I’ve long ascribed to the phrase, “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” In my mind, it’s been important to keep an eye on those I do not trust, in order to protect myself. Recently I have started to realize that those I might perceive as such aren’t really my enemy, they are only broken people like me, hurting people who use their personal pain as a weapon against others.
In truth, I only have one enemy. And I have allowed him to remain close to me.
Here’s what happens to you when you allow proximity to your enemy: He whispers in your ear. He tells you things that warp your perception of yourself and others. His lies are so precise that they feel true. He takes your true identity, your God-given gifts and your designated purpose in this life and warps them just enough to render you ineffective, full of self-doubt, sometimes even self-destructive.
Priscilla Shirer said, “Your mind is the spiritual expression of your brain. What the brain is to the body, the mind is to the soul.”
The lies that we believe when we allow the enemy to whisper in our ear change everything about how we interact with the people and the world around us. The way we think becomes how we behave. How we behave reinforces what we already believe about ourselves. This is true of both positive and negative thinking.
I’m not sure who said it first, but my friend Lisa says her father’s favorite phrase is, “You can’t keep the birds from flying overhead, but you certainly can keep them from making a nest in your hair.”
The same is true with our thoughts and feelings (or more accurately our thoughts about our feelings and our circumstances.) When we actually believe and know that the enemy is the father of lies, we won’t let those lies “nest in our hair.” When we give him access to our thoughts, when we doubt the truth about ourselves and believe the lies, that’s all the invitation he needs to set up home.
In Ephesians, Paul talks about the helmet of salvation. While the helmet is supposed to evoke an image like this:
For me, I think of it more like this:
Someone is trying to take control of my mind. He wants to control me, he wants to inhibit me from the life God has intended, he wants to intimidate me, and he wants to keep me in bondage to the thoughts that rob me of peace and joy.
Without my protective tin-foil hat, without the protection that comes from the barrier of truth that God has given me, my mind is wide-open to attack.
The enemy whispers, “You are unworthy.”
God says, “You are MY child, and your worth comes from Me.”
The enemy whispers, “You are weak to your desires.”
God says, “I’m strong, and I have equipped you with my armor.”
The enemy whispers, “You cannot overcome.”
God says, “I have ALREADY overcome.”
In the ancient world, armor was an essential part of fighting the battle. However, can you imagine the leader of the army inviting the enemy into their camp to give the soldiers all the reasons why they were likely to fail? Can you imagine the impact such access would have on morale?
You know who the enemy is, don’t let him into your camp. Don’t allow him to undermine your mission by giving him influence or a platform.
Keep your friends close because they will speak truth over you. Keep your friends close because they want to see you have victory. Keep your friends close because they will fortify you.
Keep your enemy as far from you as possible.