By Louie Giglio, Crosswalk.com
The battle is real. The Enemy is constantly on the prowl looking for ways to fill your mind with subtle lies in order to gain access at the table of fellowship God has prepared for you. It’s a table described famously in Psalm 23 intended only for the Lord and you to dine. But this table isn’t set in a beautiful, peaceful meadow. No, as verse five states, it’s a table placed in the presence of your enemies. They see you seated there with the King of the Universe, and they want a piece of the action. The Enemy will do anything to slide into a seat and begin to tell you lies that will make you doubt your rightful place at the table, or try to convince you that there are better options elsewhere. But, when the Devil is whispering lies in your ear, you need to know Jesus is there with you in the midst of the temptation and pressure. He’s there to rescue you when necessary, to protect you at all costs, and to fill your cups to over-flowing.
With all of his conniving and deceiving, it can be hard to recognize the Enemy’s voice for what it is. It’s important to be able to spot the enemy’s lies—not so you can focus on the lies, but so you can avoid them and fix your gaze back toward the Good Shepherd. While there are seemingly countless lies the Enemy can tell you, I’ve found that most of them fall into five broader categories. And if you are able to spot them as they’re coming your direction, you can overcome them and win the battle for your mind with truth in Jesus’ name.
1. The Lie of Deception
First, if you’ve heard recently that it’s better at another table, then you can be certain the Enemy is at your table. Jesus’ table, the one He prepares for you, is about life and life abundantly (John 10:10). Any table other than God’s table is about stealing, killing, and destroying. When the Devil sits at your table, he often points to another table and talks about how amazing it is somewhere else. He points to a place that’s not the table where God is and says, That, over there. That’s the solution to your problem.
Don’t give in to this lie. The Devil loves for you to look at your life and compare it with somebody else’s, so you wish you had what they had. He’ll mix in a little jealousy and sift in a little coveting and add a dash of woe is me and throw in a few lines about how God must love that person more than you. Or about how God is blessing that person more than He’s blessing you. Or about how surely God has withheld something you need. Pretty soon the Devil has you convinced that God isn’t good. God hasn’t blessed you. God doesn’t love you. You missed out on something good, because God is mean, or God forgot about you, or God’s been lying to you all this time.
We call this “the grass is always greener” syndrome. If you’re not firmly seated at the table with the Almighty, if your eyes are not locked on those of the Good Shepherd, then you’re distracted by the tyranny of comparison.
The Enemy always paints a great picture of freedom. It’s over there—where the grass is always greener. These thoughts that you can shirk commitments and have it your way don’t come from Jesus. He comes to give life and give it to the full.
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2. The Lie that You’re Doomed
So often when we are asked how things are going, we reply something like, “Man, I don’t know if I’m going to make it through this season. I’m not sure I’m going to survive this semester. I don’t know if we’re going to get through this time.”
Have you ever heard yourself saying something like that? Where did you get that kind of thinking? Where did you hear those words of gloom and doubt? Not from your Good Shepherd. You likely heard them from the Enemy at your table.
See, your God has just told you that even though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you don’t need to fear any evil. Did you catch the operative word in this sentence: through. Your Shepherd didn’t just say you’re going to the valley. He said you are going through the valley. In other words—you are going to make it.
You will not find the Good Shepherd telling you that you’re not going to make it. You will never find the Good Shepherd telling you that life is hopeless, there’s no way out. May as well chuck it all, quit, and die. That is not the voice of the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd says, We’re going through this valley, and I’m going to be with you all the way through. And guess what—we’re going to have a story to tell on the other side.
This is how God delivered His people from bondage in Egypt. He didn’t build a bridge over the Red Sea; He parted the sea so they could walk through it. Oftentimes God’s plan is not to build a bridge over troubled waters. Instead, His miracle plan is to give you the grace and the power to miraculously go through the troubled waters. “Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters—a pathway no one knew was there!” (Psalm 77:19 NLT) You are going through whatever circumstance you’re currently in. And your Shepherd is going through it with you.
Have you ever believed the lie that you’re hopeless? You are not hopeless. Jesus lives in you!
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3. The Lie of Worthlessness
Now, we’ve got to be really careful about this lie, because Scripture calls us to be humble. But as it’s been well said: humility is not thinking less of yourself; humility is thinking of yourself less. We easily get these confused by thinking it honors God for us to think less of ourselves. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Maybe someone told you you’d never amount to anything. Or maybe a spouse walked away. A parent bailed. Or the right man or woman you’ve longed for never walked through the door. Maybe you’ve always wished you looked like someone else. Or had the gifts that a friend has. Or maybe a dump truck of guilt backed into your story at some point and unloaded a pile of shame on you.
Here’s the thing: you need to know the “not enough” anthem was composed in the pit of hell. It’s crippling. Debilitating. Paralyzing. Suffocating. It didn’t come from the Good Shepherd.
This lie isn’t a reflection of true humility. It’s a club that beats you over the head. This lie whispers to you that you’re useless. You will never have what it takes. Have you been called to lead a small group at your church? This lie insists it can’t be done. Have you been called to lead your family with integrity and compassion and kindness and strength as a wife and mother who follows God? This lie tells you that you’re not good enough; you’re never going to amount to anything, so don’t even bother trying.
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4. The Lie of Me Against the World
When you believe the lie that everybody is against you, you are convinced everybody hates you. Everybody at your job hates you. Everybody in your family hates you. Everybody in your church. Your pastors. Your professors. Your parents. Your children. Your friends. Your colleagues. Your neighbors. Even the waiter spit in your soul. This is the voice of fear-based illogic, of paranoia, a voice that encourages you to mistrust everybody in your life.
Certainly, there are subtler forms of this lie. The Enemy is great at sowing seeds of doubt, at working to undermine your confidence about what God says is true about you. You might not exactly hear the word hate, but maybe you are hearing yourself say words like this: Well, that person didn’t even look up when I walked into the office—I bet she doesn’t like me. See those people talking over there—I guarantee you they’re talking about me. They are out to get me. Look at that friend—I bet she never wants to talk to me ever again. I don’t have any friends. All my friends do things without me. No one ever invites me anywhere. Nobody likes me.
What’s the truth? Well, it’s possible that somebody hates you. Sure. But it’s not likely that everybody’s against you. What’s more likely if you’re hearing that lie is that you’ve got your fist clenched and you’re ready to strike. Somewhere in the past you developed a defensive posture, an untrusting nature, and now it has become your default. Your walls are up.
People have hurt you in the past, so you’re not going to let them ever get close to you again.
The truth is that you need to let the Good Shepherd lead you by still waters. When God is walking you through the valley, you can stop worrying about managing all the outcomes. You can stop looking over your shoulder. You can take the boxing gloves off.
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5. The Lie that There’s No Way Out
This is a classic lie of the Enemy. It’s that ultimate lie that combines several of the lies we’ve already addressed. The Enemy convinces you there’s nowhere to turn. Nowhere to run. No way forward. No chance you’re ever going to live free again.
The consequences of your bad decisions are closing in from one side, the betrayal of one friend to another. Your reputation is toast. You’re going to lose your job. You can’t go back to your community. You can’t trust anyone. You’ve played your last card. The pressure is too great. Give up. Cash out. Get out of town, or worse, get out of this life.
I’ve been through enough storms to know the harsh reality of those feelings, so I’m not going to pretend following the advice I’m giving you is a cakewalk. If you feel like you’re surrounded and there’s no way out, I’ve got game-changing news for you—you are surrounded! But it’s better than you think.
It may be true that circumstances are closing in. Enemies have taken up their position in the night. Your whole world is surrounded by threats, accusations, missiles, and hate. But here’s the thing: That’s only half the story. The Enemy wants you to believe you are doomed. That there is no way out.
But the Spirit of God is interceding for you: Lord, open her spiritual eyes; Father, let him see with the eyes of faith.
God has everyone and everything that’s surrounding you surrounded.
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Defeating the Lies
When the Enemy tells you you’re not smart enough, you’re not strong enough, you don’t have the right background, you’re not pretty enough, you don’t matter enough . . . look up and lock eyes with the King. Hear Him say, Daughter—Son—I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else than at this table with you. His words are the words of life (John 6:68). His voice thunders from heaven (Psalm 68:33). His voice drowns out every Enemy lie. By His grace, you can start taking authority over the voices at your table and kick the Devil out of your dinner party. He has to flee in Jesus’ name.
Imagine that your mind is a garden. Seeds can float in on the wind or be dropped by birds or be scattered in your garden by any number of things. But you as the gardener are responsible for what grows there. You have the power to water the good seeds, cultivate the good seeds, and pull out any weeds that come from seeds you don’t want.
How do you cultivate, weed, and water the garden of your mind? Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is— his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Whatever you give shelter and sustenance to in your mind is ultimately what will grow in your garden. You’re going to reap what you sow.
The way you renew your mind is to wrap your thoughts around Scripture. You can take control of what you think about. You deliberately plant the good seeds/thoughts of God in your mind. As these thoughts take root and grow, they will help remove the destructive weeds that the Enemy tries to plant in your mind.
Don’t give the Enemy a seat at your table. You can win the battle for your mind. Do not give in to sin, despair, or darkness. Take every thought captive. Bind every thought in Jesus’ name that doesn’t come from God. Fill your mind with the goodness and richness of Scripture. Memorize Scripture, and become the DJ of your mind, letting thoughts of God consistently fill your heart and life. Surrender your life completely to Jesus. He will lead you to green pastures and quiet waters. He will lead you through dark valleys, but you don’t ever need to fear. You will not be in want, because Jesus will restore your soul. Jesus will lead you to a table in the presence of your enemies, but there’s nothing to worry about, because your head is overflowing with oil, and your cup overflows, and goodness and mercy are following you all the days of your life.
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