Continued from Love does not Boast, Part 3
Picture: The Bible tells us we’re not to be ignorant of the enemy’s schemes. (2 Corinthians 2:11) God calls us to be wise and faithful warriors!
In our recent posts, we’ve covered the subject of boasting. After discovering how bad it is, the question remains: How do we defeat it in our lives? In this post, the goal is to apply what we’ve learned from God’s word.
God always manages to speak to me, as needed. He recently reminded me how application was the point of change! You may understand what the Bible says on a certain subject. You may even teach other people effectively so they can also understand. But, unless you apply the word you hear/read/understand, it’ll do you no good.
A head full of knowledge is NOT the same as having a transformed life.
Be doers of the word, and not hearers only. Otherwise, you are deceiving yourselves. –James 1:22
So, to keep from boasting, and from having a boastful heart to begin with, we do what the Bible tells us to do. For the next two weeks, I’ve tried to simplify practical application into specific categories. Today, we’re covering the mind and heart.
If it’s true we’re like the proverbial fish in the fish tank, surrounded by a cultural environment we aren’t even aware of most of the time, then we better pay careful attention to our mindsets and thought life. We swim around in a lot of deceptive worldly philosophies that contradict the word of God.
The Apostle Paul wrote how the battle is not out there so much as it’s in my own ways of thinking.
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, –2 Corinthians 10:4-5
Boasting starts in my mind as an argument or high opinion that exalts itself against the truth of God’s word and character. In fact, every lie and deception starts out this way.
The antichrist will be described as a person who exalts himself over everything that can be called “God.” Once again, he will be a man of great boasts, due to his self-exaltation.
He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. –2 Thessalonians 2:4
Deceptive worldly philosophies, such as the theory of evolution, abound in today’s world. (Colossians 2:8) They challenge God’s word through “sophisticated-sounding arguments,” which can disturb and compromise the faith of God’s people. We need to be careful not to sit under the counsel of those who do not know God. Many, who profess to even hate God in their unbelief, hold positions of power and influence, especially in our colleges and universities. Pray deeply and be wise and discerning, if you plan to go into higher education.
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, –Psalm 1:1
Doctrines of demons distort the Bible to confuse, compromise and twist the Biblical worldview of countless Christians, thereby negatively affecting how they believe and live their lives. These false teachers/teachings can go so far as to destroy the faith of certain believers.
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, –1 Timothy 4:1
If you haven’t yet noticed, we are living in these “latter times!”
In all of these cases, we need to CLING to the Word of God and trust God with all of our hearts and minds! There are too many people falling by the wayside, due to these deceptive, treacherous influences.
THE BATTLEFIELD OF THE MIND
Paul uses the military term “stronghold” to describe how the enemy infiltrates our minds.
Two definitions of “stronghold:”
- a place that has been fortified so as to protect it against attack.
- a place where a particular cause or belief is strongly defended or upheld. (bing.com)
It may be difficult to believe, but we all have various mental strongholds that serve as enemy fortifications. As we think the enemy’s thoughts and come into agreement with his lies, we end up fighting against the knowledge of God. This can happen in any area of our thinking on any topic.
We boast in ourselves only because we’ve believed a lie of the enemy. To tear down any stronghold, we must use spiritual weapons: God’s word, prayer, praise, the gifts of the Spirit, etc.
Do a Bible study on boasting? Look more deeply into this subject and don’t just take my word for it, but see how ugly it is for yourself. Pray that God would grant revelation to your heart and convict you as needed, in regards to boasting.
Do a Bible study on humility, the opposite of boasting. Pray God will humble you and show you how much you need him.
Bible study help: Go to an online concordance to look up every place where the Bible uses the word “boast” or “humble.” You may have to look up other similar words or usages, such as “pride” or “humility.” Then, carefully study each instance: the context, key words, what you should or shouldn’t do according to the Biblical example, etc.
As much as possible, unplug from the world’s matrix. Radio, TV, movies, news, Facebook, Twitter, novels, the world’s gurus, secular college professors, political candidates, what is commonly known as “science” today, etc.
Here’s what God says about man’s wisdom!
For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” –1 Corinthians 1:19
For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. –1 Corinthians 1:21
When deception runs rampant from multiple sources, it’s time to gather ourselves to Jesus and focus on what we know to be true from God’s word.
Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. –John 17:17
They are of the world. That is why they speak from the world’s perspective, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. That is how we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deception. –1 John 4:5
Ask yourself periodically, “What lies have I believed?” and really examine yourself. What exactly is the lie? Where did it come from? Then, study and accept God’s word as true, until that lie is broken and defeated.
What’s an easy way to tell if we’ve believed a lie or not?” At whatever point we disagree with God’s word, or even have trouble embracing God’s word, we’ve bumped into a potential stronghold.
Read good solid Christian books about dismantling the lies we’ve believed. I recommend the Joyce Meyer classic The Battlefield of the Mind. In it, she shares how God helped her climb out of the pit of her life, by dismantling one lie at a time through a deep study of His word. Not only will she help you dismantle many lies we all believe, but you’ll hear her testimony of how God set her free by first setting her mind free.
Long before a boastful word comes out of your mouth, the enemy has already penetrated the subterranean regions of your heart. Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45)
When you look at it this way, boasting doesn’t just involve actual words spoken, but it’s a state of heart. Therefore, someone could be proud and boastful, sometimes, without ever appearing or sounding boastful. At least, for a time, until the condition of our heart leaks out from the words we speak.
God lets us in on the state of the devil’s heart, before he fell from heaven:
YOU SAID IN YOUR HEART,
“I will ascend to the heavens;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.
I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.” –Isaiah 14:13-14 (Caps mine)
The King of Tyre (a wealthy, powerful man of his time) in his boasts:
“‘IN THE PRIDE OF YOUR HEART
YOU SAY, “I AM A GOD;”
I sit on the throne of a god
in the heart of the seas.”
But you are a mere mortal and not a god, –Ezekiel 28:2 (Caps mine)
We can even boast as we supposedly pray to God:
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ –Luke 18:10-12
Jesus described the Pharisee as being “confident in his own righteousness.” An alternate version of this passage describes the Pharisee praying to himself rather than to God.
Jesus, the Great Physician, needs to carefully examine each and every one of our hearts! Oh, God, have mercy on us!
Much of what’s needed here is to deal with our thinking first, as explained in the previous section. Thinking leads to believing, which is why it’s so crucial to examine what we think and to know what we believe.
FOR WITH THE HEART ONE BELIEVES unto righteousness, AND WITH THE MOUTH CONFESSION IS MADE unto salvation… –Romans 10:10 (Caps mine)
Though the above passage is about confession unto salvation, this Biblical principle is true across the board.
God even tells us that we become what we believe in our hearts.
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. –Proverbs 23:7a
As we see in our modern times, it’s very easy to have a faulty belief system by thinking the wrong thoughts. You can still go to church, but still believe as the world believes. Going to church won’t change your mindsets.
But, renewing your mind, according to God’s word, will! This process calls for diligent action, not passive absorption. You can’t just watch a few youtube videos or listen to a teaching series and call it good.
It takes digging into your heart, studying the word of God, praying in key areas, declaring God’s truth over yourself, renouncing the lies of the enemy, rejecting the lies of the world, etc.
THE PARABLE OF THE WISE AND FOOLISH BUILDERS
At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives a parable of two different houses: one that survives the storms of life and the other that collapses in the face of them.
I believe the difference between the two is how far you dig in your own heart to find out what you truly believe in light of the bedrock of truth! We have to dig until we find the rock of Christ and, then, build our house on that rock! Once again, that can take painful examination and the letting go of many things we’d like to believe, and would be convenient to believe in this humanistic culture, but just aren’t true.
Sometimes, we inherit homes from our family where we follow the pattern of how they lived their lives. We don’t really get a house inspection or examine the foundation upon possession, we just live in it. Both homes (our personal lives) and churches (our church’s doctrinal beliefs, traditions and practices) need to be examined for their reliability and faithfulness to God’s word. Of course, we can stretch this analogy even further to include our schools, governmental buildings, etc.
Due to the decay and drift of two thousand years since Christ, we can safely assume that most of what surrounds us DOES NOT ALIGN with the word of God, the pattern of Christ and the purity of the early church.
Consequently, we have a lot of digging to do to get beyond the debris field and deep into the heart of the foundation rock of our lives.
Consider three areas of your belief system and life where you disagree or have struggles with the word of God.
Follow the reporter’s questions to examine more deeply the disconnect between you and the mind of Christ.
—Who taught you what you currently believe? (Your parents, your church, your education, the culture at large, etc.) Who do you listen to most in your life? (the various voices)
—What exactly do you believe about this subject? What are the consequences of what you believe now and into the future? What will you do about your disconnect from God? What has already happened to others who have believed this lie and followed this path?
—Where (place, system, organization) do you feel you need to unplug from the matrix? Where do you see these beliefs manifest in your mindset, speech and life?
—When will you start a program to renew you mind according to the Bible in this area/these areas?
—How has this distorted belief already affected your life, connection with God and witness? How will you dig more deeply into your own heart to uproot the wrong beliefs and replace them with the truth of God’s word?
—Why does the world want you to believe this way? Why does God say what He says about this subject? Why is it necessary to believe the truth in this area?
We must love the truth in our hearts! Since we believe in our hearts, and God will seek to reach and convict us in our hearts, it’s so vitally important to protect our hearts with all diligence.
As mentioned before in an earlier post, many in the End Times will be given over to a delusion, because they refused the love for the truth in their hearts. They loved their unrighteousness instead. (2 Thessalonians 2:10)
When you don’t have a love for the truth, you can’t do otherwise but to heap up false teachers who will tell you what you want to hear.
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. –2 Timothy 4:3
Love is a term of affection and devotion. How can we “fall in love” with the truth of the word of God?
- Pray for the love of the truth! Pray for a love of the word of God! Pray for God’s revelation on His Word! (When God illuminates and reveals, the Bible comes alive to us!)
- Study and meditate upon Psalm 119: a passage that declares undying love for… God’s word!
- In the area(s) where you struggle, create a program to meditate upon and memorize God’s word in that area/those areas.
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. –Psalm 119:11
4. Cry out for wisdom and understanding as if it were buried treasure. Over time, God will cause you to love what He values! He’s the One Who tells us to long for these things. If so, will He not also meet our longing. [Study Proverbs 2.]
The fruit of seeking these things:
For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. –Proverbs 2:10
5. Pray-read the Bible to God! Mike Bickle of the International House of Prayer-Kansas City declares it has been his most important holy habit to keep in the heart of God. [Remember, the goal of our devotional time is not to gain Bible knowledge, but to become ever more intimate with God, our Creator!]
In its most basic form, we study the Bible, pray God’s words back to Him, and journal His replies. Beyond reading the Bible, the point is to develop the ability to have a two-way dialogue with God. When we take seriously His words to us, and, then, respond back to Him using the same language, then we can develop that conversation further.
In spending quality time and quality conversation (nod to The 5 Love Languages –incidentally my #1), we affirm the truth that Jesus is not a philosophy of life, a set of doctrines or a moral code, but a PERSON. He desires the intimacy of a husband and wife in a healthy, ever growing and ever-deepening marriage!
6. Love God will all of your mind, heart, soul and strength! (Matthew 22:36) When God is our all, we’ll see his word rightly and embrace it as we embrace Him. But, if we love the world, we’ll listen to and value the world’s voices more than we do God’s.
7. Repent before God for your points of unbelief and disagreement with His word. This may take struggle and time, which is more than okay. It’s a process. But, underneath it all, we come with the assumption “let God be true and every man a liar.” (Romans 3:4) Ask Him to show you what you need to do to come into full agreement with Him in those areas. Once again, a stronghold from the enemy is where satan has already infiltrated your mind with his way of thinking. The presence of the traitor means we also need to intentionally break agreement with and renounce his lies!
Always keep your heart humble, soft and open before God! Do not harden your heart when He comes with His truth!
We’ll continue the war against boasting next week with more practical applications from God’s Word.