Guest Blog: Jonathan Olsen- The Enemy and/or You

Note: Before we begin this blog, I would like to clarify that I am not, in any way, proposing that we do not have an enemy in Satan or anything to fear in that regard. As I write this, I do find Satan to be our true enemy and I do believe it should be a concern for us to keep through our lives. Rather, my writing here addresses a potential misconception in the works of God in our life and the things we attribute to Satan vs. our own flesh. So don’t be discouraged by this blog. Instead, I hope it’s convicting in the way it convicted myself in learning this.

In our lives, we have struggles. We have innumerable moments of tribulation and anxiety. Moments of weakness and anxiety and through all of that, we have an innate nature to try and discern the cause of these moments. We try and discern what influences are taking hold in our life that are causing these situations to become such potent sources of anxiety, fear, tribulation, weakness, or failure. In Christianity, we are often compelled to believe that we have the influence of a demon(s) or some negative source acting on our minds to make our struggles seem more detrimental than they actually are. In modern Christianity, the religion has succumb to the belief that it is viewed as ridiculous to state that the devil is working to steal, kill, or destroy our inheritance with the Lord. Instead, we generalize the entire realm of anti-Christian influences into our lives as the “enemy”, therefore blanketing every possible cause of struggle and unhappiness into the category of an enemy.

This causes the whole dynamic of hardship to be generalized to a “woe is me” mentality.  To be clear, we have a REAL enemy, but not all struggles we face come directly from Satan. Some of the problems we face come from our fallen human nature that we need to keep in control with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Generalizing the struggles to the “enemy” is keeping us from being able to work on our own minds. We must realize that it is innately human for us to have selfish, angry, and detrimental thoughts in our minds (Galatians 5:16-26). The reason we need the Lord in our lives is because we are naturally fallen and awful in the eyes of the Lord. The Lord blesses us with the Holy Spirit; who is the influence that creates and opposes these innately sinful thoughts and desires we hold. If we cannot acknowledge that it is our own self that thinks this way, we prevent our lives from being able to be moved and shaken by the Holy Spirit. If we assert and believe that our influx of negative thoughts and behaviors toward other people and even toward the Lord and his plan for us are not from our own minds, we don’t leave any room for us to have the humility to allow the Holy Spirit to convict us in order to combat that fallen nature that we have.

Traditionally this was generalized as our conscience and explained through the analogy of the demon and the angel on either of our shoulders. The one causing peaceful, charitable, and loving thoughts in our minds while the other side encourages selfishness, anger, deception, and other traits that we can choose to take in certain situations. This is the same situation wherein there is an enemy guiding us into the darkness and away from the Lord. Though, it is clearly written and demonstrated in the Word that this is not how the enemy works in us. On the contrary, it is written that due to the nature of our fallen world, we naturally have the whole battery of negative and selfish desires within our own minds without the influence of demonic or evil forces.

Also, that we naturally have no concept of self sacrifice, charity, and selflessness on our own. What I am saying is this: our human nature is for us to be terrible to one another and to only be self seeking for our own benefit and that all of our altruistic and charitable traits are grown out of the roots of the Holy Spirit within us. Do not blame the “enemy” for your behaviors, thoughts, and failures as they are often your own self acting without regard to the Holy Spirit. Rather, the imagery of the angel and demon is more correctly shown in an analogy where there is a human nature and a Holy Spirit. That the duality in our conscience is in fact our self with an influence from the Holy Spirit and our hearts know the difference between the two very well. We deceive ourselves by pretending to not know how to tell one from the other. Each of our minds are very easy to distinguish from the Holy Spirit as the Holy Spirit is the only source of anything that we consider to be selfless, altruistic, charitable, and unconcerned with reciprocation. Your heart knows absolutely when the Holy Spirit is guiding us away from darkness and then your mind proceeds to debate this and rationalize ourselves in order to not take heed to the Holy Spirit.

We have the same tendency to blame illness, situational, and financial calamity on the enemy as though it is some outside force working to destroy our lives.  Sometimes, like Job, it is Satan.  Other times, they are a result of living in a fallen world. We would love for the Lord to validate our lives and efforts through our perceptions of blessings and reward us with our perception of wealth when in reality, the Lord does bless us with these things, our perception and discernment is almost always unable to interpret these blessings. It is why we are told to not trust in our own hearts ability to discern the will of God (Proverbs 3:5-7, Jeremiah 7:9).

Our resulting action in these circumstances should be to act in such a way that the only resort we have is to rely on prayer and fellowship within the Lord. Rather, the Lord is who we rely on and double down on in these situations (James 1:2-3).

A life of comfort and riches is a detrimental situation to our eternal life as a life of tribulation and struggle is an essential part of attaining an eternal life. It is why there is so much emphasis throughout the word that we should worry when we are comfortable (Luke 6:24-26, Luke 18:25-27). That the rich are not likely to it enter the gates of heaven and that the meek are those who will attain eternal life. It is the meek, the weak, and the helpless who face the most struggle and tribulation in this world. They are who are the most blessed because they will learn the heavenly truth of our nature through their lives because their blessings will lead them, through discomfort and pain, into the realization that we become truly capable of loving others as did Christ only through understanding them which comes from a myriad of struggles and tribulation. Those who live in comfort and physical wealth can learn all of this but never attain the true understanding and capacity to live it because they’ve been able to dictate their own reality and allow it to be lead by the innate nature that is of this fallen world.

We must take the words of James and apply that to every situation. You can legitimately find joy in all of your struggles if you can fully understand how blessed your life is by having such refining moments. To know that every struggle makes you stronger and solidifies your faith in the Lord is to be able to find joy in the situations that we previously credited to the enemy. When you have moments where your mind becomes negative and awful toward another person or situation, know that it is only yourself who is that way. Know that without the Lord, that negative and judgmental way of thinking would be our complete and whole life. Without the Holy Spirit within us, we would stand no chance to even recognize that our mind is behaving in such a way. In fact, it is the Holy Spirit who has created that capacity to recognize that your mind is not in line with your pursuit of the will of God and in such, you can fight yourself with the power of the Holy Spirit to legitimately create a new heart that is disgusted by such selfishness and deception (Ezekiel 36:26). But, know that our minds will always have this nature in our world.

We do not ever completely end the war of our nature within our minds. Ephesians 4:23 tells us to “let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.”  It is a continuous practice that we must make daily in order to diminish our truly fallen nature while enabling the Holy Spirit to be the loudest and most influential voice in our minds. Do not give up this battle and know that this battle is your thorn. Your mind is always going to know who you are without the Lord and therefore will try and convince you that the perception of yourself without the Lord is actually who you are.

Your mind will not accept that you can fully become coupled like a marriage to the Holy Spirit; that the Holy Spirit can become louder and more influential than your own thoughts but it requires the humility and humbleness to acknowledge the truth of the matter and of yourself. We are naturally sinful in our minds and that the Holy Spirit is the source of the things that are not sinful. It is our teacher, our advocate, and our mentor. Thank the Lord each time you acknowledge this and realize how blessed we truly are in our struggles and tribulations. God blesses our lives and we give thanks for the endowment of the Holy Spirit!

Jonathan Olsen

Guest Discerning Dad

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