The End-time Battle for Our Minds
...the Release of Light into the Darkened Dianoía
There is an amazing knowing coming into the minds of believers for the last days. Oh, so much Scripture pertaining to this is opening up! This unveiling of truth within us will be the result of one of the Holy Spirit's last great movements in this age. Even now, silently and without fanfare, He is moving.
While this release of truth into our understanding is coming upon us, there is raging a fierce battle for our minds. Forces from Satan are out to bring confusion and despair. The Holy Spirit is countering this by bringing us into a new depth of spiritual warfare. In this article we will reach into the inner parts of our beings, find out the stations of evil that have been set for our defeat, and learn how to combat the darkness. Much of what we learn from Paul in his Prison Epistles about praying pertains to the release of our minds. In the Greek text of Ephesians 1:18 a particular word pertaining to this takes our attention. It is dianoía. Occurring thirteen times in the New Testament (see bottom of page), it is sometimes translated mind, sometimes understanding, and one time imagination. Paul used it more than anyone else. The Lord Jesus used it one time when He said, And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind (dianoía)—Mark 12:30.
Dianoía is one of several words used to describe the workings and operations of the mind. It describes it as it draws conclusions about matters, and makes distinctions as to what is right and wrong. It is the mind as it is designed to have insight and comprehension. From an enlightened dianoía, a person can say, "Oh, now I understand! Now I see!"
In the natural man the dianoía is darkened. This hinders the grasping of truth. Darkness in the understanding distorts the perception of life and its priorities. Because of the darkness, the awareness one could have of God’s Kingdom and its ways are remote and indistinguishable. There can also lurk in the dianoía a vast array of negative responses that send forth wild signals to the will and emotions, as well as to the mind. These make straight thinking difficult and are often the grounds on which seducing spirits work.
Many times a person cannot tell why resentment, discouragement, fear, rage, lust, or depression rise up. These responses simply are spit forth from something in the darkness of the inner man reaching for the will and emotions of the person in whom they reside. For these, trusting God in the time of trouble seems well nigh impossible.
The dianoía of every person is different; each one sees and understands life from a different perspective. Just as the fingerprint of every person is distinct, so the way each one understands and thinks is distinct. There are two ways, however, in which the dianoía of every person is the same. First, everyone was designed by God to have an understanding of Him. Second, the ability to understand Him has been darkened in everyone. It is apparent this came because of the fall of our father, Adam. In His mercy, God is bringing us out of this darkness for the last days.
Before we look at what Paul said in Ephesians about the dianoía, we want to see a word in Daniel that is similar in meaning. It is beenáh, meaning the kind of understanding that opens up in a person when enlightenment comes—especially the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. It is this part the angel Gabriel touched when he said to Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding (beenáh)—Daniel 9:22. That angel had access to the innermost part of Daniel’s brain to place there an understanding about God and His Kingdom.
The alarming thing is that the anti-Christ will reach for this same part of us in the last days. Daniel 11:30 tells of the vile person stepping up his strategy to have intelligence with them who forsake the holy covenant. Have intelligence comes from the same root in the Hebrew as understanding in Daniel 9:22. The vile person reaches for the innermost part of our mind, even the subconscious part of us, to bring us under his psychic control.
Who are these with whom the anti-Christ has intelligence? Those who have been in covenant relationship with God, but have defected. The most subtle strategy of the anti-Christ in the closing days will move in with clandestine maneuvers upon the minds of believers. He actually expects us to defect from the faith. His seducing spirits will reach for any darkness left in our dianoía and use what is there to confuse us and draw us into his camp.
We are learning now the counter-strategy that will enable us to withstand in the evil day. We can come through every fight triumphant and stand in the final day in the camp of the Lord. This is the wonderful scheme of Ephesians, leading up to this statement: Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand—Eph 6:13
This article is about withstanding.
The DIANOíA is the starting point for God’s Kingdom to enter our lives. While it is the part that has been darkened, it is also the part that can first receive light. We are learning this from Paul. He expected three things to result from the light entering the dianoía.
Look at the following verses some of us have absorbed into our discipline of praying for several months. As we have pointed out time and again, note the three "whats." They point to what we can know when we are enlightened. And, I must say again: the knowing is the deep, instinctive type of knowledge that finds release from within, placed in us by the Holy Spirit. It is an enlightenment that results from a light coming from an absolute source. No darkness is sufficient to overcome it. When this light is in us, we need have no fear of the darkness around us. It is this light that will bring us as triumphant overcomers through every fight.
18 The eyes of your understanding (your dianoía) being enlightened; that ye may know WHAT is the hope of his calling, and WHAT the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
19 And WHAT is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power...
These verses point to the spiritual foundations necessary for the movement of God’s Kingdom in us and through us. They are the building blocks for our triumph and the substance for our overcoming in the face of tribulation.
Clearing the dianoía of darkness enables us to know: One, WHAT is the hope of God’s calling upon our lives. This enables us to be certain in our movements because we know what God wants. Two, WHAT is the value He places upon us as His inheritance. Oh, what a boon this is to faith! Three, WHAT is the greatness of the power available to us. This equips us for any conflict. When these three points of knowing are made firm within us, the strongholds and trouble points with which we’ve struggled become strong points of overcoming. Make solid the three foundations of Ephesians 1:18,19 and triumph is as certain as the rising of the sun. When they are sure in us, we can know peace, joy, strength, fulfillment, and full provision for all needs. Our hope will remain alive—even through the darkness of the last hours.
We will know the way through the wilderness.
Now, let me tell you something that is personal and bitter, but out of which I learned a valuable lesson. I determined long ago that whenever the enemy strikes, I will receive his blow as an opportunity to get as much mileage for the Kingdom of God as possible. That is the reason I am free to relate things that happen, even personal pain. I know there are multitudes out there who face similar things and who need answers that are real and that can work in their lives.
Sometimes I think it will never stop happening—this opening of our souls to reveal the darkness that remains. Even after years of serving the Lord, it continues with many of us. About five years ago something very painful happened that opened me up. I tell about it because many others I know are having their souls opened in the same painful way.
Briefly, here is what happened. A close relation let Glenda and me know, in no uncertain terms, what miserable failures we had been in her eyes. The most painful thing was her slur against our "religion."
You better believe that hurt. Glenda and I had borrowed money to buy tickets to go see that dear one—only to receive that!
For days we hurt, fumed, thought about it—and tried to pray. We said, "Why did this have to happen? We thought our relationship with that person was good. Will this sort of thing never end? Can we ever trust that one again?"
These were the questions of our shocked souls. We couldn’t think straight or get answers.
Shortly after the above incident, Glenda and I had to be separated for a week. After we prayed together and parted, fear entered into me. The shock of what had happened had brought disorder to my mind. It was as though some of the "wires" in it got crossed. For a while I couldn’t distinguish between what had happened and what I thought might have happened. I asked myself, "Is this causing me to lose my mind?" My inner man had been pierced and I was not prepared to withstand the attack.
But then, as I considered what happened, I became encouraged— even though there remained some pain. I found that the trauma of painful events and emotions does not have to be pushed down into my subconscious mind in order for me to get on with life. Instead, I found that—if I allow it—blows can serve me well, just like a hammer serves a nail well. It drives it into the place for which it is designed.
The restoring of my mind and emotions started gently, from within. It began with a brief vision. It was such a still small thing that at first I didn’t perceive it as coming from the Holy Spirit. He let me see my soul. I saw it ripped open. Inside was a dark curtain draped over part of my inner man. Right away I knew, if I allowed the darkness to remain, that part of my inner man hidden in the darkness would invite more trouble.
The darkness had been in me all along. The hurtful incident only revealed it. Now the Holy Spirit wanted to work in its place. Very slowly—oh, so slowly—light began coming. I’ve found we can’t rush the work of God any more than we can rush the light of dawn. The pain had been so great at first that I didn’t believe the Holy Spirit could bring any good out of what had happened. I had a little conflict with the Lord over this. But, I knew better than to argue too much. He is so thorough and powerful—yet so gentle.
As soon as I stopped resisting Him, a small positive thing began taking place. I’ve found the Holy Spirit is happy to start in us with little things. He shot a thought into my mind like a spark of light. He said, "The one who attacked you is hurting, too." This little thought pierced my darkness. I couldn’t entertain it very long; I was hurting myself. And, I was busy building the case for my defense. But at least the thought did come, and it registered. I began seeing what that person said and did was out of deep inner hurt, most of it unrelated to me.
That was the beginning of the healing of the relationship. Long ago we learned that expressions of anger and resentment coming from one person to another frequently come out of old hurts brought on by old relationships—some of them from early childhood, long forgotten by the conscious mind.
As I was holding my wound before the Lord, He whispered something to me. "Do you care about her?" Gradually I began hearing more. It was coming from the heart of my heavenly Father. "I’ve loved you enough to allow this to happen. Now give up your case. Stop building your defense. Let My Spirit bring healing in you and bring to life My Word that you already know."
The Holy Spirit was prompting me to take a very small step out of the circle of my hurt into the circle of the other person’s hurt. When I did this, He stepped into mine.
As I was thinking about what was taking place inside me, the Lord spoke something more to me. He said, "The trouble has been in your dianoía. I’ve allowed it to be split open again so you can see the veil there and receive healing. And—so you can become a greater instrument of healing to others."
Oh, yes—a beautiful and loving relationship was restored with that relative. It could have been a painful thing dragged on forever. And, you know something: that sweet person never did have to say, "I’m sorry."
The Lord knew I was acquainted with the dianoía. Over twenty-five years ago I took note of it and began studying the New Testament passages where it occurs. I had even written on the dianoía, but I always knew there was a quickening yet to come with regard to my understanding it. And, there is still more! There are two passages in Ephesians where Paul mentioned the dianoía in its darkened estate— Ephesians 2:1-3 and 4:17-19. From these two Scriptures we learn how a darkened understanding will hinder our inner man. It is one of the battlegrounds where the enemy expects to defeat us. And so, it is the place we can expect some of our greatest triumph.
Praying like Paul prayed in Ephesians 1:15-19 is like using a switch to turn on a light. He prayed something like this: "Dear Lord, bring light to their understanding." That was so simple!
But it works.
When that blow came to Glenda and me and darkness came over my mind, I found out someone else prayed for me. This one wasn’t with me. I didn’t even know at the time that they prayed. I just know that all of a sudden a light came on in me. I could think, and understand—and pray. It was later I found out about the other one praying.
I saw anew the importance of the discipline of intercession. We must not give up on it!
We believe the Holy Spirit will touch the dianoía of any soul for whom some intercessor cares enough to pray. He can even reach into an unbeliever.
But what about us who are believers? Some may ask, "Doesn’t light come to our inner man when we’re born again?" Yes. The new birth makes light possible and opens us to a whole new realm of life. But, the veil keeping much of the inner man in darkness remains in many people after they are born again. We know this by studying Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and practically every other Book in the New Testament. What we are learning is that the darkness does not have to remain.
The Points of Evil with which We All Contend
Ephesians 2:1-3, one of the passages speaking of the darkened dianoía, we find it is part of a malignant team that works at controlling every person outside of Christ. Paul presented this insight after telling in the previous chapter what marvelous things he had been praying. Setting the lamp of God’s light in place is necessary before dealing with the darkness. The team of which dianoía is a part has seven stations, some inside the person, some outside. Each part of the team works at maintaining a dark inner government in unbelievers as well as believers.
This evil team can be knocked out in the life of a believer. The Lord Jesus has triumphed for us at every point. The condition of many, however, does not admit to this.
As we learn the stations where the battles rage in and around us, we gain direction for praying—and for expecting light.
We will all learn, eventually, that the only One who can handle the dark inner forces that fight from within us is the Holy Spirit. And, oh! He does this when we acknowledge Him and allow Him to do His work. We’ve numbered the seven statements that direct us to the malignant team. With a background in "eternal security," I point to them and describe their threat. But, I also am a realist. I know that if these areas remain, they will work toward wearing us down and drawing us back onto the side of the enemy. It is no longer a matter of doctrine. It is a matter of knocking out these stations and being made ready to stand in the final day.
We have seen each of these things in thousands of believers with whom we have prayed and counseled, and we have become aware of them in our own lives. The fact is, at each of these points many are failing; but this need not be the case.
1 And you hath he quickened, who were...
(1) dead in trespasses and sins: 2 Wherein in time past ye
(2) walked according to the course of this world,
(3) according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the
(4) children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh,
(5) fulfilling the desires of the flesh
(6) and of the mind; and
(7) were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
If we accept this Scripture as fact and then simply say, "I’m OK; you’re OK," let us remember Paul was presenting "positional truth." In actuality, he was praying that the believers under his care would come out of their darkness. It was not all right for them to remain in it. Nor were they simply to make a statement of positional truth while their condition held on to the darkness. He wanted them to know the reality of a new life in Christ that reached into every area of living.
As we lay out the points, we note that they are the marks of a person outside of Christ. By this we mean the way a person is by human nature. The tendency to revert to the natural way of living remains strong with many believers. This, of course, is helped on by many influences in the world. The supposition that we who have darkness remaining shall find our change when Christ appears is a weak hope. There is little likelihood that those who lightly regard the darkness now will survive to that day.
We will regard the points carefully. The possibility of defeat and the possibility of freedom are both at hand.
1. Trespass and sin
· Ephesians 2:1—And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.
The Greek word for sins is hamartía. It is a shooting word and literally means "a miss." A man shoots his arrow at the target; the arrow misses; that is what hamartía is. As it is used in the New Testament, it means missing what God wants. And, we must remember: the man shooting at the target and missing need not be shooting with his back turned on the target. It may appear that his aim is accurate, yet if he misses, he has sinned.
The word for trespasses is paraptóma. It means "a false step, a slip" or "a blunder." It could be used of a person losing the way and straying from the right road. It could be used of someone falling down in the road. It could be used of someone failing to grasp the truth and slipping away from it. In the New Testament it is the breaking of God’s Law, whether deliberate or by slip up. Only the light of the Holy Spirit and of the Word of God can reveal the extent of sin and trespass in any of us.
Many believers fall back and become bound at these points, even though deliverance from sin’s power is provided by the Lord Jesus. Paul spoke of being dead in trespasses and sins. These two partners of the devil kill. There is a murderous power in them. Indeed, to participate in them is a kind of suicide. They kill the things which make life worth while and work at destroying, or damaging, our relationship with the Lord.
Before coming to Christ, we are dead in sin. It is the life-giving touch of His grace that awakens us and brings us to life. But when sin—or trespass—re-enters, a kind of death returns. It is a death of joy, a death of peace, a death of the ability to walk in what God wants. In a believer, sin and trespass paralyze, demoralize, weaken, and make life a drudgery. Alarmingly, they open the way for seducing and unclean spirits to work. And, they grieve the Spirit of God. Trespass and sin dull the conscience, contaminate the emotions, weaken the will, and make the mind unable to think straight.
We must ask for light to come with regard to what is trespass and what is sin in our lives. When we do this, conviction will come. It is the first step for all of us toward an on-going freedom from anti-Christ’s snare.
PRECIOUS LORD, I dare not set myself up as one who has no trespass or sin. Search me. Try me. Find in me what displeases You. Work in me till I am free of its grasp.
2. The course of this world.
· Ephesians 2:2a—… wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world.
The Greek word used here for world is aion. It means an age, or a dispensation, clearly defined and marked out with its own character and trends. Living according to the course of this age means allowing the current trends of society to guide our lives. This is a great bondage and causes spiritual blindness.
By coming under the allurement of the age, we get off track and lose direction. Our values become confused and desire for the things of God’s Kingdom diminishes. Jesus said that the care of this world chokes the Word of the Kingdom (Matthew 13:22). Care is from a word meaning "anxious interest in, or ambitious thoughts about."
We ask God for the light of His Spirit to come within us and reveal what the trends of the age are doing in our lives. This frees us to gain new perspective and to grow in the direction set for us by the Lord God—not in the ways set by the god of this world.
Scripture is very clear with regard to this age. It shall come to an end. Therefore, to give ourselves to its values is unwise and disabling. There is a new age coming under the headship and order of the Lord Jesus Christ. Wisdom would dictate that we give ourselves to it.
Is there any wonder the enemy is bombarding us with his version of what the new age is? We ask for discernment to reject his dark work.
HEAVENLY FATHER, I here and now renounce all the influence of the new age movement in my life. Search it out. Find in me what I cannot find in myself. Then, let Your Spirit move through me to set me free from the trends of the age that have become popular, but are grievous to You.
3. The Prince of the power of the air.
· Ephesians 2:2b— …you walked...according to the prince of the power of the air...
The prince of the power of the air is that ruling force under Satan working from the heavens to control nations, states, cities, villages, clubs, movements, families and individuals. This prince dispatches unclean and seducing spirits to motivate us away from the Kingdom of God. His realm of spiritual influence is the most subtle and difficult to discover, for his spirits always work toward being undetected. They also work at making us so accustomed to their ways of spiritual death and deception that we live easily with them.
These spirits, dispatched from the prince, set their most ardent desires upon us who are believers. They want control of our minds so they can place in us thoughts and ideas contrary to the ways of God. They work to make us ineffective for His Kingdom’s purpose.
We are learning to go after these spirits and bind their work. More and more, Christian ministries are opening to the understanding that this evil spiritual influence continues in many believers. Ministries of deliverance are coming forth. By the authority given us in Christ, we can bind the energy of the prince of the power of the air. This sets a soul free to come under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
Those of us who know our authority in Christ must also sometimes deal with seducing and unclean spirits in our own lives. Whenever they find ground belonging to their dark realm, they come with fervor to possess it. To say spirits under the prince of the power of the air cannot hinder a believer is foolishness. But oh! What grace and power reach us from the Throne of God’s Kingdom to set us free!
LOVING AND PROTECTING LORD, I flee to Your bosom. Teach me to dwell in this secret place. If I have allowed some ground to remain that attracts seducing spirits, then reveal it in me. Set me in the way of freedom. Use me as an instrument of freedom for others.
· Ephesians 2:2c —you walked according to...the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.
Worketh in this verse is from energéo, a word at which we looked recently in the mini-MASCHIL editions when we discussed the powers released out of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. It is the power of energy. As it is used here, it speaks of another energizing force—an evil one—that motivates and drives those given to disobedience. Indeed, it describes the "anointing" of disobedience.
We need to take note of the children of disobedience. Children comes from huíos, a word meaning a full grown heir, a recognized and mature son. Disobedience is from apeitheía, meaning the attitude of one with an incompliant disposition, obstinate; an unbeliever. Those who are mature and developed in disobedience are helped on by the prince of the power of the air. But not only are unbelievers helped by him, the same spiritual force reaches for every believer with the intention of drawing each one of us into unbelief.
To put it bluntly: the anti-Christ is determined to make every one of us into unbelievers. He has this as his high goal.
The natural man is a child of disobedience, born in it, with a natural inclination toward it. He need never be taught to be disobedient. David said, The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they be born... —Psalm 58:3. Disobedience is the natural way of life. It is obedience that must be learned—and energized in us by the Holy Spirit.
Disobedience is the same as unbelief. In fact, the New Testament Greek word apeitheía, translated disobedience in this Ephesians passage, is translated unbelief in Hebrews 4:6. They . . .entered not in because of unbelief.
Disobedience is a persuasion away from God, to be overcome only by the faith which He Himself releases in us. This faith is the product of the Word of God, the Holy Spirit, and our yielded hearts.
HEAVENLY FATHER, I renounce disobedience. I embrace Your way. Release within me the desire for what You want so that obedience becomes the most natural way of Life for me.
5. The lusts of the flesh.
· Ephesians 2:3a—Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh...
Conversation is from the Greek anastrépho, which means "to conduct one’s life in some certain manner." Outside of Christ, we all do this according to the lusts of the flesh. Lusts is from the Greek epithumía which means strong desire—sometimes violent and irregular—kindled by passion.
By the flesh Paul means the strong desires both of the soul and the body. These desires, along with the influence of seducing spirits, send their signals to our will. Thus, they dictate how we order our lives—that is, unless we come under the authority of Christ’s government.
We’re asking God to strengthen us so that we can put away unlawful desires. May we want—even strongly desire—what He wants. This will set us free to walk in faith and obedience—and joyful fulfillment. We are learning to hold our wills—corrupted as they may be—before the searching light of God’s Spirit. He will bring stubborn desires of our flesh under the authority of His Kingdom. Paul expressed an amazing understanding in Philippians 2:13. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. What a statement! Again, worketh is from energéo. God, realizing His will is beyond the capability or desire of our poor souls, condescends to supply the energy for its performance. He decides what is right for us and then He supplies the energy for it.
O FATHER, I will to follow Your will rather than the strong will of my flesh. "Sweet will of God, draw me closer till I am wholly lost in thee." I trust You, Father, to bring Your purposes to pass in me.
6. The desires of the mind (dianoía).
· Ephesians 2:3b— ... we all had our conversation in times past ... fulfilling the desires ...of the mind (dianoía).
Mind is from our word dianoía. We gain insight here. The dianoía, dark and foreboding as it is in its natural state, will send its signals to our will. From its darkness, it will try and direct us, even govern our lives. It teams its dark desire with the desires of the flesh to persuade our mind and emotions to go after those desires. This provides a wicked stronghold against God’s Kingdom and provides a broad base for the enemy to work.
We are learning to ask for light to come into the dianoía, both our own and for those we hold before the Throne. When this light comes, the uncleanness, unwholesomeness, and undesirability of darkened ideas and desires become manifest. This opens the way to break the control they have held over our lives and release us to repentance. The pain this sometimes brings at the outset cannot be compared with the peace that follows.
From this darkened area of the soul, come forth such strong requirements and demands upon our lives that we sometimes break under the attack! When we see these things and confess them, we’re making a step toward deliverance and healing.
Once, with a group of believers all very open to the rule of the Holy Spirit in their lives, I asked how many knew of other forces that at times sought to rule them. A spirit of revelation came upon that gathering, and the following list evolved. After quite a few expressed what they battled, one young woman candidly said, "I battle all of the above." Sometimes the Holy Spirit helps us see painful things quite clearly. The list that grew that day included: depression, worry, anger, procrastination, anxiety, fear of what others think, a poor self image, resentment, fear of being alone, fear of losing a loved one, fear of cancer, hatred, lust, laziness, fear of failure, bitterness, greed, jealousy, a driving need to win or be first, insecurity, fear of heights, pride, contempt for others, unnatural sexual lust, a compulsive need for certain foods, a fearful need for shelter and comfort, an unreasonable need for clothing and pleasure, the need to have a high position in society, the need to please others, an uncontrollable need to lie or exaggerate, manipulation of others, craving for alcohol or other drugs, craving to be touched or to touch, the drive to succeed, the need to take vengeance, the need to be punished, the need to inflict punishment on others, selfishness, the need to have many "pretty things," a morbid frame of mind that always looks for the worst, the besetting need to correct others, grief, the compulsion to annoy others, hatred of the opposite sex, ideas set in motion by words spoken when one is young, etc.
All these can lurk in the darkened dianoía, sending forth signals to the conscience, mind, emotions, and will. They make demands and place restrictions that hinder life. Some of these can be so demanding that their influence becomes destructive of a meaningful life. As we see them, we can repent. We can let them go. The Holy Spirit will come in their place and work that which is right.
DEAR LORD, send Your Spirit into every part of my mind. Search out the dark ways of thinking and responding that reside in me. Set up Your government in my inner man and rule me from within.
· Ephesians 2:3c— …we all...were by nature children of wrath, even as others.
Wrath may come from God, from other persons, or from natural causes. Often, we bring it upon ourselves by our actions and reactions.
But there is a wrath that comes upon many simply by their birth into situations where sin and disorder rule—like the baby born to a drug addicted mother, or a child born in a war zone, etc. These become children of wrath in the strictest sense. The wrath of natural circumstance in some lives is so hard and prolonged that many have no way of deliverance—outside the power of God’s Kingdom. Because of their darkened understanding, many have settled into living as children of wrath.
The Holy Spirit helps at this point, especially when some intercessor persists in holding some child of wrath before the Throne of God’s grace. Out of this, faith is born in the place of the wrath and the reach toward God becomes very sure.
When we see the wrath—or rage, or anger, or indignation, or bitterness—in our own lives, and discover that it has been a ruling force within us, we are a step toward freedom.
DEAR LORD, open my eyes to see Your mercy in the midst of my angry life. Oh! Do it in these I hold before You! Your mercy, released to us and through us, is our only hope.
The Trouble Points Within Us All
In Ephesians 4:17-19, Paul lays out nine trouble points that will lock a person into spiritual death. Some from the previous list are exterior to the person. These are all interior. They beg for a work that only the Holy Spirit can perform. Wonderfully, He is ready to do this work.
17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the (1) vanity of their mind,
18 (2) Having the understanding (dianoía) darkened, being (3) alienated from the life of God through the (4) ignorance that is in them, because of the (5) blindness of their heart:
19 Who being (6) past feeling have given themselves over unto (7) lasciviousness, to work all (8) uncleanness with (9) greediness.
The corporate conscience of society, for society’s good, has worked in some places to restrain some of these points. All that can be done from without, however, is restrain them. No work of man or government, society or religion, can deal with them at their roots. These points operate from within the soul of man and crop up with new vengeance in every generation. They will run rampant, exercising untold influence, wreaking unheard-of destruction in the last days. We who live in the closing days will have to deal with their strength, and poison, inflamed in us by the magnetic energy of evil in the earth. And, we will have to contend with their reinless operation in people all around, most of whom will know nothing of the restraints and power of the Holy Spirit.
Many persons, particularly those of a religious nature, either unsuccessfully attempt to put down these inward points of trouble, or conceal the extent to which they are controlled by them.
Look at them carefully. They show the pit from which we all were digged. They help us understand the areas of trouble that, if they remain in our lives, will make overcoming difficult.
There is hope. We can attack the points precisely and with the help of the Holy Spirit.
1. A vain mind
· Ephesians 4:17— …walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their minds...
The Greek word for mind in this verse is nous. It is similar to the dianoía, but is a more common word. It means the organ of thinking and knowing and of making moral decisions. It embraces all the functions of the mind and provides a broad platform for the coming of God’s Kingdom into our lives. Jesus used a word built on the same root when He said, Repent: the Kingdom of heaven is at hand— Matthew 4:17. Repent is from metanoéo. It means "change your mind, your way of thinking, your purposes, your inclinations." Thus, we see the first turn one can make toward the Kingdom is in this area of the mind. Conversion begins in the changing of the mind.
Vanity means that which produces nothing of value. The mental functions of those outside of Christ tend toward what is worthless and profane. They may produce things that are very impressive to the world but all with the seed of corruption that drags their inventions over into the arms of what is evil. We are coming to the time when nothing outside the Kingdom of God can hold value. We must all bow to His Kingdom. Even thoughts of lofty ideals, if they recognize not the authority of Christ, come to nothing before the movements of His Kingdom.
As we hold ourselves before God in prayer, and as we hold others, He helps us see the empty and vain ideas we entertain. We then become free to renounce the vanity.
DEAR GOD, show me what is empty and hopeless so I can renounce the vanity of it. I claim release from every vain idea that opposes what You want. Now cause Your Spirit to work in the minds of these I hold before You so they can recognize vanity and begin thinking in line with Your Kingdom.
2. A darkened understanding.
· Ephesians 4:18—having the understanding (dianoía) darkened...
A dianoía that is darkened has difficulty thinking, perceiving, understanding, knowing, or acknowledging the presence, the power, or the authority of the Lord. Forming an opinion and coming up with an idea will always carry with it the idea of human rights. This will be a great hindrance in the time of trouble when confusion and irregularity will come on every hand. Light coming from God into our dianoía will be more necessary than ever. Even with darkness all around, we can find the way when His light has entered our dianoía.
This directs us to an important key to intercession. It was here God’s Spirit touched me as someone prayed for me. Since darkness in the understanding hinders the ability of any soul to receive the truth of God’s Kingdom, it is necessary that it be dispelled. And here is an amazing thing: it takes very little light to dispel darkness. Even a flickering match provides the way for some movement outward. This is what happened in me. The light that came into my understanding was small, but it enabled me to see a door I could open to greater light. It was the door of caring for someone else.
It is our work as intercessors to release light. As we hold others before the Lord requesting that the eyes of their understanding be enlightened, something happens that sets them free to begin seeing the hope and truth of God’s Kingdom. We must remember this however: the will of every person remains sovereign. The Holy Spirit does not violate this. He will bring light, however, so that the soul can at least see the way out and make a decision.
PRECIOUS FATHER, my understanding has been dim. I’ve been able to see little and therefore I’ve been prone to stumble. Release Your light in my mind and in my understanding. Place a check on every thought I have that comes from the darkness. Work this in these I hold before You.
3. Alienation from the life of God.
· Ephesians 4:18 — …being alienated from the life of God…
Alienated from means "being a stranger to" God, without a share in His life. This may seem strange to those who embrace everything as God. In actual fact, when our Father Adam sinned, he broke the line of divine life and set us afloat on a sea of humanity in which everyone comes short of the divine glory. Only in Christ can we come back. Everyone outside of Him is a stranger to the life Jesus came to reveal.
What a powerful passage of truth and light comes to us in Ephesians 2:13-22! (Read it over and over till your spirit absorbs it.) It describes the means and the power by which we can move out of this alienation and know God intimately. It is in Christ Jesus that we are made nigh, brought close, embraced and received into God’s family. In Christ, we are no longer strangers to the Covenants of God, to His Word, to His presence, or to His dwelling.
Many live on such a low plain they have no conception of the life available to them in Christ. Therefore, we hold them in God’s presence so desire for the life of His Kingdom can be born in them.
DEAR LORD, You have made known to us that there is a higher plane of life than we have known. Draw us on to know it. Bring these we hold before You to the point of dissatisfaction with the quality of life they now live. Draw them with desire to know You.
4. Spiritual ignorance
· Ephesians 4:18—... through the ignorance that is in them...
The natural man walks in ignorance. What Paul means here is not the ignorance of natural things, but of things pertaining to God and the extension of His Kingdom. This is the greatest ignorance anyone can have for it keeps a soul separated from God. Ignorance of this sort can be dispelled only by the Holy Spirit. He will bring truth into the inward parts—Psalm 51:6—and release in us the powerful effect and light of God’s reality.
The most powerful kind of truth there is comes from the Word of God made alive in us by the Holy Spirit. As a spiritual exercise, take Psalm 119, with each of its 22 divisions, and pray it. It will guide you to the law of the Lord whereby we receive direction to make our paths straight. It will introduce you to His testimonies that point out matters, places, experiences yet to be attained in relationship with Him. It will guide you to know His statutes as they mark out and ordain the way in which we should go. It will bring you in before His judgments by which we can make right decisions and regulate our lives. It will teach you to stand in awe of His commandments, to meditate on His precepts, to receive the cleansing of His word. This wonderfully long Psalm contains truth that directs us to search for, and receive, light.
There are some who have spiritual concepts and hold ideas gained from the Bible, but with not one bit of life from God. Therefore, truth within them is dead. They remain in spiritual ignorance. Truth, made alive in us by the Holy Spirit, becomes a powerful force in enabling us to overcome spiritual ignorance.
DEAR LORD, I turn my soul toward You for the enlightenment You give. Replace the ignorance in me with desire for all You have to say and do. And now—release in these I hold before You a hunger for Your truth. Bring it before their eyes, and their ears, and to their understanding.
5. An insensitive heart
· Ephesians 4: 18— …because of the blindness of their hearts...
The heart is the inner part of a person that feels and knows what is right. The natural man is deficient in this area, either from blindness or hardness, or both. The ancient Greek texts use pórosis here. It might be better translated hardness. It came from póros which originally meant a stone that was harder than marble. It came to mean the loss of all power of sensation. Thus, it describes something that has become so hardened, so petrified, it has no power to feel at all.
This is a condition that will prevail in the last days. Look at the points in the following passage and you will see what an insensitive heart is.
II Timothy 3
1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
Often the hardness and insensitivity of a heart comes from hurts, rejections and failures. So, we become compassionate toward those whose hearts are hard. We can pray, when there may be little else we can do.
DEAR GOD, heal the hurts and wounds caused by rejection in these I hold before You. Cause Your Spirit to brood over their hearts. Give them the courage to feel love again. And, O Lord, bring light to my heart so the part of me that feels can respond to others in their difficulty.
6. An inability to feel
· Ephesians 4:19— …who being past feeling...
Being past feeling is from a word in the Greek meaning "having laid aside hope." This is a very dark place to which one may come. When the inner part of the natural man comes to this place, it means he is callous and hard in his feelings toward God, as well as toward others.
Something is damaged inside many persons—in some worse than in others—that continually pulls them toward hopelessness. In some, it is because life itself has taken its toll. In others, it is because the iniquity of the fathers is visited upon the children. The need for healing in some persons is often so deep that only the Holy Spirit can search it out. Here is where the intercessor who has insight can work.
Reveal in my own soul, DEAR LORD, the hardness and neglect that sometimes arises toward You, toward Your Kingdom, and toward others. Heal in me the inability to feel.
OH LORD, restore in these I hold before You the feelings that have been damaged through painful encounters. I break, in the Name of Jesus, the power of the darkness inherited from family lines.
7. Unbridled desire
· Ephesians 4:19—... have given themselves over unto lasciviousness...
Lasciviousness means living with no restraint upon one’s lustful desires. Some persons, given over to following their natural man, walk in uncontrolled lust with no moral restraint. They do what they feel like doing.
God has given to every person the ability to have desires. But He also has placed in each one the ability to have self-control. In some, it is the ability to have desire that is damaged. More often, it is the ability to control desire that is damaged.
DEAR LORD, I hold my soul before You so Your Spirit can bring under control the unbridled lusts and unlawful desires that sometimes arise within me. Place Your restraint in these I hold before You. Cause Your Spirit to work in them so that right desires can be born.
· Ephesians 4:19—…to work all uncleanness…
The natural man becomes a doer of uncleanness. This may be physical uncleanness, but it will more likely be moral uncleanness, emotional uncleanness, mental uncleanness, or spiritual uncleanness.
The inner parts of some persons who live outside of a relationship with Christ are frequently so unclean that only the love of God is willing to take on the task of cleaning them up. His love can be expressed through an intercessor who will hold that person before the Throne of Grace until it is able to respond to the cleansing of the Holy Spirit. We must remember that some have in their inner man so much uncleanness that the cleanness of the Holy Spirit frightens them. Therefore we learn to pray long.
Regarding the uncleanness in some of our own lives as believers: we have no hope of completely removing it except through the work of the Holy Spirit. He is ready to go into the dark and smelly regions of any person’s inner man and do what David prayed in Psalm 51:10: Create in me a clean heart, O Lord; renew a right spirit within me.
We pray something like this for others: Bring them, O LORD, to desire Your wholesomeness and Your purity. Let Your Spirit soak up the dirt in their souls, and lead them in to a right response toward You and Your Kingdom. And we pray, Search me, O GOD, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting—Psalm 139:23,24
· Ephesians 4:19 — …with greediness…
Greed is the crowning mark of a life separated from God, yet it holds its ground in the lives of many of us who are believers. This means we never find lasting satisfaction in anything, even our relationship with the Lord. Greediness is from a Greek word meaning "I will have more." It describes a life that is always reaching for something. There is never satisfaction. It always says, "I will have more." While it is never wrong to desire more and more of God’s work in one’s life, too many associate having more with having more of what is thought of as blessings. We lay our lives before the Lord for Him to deal with this dark area of greed and need. How gracious He is!
GRACIOUS AND LOVING FATHER, I lay my desires before You. Judge them. Examine them. Remove from my heart the desire for anything that does not fit with Your Kingdom’s purposes.
This may be a hard thing for these I hold before You, but please work in them the desire for Your ways.
ADDENDUM FOR THE END-TIME BATTLE FOR OUR MINDS:
The Dianoia Scriptures
- Matt. 22:37 Jesus said unto him. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
- Mark 12:30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
- Luke 1:51 He hath showed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
- Luke 10:27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
- Eph. 1:18 The eyes of your understanding, being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
- Eph. 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
- Eph. 4:18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
- Col. 1:21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.
- Heb. 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
- Heb. 10:16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;
- I Pet. 1:13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
- II Pet. 3:1 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:
- I John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.
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