There's a great controversy going on between Christ and Satan. Initially, this controversy or battle started in Heaven. At the time Satan (Lucifer) was an honored angel, next to Christ. His form was perfect; his bearing noble and majestic. But something happened at the time our world was created, more specifically, when man was created. When God said to His Son, "Let us make man in our image," Satan was jealous of Jesus. He wished to be consulted concerning the formation of man, and because he was not, he was filled with envy, jealousy, and hatred. He desired to receive the highest honors in Heaven next to God. He rebelled against the authority of God. All Heaven seemed in commotion. Some of the angels sympathized with Satan. Others strongly contended for the honor and wisdom of God in giving authority to the Son. There was contention among the angels. All the heavenly host were summoned to appear before the Father to have each case decided. It was there determined that Satan should be expelled from heaven, with all the angels who had joined him in the rebellion. Then there was war in heaven. Angels were engaged in the battle. Satan wished to conquer the Son of God and those who were submissive to His will. But the good and true angels prevailed, and Satan, with his followers, was driven from heaven. --Early Writings, Page 145, Eze 28, Rev 12.
Unfortunately, this battle is not over. The Great Controversy continues to be fought today. Where? In our minds--in our hearts. Satan wants possession of our minds. Unless our minds are fortified and saturated through and through with the Word of God, we would be under the banner of this great archdeceiver and not even know it.
How does Satan take control of our minds? Through the use of our senses. Those who name the name of Christ need to watch and pray and guard the avenues of the soul, for Satan is at work to corrupt and destroy if the least advantage is given him.
What are the avenues of the soul? The senses - The eyes, ears, mouth, nose, and the sense of touch or feeling.
Our High Calling, Page 19 - "Satan has summoned the hosts of darkness to war against the saints. We cannot afford to be indifferent to his attacks. He comes in many ways, and we must have clear spiritual discernment, that we may be able to discern when he is seeking to gain possession of our minds. God calls on those on whom the light of truth is shining to take their stand in His army. He calls upon them to show their loyalty by walking in the light He has given."
We're going to address the different avenues of the soul starting with the:
Luke 11:34 - "The light of the body is the eye; therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light, but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness."
Satan uses the eyes to gain access to our minds.
Psalms 119:37 - "Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way."
What is vanity? All is vanity, isn't it? We have to be very careful because even the good things meant for our blessings, if abused, could become vanity that would separate us from God.
In Heavenly Places, Page 215 - "We should endeavor to keep out of our homes every influence that is not productive of good. In this matter some parents have much to learn. To those who feel free to read story magazines and novels, I say: You are sowing seed, the harvest of which you will not care to gather. There is no spiritual strength to be gained from such reading. Rather it destroys the love for the pure truth of the Word. Through the agency of novels and story magazines Satan is working to fill with unreal and trivial thoughts the minds that should be diligently studying the Word of God. Thus he is robbing thousands upon thousands of the time and energy and self-discipline demanded by the stern problems of life.
"In Christian homes a bulwark should be built against temptation. Satan is using every means to make crime and degrading vice popular. We cannot walk the streets of our cities without encountering flaring notices of crime presented in some novel, or to be acted at some theater. The mind is educated to familiarity with sin. The course pursued by the base and vile is kept before the people in the periodicals of the day, and everything that can arouse passion is brought before them in exciting stories."
Psalms 101:3 - "I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me."
The first thing that comes to mind when reading this text is the TV set. Granted not all programs are evil, some are educational in nature and are okay, but what about the commercials that are interspersed throughout the show? What about previews of upcoming movies that are evil to the core? Killing, stealing, cheating, adultery are all depicted in many of these movies. What about subliminal messages that come through without you being aware of them? These messages bypass the process that occurs in the frontal lobe of the brain where these messages are evaluated, filtered, and discarded. The frontal lobe is the part of the brain where we get our reasoning abilities. It's what makes us different from the animals. It's the part where God communicates with us.
Isaiah 33:15 - "He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil."
The next verse tells us of the reward of those who pay heed to Isaiah 33:15 above. God will provide for him in the time of trouble. "He shall dwell on high; his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure."
What about music? What kind of music are we listening to? Young people, what kind of music are you listening to? My husband John has always said that there are only two kinds of music in the world--God's music and Satan's music. When I think about this, I think he is right.
I Cor 10:31 - Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. There's a chapter in Counsels on Diet and Foods entitled, Diet and Spirituality. For those of you who have this book, read that whole chapter. More so than many people realize, our diet greatly affects our spirituality.
On page 59 of that chapter, we read: "The appetite and passions should be restricted and under the control of enlightened conscience, that the intellect may be unimpaired, the perceptive powers clear, so that the workings of Satan and his snares may not be interpreted to be the providence of God."
Gluttony is classified the same as drunkenness. It's a sin that will keep us out of the Kingdom. God's people are to eat for strength and not for drunkenness (Eccl 10:17).
Counsels on Diet and Foods, Page 131 - "Overeating is a common, but serious sin. "...when too much food is used, the entire system is burdened. Life and vitality, instead of being increased, are decreased. This is as Satan plans to have it."
"You will have to become a faithful sentinel over your eyes, ears, and all your senses if you would control your mind and prevent vain and corrupt thoughts from staining your soul. The power of grace alone can accomplish this most desirable work. Satan and his angels are busy creating a paralyzed condition of the senses so that cautions, warnings, and reproofs shall not be heard; or, if heard, that they shall not take effect upon the heart and reform the life. My brethren, God calls upon you as His followers to walk in the light. You need to be alarmed. Sin is among us, and it is not seen to be exceedingly sinful. The senses of many are benumbed by the indulgence of appetite and by familiarity with sin. We need to advance nearer heaven."
Counsels on Health, Page 295- "Moral purity, self-respect, a strong power of resistance, must be firmly and constantly cherished. There should not be one departure from reserve. One act of familiarity, one indiscretion, may jeopardize the soul, by opening the door to temptation and thus weakening the power of resistance."
So what do we need to do to gain the victory in this battle for our minds? We need to wrestle with God as did Jacob and not let Him go until He blesses us. Let's consider the story of Jacob in Gen 32:24-28. In the book, The Great Controversy, page 621, we read that Jacob prevailed because he was persevering and determined. His victory is an evidence of the power of importunate prayer. All who will lay hold of God's promises, as he did, and be as earnest and persevering as he was will succeed as he succeeded. Those who are unwilling to deny self, to agonize before God, to pray long and earnestly for His blessing, will not obtain it.
A good example of one who knew how to wrestle with God was the Canaanite woman who went to Jesus seeking healing for her demon-possessed daughter. We know the story. It's found in Matt 15:21-28, and it was recorded there for a lesson for us in faith and persistency in seeking after God. She cried for help, but Jesus pretended not to hear her. The disciples wanted Jesus to send her away. She persisted with her request even after Jesus told her 'It is not meet to take the children's bread, and cast it to the dogs.' Jesus, in essence, inferred that she was a 'dog', but she worshipped Him nonetheless. Her response was 'Truth, Lord; yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table.' Her request was granted because she persisted in faith.
Another example is found the parable of Jesus found in Luke, Chapter 18, about a wicked judge and a woman who persisted in coming to him with her petition. Because of her persistence, the judge granted her request. He said, 'Because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.'
How persistent are we in seeking after God? Unlike the wicked judge, God would not be weary of us. He wants us to come to Him with our petitions.
Our High Calling, Page 131 reads: "Oh, we need to press our petitions! Ask in faith, wait in faith, receive in faith, rejoice in hope, for everyone that seeketh findeth. Be in earnest in the matter. Seek God with all the heart...
"In sincerity, in soul hunger, cry after God. Wrestle with the heavenly agencies until you have the victory."
Mind, Character and Personality, Pages 131-132 - "Go to your closet, and there alone plead with God; 'Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me' (Ps 51:10). Be in earnest, be sincere. Fervent prayer availeth much. Jacob-like, wrestle in prayer, Agonize. Jesus in the garden sweat great drops of blood; you must make an effort. Do not leave your closet until you feel strong in God; then watch, and just as long as you watch and pray you can keep these evil besetments under, and the grace of God can and will appear in you."
Bible Commentaries, Volume 6, Page 1094: - "In the conflict with satanic agencies there are decisive moments that determine the victory either on the side of God or on the side of the prince of this world. If those engaged in the warfare are not wide awake, earnest, vigilant, praying for wisdom, watching unto prayer, Satan comes off victor, when he might have been vanquished by the armies of the Lord. 1 Peter 5:8 'Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour...'
Messages to Young People, Page 104 - "We have before us a warfare -- a lifelong conflict with Satan and his seductive temptations. The enemy will use every argument, every deception, to entangle the soul; and in order to win the crown of life, we must put forth earnest, persevering effort."
Early Writings, Page 46 - "We must have the whole armor of God and be ready at any moment for a conflict with the powers of darkness. When temptations and trials rush in upon us, let us go to God and agonize with him in prayer. He will not turn us away empty, but will give us grace and strength to overcome, and to break the power of the enemy."
The great controversy between Christ and Satan--between good and evil--started in Heaven and is going on today. The battle is all about who's going to take control of our minds. Who is controlling your mind? Whose banner are you under--the banner of Prince Emmanuel or the banner of the great archdeceiver? We need to be under the bloodstained banner of Prince Emmanuel by guarding well the avenues of the soul, by seeking the kingdom of heaven with a spiritual violence that would bring its own reward. Then, our message would be the power of God unto salvation. May the Lord help us to take the kingdom of heaven by force as did Jacob and be on the side of Christ in this great conflict between good and evil.
Once to every man and nation
comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood,
For the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God's new Messiah,
Offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever
'Twixt that darkness and that light.
Then to side the truth is noble
When we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit,
And 'tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses,
While the coward stands aside,
Till the multitude make virtue
Of the faith they had denied.
By the light of burning martyrs,
Christ, Thy bleeding feet we track,
Toiling up new Calvaries ever
With the cross that turns not back;
New occasions teach new duties,
Time makes ancient good uncouth;
They must upward still and onward,
Who would keep abreast of truth.
Though the cause of evil prosper,
Yet 'tis truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold,
And upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow,
Keeping watch above His own.
--James Russell Lowell