What is of Christ and What is of the Devil…
or, Striving to Forsake the Things of This Sin-Cursed World
These last few months for me were quite cold and carnal; I wasn’t going about sinning openly in some notorious sense but such mental (and yet spiritual) sin as disdain, murmuring, pride, lust, rebellion, indifference, slothfulness, selfishness, self-centeredness, etc., had gotten a grip — one that I am still struggling against. I found myself listening to the secular songs that I once had victory over (music has always been a powerful temptation for me). I found myself watching God-dishonouring television and movies (Sci-Fi, crime dramas, comedies, all things that I love by nature, all things that I had some measure of victory over, and all things that I slipped back into). Secular entertainment was where I sought to find some fleeting sense of peace, joy, and distraction of mind — sense I could not find it spiritually, and no good came of it.
Moreover, I found that I was greatly esteeming myself above those whom I viewed as less diligent, less competent, less savvy. I was a prideful mess and my struggle with intrusive/obsessive thoughts did not help, for as I was ruminating over such things, I became more and more full of discontent, murmuring, confusion, anger, nigh manic levity, and a desire to avoid interaction with others. The battle was in my mind and the worse thing about it was that my conscience was bothered to the utmost. I knew better than to think how I was thinking, feel how I was feeling, act out as I was acting. In the midst of such confusion, I would actively think “Curt, what are you doing, you have to stop this, this isn’t godly;” and yet, I found no strength to stop — none whatsoever. By the time I realised how far I slipped, I prayed, cried out, but it was seemingly to no avail. I was stuck in my rut and could do nothing about it. Such a confession, my lack of strength to stop, to repent, may sound like a cop-out to many (and maybe it is to some real degree) but if I had the immediate strength to stop, or the desire to do so sufficient enough to lead me to stop, I would have stopped… but I didn’t. There was a war within me, raging thoughts, poor attitude, even hatred and disdain — and I was drifting further and further from the Lord during the entire time I was losing this war.
So when I say, “the battle is in and for your mind;” this truism wasn’t just notion to me — it was reality. My attention diminished, my diligence, temperance, self-control, common sense, etc. — all seemed to be slipping from me. When the mind is not right, nothing will be right — and when the spirit is not right (experimentally speaking), the mind will not be. When your eye is not single on Christ, and when your affections are not set on Him (His Person, Kingdom, goodness, and glory), and when your affections are on the corrupted things of this world, *no* good will come of it — only misery, languishing, vanity of thought and words… it is an utter waste of time and of life. I lost focus on Christ and this could only lead to a downward spiral because how can one rise up, stand upright, when self is the (experimental) lord and master of your life? One cannot prosper in such a condition because one is alienated (in their experience) from their only Hope and Source of True (spiritual) prosperity. There is no help or strength outside of Christ; no rest or peace outside of Him; no growth, stability, and diligence outside of Him; no sanity, peace of mind, or temperance of tongue and spirit — all there is absurdity, sadness, and madness. There is no experimental life, no felt sense of joy and communion with the Lord. In such a state, there is only felt folly and darkness… even despair, hopelessness at times, and a wondering if God will ever look down upon you with love and restore you. Think about it, when your heart and mind goes astray from the Lord who bought you, spilled His precious blood for you, and gave His very life for you, how can any aspect of your day to day life be good, or enjoyable, or fruitful? How can you live according to your calling? You can’t; so my entire Christian walk and profession became an outward sham in my own eyes (perhaps in others as well), all because I lost sight of what was *most* important, trading it in for nonsense, absolute nonsense, as the cares and temptations of this world came flooding in. What a truly disheartening, disgusting, and fearful state to be in — all due to sin in self, even indwelling sin in this wicked body of death.
Yet God delivers and preserves; slowly but surely, He will bring His own out of such a condition. One thing that helped me much, by God’s grace, was an increasingly clear sense of the battle lines that He draws. The clearer the distinction between what belongs to Christ and what belongs to Anti-Christ, the easier it is to know which side you need to be on (by His grace) in every aspect of your daily walk. The more I understood that the entirety of this world system has but one primary design and purpose, and that is to direct our thoughts, attentions, and affections away from Christ (and to undermine His wisdom, doctrine, and authority in the minds of men), the more I began to see my utter, utter folly and to have some felt sense of deliverance from my wayward ways. As He turned me more and more back to Him, I was able to understand more of what enticed me and led me down the idiots path. Thank God that through His word, faithful ministers, and His effectual mercy and working, He led me out of the miry dungeon of my own stupidity… not fully, still very much knee-deep in the aftermath, but things are getting better — God is indeed good (in that experimentally felt sense that brings joy to the heart through the victories He gives).
Important lessons were learned through all of this, nonetheless;, seeing that I now have a better understanding of what to watch out for and a stronger sense of WHO I need to look unto (even the Lord Jesus Christ). See, if my ear and eye gates are wide open, and the floods coming in aren’t bringing in thoughts of the beauty and worthiness of Christ, what should I expect but to fall? So now I see all the more that (no matter how harmless I may try to make it out to be) any song that contains lyrics contrary to the will, law, and nature of God, is a song designed to turn man from Christ and the paradigm, the worldview, that He has established for us through Scripture. Any movie or television show that has language, plots, scenes, or other content that runs contrary to God and His word, is a movie or television show that is designed to turn our allegiance, and to redirect our hearts and minds away from our Lord. Every political controversy, current event, or social dilemma that does not allow us to biblically stand for Christ, His truth, and His entire counsel (as we contemplate and discuss such matters), only serves as a distraction from the glory of Christ and from our holy calling in Him. Any friendship, solidarity, camaraderie, etc. engaged in with those who are opposed to, or indifferent towards the Truth, forms a relationship that, by it’s very nature, risks leading us away from Christ and down the road of (temporary) compromise.
Truly, the world would have us get caught up in debates over slain lions, useless flags, xenophobia, celebrity deaths and gossip, coming disasters, coming attractions, etc. — but all that these things will do is harden our hearts and divert our minds, unless God intervenes. If we fail to heed the warnings and turn from our foolish ways (for only He can cause us to hear, heed, and turn), He will leave us to ourselves for a season, so that we may learn just how dangerous it is to leave His side and to take our eyes off of Him. We must be vigilant and watchful; if the matters of this life are not contemplated in a sober, godly, tempered, and Christ-centered manner, they should not be contemplated at all — not even for a moment. The reality is that our entire secular society, with all of its often amazing, beautiful, jaw-dropping, spell-binding, and awe-inspiring (to the flesh) sights, and sounds, and sensations, must be resisted. Seeing that the false beauty of carnal sensuality, the distracting intrigue of all manner of plots, schemes, possibilities, imaginations, breakthroughs, mysteries, machinations, and mayhem all work together to put a god, other than the true God, at the center of our hearts (raising up a dumb idol to be admired and sought after), we must strive (as God enables) to use the means He has given us to fight against our natural folly. This isn’t legalism, this is reality.
But how do we fight? We fight by reading His word, meditating upon it, hearing it faithfully proclaimed, watching and praying, all while strength is in us (His strength), and all with a God-given desire to know Christ more, love Him more, stay closer to Him more, and be experimentally hid in Him more, so that we do not go astray from Him for a season or seasons at a time. He is all and all; He is beautiful; and nothing on this earth should ever take His place in our hearts and minds… In every situation, we need to make that judgment call: is ‘this thing or that’ causing me to look to Christ or to look away from Him — if the answer is “away from Him,” we need to put that thing away from us — abstain from it, and remove it altogether from our sight lest God allow it to come back to haunt us, as a thorn in our side, much like the remnant Canaanites were to the Israelites when they refused to drive them all out of the land (making peace with some instead).
This is the ideal; this is all easier said than done; we will stumble; we will fall for a season and seasons; but God is good, He delights in mercy; joys in aiding His people, and in due time, He will give strength, maturity, and diligence (in love) to all who ask Him for it and do not cease to do so. May God be with us to do for us both what we cannot do, and often do not want to do (by nature) for ourselves.
To God be the glory.