Condemnation—Once isolated, Satan is relentless in accusations—again, all unfolding in a silent, internal conversation in first person. “I’m a failure.” Bear in mind, highly successful, highly fruitful, long-faithful pastors experience these internal accusations on a regular basis—which should unveil to us the deceptive spiritual warfare that’s really going on here. (1 John 3:20–21)
Comparison—There’s always someone seemingly doing better than I am—someone who appears to be more (fill in the blank…). We lose sight of the blessings of our lives and begin to perceive another’s blessings as better or bigger—always a lie, always discouraging. There’s no winning a comparison game. We aren’t designed for comparison—we are called to each run an individual race. (2 Corinthians 10:12)
Cynicism—Comparison fuels cynicism—my way of discounting another to feel better about myself. The fact that we’re all pathetic apart from Jesus gives us all plenty of ammunition with which to scoff or scorn another. We are all susceptible to developing cynical or scornful hearts toward others, ourselves, and toward life or ministry in general. Past hurts, disappointments, betrayals or bitterness can devolve into scorn and anger toward anything or anyone that reminds me of “what bothers me.” In my opinion, a cynical heart is among the deadliest poisons to true and lasting Christian joy.
Eight demons—inspection, introspection, deception, expectation, isolation, condemnation, comparison, cynicism. Do you ever wrestle with these like I do? All of them are contrary to the real work of Jesus through your life and ministry.
Here’s the good news—resist Satan, and he will flee! (James 4:7) Seriously, these “demons” are only as powerful as you allow them to be. Only you can control the internal narrative. Only you can control your social media stream, and which ones you read. Only you can avoid these destructive ruts of thinking.
It’s a daily battle, but you can begin trading every one of these “ruts” for biblical realities. Trade inspection for faith that God is working where you can’t see Him. Trade introspection for personal development—reaching forward and forgetting the past. Trade isolation for godly friendship and fellowship that fosters encouragement in your heart. Trade condemnation for celebration—looking up to Jesus rather than within to self. Trade comparison for rejoicing with them that rejoice—strong enough in your gospel identity that you can legitimately rejoice for another’s blessings. Trade cynicism for charity—which hopes, believes and celebrates the good.
This may all sound sappy, but I prefer to live with joy than bitterness. I want to crush these demons every day and to live in the light of hope and faith. These “demons” are real, but Jesus is greater! What demons would you add to this list? What friend can you encourage by forwarding this article?
Go chase off some “demons”!
“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
This article originally appeared here.