I had a chance to see my life from a different perspective about twenty-two years ago. I was “born-again” in the midst of the biggest crisis of my life.
It doesn’t happen like that for every one of course. Some people don’t have to have a big crisis to find their way to Jesus.
I just happen to be one of the ones who went that way.
When I was a “baby” Christian, I spent a lot of time learning the basics of Christianity. I was a church-goer most of my life [not very regular] but when I fell in love with God, I realized how much I did not know Him at all. I watched a lot of television about being Christian and one of my regular television preachers/teachers was Joyce Meyer. About twenty years ago, she wrote a book called The Battlefield of the Mind.
Today, I don’t watch Joyce much anymore. I don’t read her materials anymore but my mind is still a battlefield.
John Bevere opens Chapter 13 of his book Good or God? with references to “the battlefield.” He writes “The battlefield is our mind. It is our thoughts, emotions, and will that must be held in check. All sin begins in this arena. The battle usually occurs when we least expect it .
Bevere has written his book to call Christians to a higher standard. First Peter 1:15 states “You must be holy in everything you do.” In 2:11 Peter writes “I warn you as ‘temporary residents and foreigners’ to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.” This Scripture is speaking about our lifestyles. When some see the word holy, they become discouraged. Holy is a word that intimidates many of us but as Bevere says, the idea of holy living is “attainable and not unrealistic.” “His commandments are not burdensome” [1 John, 5:3].
But where is the push and pull most noticeable in everyday life? Where is the battle being waged?
One of the most common arenas that can erode your belief system is your peer group. We all want to be accepted in life and we do all sorts of things to win the approval of our peers. You know how this works; what they do will influence what you do. If they overindulge with alcohol, the pressure is on for you to do it too. If their language is rude and crude, that may spill over into your expressions. If unjust criticism of others is a common topic, you will feel pressure to join in. The Message is a plainly written paraphrase of the Bible and here is the down-to-earth admonition regarding peers: “Your old friends don’t understand why you don’t join in with the old gang anymore. But you don’t have to give an account to them. They’re the ones who will be called on the carpet—and before God himself” [1 Peter, 4: 4-5].
Another area of life that can greatly diminish your faith is the influence of “false teachers.” You might wonder what a false teacher is. To be honest they can be pastors who care more about how huge their following is than preaching the truth. Pastor Bevere has commented throughout his book about church leaders who are willing to compromise in order to give the congregation a pleasant message. They can also be Christian teachers who lead conferences. They can even show up as Christian leaders of small groups. What is the result of their teaching? People have a problem distinguishing right from wrong. Behavior that is not acceptable will be labeled as good. When you make an effort to adhere to God’s word, this type of teacher will label you as “legalistic or judgmental”. When believers begin to have trouble discerning the difference between right and wrong, they will drift back into a lifestyle that is not Christian at all.
Bevere states that the Apostle Peter feels that a Christian who drifts back into ungodly living is worse off than before they receive Jesus. “It would have been better for them to never have known the way of truth than reject the command to live holy.”
The upshot of all this is that we really are in a battle for our minds. My Christian mentor in my “baby” days of Christianity was Mr. Chuck Dickerson and he always drilled into me that life is about choices and most choices boil down to what is right versus what is wrong.
What motivation do we have to fight the negative forces that would confuse us: the influence of our peers or false teachers? In Chapter 13, Bevere will elaborate further. Let me tease you: his thoughts will center on “two unbeatable forces.”
We need all the help we can get in order to win the battle going on, you know the one I mean…the battle that is going on in our minds.