Who said that?

     So how do we recognize fiery darts? Examine the effect the “suspicious thought” has on you. Does it produce confusion, fear, doubt, anger, inferiority, indecisiveness, jealously, judgment, or selfishness, for example? It would be wise to consider where such thoughts could lead. For example, thoughts of self-sufficiency can lead to a decreased dependency on God. Thoughts of jealously could lead to revengeful actions. Thoughts of judgment toward ourselves or toward others fosters condemnation. (Remember, God convicts. He does not condemn.) “Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1, HCSB) and “For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him”(John 3:17 HCSB). I’m sure you get the point. p 53-54, 3rd ed FD’s

     The above excerpt from my book, Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice, provides essential advice on how to identify thoughts of the fiery dart kind. Recently, I was made aware of an additional technique. 

     I was listening to a sermon when this question was offered as a way to recognize the influencer of our thoughts.  It’s a simple question we ask ourselves. But the answer is powerfully revealing. So here it is:

who said that

     But there’s a catch in being able to answer such a question. We need to know about the character of God. And we also need to know the character of Satan.  When we do, then we can recognize where our thoughts have originated. For example:

     I have a tendency to be self condemning. Therefore, I battle this fiery dart often. So when a condemning thought troubles me, I ask, “Who said that?” I can answer with confidence, “Well, it sure wasn’t God.” How do I know that? Because the Bible tells me that God brings conviction; not condemnation. And conviction is given in order to restore. Condemnation, on the other hand, is given in order to destroy.  This knowledge empowers me to reject the condemning thoughts; preventing them from ruling my thinking. 

     The Bible reveals God’s character as well as Satan’s. Those of us who are not familiar with either can easily be deceived and manipulated. Pretty obvious isn’t it as to  why  Satan would be so determined to keep us from reading our Bibles? If we can’t recognize the influencer of a troubling thought then we are primed for deception and manipulation.  

     So allow me to pose this question: If we aren’t reading our Bibles due to thoughts such as, “You don’t have time. It isn’t really all that necessary. The Bible isn’t relevant to our day. It won’t make any difference.”  

“Who do we suppose is saying that?”

Taking the easy road of condemnation!

   A few days ago I came across a book entitled, God in My Unbelief by J. W. Stevenson. ( a book written by a Scottish minister that portrays what it is like to be a Christian in a community) Prior to this discovery, I had been struggling with over focusing on condemning thoughts towards myself and toward others.

   Lately, I have come to realize that condemnation whether it’s of ourselves or others, is a fiery dart that, if not brought under control, tends to eat away at our self esteem and our relationship with others. Condemnation tempts us to think thoughts that pull us down, that cause us to not think well of ourselves, that focus too much on our troubles. Condemnation creates thoughts of confusion about what we should do, thoughts that worry too much about our future well being. We become suspect that others are condemning us, and on and on it goes.

   Temptation to think condemning thoughts toward others seems to be a constant fiery dart to resist. Condemnation fed by our sinful nature prevents us from trying to  understand others. We don’t want to see their need and our need of God’s forgiveness as equal. It will tempt us to see those who we feel are condemning us as the enemy; instead of seeing Satan as the enemy. 

I have gleaned from this book such thoughts as:

It is easier to condemn than understand.

We draw the mercy of God when we had known our need to be the same as the need of him whom we condemn.

Over focusing on the condemning thoughts towards myself and others, keeps me from truly seeing the Cross. 

   The Truth thought that God would direct our attention to so that we could resist the fiery darts of condemnation is: Romans 8:1,”Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus,…”  HCSB

   Concerning myself, I hear God asking me this question when the fiery darts of condemnation harass me,

“Why are you condemning yourself? I don’t condemn you!”

   And the same question is asked when the fiery darts of condemnation toward others assail me,

“Why are you condemning them? I don’t condemn them!”

   Can you imagine the bondage we place ourselves in when we allow the fiery darts of condemnation of ourselves and others rule our thinking?

   Can you imagine the freedom we would know if we would focus on Romans 8:1?

   What if we were to accept ourselves in Christ and believe that Christ makes us worthy?

   What if we were to understand that God brings conviction so that we can be restored and made more like Christ? 

What if we were to see other’s need to be rescued by God on the same plane as our need to be rescued by God?

What if we were to love others and accept them the way they are and leave it to God to convict them of their sin. (Even when we feel their sin is against us!)

Finally, let us understand the difference between condemnation and conviction.

Satan condemns with the intention of destroying us.

God convicts us of our sin with the intention of restoring us to Himself. 

Who’s Messing With Your Self Worth?

The Cognitive Triangle

The Cognitive Triangle

First we entertain a thought. That thought will cause certain related feelings. Thus, behavior is based on our thoughts and feelings.  p.16, FD

     Several years ago and over a two year period of time, I suffered from a serious bout of depression. I remember battling suicidal thoughts and deep sadness to the point that my prayers became a desperate cry for God to hold on to me because I had no strength left to hold on to Him.  I survived that dark time in my life but that’s about it. It wouldn’t be until several years later as God initiated my training in fiery dart recognition that I would be able to recognize the bondage that defined my existence during those two years. 

Here’s what happened to me and I see this same overused but deadly effective tactic of Satan’s still being used today!

     Refer to the diagram above. In my case I was a people pleaser. If I felt significant people in my life approved of me, then life was good and I felt good about myself. On the other hand, if there was strife or conflict in these relationships life was not good and I became convinced I had little reason to feel good about myself. Self approval you see was strongly connected to what others thought of me. (Or what I thought they thought!)

Do you see the pattern?

     First this negative thought (fiery dart remember) would plant itself into my head producing some very negative feelings or emotions. Never mind that these negative thoughts had no basis in Truth! The poison of these fiery darts seeped into my thinking producing destructive attitudes and behavior. 

     The purpose of these fiery darts, you see, was to diminish any sense of self worth that I might still possess. I was an easy target because it was way too important for me to have the good opinion of those significant people in my life. As relationships with these people deteriorated, so did my self worth.

I wonder if I have touched a nerve? 

     Are you sad seemingly all the time? Are you convinced you don’t measure up and that significant persons in your life don’t approve of you? Does the dangerous thought that your family would be better off without you ever sneak into your mind? Please hold on, for I have glorious news for you in my next post. In the meantime hold on to the following verse,

For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. To give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Condemnation vs Conviction!

So, how do you tell the difference?

I dealt with that question briefly in Chapter Five of my book, Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice

So how do we recognize fiery darts? Examine the effect the “suspicious thought” has on you.  Does it produce confusion, fear, doubt, anger, inferiority, indecisiveness, jealously, or selfishness, for example?  It would be wise to consider where such thoughts could lead.   For example, thoughts of self-sufficiency can lead to a decreased dependency on God.  Thoughts of jealously could lead to revengeful actions.  I’m sure you get the point.  These thoughts are designed for your destruction.  Knowing that sin will certainly proceed from thoughts of this nature, Satan’s plan to destroy us is set in motion. Therefore, if the thought’s natural end is sin, then it is obvious Satan’s fiery darts have been influencing your thinking. p. 33-34

Once I began this study which developed into my book, I gained insight early on into the obvious difference between the two.  Negative thinking when examined using the approach described in the above insert, exposed some types of fiery darts rather easily

But as my skills improved in identifying these rather obvious fiery darts, the more subtle ones began proving to be more difficult. The fiery darts that were getting to me, usually came in the form of self-condemnation.  

I was caught off guard by the fiery darts that would attack me during my prayer time or when contemplating a prayerful thought!

Perhaps I would be pondering a problem or an issue I might be having with another person. Before I realized it thoughts of a self-condemning nature would invade my mind and take over my thinking.  I could not see clearly  how I should deal with the issue or problem I might be pondering because my mind was being diverted by the fiery darts of self-condemnation. 

Consider this:

Satan continues to confuse us as to what is truth and what is a lie. I realized by his taking a bit of truth and wrapping it around a lie, Satan had masterfully manipulated me into considering the corrupted truth and my sensitivity toward the lie lessened with every temptation. p. 20

Do you see how I was being manipulated?

The self-condemning thoughts contained truth about myself.  Therefore, how could I ignore them? Slowly my focus was being diverted from seeking answers on how to deal with the issues or problems I might be having with someone else, to the point that I lost any clarity or insight on how to deal with the problem. It seemed every time I attempted to seek these type of answers, the fiery darts of self-condemnation thwarted my success. 

Keep in mind that conviction brings restoration, a fiery dart brings condemnation. p. 79

Making sense yet?

My own condemnation blinded me from see God’s solutions.

There is a powerful verse that I would like to share with you that is proving to liberate me from this entrapment of self-condemnation.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, Rom. 8:1 NIV

When I am prayerfully seeking answers on how to deal with an issue or problem I might be having with another person, I remember the verse above.  I try hard to remember that God desires for me to receive the answers I am seeking and that condemning me won’t accomplish that.  He has always been able to gently and lovingly convict me of my sin in a non-critical manner and without putting me on the defensive.  I respond to loving conviction and am lifted up; condemnation, on the other hand, only drags me down. 

And therein lies the difference!