helmet,armor

I recently ran into an old Christian friend I hadn’t seen in a long time. As we talked and got reacquainted, he shared that during the time we had lost contact, he experienced a period of intense depression. At one point, he confided that he was hospitalized and placed under the care of a doctor.

Now I have known this person a long time and I am absolutely convinced he has been and still is a follower of Jesus. So how is it that a follower of Jesus can become that depressed? Followers of Jesus have been forgiven, have eternal life, will be resurrected, and will live with God forever. You would think that if I know I am going to one day walk on streets of gold in heaven, I would not become depressed.

The reality is followers of Jesus become depressed sometimes. Not all, but some. I remember back to times I have been depressed and was unable to “talk” myself out of my own depression.

I think the reality is some of Satan’s most powerful attacks against us are attacks of our mind. Sounds crazy at first until I am reminded of an incident between Jesus and Peter.

Near the end of his life Jesus began to explain to his disciples he had to go to Jerusalem to suffer and die at the hands of the Jewish religious leaders.

Peter did not like this so he took matters into his own hands. Here is what he did: “Peter took him [Jesus] aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!'” (Matthew 16:22).

Good old Peter…never a good idea to take Jesus aside and rebuke him.

I would have expected Jesus to explain to Peter why he had to suffer and die at the hands of the religious leaders. Something about the need for forgiveness, righteousness, eternal life…etc.

But instead Jesus does something I would not have expected:

“Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.'” (Matthew 16:23).

Understanding what is going on with Peter and Jesus is incredibly important. Jesus had just shared he had to suffer, die, and be resurrected on the third day. Why? Because through his suffering, death, and resurrection, you and I have the opportunity to follow Jesus and receive forgiveness, righteousness, the Holy Spirit, and eternal life.

But Peter rationalizes that Jesus was the Son of God and therefore could never suffer and die, especially at the hands of the Jewish religious leaders. So he takes Jesus aside and rebukes him…understandable…but a bad move.

When Jesus responds he does something surprising. While looking at Peter, he begins to talk to Satan. He tells Satan to get behind him and calls Satan a stumbling block because Satan does not have in mind the concerns of God.

The implication is Satan was influencing Peter’s thinking. The implication is Satan had influenced Peter to think thoughts which were not aligned with God’s thoughts. Hard to imagine…

Peter’s thoughts were that the Son of God could not die.

Jesus’s thoughts were apparently that the Son of God needed to die to achieve the salvation of all who would believe in Jesus.

The incident makes me wonder…are any of my thoughts out of alignment with God’s thoughts? The answer is almost certainly yes. Here are some common thoughts followers of Jesus have which are out of alignment with God’s thoughts:

God must not love me anymore because…

God is not listening to my prayers since….

It is okay if I watch this because…

But we are in love…

God never said I can’t….

It will be okay just this once…

God understands I am not able to…

God did not say declare everything on my taxes…

God never said I had to suffer….

It’s no big deal, God will forgive me…

Everyone lies a little bit….

Everyone loses their temper sometimes…

But everyone does it…

It’s not a sin if I only look…

If Jesus were standing in front of us as we had these thoughts I wonder if he would say to us what he said to Peter? Perhaps.

So what about your thoughts right now. Are you having any thoughts which are out of alignment with God? Probably…

So what can you do?

I would suggest putting on the helmet of salvation by affirming Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were sinners, Christ died for us.”

I am thinking the helmet of salvation protects us from Satan’s attacks on our mind by giving us the confidence that God loves us and has saved us. If I can be confident that God loves me and has saved me, then whatever I am experiencing in life will be okay. Maybe not in this life but definitely in the next life. I don’t need to be depressed over my current circumstances because my circumstances are temporary. My life with God is eternal.

Let’s commit Romans 5:8 to memory and then whenever we begin to think thoughts which are out of alignment with God, let’s bring them back with the truth of our eternal life.