IT should be a surprise to no one that the great deceiver directs most of his sneak-attacks against the human will and conscience. If he is to alienate us from God, Satan must somehow gain control of that citadel where all the life functions are centered. As a master of the mind sciences, Satan understands and uses the avenues of the senses to communicate his message to the brain. Without question, the most effective way for him to lead into transgression of God’s law is through the appeal of the sensory powers.
By means of the corrupt channels of communication which dominate our present evil world, Satan accesses the powerful visual and auditory paths to reach and captivate the mind-the control center of all decision and action. Understanding the vulnerability of that mind, he has exploited the natural laws which God set up for the protection of our mental and physical powers.
One of those laws decrees that by beholding we become changed. Our loving God intended that this divine principle would operate for man’s total sanctification and perfection. By choosing to look at scenes of purity and righteousness, human beings could cooperate with the Holy Spirit in restoring the image of God to fallen man. Notice the beautiful possibility that the Creator opened up for every individual. He made the mind with the fantastic ability to fully conform to the messages communicated through the five senses. As the network of ten billion brain cells conveys the sights, sounds and sensations of the outside world, that data feeds into the memory base of the brain. There a permanent record is kept of the sum total of all sensory information obtained. From this pool of stored knowledge, the thoughts and imagination are drawn, and commands are sent forth to each organ of the body to perform its appointed function.
Through the process of this marvelous computer power operating under the influence of the Holy Spirit, God has promised that His own mind can be reproduced in those who will consent and cooperate with Him. But everything depends upon the willingness and ability of the person to choose the right pictures and sounds to be transferred into the brain. Only those whose minds are fully under the control of God will be able to make the right decisions all the time.
Somewhere in that soft mass of miracle cells, God buried deeply and securely the power of free choice. In that center of reason and will, no outside force is permitted to intrude. Here the final decisions are made as to what the eyes will gaze upon, the ears listen to, and the tongue speak. In this cloistered sanctum of the mind, the deliberate choice will ultimately be made as to whether this brain and body will receive immortal existence or suffer an everlasting death.
Can’t you imagine how Satan exulted when he understood for the first time how God’s defense hinged entirely upon man’s free-will choices? If nobody cooperated with God by allowing the Holy Spirit to monitor those messages into the brain, then none would be able to gain the victory over sin. With delight Satan recognized that God had left the way open for him to have equal access to the avenues of the mind. All he needed to do was entice people to feed their sensory powers with evil sights and sounds. Since God had created the mind to be molded by external influences communicated through the senses, Satan would have one last opportunity to win his war against God. He had failed to take God’s place in the temple in heaven, but he still had access to the human temples of those whom God was depending upon to vindicate Him. By controlling their bodies and minds, Satan could still frustrate the whole plan of salvation. If God could produce no one with victory over sin, He would be acceding to Satan’s accusation of requiring too much from His creatures.
I hope by now we are beginning to understand why the devil is so intent on using physical appeals to draw us into sin. There has been an unfortunate attempt by many in the church to downgrade any attention to these external stimuli. It has been made to look like nit-picking or legalism for any one to be concerned over what we see, hear, touch or eat. Yet we can see that these are the most popular attack routes to corrupt the mind. As we proceed with our subject, we shall discover that these sensitive lanes of temptation are not automatically secured by an initial commitment to Christ. There are deliberate and determined actions that we ourselves must take in order to be properly protected. The real secret of victory in the mind is to rightly understand the strength of a sanctified will. The more we study about it, the more amazed we are. The will actually contains the main switch which directs all the actions of the human organism. Here is a sovereign personal power that God Himself will not interfere with. It is one of the great distinguishing factors between man and beast. An animal may look very much like a human being, but he has no power of will, conscience, or reasoning mind.
Some time ago, I read about a scientist who was experimenting with a monkey to discover what human characteristics it might possess. The research scientist was trying to get the monkey to put some simple puzzles together. There was very little cooperation, and the man finally decided that the monkey might be embarrassed by his presence, so he slipped out the door and knelt down to peer back through the keyhole at the monkey. Imagine his surprise to see the monkey on the other side peeping through the same keyhole at him. So he found at least that monkeys have the human trait of curiosity. Unlike the monkey, though, we have a will and a power of choice.
Whether you are saved or lost will be determined entirely by the decision of that will. If you choose to be saved, no devil can stop you from being saved. If you choose to be lost, God Himself cannot prevent you from taking such a step. You might ask, “How can Satan hurt me then if he cannot interfere with my will?” Although the devil can’t keep you from choosing to be saved if you want to be, he can make an indirect attack upon your will through your emotions. The greatest enemy of your will is your dependence upon feeling. It is possible for your emotions to be so affected, so deeply stirred, that they will completely overrule the will. As long as the kingly powers of sanctified conscience, will and reason are ruling over the emotions, they are very wonderful. Emotions serve a place in religion, in love, and in friendship, but powerful emotion can suddenly surge out of control, paralyzing the will completely. One of the greatest dangers we face today is the snare of Satan to weaken the will through unsanctified, uncontrolled emotions.
The devil knows how strong those tides of human passion can be, and he has learned that certain sights and sounds have a fascinating appeal. He has fabricated an illusory society that flashes and glitters. Just turn the pages of modern magazines and you will see where the most attractive ads are to be found. The forbidden pleasures of sin are usually advertised with the sharpest colors, the loudest music, and the brightest lights. Our enemy is lurking at every gate of our senses hoping that his emotional appeals will open the way for him to enter our minds.
Now someone may ask the question, “Why is it that the most alluring things are also the wrong things, as far as God is concerned?” I believe we can answer that question. Suppose we put down a column of figures on a board with several digits in each number. Then draw a line to add up and get the sum of those figures. How many possible wrong answers could we get? We could come up with multiplied millions of wrong answers. But how many right answers could we get? Of course, only one would be possible. The devil is able to paint his pictures with false colors and deception. He can use tinsel, false excitement and lying delusions in presenting his temptations. God will only use one picture to attract us and that is the true picture. Things are not really what they seem to be when it comes to dispensations of the evil one. There is a false security and counterfeit peace which stems from the devil’s masquerade of carnality.