I was never good at the game of tug of war. Well, I’ve never been good at any sports game for that matter. Competition in sports isn’t my cup of tea. But I found other ways to compete and prove my worth in life. Excelling in grades, winning awards, and outdoing my fellow peers in completing extra math problems to skew the teacher’s grading system were my secret ways of competing. All of these competitions, fought mostly in my mind’s eye, are a lot like the good ole game of tug of war. Except, when fighting for your freedom, the game turns from “good” to life-altering.
Ask almost any child on a playground and they’ll tell you the short and simple rules to this game. First, you need a rope long enough to stretch between the two opposing teams. You place the strongest people in the back and spread the rest out evenly. There’s a marker in the middle, and once a team member goes over the line, the game is over. It’s not a game for the faint of heart or the weak-willed. It’s a game of determination, purpose, and stamina. And this childhood game is a lot like the daily battle for your thoughts.
The Fight For Your Thoughts
Like a repetitive game of tug of war, thoughts opposing the truth and wisdom of God bully our hearts and challenge our peaceful minds in a grueling game of push and pull. These thought bullies shout and tease and jest, and they know our weak spots. They try to catch us off guard, and they are always on the prowl for a good fight and an open door (1 Pet. 5:8). They know us well—our weaknesses, strengths, and tendencies. Often they are instigators of doubt, and they can be quite convincing at times. These bullies, the broken beliefs and tainted thoughts, all come from the first Bully, Satan.
What Satan Can’t Argue Against
In the Garden of Eden, when Eve listened to the serpent, believed his words, and acted on what he said, Satan did a mighty tug on the rope of Truth (Gen. 3:1-3). Though Adam and Eve failed to listen and obey God’s word in the garden, God stepped in and promised to send his very Son to come and show us what it looks like to fight the battle for our thoughts and win (Gen. 3:15). Four thousand years later, when Jesus was face-to-face with Satan in the wilderness, just after he had fasted forty days and nights, the Bully came to tempt him (Matt. 4). Three different times Satan, the same Bully who was in the garden, tempted Jesus. And three times Jesus responded with the way to victory—the Truth of God’s Word.
When tempted with turning stones into bread, Jesus responded, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matt. 4:4).
When tempted with throwing himself off a temple to prove he is the Son of God, Satan also provided Jesus with Scripture taken out of context. Jesus responded, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test’” (v. 7).
Lastly, when tempted with all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, Jesus responded, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve’” (v. 10). In the desert wilderness and in his moment of physical weakness, Jesus responded to Satan’s tactics with the capital “T” Truth, the Word—and Satan didn’t argue.
God’s Capital “T” Truth
It’s easy to become fixated on the plight of our circumstances and ruminate on thoughts, worries, and lies. After all, this is the natural bent of our fallen minds. When panic attacks stared me in the face, I was terrified to believe the Truth of God’s Word for fear of being let down. All I knew was my body was out of control, and so was my mind. Everything continued spiraling around me, and I couldn’t find my footing. It’s taken years, but slowly I have learned that God’s capital “T” Truth is what gives the final pull in the tug of war battle, making the Bully surrender. But you can’t fight the Bully if you don’t know the Truth that brings freedom.
In John 8:32, Jesus made an astounding statement to a crowd of believing Jews: “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” This Truth that Jesus spoke of was the hope of the gospel and the enduring Word of God.
The Truth that Helps
Just as Jesus responded with Scripture when Satan tempted him in the wilderness, so are we to wield the weapon of Truth in the tug of war for our minds. God’s Word gives us the final pull to defeat the enemy. Knowing and believing the Truth of God’s Word is a daily pursuit, a constant surrender, a continual process. As we come before the throne of grace with confidence, we can expect to receive help in time of need (Heb. 4:16).
This “help,” this capital “T” Truth, is found in Christ, who is the Word made flesh (John 1:1).
Our help is found in the redemption that is ours through Jesus’ spotless blood spilled on the cross (Eph. 1:7).
It is found through his resurrection from the dead (1 Thess. 4:14).
Stand on the Promises of God
The lies of Satan cannot stand against the living and active Word of God (Heb. 4:12). When the Bully pushes and pulls in the tug of war for truth in your mind, stand on the promises of God that find their Yes in Christ (2 Cor. 1:20). He is stronger than any wayward thought. The cross still stands, but Christ has come down from the cross. And he is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. It is through his power and Capital “T” Truth that we find victory in the daily tug of war battle. This truth makes the enemy fall headlong while we still stand, surrendered to God in the strength of his might.
Rooted in Truth,
P.S. To read more about fighting lies with God’s capital “T” Truth and standing on the promises of the Word, order your copy of The Well-Watered Woman, available today! You can also read more about how to practically implement rhythms of spiritual disciplines in your daily life in The Well-Watered Life devotional journal.