The enemy has two main strategic focuses through which he seeks to gain influence in our lives. First, he wants to become our source of truth. When we agree with his lies about God, self, others, or reality his influence increases because he has become the one who defines meaning. Second, he invites us to become our own source of security, to get defensive in some way, to actively or passively find ways to protect ourselves and avoid the pain we fear. Do you see the pattern? We accept his version of reality. This produces fear. We act (or refust to act) in order to stay safe and/or feel better.
As a child I struggled a great deal with fear and terror. A horror movie I should never have watched provided an open door for me to fall into this very trap. The enemy whispered “Alan, you’re not safe alone.” I agreed. From that point forward for a period of several years, whenver I was alone I would experience crushing waves of panic and terror. How to stay safe? Never be alone. Stay busy if at all possible – always with friends, always at church, or at school activities. I learned to say yes to everything. Why? To protect myself. If alone, at least turn on the TV, the radio, something, anything to at least give me the illusion of not being alone. The enemy became my source of truth. I became my source of safety.
The genius of our enemy’s strategy is that it preys powerfully upon a core need we all share – security. Something painful occurs and he siezes the opportunity to point out that this event proves there is no safety in our circumstances. He then nudges us toward the “logical” conclusion that since there is not safety in our circumstances, we had better take matters into our own hands. Become your own source of security. Build walls. Get defensive. Get passive. Get angry. Or at least medicate to numb the pain. Drugs, alcohol, food, work, ministry…any of these will do the trick.
The insidiousness of the enemy’s strategy is in his logic. If an argument’s assumptions are valid and the argument itself is logical, then the conclusion has merit. The enemy’s argument has very strong logic. But what about the assumptions? This is where he gets really sneaky. The overt assumption is that circumstances are a very poor source of security. This is a valid assumption. The logical argument from this assumption is quite effective. But there’s a covert assumption, one that is unspoken but very present, on which his logic depends. It is an assumption that if made overt, if articuled with clarity, will cause his entire strategy to crumble to the ground. It is the assumption that my only options for security are either my circumstances or my self. By pointing out that my circumstances are not safe, and assuming that circumstances and self are my only options, he leads me down the path of self protection and self medication.
Ministry we receive can be ineffective if this reality is not dealt with intentionally. We might often have an opportunity to identify and renounce the overt lie. But because the covert lie remains intact, the activation of our will falls flat. Why? Because the overt lie isn’t a lie at all if the assumptions are true. If the enemy’s lie is “You are not safe in your circumstances”, then saying back “Oh yes I am” is no good at all. Our heart knows it just isn’t true. The covert lie must be identified and renounced. It’s not just “I am too safe alone.” It’s: “Today I choose to renounce the lie that I can ever find safety in circumstances or self. Today I choose to surrender fully to you God, the only true source of security that exists.”
There’s a third option. There’s a good, near, and powerful God who can and will be my source of security regardless of what’s happening in my circumstances, regardless of what is done to me. This is the reality the enemy never points out but knows to be true. The big lie is the one he doesn’t articulate. The big lie is the assumed one. The big lie is that my only options are circumstances or self. When I believe the lie and exercise my will accordingly, he succeeds in building increasingly high barriers in my heart and mind that stand in the way of me ever truly turning to the only source of security that exists, God himself.
There is no way out of the fear trap that doesn’t include turning to God as my source of truth AND as my source of security. This is the heart of repentance. This brings me to the kind of truth that sets captives free.
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