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Have you ever been minding your own business when all of the sudden, out of nowhere, jumps your jokester friend? Your heart races, your heart skips a beat then begins to pump rapidly; in short, you just became startled. However, you quickly realize that the perceived threat is a false alarm. You are no longer scared out of your mind, under the assumption that your life is about to be snuffed out by this random serial killer that just jumped out in front of you! The fear quickly fades and you aren’t scared anymore. Had the person who jumped out, not been your friend with a warped sense of fun, but had instead been an actual armed attacker who was threatening your life, your initial reaction of fear would not subside but would continue and even become worse. So what then is the difference between being startled and being scared?
Being scared or fearful is a long-term reaction to a credible, legitimate threat to our well-being. In certain circumstances it can save you from being harmed. In contrast, being startled is simply our initial reaction to a perceived threat. It is our biological alarm system to protect us from things that could cause us harm. It quickly fades when we realize that the perceived threat was not actually a legitimate threat at all, and we are not in danger.
If a threat is real, you should be scared. If a threat is false, not what it appears to be, you should not be scared. Most times in life we can spot a false or bogus threat pretty quickly.
In spiritual terms, we often are fooled into believing the empty threats the devil throws at us, when in fact his threats are all bark and no bite. The Bible tells us that Satan goes around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Notice he is a roaring lion not a biting and clawing lion. It is phrase that way in scripture because God wants us to know that although the devil often roars at us he doesn’t have the teeth to back it up! The only way he can hurt you or control you is to get you to believe his lies. If a man walks into a convenience store to rob it and reaches into his jacket, telling the cashier he has a gun (although he doesn’t really have one) and will shoot her if she doesn’t comply, she has a choice to make: is he telling the truth or is he lying. If she calls his bluff, the power has now changed hands and she is now in control of the situation. He never had a gun and his only chance was to convince her that he did have one. It strategy failed and now he flees the scene. Satan uses the exact same tactics on Christians. Unfortunately the vast majority of us are too scared to challenge him by calling his bluff. Don’t believe his lie and he will have no power or control over you. It’s as simple as that! We over-complicate things but it truly is as simple as that.
So what kind of lies does the devil tell us? Many of the lies have to do with who we are in Christ. He tells us we are worthless, not good enough, not as good as those around us. He tells us that God doesn’t care about us because we have done things that are too bad to be able to be forgiven. He tells God doesn’t love us because He hasn’t answered one of our prayers. He tells us that we have to live with the pain and torment in our life because we can’t ever be delivered from them. He tells that ourselves or our loved ones who are in the clutches of addiction can never break free from it. He tells us that the inner torment that is mental illness can’t be healed permanently, but at best, can only be managed. He tells us that we are more important than anyone else. He tells us we have the right to hold a grudge and not forgive. He tells us to stick it to others before they stick it to us. He tells us that God exists to serve us and we owe Him nothing. His lies are too many to list here. Some of them are subtle while others are blatant. For every truth that God has given us, there is a lie to match, gladly provided by the enemy of our soul.
It is important to be able to recognize the lies of the devil when we encounter them so we can call him out on each one of them. The best way to do this is to know the truth ahead of time. This is done by spending time in God’s word where all of His truths are contained.
Don’t settle for the devil’s plans for your life when you can live the plans God has for you. It’s a choice and the only one who can make it is you.
So the next time the devil does something to scare you, refuse to believe his lie and hold strong to God’s promise instead. Let the fear subside and tell the devil, “Nice try, but you only startled me; I’m not scared.”