Written By: R.A. Goodnight
“Stand firm then… with the breastplate of righteousness in place… Take the helmet of salvation…” Ephesians 6:14, 15
THE BATTLE FOR HEARTS AND MINDS
For ages, human philosophers have pursued answers to life’s biggest questions. Thankfully, a degree in philosophy isn’t required to find explanations for most, as the scriptures provide satisfying answers to all such questions. Let me give you an example.
It is a problem as old as war itself. During a war, the invading force needs a strategy to defeat the defending force, but also a plan to minimize resistance from the local population. Additionally, being able to shape the ideology of future generations is strategic to the long-term success of the conquering army. But how do you control resistance from the indigenous people as well as their children? By targeting their hearts and their minds.
With physical warfare there is, generally, a psychological war that is fought simultaneously. One of the earliest secular references to this comes from India, around the 4th century B.C. In a book that was written the writer gives advice on how to wage Gudayuddha, or “silent warfare”. The invading force would use propaganda campaigns that attempted to convince the people that they were the force for good. They would try to sway the population (and even the opposing soldiers) that the invaders have the people’s interest in mind, that they were liberators and not enslavers. In the end, they offer some form of freedom to the people with the hope of winning them over to their ideology. For if you can win the people, you have a greater chance of winning the war. But, depending on who the invading force is, the ‘freedom’ they entice the population with can be dangerous lies.
THE LIES OF TODAY
It should not come as a shock that our invader, Satan, uses this tactic in his war against God’s people. The scriptures tell us, “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14) The Bible also refers to him as the father of lies. (John 8:44) Through the ages he has proven himself to be a skilled liar and an effective propagandist. At the beginning of human history, Satan employed lies and propaganda to target the mind of Eve. He presented himself as a liberator and promised her ‘freedom’ that he claimed God was withholding from her. Once he convinced her of his lie it infected her heart causing her to act on the idea. (Genesis 3:4, 5) So began human sin. It is an effective tactic that has won many over to his side. Due to its effectiveness, we should not expect him to have abandoned its use.
Bringing the application to our day, thousands of years later, Satan is still employing this tactic. He persists in his efforts to “lead the whole world astray” by use of lies and propaganda. (Revelation 12:9) Even today he builds his lies on the same fundamental deception – that God is holding us back. That we are not free. That we can have more, and that he is offering it. His ideals are embedded in the constant barrage of data offered to us by Hollywood, news outlets and politicians. The ideals we encounter include stances on sexual immorality (homosexual or heterosexual), abortion, idolatry (many times not recognized as idolatry), spirituality and religion along with many other hot topics in the world today. He tries to convince us that these are not bad. He tries to persuade us to adopt an ‘anything goes’ attitude toward life; he presents that as being free, as us being in control of our own lives.
Sadly, many of our fellow humans have given into these ideas and now find themselves in a precarious situation. Those who accept (and more importantly promote) these popular lies, knowingly or unknowingly, have become agents in Satan’s war. 2 Corinthians tells us, “It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” (11:15) God pronounces woes upon individuals in this state, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness.” (Isaiah 5:20) This is not a situation in which we want to find ourselves or our families–taking a stand against God and his truths through the belief and promotion of Satan’s lies.
Understanding that the assault is more intense than it ever has been, how do we protect our minds and our hearts?
THE HELMET OF SALVATION – OUR MENTAL DEFENSE
Just as a physical helmet protects the head and brain, the source of our intellect, our hope of salvation can protect our minds. The distractions and lies presented to us by Satan’s world can have an intoxicating effect upon us. Interestingly, Paul admonished first century Christians, “But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.” (1 Thessalonians 5:8) In this verse, Paul establishes a connection between spiritual sobriety (or mental protection) and our hope of salvation. Instead of allowing ourselves to be distracted by the promises and ‘wisdom’ of Satan’s world, a focus on our hope of salvation can help ensure that our minds are strong, aware and filled the truths from God as opposed to the lies of Satan.
However, our minds require constant attention. As the flow of Satan’s propaganda exists 24/7 our consideration of God based truths need to occur daily. This counsel is given to us through scripture as well. The Bible admonishes, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2) Yes, a regular renewal of our mind convinces us of God’s truth and reinforces His will as opposed to Satan’s lies that our minds encounter. Meditating on what is true, right and pure is the only antidote to the information offered to us through Satan’s world. (Philippians 4:8)
THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS – DEFENSE FOR OUR HEARTS
The defense of our heart begins with protecting our mind, as the path to our hearts is through our minds. This is one of the most important aspects of Christian warfare. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23) What is in our figurative hearts defines who we really are, the inner person. Our heart is our seat of motivation. Everything we do, love or hate comes from our hearts.
The breastplate of a soldier’s armor protected his heart. So how can righteousness protect our figurative hearts? First, we must understand and accept that righteousness is only defined by one person – God. Not ourselves, not a politician (or other public figure), not our friends – not this world. Once we have accepted God’s standard on righteousness, this will cause us to reject any ‘wisdom’ we encounter in the world that changes, removes or disputes His standard. Over time this will develop in us a heart that hates evil but loves good. (Amos 5:15) Once our hearts have been conditioned to love what God loves, it will govern what we say and do. Speaking of Christ, Hebrews 1:9 tells us, “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.” As our exemplar, we should strive to have a heart of Christ. It will define who we are as a Christian.
CHILDREN ARE PRIME TARGETS
The defense of our own hearts and minds is of utmost importance. In the outset of this article, I mentioned that a strategic initiative of an invading force would be to change the ideology of future generations as well. This means the minds and hearts of our children are prime targets.
Men, the attack upon our children is as fierce as I have ever seen it. Satan is using music, movies, TV shows, even children’s books to hack their little minds and pirate their precious hearts. More importantly, through school and colleges they are taught many ideas that directly conflict with God’s standards of righteousness. Whether through poor choices in friends or through the school curriculums, there is an active campaign against our children. Are you aware of who your children’s friends are? Do you know what is being taught in their classrooms? If we do not choose to fill their minds with the pure thoughts of God and to shape their identities as Christians – Satan will do his own filling. Do not test him. The Devil would love nothing more than to have his way with our children’s minds.
Our children need us to fight for them. Their futures depend on us forging child-sized helmets and breastplates to protect their minds and hearts. Let’s consider for a moment the example of a Christian youth – Timothy. Paul said this of him, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” (2 Timothy 1:5) It was Timothy’s grandmother and mother who shaped his mind and conditioned his heart. Further counsel from God’s word admonishes us as fathers, “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 11:19)
What are some practical ways we can apply this counsel? Bedtime stories are a great way. When fishing, hiking or involved in outdoor activities – use these moments to teach your kids about our Great Creator and God. When you drive them to school, impart God’s truths and wisdom with application for their day. If practical for your family, prayerfully consider a Christian school or college for your child. If not practical, be aware and involved in what public schools are actively putting into the minds of our kids. We are their fathers. As far as it is in our power, let’s make intentional choices what we allow into their minds and hearts.
t is our responsibility to start forging for our children a strong faith and passionate love for God’s standards from the moment we see their eyes the first time. Fight with a ferocity that the Devil has never encountered before. Fight as if their futures will be shaped by the effectiveness of the defense you mount because they will be.
We now have a full suit of armor that we can use to defend ourselves as well as our entire families. In this series we have considered:
• The sword of the Spirit
• The shield of faith
• The belt of truth
• Feet fitted with the gospel of peace
• The breastplate of righteousness
• The helmet of salvation
(www.communityspiritmagazine.com or www.issuu.com contains back issues of CSM to read the set).
Equip your armor men and scream back at the Devil, “You cannot have them! Not this child, not today!” Strike you swords against your shields and fight like men, in Jesus name, Amen!
I would consider it a privilege to hear from any of the readers. Reach out to me, share your stories. firstname.lastname@example.org