effective in this, we should learn to listen and join the dialogue  with patience, understanding and respect. This means active participation at all levels – personal, social, religious, and civil.  You can make a difference!

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | March 19, 2016

Racism: The Battle For Our Minds

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(Alexander Venter on Facebook)

In the battle for our minds, there are a number of “pet” avenues by which Satan attempts to seduce us. Many of these are the result of selfish ambitions. Others derive from fear. Racism is a combination of these two negative feelings. It rests on the premise that my particular race is superior to all others. It feeds on the fear that my race is doomed to at best deprivation, and at worst extinction, because of oppression by another race/s.

Racism is alive and well in many countries in the world. Right now, it is like a disease in South Africa that threatens our very existence.

What should we do about this? We could give in to Satan and surrender ourselves to a totally destructive force that will ultimately annihilate us. Worst still, it will bring complete estrangement between us and God. That is, by the way, what hell is, and we may bring it upon ourselves to experience it in this life already. On the other hand, we could ask ourselves what Jesus thinks about it, and align our thought patterns to His thoughts.

Jesus made no distinction whatsoever between people of different race, shocking many of the traditionalists in his time by associating with Samaritans, the race most despised by many of Jesus’s own race. Paul, great propagator of the Gospel of Jesus Christ makes an emphatic statement in Galatians 3.28: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

The pledge above provides a plan to guide us as we divest ourselves of racism. I have pledged to follow these guidelines, and I want to invite you to do the same. You will see that it will bring freedom such as you may never have thought possible. Best of all, Jesus will be with you each step of the way as you rid your mind of the baggage of racism.

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | March 13, 2016

Ridding Our Minds of Baggage

From last week’s blog:

Among the practical suggestions on how to win the battle for our minds, I mentioned that we should recognize interference and deal with it. I mentioned as interferences: disappointments, hurts, failures, etc.

By interferences I meant things that might affect our progress towards getting our minds into line with the thoughts of God, rather than the worldly thoughts that keep us from enjoying the riches God has for us. They often withold us from thinking clearly.

How do I deal with interferences?

Acknowledge them

Each of us has a history that is, unfortunately, not all pleasant. We have to deal with them in order to remove them from our path towards freedom to think the thoughts of God. A first step towards dealing with these, is acknowledging them. Too often we are told to just deny them “in faith.” After all, Jesus has made all things new, not so? This is not to deny that truth, but to say that our brains are said never to forget anything. We do not need to fear anything, least of all events from our past. Acknowledging them robs them of a large part of their power over us.

Analyse them as clearly as you can

It is very helpful for me personally to visualise putting whatever I have identified as an issue on the table and to study it from all angles. Yes, it is often hurtful but that only shows how necessary it is to deal with it. The more we can understand what it is that is bothering us, the better we can deal with it.

Allow the light of the Word of God to shine on the issue    

Next, visualise the light that comes from the Word of God to illuminating the issue. The Bible contains something on everything humans can experience: Hurts, failures, disappointments … as well as advice on how to deal with them. Not all of this is easy to accept, like the advice to freely forgive whoever has wronged us.

Commit it all to forgetfulness

Visualize throwing the whole thing in the trash can in the Name of the Lord Jesus. He is the expert in doing this (see what He does with our confessed sins), so He is a powerful partner in this step.

Repeat these steps until the issues become harmless history

It is often like peeling an onion, where you may think you are done with something, only to discover new aspects that need to be dealt with.   The secret is to continue following the steps until the event or experience becomes like a piece of history that does not affect you emotionally at all.

Keep short accounts

Do not allow any “new” experiences to encroach on your freedom. Apart from cultivating the postive lifestyle I advocated in my previous blog, be careful not to do something you might have to repent of afterwards; deal with any new experiences in the manner described above.  If something arises, try to sort it out as soon as possible with the  other party.  If that proves to be impossible, forgive immediately.

The Word of God on This

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8.32)

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed (John 8.36)

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | March 8, 2016

The Primary Battlefield For Christians Is Their Own Minds

All Christians know that we are involved in a great war

This battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6.12).

What we often miss, though, is that the primary battlefield is our own minds

The Conflict Every Christian Experiences

Paul describes this conflict aptly in Romans 7.15-25:

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; … but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.

You might say it’s the battle between good and bad, ultimately between God and Satan.

BUT: There is no more battle between God and Satan – Satan is overcome in the epic battle fought at the cross and the resurrection, where Jesus won the victory. 

The battleground has shifted to the human mind.

Satan can attack us physically – although most physical diseases have physical causes, like aging, bad habits, lack of exercise, etc. Satan can attack us in our spirits, but then comes face to face with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells in the believer, and is where your spirit is – quite an enemy for Satan to take on! The mind is the most accessible avenue for attacks by Satan

It is a fallacy that all who become followers of Jesus are free of any further attacks by Satan. It is true that when we are born again, our spirit becomes the home of the Holy Spirit. Our physical life (in our own bodies and in our behaviour in the world) is determined by what is in our spirit. However, everything is filtered through our minds. That is often where the problem is.

James describes a particular aspect of the fruit of this battle (James 3.9-12)

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water

The essential question is: How can people who have been born again and sincerely want to follow Jesus still not always do the right thing?

The answer is: It’s all in the mind

This is what Jesus said to Peter when he unexpectedly did the wrong thing. “…you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Matthew 16.23). I would paraphrase it as “Your mind is where the problem is!”

Peter As Example Of the Battle For The Mind

 Peter was called by Jesus from his career as fisherman – Mark 1.16-18. Notice the prompt response of Peter. Also, he must already have had an inkling of who Jesus was. Luke’s more elaborate account of this incident says that Peter fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man” (Luke 5.8).

Peter received the revelation that Jesus is the Christ – the first human who received this, except maybe Mary.   Matthew (16) recounts Peter’s confident answer to the question of who Jesus is: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

And yet

Immediately afterwards Matthew describes Peter’s big mistake that made Jesus rebuke him as Satan. Refusing to accept Jesus’s prediction of his suffering, Peter rebukes Him. This leads Jesus to say to him “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.

The problem is in Peter’s mind: Jesus says Peter thinks the thoughts of humans and not those of God

The pattern continues:

After three years of being in training with Jesus, he denies knowing Jesus – another slip of the mind!

He is a witness to the empty grave – yet goes back to his livelihood when Jesus does not show up quickly enough after the resurrection (John 21.3).

He receives the baptism of the Holy Spirit – yet makes another mistake in reasoning, so that Paul rebukes him as hypocrite (Galatians 2.11-14).

The key to understanding Peter’s struggle: The battle for the mind

The Same Kind Of Battle Rages In Our Own Minds

 The origin of that battle

The battle originates in the desire of Satan to counter the authority of God in people’s lives. The alternatives are Satan who wants to control our minds, and God, who wants us to enjoy the freedom Christ bought for us.

Kinds of attacks we suffer in our minds:   

Here are some:  Fear, unbelief, negative thoughts, false gods like materialism and selfish ambition, aggression, unforgivenes,

How can we counter these attacks

Paul focuses on Jesus as the one who can lead us to victory:

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Rom 7.25)

But because it’s in our minds, we CAN do something about it. As human beings, we have control over our own minds.

Peter writes about this in 1 Peter 1.13

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober (NIV Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober), and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (KJV)

(“Gird up your loins” refers to the ancient practice of tying up long, loose clothes so that they were more practical when you are working or travelling.)

Was Peter thinking of what Jesus said to him about his thoughts?

Some practical suggestions on how to win the battle for our minds

Cultivate a lifestyle of submission to God

Spend regular time in prayer

Recognize “interference” by e.g. disappointments, hurts, failures, etc. and deal with them.

Avoid bad input – press, TV, advertisements, destructive company, harmful reading matter. All of these render us vulnerable to a bombardment of worldly wisdom.

Study Scripture – the most effective way of countering the bombardment of worldly wisdom we are subjected to.

Establish correct thought patterns by avoiding negative words and expressions.

Our way of thinking must be adapted to that of God – remember what Jesus said to Peter: you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.

A man’s mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind.”
― James AllenAs a Man Thinketh

South Africa Is In The Midst Of A Battle

This battle manifests itself in politics, economy, education, and security etc.

This is a spiritual battle, but it’s all about capturing the minds of South Africans.

Of course, as citizens we need to play our role in all of the areas in which we have civil responsibilities, privileges and avenues of legal involvement.  But as Christians we also need to recognize the nature of the battle and act accordingly. Even in terms of our country, what is needed is a change of mind. If we can all have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2.16) how different would things be. That needs to start with each one of us. Before we ask “What would Jesus do?” we need to ask “What is Jesus thinking about this?”

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