Core scripture: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
Message: I have been reading an intriguing book by Tony Evans titled Warfare. The book explains the spiritual battlefield we encounter every day in our minds. God versus Satan. Good versus evil. Even though the Book of Revelation already reveals the victor is God, Satan is ruthless. He will continue attacking us until his time comes, fervently trying to pull every man down to the fiery furnace.
Our adversary is sly. He is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8), and he will not give up. Satan strikes the moment we put our guards down. He will slither into our lives, plant harmful thoughts in our minds, and wait expectantly to see the results. If we are not leery of him, Satan can cause enough damage to render ourselves useless for the Kingdom. He wants our souls, and he shows no mercy.
He struck me last week. One of my students was not on board. The kid was chuckling, not paying attention, and getting on my nerves. My impatience with him was bubbling over, and Satan, lurking in the shadows, pounced on me like a bulldog on a pork chop. He tore into me, and I let him have his way. Sarcasm spewed from my mouth. The kid slumped in his chair. You could visually see him become deflated. He shut down immediately.
Ever had those moments? Not my finest minute. I thought about reconciling with him yesterday, but the moment never came. Pride creeped into my heart, and I never created the opportunity to mend what was broken. Today will be different. Today the Lord is putting it on my heart to crouch next to this young man and tell him that I am deeply sorry. I want to ask his forgiveness. I want to humble myself in hopes that he will see me from a new angle.
We cannot stop Satan from planting harmful thoughts in our heads; however, it is our choice in how we react to those thoughts. A model example of fighting temptation comes from Jesus in Luke 4:1-13. Satan strikes three times, and Christ’s strategy does not waver or change. Each time He replies back with scripture. God’s Word is our lone offensive weapon, the sword of the spirit. It slashes back at Satan, a double-edged sword that has no answer.
Those sinful thoughts are sure to come today. We must be prepared to dismantle them. As Christian teachers we must unsheathe our weapons and strike back. Satan is helpless against the Bible. There is no shield, no barrier, nothing that can stop God’s holy Word from destroying him. As Paul states in 2 Corinthians 10:5, we must take every thought captive. We bind up Satan’s lies and slash at them with scripture until they are no more.
Let’s look and see how that works.
You walk into your classroom to start your day. Before you fire up your computer, you close your eyes in prayer, asking God’s Word to be alive in you throughout the day. You pray that you can model Christlike principles through your actions, showing grace and mercy when needed. You pray for God’s spirit to be alive in your heart. You put on the FULL armor of God and allow your soul to be flooded with faith, hope, and love.
The bell rings. Students are now in your room. The kids are beginning to write about the journal prompt on the screen, but you notice one young man is gaming. Minecraft. You can see his device clearly, and even after giving a general prompt to the class to get to work, he doesn’t even flinch. Anger bubbles inside you as the boy starts to commentate his game aloud. Others are now smiling at him, looking over his shoulder. Satan plants a thought …
Who is this kid to challenge your authority? Are you going to take that from him? Rip his device away from him right now!
You are ready to swoop in when suddenly another thought is planted in your head. It is the Lord, and He is reminding you of a scripture that is rather compelling.
“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)
You have a decision to make. There is a line drawn in the sand, and you cannot be on both sides. It is you who must choose whether to listen to Satan or the Lord. You approach the kid and quietly kneel next to him.
“How’s it going here?” you ask quietly.
“Fine.” The kid doesn’t even look at you.
“You know, Minecraft is a fun game to play … ” you begin.
“Yep.” The kid softens slightly.
“As a matter of fact, I know I’d be wanting to play Minecraft right now too if I were in your shoes.”
The kid looks slightly confused but smiles. “Finally, somebody sees it the way I do!”
“Although Minecraft is extremely cool, do you know what is even cooler?” you ask.
“Fortnite?” the kid suggests.
“Nope,” you smile at him. “It’s not Fortnite. Something cooler than Minecraft and Fortnite combined is just waiting for you. It is called a journal. You can hear that journal calling your name. Can’t you hear it? It is telling you to get off your game and write.”
The kid smiles at your humor. You continue.
“And guess what? Today is a FREE WRITE journal! Do you know what that means? You could actually write about anything you wanted. Minecraft. Fortnite. Anything! Now, how cool is this that you get to write about your favorite video game in class?”
Before you know it, the boy is hacking out a journal prompt about Fortnite and the satisfaction it brings him. He writes an entire paragraph, and you compliment him on the passionate voice he writes with. Slowly but surely he is being wrapped around your finger, and the kid barely even realizes it. You publicly praise him in front of his classmates and ask him to read his masterpiece aloud to the class.
But you don’t stop there. Friday comes. You are about to announce the King or Queen of the Week from your class. The anticipation is so palpable you can FEEL it in the room. And when you announce Minecraft Boy as the King of the Week, the entire class erupts in applause. Why? Because you displayed a little patience and worked with him to become great. You even call his parents to let them know how proud you are of his performance.
That is how it works. Every thought that enters your mind is kept captive. You weigh and evaluate each thought on God’s truth and act upon what He wants you to do. You push the flesh aside and live out the Word. Be that teacher. Today and through the rest of the year, live the legacy He desires you to live.
Challenge: Evaluate your thoughts. Where are they coming from? What effect are they having in your classroom? Go to the Lord in prayer and ask for His thoughts to flood your mind. Take captive all of Satan’s lies and replace them with God’s truth.
Prayer points: Lift up the following areas to the Lord …
- Pray that you can take every thought captive to fight off temptation.
- Pray that you can listen to the Lord and live out His Word.
- Praise God for the relationships you are beginning to create with your students.
Just for fun: So, my wife teaches preschool. God bless her! She comes home the other day with this sheepish smile on her face and tells me to look at a picture of this girl in her class. My wife takes a first day snapshot of each kid, and when she told this girl to smile, it honestly looked like she was a possessed demon. Her eyebrows were narrowed. Her mouth was snarling. Her little fists were balled into fists. It was as if she had just been told that she wouldn’t get dessert—ever again.
Prayer: Lord, guide me in taking all of Satan’s thoughts captive and replacing them with Your goodness. May my words and actions be full of your love. Amen.