The Voice of Freedom
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me…. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says” (Rev. 3:20, 22 nasb). “And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32 nasb).
By John David Hicks
The Christian life is all about relationship, and communication is at the heart of any good relationship. There must be an exchange of thoughts, messages, or information. Jesus said in John 10:27, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” In verses 3-5 He says the shepherd “calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”
As the chaplain in a gospel mission, I sometimes deal with individuals who are depressed and find it hard to function. Many live under condemnation because of sin, failures, or abandonment. Others are confused, in conflict, and sometimes suicidal. I explain that “in your mind you hear three voices”:
One is from God. His voice is holy, good, kind, and loving. Jesus promised that His “sheep” would hear His voice (John 10:27).
A second voice is yours. As a Christian you want to do God’s will (John 7:17), so your mind is going through a transformation process (Rom. 12:2; Phil. 4:4-8). At times your old fleshly mind raises its head with hurts from the past, and Satan then inserts greed, bitterness, fear, and negative self-talk.
The third voice is the devils. His voice is negative, condemning, and evil. He fools you into thinking that his voice is yours so you will hear it, and then he can tempt, accuse, or deceive you (Luke 4:13).
You’ve probably seen a cartoon that pictures a good angel on someone’s shoulder whispering in his ear and on the other shoulder the devil whispering in the other ear. There is a lot of truth in this. Jesus attributed all evil to demonic forces (Mark 9:25; Luke 11:14; 13:11-16; Acts 10:38).
Remember when Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say I am?” (Matt. 16:15). Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you…for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.” Peter heard God’s voice. Jesus then explained that He had to go to Jerusalem and be crucified. Peter began to rebuke Jesus. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus did not rebuke Peter, but Satan. “Get behind me, Satan!” (v. 23).
Peter didn’t mean to be an offense. However, the devil inspired Peter’s statement, and Jesus went after the real source. That is your example to follow. Learn to recognize the lies of the devil.
In Destined to Overcome, Paul Billheimer says a lot of difficulties and troubles in our body, mind, and spirit are caused by demon personalities under the command of Satan. They use our thoughts to affect our moods, condemning us, depressing us, and making us fearful. “There is no such thing as abstract evil; evil always has an intelligent self-conscious source. There is no evil that does not originate in a personality.” Evil spirits watch your reactions to situations and the words you say before they influence your thoughts toward evil. The only way you can overcome the devil is to expose him and resist him in the name of Jesus.
Satan wants you to focus on yourself and to see people as for you or against you. His voice is coming from your flesh when you hear: “I’m such a klutz”; “I’m so stupid”; “I can’t do anything right”; “Those people don’t like me.” Satan uses thoughts from your old patterns of living which are still in your brain. When you hear the devil’s voice and think it is your voice, you will receive it. When you receive these negative thoughts, they instantly become yours. That is what makes you discouraged, condemned, and defeated. The key is to instantly “capture” them and reject them. When you say, “Stop, I will not receive this,” or “Get behind me Satan,” you short-circuit the negative. Now focus on what is true and positive.
Paul was concerned about you when he wrote: “I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Cor.11:3). Satan wants your mind to become polluted, your heart to become indifferent, and your flesh to demand sinful pleasure. Don’t be like Eve and become deceived by the devil’s craftiness. You are at war with demonic forces of evil, the world system, and your fleshly mind.
Listen to God’s plan: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Rom. 12:2 nlt). You are tempted by the world, the flesh, and the devil. This world’s system is at cross-purposes with God’s plans and values (1 John 2:15). Life in the “flesh” is lived under the serpent’s lie of judging that is independent of God (Matt. 7:1; Rom. 7:18). Jesus said the devil is the thief that has comes to steal, kill, and destroy you (John 10:10; James 1:13-15).
The main way you will win the battle for your mind is to learn how to separate yourself from the evil thoughts the devil puts in your mind. You will know the devil’s voice when he puts into your mind: anger, pride, greed, bitterness, jealousy, lust, resentment, spite, negativism, pessimism, condemnation, guilt, confusion, deceitfulness, and revenge. All these evil thoughts are coming from the enemy.
Since those thoughts are not yours, you are not responsible for them any more than you are responsible for someone using profanity in your presence. But then you must learn to disregard them and not accept them as yours. If you accept them and believe those thoughts are yours, the devil has got you and will shame you, make you feel guilty, and condemn you. All bondage begins first in your mind.
The secret, Paul says, is: “Christ lives in you” (Col 1:27 nlt). You are in Christ and are to live out of His life. It’s like abiding in the vine—the branch will bear much fruit (John 15:5). “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:22-24). “In Christ,” you die to your old self as the center and make Jesus the Lord in your new self (Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 5:17).
Here’s the good news: “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). You have spiritual weapons from God that will put the devil to flight. “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:4-5 nlt).
Whatever you set your mind upon will ultimately determine your behavior. The first temptation in the Garden was to doubt the Word of God. On the other hand, Jesus overcame Satan by quoting the Word of God. Align your thought life with the truth that comes from God’s Word. Then the truth will continue to make you free. “Watch [or guard] over your heart [innermost thoughts, pictures, and words] with all diligence, for from it [your innermost thoughts, pictures, and words] flow the springs of life” (Prov. 4:23 nasb).
Every word you think about has power—to build or destroy your hopes and dreams, to restore or cause you loss, to heal you or break your spirit, to bring you delight or despair, to bless you or curse you—for “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Prov. 18:21) and in the thoughts you accept (Prov. 23:7).
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). As you “submit” to God’s love and authority, and order Satan to flee, you will recognize a new freedom from oppression and ignorance. The devil cannot deceive you or defeat you if you are established in the love of God and His Word. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom. 8:35, 37).
When you resist the devil by telling him you will not receive his negative thoughts and to flee from you in the name of Jesus, he will go. He knows he has to. But if you don’t resist the devil, the Bible warns you that you will become a double-minded man, unstable in all you do (James 1:8).
“The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s [or devil’s] judgment: For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:15-16). As a “spiritual man” you have the “mind of Christ” and can discern thoughts from God, yourself, and the devil.
As you submit to God and resist the devil, he will flee from you. This truth will set you free from Satan’s schemes to defeat you. You’ll have power to live a life of peace, joy, and victory over the devil and every negative thought. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13).