Battle for the Mind - Part 1

Scripture: Matthew 19:16-20, Philippians 4:8
Since the Garden of Eden it has been Satan's attempts to capture our minds and twist our thinking so that we cannot understand truth clearly. One deception is materialism. Another is pornography. And still another is the worship of science.
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She was a beautiful woman and it was a beautiful park. There was just one thing unusual about the whole situation and that was that she was standing there talking to a snake. She had no idea of the significance of this interview, but he did. This was the initial skirmish in the greatest controversy the universe would ever know. She listened to his arguments and he deceived her. That moment of sin cost her everything. Since that time Satan's steady attempt has been to lead astray and lead captive the mind of man.

You see, your mind is the only thing that separates you from the animals. A dog has a stomach. A cow has a heart. But only man has a mind that is rational, that can reason and think from cause to effect. Our minds are the only access that you and I have to God. For that reason, since the entrance of sin into this world, Satan has tried to lead astray and lead captive the mind of man. For a man to be able to withstand the attacks of the devil, for a man to be able to discern the fine line that sometimes lies between truth and error, for a man to be able to know the difference between that which is acceptable Christian conduct and that which is sin, he must have all his mental faculties.

You remember in His greatest crisis hour, Jesus was attacked in this very area. In fact, you'll also remember that they wanted to give Him vinegar mingled with myrrh to dull His pain and His senses, and He refused. Satan's studied attempts, I say, have been to twist the thinking of men's minds so that they can't see the issues clearly. And I believe, friends, that he has reserved a whole host of these deceptions for our day. The devil has descended upon our generation with a barrage of them, the likes of which history has never known before. And I'd like to share with you today and in the next broadcast what I consider to be five of his most devilish and insidious and successful snares.

Listen to this text in Matthew 19:16-20. "And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him (this is Jesus speaking), Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?" Now friends, notice Christ's answer to this in verse 21. "Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for great possessions had him." Now that isn't exactly the way the last phrase reads and yet it could read that way, because here was a young man with dollar signs in his eyes and I have no doubt but that he had the fastest hot-rod chariot in town. Probably a beautiful home and servants and a fresh-water swimming pool in the backyard. I don't know. But it does say that he had great possessions. However, he turned on his heel and walked away and you don't read about him again anywhere in the pages of the Word of God. Now friends, in the judgment day when that young man looks at what he could have had, all of those things in his personal inventory are going to turn to ashes in his mouth.

Jesus fought this problem back there that we're talking about today. And this is number 1 of these great deceptions of the devil in our day, and that is materialism. The rich young ruler didn't know the half of it. Do you realize that 86% of the products that are for sale at the corner drugstore were not even in existence fifteen years ago? Eighty-six percent! There has never been a generation that's been so deluged with things as our generation. I read about a sign on a bank the other day that said, "The Jones borrow here." The devil would like to have us think that things are the answer to man's heart hunger. I think I saw that demonstrated very graphically the other day in a magazine. There was a model home and in that home was a model family, father, mother, a little boy and a little girl. You were looking across the living room and it was evident from the way the house was furnished that they had everything they needed and then some. There was a yellow convertible out in the driveway and they were standing around a beautiful piece of furniture in the front room and underneath the picture were these words: "Our fondest memory, the day our Magnavox came." You see, friends, if you just have enough things then you're happy.

Have you seen the ad in the magazines about floor coverings? There is a picture of a beautiful den and you can see across the house and the floor just glistens. It doesn't look as if it's been walked on, probably wasn't when the picture was taken. And you can see this beautiful home and underneath, they're trying to sell floor covering, of course, and underneath is this caption: "For a happy home, lay linoleum." You see, that's all there is to it. Your wife is running around with somebody else's husband, lay linoleum, solves the problem. Junior goes out with the boys from the school and gets a little careless and wrecks the car, lay linoleum, solves all your problems. Now I'm not being facetious friends, I'm simply trying to illustrate how very real is this thing we're talking about. The devil would like to have us think that if we just have enough things the heart-hunger can be satisfied. There has never been a day when so many things were available. So we have to have a new refrigerator this year because the one we bought last year is round on top. This year they've squared them off and who would ever be found with a refrigerator that is out of date. I think we ought to add a new word to our vocabulary, "disentanglement", because it's a very real prospect in this enlightened and plenteous age, that we become so comfortable here that we'll lose our homesickness for that better land. I think, friends, that's part of the devil's scheme.

Now, number 2 of the deceptions which the devil is using so successfully in our day to turn aside the allegiance of men and women, a preoccupation with sex. Do you know that sex magazines are read every month by two-thirds of the American people. Imagine that! Hollywood has become synonymous with depravity and moral degradation. One of the greatest blights on the American image anywhere around the world is our Hollywood movies that we send overseas. Did you know that, friends? I know, because I spent almost five years living in India and I can attest that one of the things that's doing more than anything else to destroy the good image of America over there is the motion pictures that we're sending over from Hollywood to be shown to our friends in those foreign countries.

Hollywood has almost become synonymous with Sodom and Gomorrah for sin. No longer is it just an eternal triangle, boy meets girl and then somebody else comes along and steals one of them away. They're not satisfied with that anymore. It's the depraved, and the perverted, and the filthy and the unmentionable. In trying to justify it they say, "Well, this is what really is going on. This is what life is all about. We're just trying to depict reality." Sure it's real, friends. So is sewage. But we don't run it down the middle of the street. It's so easy for us today to become numb to these things. We see them all the time. It's really embarrassing to stand in front of the newsstand anymore. You blush to read the ads in the newspaper. All an author has to do to guarantee himself a best seller is just write a book so foul that it's banned from the newsstands and he's in. Hollywood had a code of censorship which they imposed on themselves, but they voted to rescind it long ago. It's no longer in existence. And do you know why, friends? Because they said, "We've discovered that Americans will come and watch anything we produce." So they've taken off their voluntary censorship in Hollywood.

The depravity and corruption of our day seem to make Sodom and Gomorrah pretty tame. Our dances, our music, even our advertising, the whole appeal to the eye today is the appeal to illicit attraction. I believe it's part of the devil's scheme to lead astray the allegiance, the mind, the will of man, and he's doing a pretty good job of it. I know we live in a society where it seems that "everybody's doing it" and it doesn't seem so bad because the guy down the street is doing the same thing. You read about it in a book or you read about it in the newspaper. It reminds me of the little boy who was standing on a street corner one day. The traffic was whizzing by and the light was red. But he stepped down off the curb. A man who was standing beside him grabbed him by the coat and pulled him back and said, "Don't go out there, boy, you'll get run over and be killed." The little boy said, "Well, it looked dangerous alright but everybody else was going across." The man turned to him and said, "Listen, boy, don't look at the people, look at the light." Friends, that's good counsel. God has left us light, a guidebook. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." And if our feet are anchored securely here, then we're going to know the difference between right and wrong, between that which is acceptable Christian conduct and that which is sin. The ladies are going to know how to dress for the eyes of Jesus. The men are going to know what to read without having a guilty conscience. The standard is a high one, of course. God's standard always is but just as surely as He gives us a standard, He also gives us the power to live up to it.

Notice this text in Philippians 4:8. "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true", you see what this will do to our reading, don't you? And you see what this will do to what we watch on television?, "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Some time ago an editorial from Life magazine was headlined like this: Sex Moves to Prime Time On T V. The whole gist of the editorial was lamenting the fact that finally these sex movies were making their way into the home. They were no longer down on the street corner at the motion picture theater where the parents could say, "No, junior, you can't go down there." They were coming right into the home. They were right in the living room where the family altar is supposed to be. I say this is part of the devil's grand strategy to lead astray the minds of men and women.

Now, number 3. The worship of science. Please don't misunderstand me here because I'm not making any brief for ignorance. Some of my very best friends are scientists and Christians. God has given us reasonable minds and He expects us to use them; however, there is a false worship of the intellect today that I think is leading men and women away from the true God. Some time ago you probably noticed a flurry of articles on the new scientific attempt to create life in a test tube. Scientists feel that they're just on the verge of putting together the life principle in the test tube. You've read about the DNA molecule. One of the men quoted in that article, one of the keenest minds in America today, made this statement. He said, "I no longer find it necessary to believe in God." Oh, I wonder sometimes how God must feel as He looks down and sees puny man toying away in the laboratory with his test tubes and slide rules and his other little gadgets, squirting men out into space a few miles and then gloating over his accomplishment. And then when we rise up and say we've discovered a lot about science, we know so much; it's not necessary any longer for us to believe in God.

Listen, the laws of nature are nothing more than the discoveries of the way in which God controls His universe. Really it's an incredible age. Science has done so much to make life here on this planet pleasant and comfortable. We wouldn't deny that for a moment. The things that modern science has brought to our civilization is simply amazing. Why it makes Buck Rogers look old fashioned already.

But listen, there's only one power that can change the wicked heart of man. That is the power of God's love and grace. Have you yielded yourself to the influence of that transforming power and grace?

Have you yielded yourself to the influence of that power, friends? I can tell you without reservation today that nothing really falls into place, nothing truly makes sense, until we let Jesus enter the heart. The unbeliever in this confused age is faced with problems and questions for which there's no human answer. The Bible alone reveals the path of faith which can overcome the world. I ask you without a hope beyond this world, what could a man live for anyway? The temporary pleasures of living outside Jesus Christ are shallow and short lived.

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