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:
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.”
There are seasons in our lives when in spite of what we read in the Bible, we feel abandoned by God. (and if we aren’t reading our Bible then we, for sure, feel abandoned and even hopeless) We walk around in a cloud where hope is vague and happiness is something we grow more unfamiliar with by the day.
So what should we do? How do we survive such desolate days?
We all have a singular enemy! He is called Satan! He has plans to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10:10). He influences false assumptions, prideful thinking, and deceptive human reasoning. (2 Cor 10:3-5)
Then how is it that we are so easily devoured by Satan’s plans?
I’ve been told that the lion stalks those who are distracted and weak. Therefore, Satan is on a constant vigil to detect the weak among us. Those who rarely feed on God’s word, are most vulnerable to his manipulation and deception. Those who have become more familiar with the lies of the world than the principles declared in the Bible are easily led astray and distracted.
Without a healthy understanding of how much we are loved by God, of His good plans for us, of how His plan is for all things to work together for our good, we can easily be consumed by the burdens of life. Therefore, Satan’s foremost attack is to make us ignorant of such understanding. By doing so, he can easily convince us that God has forgotten and abandoned us. He feeds our thoughts with negativity and lies. Our hope soon gives way to hopelessness and despair.
How do we counter Satan’s attack?
Satan attacks us first in our thoughts. A weapon referred to as fiery darts. If we don’t know how to recognize those fiery darts, then we are doomed to falling prey to their poison. How we feel will be filtered by the fiery darts we have allowed to take root in our thinking. Consider the following excerpt from my book, Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice:
First we entertain a thought. That thought will cause certain related feelings. Thus, our behavior is influenced by our thoughts and feelings. Psychologists say that if behavior is to be changed, then the flow must be interrupted, either at the initial thought or at the feeling point. p. 28 3rd ed FD’s
Satan must be defeated at the first thought level. When we accomplish this, then the darkness will diminish. We won’t succumb to the deception of the enemy. We may have to deal with unhappiness but our joy remains. And instead of becoming overwhelmed we will discover that
We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-16 NLT
As I survey people, in particular Christians, there is something I find troubling. It appears to me that an alarming number of Christians are walking life’s path without the benefit of light! And when the trials come, the lack of light allows Satan to move stealthily.
His first attempt will be to weaken our new nature by tempting our old nature with distractions meant to diminish our desire to study the Bible or spend time with God in prayer. p. 46 FD’s 3rd edition
When trials come, and that’s a given, without the light of God’s word we will find ourselves stumbling around in the dark. Having become so accustomed to the darkness we fail to see the solutions the light reveals. Before we realize it, we find ourselves walking along life’s paths using the same human reasoning and false arguments anyone in the World would use. Without the light provided by God’s Word, we become confused, disillusioned, frustrated, etc. as we seek solutions to our trials from other sources.
As Christians do we really desire to live this way? Satan’s fiery darts will attempt to convince us that this is normal. But God tells us that He has a better plan:
…the second half of John 10:10 reveals … God’s plan for His children, “I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” p 13, FD”s 3rd edition
However, Satan’s plan is to keep us in the dark.
But remember, his plan can’t succeed as long as we access the light provided in God’s word.
.John 10:10a (HCSB), “A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy.” So what is it that the Enemy desires to steal, kill, and destroy? The answer is obvious—anything God has planned for us! p 13 FD’s 3rd edition
It’s obvious that America is in trouble. Chaos reigns in hot spots throughout our land. Too many of our leaders have called upon human reasoning and false arguments to replace the Christian principles upon which our country was founded. Slowly but surely the foundations of our country are being eroded away.
But you know the same is true for individuals. Rejecting God sets us on the same course of depending upon human reasoning and false arguments. The outcome of such a choice places our lives, families, and ,therefore, our country at risk.
And because we are not motivated to spend time with God in prayer and in His word, we are ignorant of the following Truths:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV
The second half of John 10:10 reveals an aspect of God’s plan for His children, “I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” p 13 FD’s 3rd edition
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV), ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ p 24 FD’s 3rd edition
How about we examine the two plans
Cooperating with God’s plan produces
… Galatians 5:22-23. This is the familiar verse describing the fruits of the Spirit. When God puts a thought into your mind, then, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or selfcontrol, for example, is the desired end. The purpose behind thoughts influenced by God is meant to conform us into the image of His Son. p 54 FD 3rd edition
Rejecting God’s plan produces
Now the works of the flesh are obvious:sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity,idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions,envy,drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. Galatians 5:19-21
So why do individuals choose Satan’s plan over God’s plan?
In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4 HCSB
Please open our eyes LORD. Lead us out of our darkness into Your Light!