The Battle for Men’s Minds
HISTORY’S pages are filled with the accounts of great battles waged for the selfish acquisition of riches and power. But did you know that there has been a continuing battle waged throughout the almost six thousand years of human history, with vaster stakes in view? Every type of strategy has been employed, every kind of weapon you can imagine. And the spoils of this battle? Not territorial expansion, not the literal wealth of commerce, but the minds of men.
Who is it that is battling for possession of the minds of men? An unseen enemy who, wielding superhuman powers, seeks to bring every human mind into the orbit of his malevolent influence. The enemy is Satan the Devil, aptly described in the Bible as “the great dragon” and “the original serpent.” (Rev. 12:9) These terms reveal at once the methods and the aim of this invisible menace. “Serpent” suggests the stealthy, slithery, slimy deceptiveness of his campaign, while “dragon” or “devourer” exposes his aim to swallow down all who oppose him, to grow fat at their expense, their submission feeding his own ego.
How does this battle affect you? Is it not a fact that your mind is one of the spoils that Satan would wish to acquire? Indeed, he has already besieged it, cast up intellectual mounds against it, done his best to sap it at its very foundation. Your succumbing to his onslaught could make you his. And that would mean for you God’s disapproval and ultimate condemnation. How very important, then, to be on guard against that ‘roaring lion who seeks to devour’!—1 Pet. 5:8.
THE START OF IT ALL
Note how this campaign for the capture of minds began in Eden. Our first mother, Eve, was so conversant with God’s law respecting the forbidden fruit that she could quote it verbatim to the serpent. Subtly the serpent argued: ‘Is it really so that God has deprived you of the privilege of eating this perfectly fine fruit? The reason he does not want you to eat it is that he does not want you to be as smart as he is. So, get smart! Eat! You will not really die.’—Genesis, chapter 3.
In that, his first sally, Satan was successful. Eve succumbed to his twisted reasoning, his big lie. He carried off her mind as his spoil. And here is how the apostle Paul aptly described Satan’s success: “But I am afraid that somehow, as the serpent seduced Eve by its cunning, your minds might be corrupted away from the sincerity and the chastity that are due the Christ.”—2 Cor. 11:3.
The Scriptures tell us that Eve was deceived. (1 Tim. 2:14) But how? Was she deceived into thinking that she was doing right? No, rather the deception lay in the fact that she was promised something she did not get. She had been cheated. Her selfish grasping after something unauthorized brought her into disastrous collision with God’s law. She was justly sentenced to death.
Adam, on the other hand, was not deceived. He had no reason to believe in the Devil’s false promise to his wife. He, like many other persons even today, chose to go along with his mate into destruction, rather than take a stand for righteousness. Yes, Adam also succumbed to Satan’s battle for his mind. The adversary played upon his selfish desire to hold on to Eve at any price. And so the whole world of mankind was plunged into sin and death.—Rom. 5:12.
Through the centuries the battle has continued. Satan waged a stubborn campaign for the minds of the Israelites, whom Jehovah had selected as his typical people. Here the adversary produced different weapons from his arsenal. Through the debased idolatry and immorality of the pagan nations round about he strove by example to corrupt their minds. Eventually, he succeeded. They came to despise the commandments of Jehovah, to defile his place of true worship.
THE CAMPAIGN INTENSIFIES
Eventually God sent his only-begotten Son to earth as the chief witness to His truth. This beloved Son became the target for an intensified campaign on Satan’s part. Can any doubt that the Devil was battling for control of Jesus’ mind when he subjected him to temptation, even offering him rulership of the entire world in exchange for Jesus’ worship? (Luke 4:5-8) Just think! Jesus could have gone over to Rome and in effect told Caesar: “Get out! I’m taking over.” But God’s Son wanted no part of the Devil’s corrupt and blighted system of things. He wanted God’s kingdom!
Jesus’ disciples of the first few centuries were subjected to a heinous campaign of persecution as they fought to thwart Satan’s attempts to control their thinking. They were thrown to the beasts in the arena, they were used as human torches, their families were broken up and banished to remote lands. As the years went on, the devilish pressures and cajoleries had their effect. A formalistic pagan religion with a Christian veneer developed. Satan’s relentless war for the minds of men continued.
FINAL SHOWDOWN NEAR
Today we are living in the time of gravest danger. We have reached the “last days” of this system of things. (2 Tim. 3:1-5) Since his being cast out of heaven and down to earth, Satan knows that his time is short before the showdown. His battle for men’s minds is all out.—Rev. 12:12.
Consider how entrenched is the Devil’s power. He controls and gives authority to every political system on earth. (Rev. 13:1, 2, 7) He promotes authoritarian methods. Through fear he has captured the minds of many. They fear to be different. And Babylon the Great, the world combine of false religions, continues for a short time to serve Satan’s purpose, namely, to ‘blind men’s minds’ to the sure promises of God’s kingdom.—2 Cor. 4:4.
Wave after wave of commercial, materialistic advertising brainwashes the population into thinking they must keep up with the Joneses. Even professed Christians can be affected. Satan is putting on the greatest propaganda campaign of all time in his efforts to capture men’s minds. In these perilous days he has managed to transform the multitude into “lovers of pleasures.” The news media, including billboards, combine to promote the idea that pleasure and material possessions are the sole legitimate goals in life.
One of the Devil’s cleverest schemes is to have countless multitudes submit to brainwashing for hours on end—a process that flashes before their eyes scenes of horror, scenes deluging the mind with rape, murder, larceny, arson and every other crime. Yes, the brainwashing is done by means of television programs. To protect their minds from such onslaughts, Christians need to use selectivity when it comes to enjoying TV programs.
Abuse of sex is another of the Devil’s weapons. Sex is used to sell every kind of product. Adultery, fornication, homosexuality are all rampant, and even clergymen are excusing such immoralities. Plays and motion pictures get bolder and bolder as they depict on stage and screen sex intimacies that are legitimate only in the privacy of the marriage bed. As the apostle Paul accurately described it, peoples of the nations “walk in the unprofitableness of their minds,” “having come to be past all moral sense.” (Eph. 4:17-19) And Satan’s battle for men’s minds continues without letup.
BE ON GUARD!
Remember! The Devil is after your mind! He aims to capture you and corrupt your thinking. How can you thwart him? By guarding your spirituality. “For the minding of the flesh means death, but the minding of the spirit means life and peace.” (Rom. 8:6) You need to have God’s law in your heart and mind, something that is achieved only by good associations, by Bible study and prayer. Only thus can you “brace up your minds for activity.”—1 Pet. 1:13.
Another way you can foil Satan’s bid for your mind is by following this wise counsel: “Make my joy full in that you are of the same mind and have the same love, being joined together in soul, holding the one thought in mind, doing nothing out of contentiousness or out of egotism, but with lowliness of mind considering that the others are superior to you.” “Keep this mental attitude in you that was also in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:2, 3, 5) Yes, a mind unified with fellow Christians and lowliness of mind are the characteristics of Jesus’ true followers. Pride must be avoided, for the one who is proud refuses timely counsel and walks head on into disaster. The Bible describes such a one as “puffed up with pride, not understanding anything, but being mentally diseased.”—1 Tim. 6:4.
Laziness of mind is another trap that can bring people under Satanic control. “Well, I’m just not a student,” someone may say. Then apply yourself the harder. There is no easy way. Our minds must keep alert to remain up-to-date as to God’s will and way. We do not want to be like the Jews of the first century who rejected God’s Son because “their mental perceptions were dulled.”—2 Cor. 3:14.
Nor can we be double-minded, ‘indecisive and unsteady in all our ways.’ (Jas. 1:6-8) Yet some, in contact with Jehovah’s people for many years, never get to the point of dedication and baptism. They enjoy the company of Jehovah’s witnesses, but never become one. Such ones are not fully equipped to resist the Devil’s machinations. Without the spiritual suit of armor from God, without the aid of his spirit that rests upon his organized, active worshipers, they are vulnerable to Satan’s onslaught upon their minds.—Eph. 6:13.
Some hold back from being active Witnesses to God’s truth. Why? Because of fear—fear of neighbor, of relatives, of employer. That spirit of fear lays them open as easy targets of the Devil. But love of God can dispel that fear. (1 John 4:18) And what reasons there are to love him, because he is the one who makes the gift of eternal life available, and he is the one who offers us deliverance through the end of Satan’s entire system of things! The fearful, cowardly ones are destined to share the fate of Satan and his demons. (Rev. 21:8) Wise thinking, thinking that causes one lovingly to submit one’s life to God’s requirements, is what will defeat the devilish attempts to enslave your mind.
Work hard to foil his attempts upon you. When wrong desire fills your mind, ask yourself, Am I going to give Satan the victory over my mind? When anxiety or greed over material things assails you, ask, Who is controlling my mind? When anger rises up, inquire, Who is gaining control of my mind now?
Take advantage of all of Jehovah’s provisions for your protection against Satan’s cunning moves. Follow the fine example of the apostle Paul and accept his counsel: “Brothers, I do not yet consider myself as having laid hold on it [God’s reward of life]; but there is one thing about it: Forgetting the things behind and stretching forward to the things ahead, I am pursuing down toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God by means of Jesus Christ. Let us, then, as many of us as are mature, be of this mental attitude; and if you are mentally inclined otherwise in any respect, God will reveal the above attitude to you. And the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:13-15; 4:7) Guard your minds, refuse to capitulate to Satan, and Jehovah will reward you with rich blessings.