Many people are unwilling to admit that we have a spiritual adversary, Satan, whose will and efforts are set against us. He is an angel who chose to rebel against God, and now he wants to bring us down with him.
Satan doesn’t cause every evil act in the world, as there’s plenty of natural evil to go around. But when we’re down and weak, he often takes advantage of the situation to try to bury us so deep that we’ll never get out.
Mental health therapists speak of the destructive effects of negative self-talk, where we put ourselves down and replay self-defeating conversations in our head. It’s not unusual to have these kinds of thoughts pop into our mind, but we shouldn’t hang on to them and allow them to take control. When that happens, we can lose focus, motivation, hope, and the ability to effect needed change.
I believe that negative self-talk is one of Satan’s favorite weapons he uses against us. He gets away with it when we allow our attention to dwell on our problems, instead of focusing on the spiritual reality of God’s love.
One of the challenges facing therapists is how to find a way to help people break out of their defeatist thinking when the person’s experiences and the people in their lives have hammered them with so much negativity. We need the immensely healing and positive message and power of the Gospel and the Holy Spirit to overcome this evil. Instead, secular culture seems determined to “protect us” from the very healing balm we need.
Please note: I’m not diminishing the role of physicians or mental health specialists or the benefit they provide. We need both physicians to prescribe medications and therapists to help patients get out of destructive behavior patterns. It seems to me, however, that it’s a grave mistake to focus only on the physical and psychological issues while ignoring the spiritual ones.
Below, you will find a brief, self-talk dialogue representing how Satan will tempt us through negative self-talk, while the Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts with the words of Scripture. Notice how God’s Word speaks with such power and truth that can’t be found in positive thinking alone.
Satan: Nobody cares. Nobody wants you.
HOLY SPIRIT: I have called you by name: you are mine. (Isaiah 43:1)
Satan: You’re trash. You’re stupid.
HOLY SPIRIT: You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb.I praise you because I am wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:13-14)
Satan: You’re worthless. You could leave, and no one would care.
HOLY SPIRIT: You are precious in my eyes and honored, and I love you. (Isaiah 43:4)
Satan: You’re weak. You can’t do anything right.
HOLY SPIRIT: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness. ”I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell within me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Satan: You’re ugly. Your friends have more than you do. Look at everything you’ve done, and you have nothing to show for it. You’re a failure. You haven’t made a bit of difference.
HOLY SPIRIT: Do not love this world or the things of this world…The world and its enticement are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever. (I John 2:15, 17)
Satan: You‘ve blown it. You’ve ruined your life. You’ve screwed up for good.
HOLY SPIRIT: So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more.” (John 8: 9-11)
Satan: You’re lost. There’s no way out. There’s no point to fighting any further or going on anymore.
HOLY SPIRIT: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
Satan: Life is hell. And what do you have to look forward to afterward? Nothing. Emptiness. So give in to despair.
HOLY SPIRIT: All who are called by my name I created for my glory. (Is. 43:7)
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now, and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:18-23)
He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, [for] the old order has passed away. (Revelation 21:4)
Satan: You can’t be saved. You are doomed. You’re alone.
HOLY SPIRIT: Behind and before you encircle me and rest your hand upon me. (Psalm 139:5)
If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him? Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who acquits us. Who will condemn? It is Christ [Jesus] who died, rather, was raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-35, 38-39)
Peace be with you!
Scripture quotations are from the New American Bible Revised Edition.