We know that the voice of God speaks to us in a "still, small voice", as He did to Elijah (I Kings 19:12), and from our own experience. But Satan is able to mimick that with a still, small voice of His own. It is a voice which causes confusion and disarray n our minds, not a peaceful certainty.
We are told to resist Satan, for then he will flee from us. But how are we to do that when we have already become confused and despairing?
1. Go to that place of which you are sure. What is it that you do trust? Is there anything at all? Be honest with yourself.
Perhaps, go to the foot of the cross. Do you believe that Jesus is Lord? That God is the Creator of all things?
2. Be ready to make an open and honest test of the issue before you, as did Elijah on Mount Carmel (I Kings 18:20 ff.).
When the confusing images or "voices" occur, insist on the Jesus of Scripture, and refuse anything that does not conform to Scripture.
Psychology is a good thing. Introspection is a good thing. But we can get lost down psychological rabbit trails, looking for our own inner contradictions and traumatic experiences. When we go into our own past, into our own psyche, go always with Jesus. We cannot "fix" ourselves by merely confronting our own inner brokenness. We must do it with Him who alone can do the "fixing". [See Biblical Inner Healing in the Shopping Mall]
When in doubt and despair, look for the evidence. Look for that which gives good reason to believe. Insist that God make sense. That is precisely how we "test the spirits" to see if they are of God. Do they make sense?
Do I believe that Jesus is both willing and able to save me? to rescue me from this present situation? Yes or No? If I am not sure, am I willing to have it out with Him to find out?
When the evidence seems unsure, use Pascal's wager. We have four possibilities between choosing Jesus or the fallen world (Satan's realm of influence):
1. Choose Jesus and find out that I am right...
2. Choose Jesus and find out that I am wrong....
3. Choose the world and find out that I am right...
4. Choose the world and find out that I am wrong...
If #1 happens, then I win. If any of #2-#4 happens, I lose. So when I am in doubt, says Pascal, the only choice that makes sense is #1. I could be wrong and #2 be the case. It might turn out that Jesus is, after all, not the Lord and Savior, that He did not rise from the dead. But if I choose #3 or #4, I will lose and also miss out on the possibility of #1. The only real way to find out whether Jesus is real is to choose Him and find out, which means the risk of #2, finding out that Jesus is not the Son of God. I can find out the truth only by risking being wrong.
That is why so many people pray: "Lord, if you are there, please make yourself known to me." If He is there, He will. It takes only an open, teachable spirit on my part. Not a gullible spirit, not a simple-minded spirit, but a spirit that is truth-seeking and that will wrestle with God about my doubts, that will expect from God sensible responses, and not take any wooden nickels. That is the kind of person God wants in His kingdom. So, force and expect clarity. Ask clear questions and expect clear answers.
And be willing to give clear answers when God responds, as He did with Job, Job who challenged God. But then God told Job's friends that it was Job who was righteous, not they who accused Job.
So, sometimes, when we can see no other choice, the logical choice is simply to jump in Jesus' direction and hope for the best. If He is real, we will find out. Only He can prove His own case. We have everything to gain by choosing #1, and nothing to lose that we would not lose anyhow with choices #2-#4.
We sometimes face issues of doubt:
1. What if I am wrong? What if I make the wrong
choice? I will look like a fool...
to which the answer is, "So what?" If you find out that you are wrong, count yourself blessed that you have learned something. If you let your ego get in the way for fear of looking bad, you will tie yourself in knots and make no headway toward freedom to be your real self.
2. What if I am unworthy???
Well, what if? Go to Jesus to find out the truth of the matter. Are you unworthy? In what way? and, unworthy of what? Get the facts straight. Get it right from the mouth of Jesus. And if you find out that you are unworthy, what is there to do about it? Insist on honesty and truth from yourself and from God. Do not run from finding out that you may indeed be unworthy. Get the facts. Force clarity.
Jesus tells us to pound on His door, like the insistent woman with the unjust judge. Force clarity. Insist on good, intelligible answers.
Jesus is saying, "Come on! Fight with Me!"
As children we must go through our "terrible 2's" and then through our teen-age rebellion. That is, we must "fight with" our parents in order to establish our own personal boundaries independently of them.
The development of our freewill requires that we do that with God as well. We must learn how to say "no" and "yes" to God. We must learn that we can say "no" to God. We must learn that freedom to say "no", or else our "yes" will mean nothing. God wants us to choose Him out of a free and willing spirit, a spirit that knows it can say "no", but chooses to say "yes". That is how we come to let our "yes" be "yes" and our "no" be "no", as Jesus commands us to do. It costs our parents some difficult times. Our "no" costs Jesus the crucifixion. But we (and He, for our sakes) must go through it.
It is no use saying that we should not argue with the devil (or with God). When we are confused, we do not know who is who. Like Job, we must learn how to argue with God, be truth-seekers with personal integrity and credibility. That is how we "test the spirits to see if they are of God". How else could we do that? Intellectual and spiritual integrity means learning how to force clarity into a situation, how to live in the light, whether anyone else likes it or not...., even God. That is how we tell the real God from the false ones. The real God will affirm our honest questions and challenges, and draw us forth into the light. The false gods will try to cut down our honest questioning.
Clarity always favors truth. Unclarity always falsehood. Testing the spirits means forcing clarity into the situation, as gracefully as possible asking honest questions, no matter who might be embarrassed or object.
So in our deep moments of despair, those moments when we cannot find our own boundaries, our own sense of selfhood, our own sense of worth and meaning and purpose, we can make Pascal's wager, choose for Jesus and hope for the best. And then stand on our own two feet before Him and insist on clarity in our relation with Him, bring our honest questions, make our honest objections, issue our honest challenges.
And then give Him equal time.
When the real me meets the real Jesus, then things can begin to happen.
As we force clarity into our situations, as we insist on the real Jesus, the Jesus of Scripture, as we reject demonic intrusions (identifiable by the presence of confusion, a spirit of attack, as spirit of fear, meaninglessness, or emptiness), as we consciously and deliberately say "no" to the dark side and choose for the light of Christ, the demonic forces will flee. They are like spoiled children, with only a front of power, whose only power is deception. When we shine the light of clarity, they cannot stand in the light, and they will flee. They are not to be feared.
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