One of my customers sells an email filtering service. An email filter’s purpose is to keep email threats on the Internet from harming your computer….things like viruses, fraudulent emails posing as your bank and time-wasting spam ads.
Some of the malicious emails bound for your computer can cause great harm (like viruses) while others are just a source of frustration. When the filter company identifies a new threat, their technical team creates a software “filter rule” that effectively blocks that new threat from reaching your email inbox. It’s pretty ingenious. A good email filter will remove upwards of 99% of bad emails. Really good filters protect you from harm and are worth their weight in gold.
Now let’s think about filters from a spiritual perspective:
- Would you say there are harmful things in the world that threaten the joy in your heart or your true purpose?
- Do prideful, jealous, fearful or lustful thoughts sometimes just pop in your head, from seemingly nowhere?
- Do certain people or circumstances tend to draw you away from what is right or godly?
- Are you tempted to be selfish, to be bitter or to gossip when certain topics or people are around?
- Do you believe there are spiritual forces that want to negatively effect your relationship with others and God?
- Do certain thoughts or circumstances keep you in a sad or depressed frame of mind?
When these threats come your way do you have a filter to keep them from getting to you…from affecting your heart?
If the answer is yes, then, what is your filter?
- Is your filter the wisdom you’ve gained over the years?
- Is your filter your personal will-power, your good common sense or your intelligence?
- Do you try and filter out bad influences by avoiding certain places or people?
If you do have a filter, is it always ‘turned on’?
For me, it seems as though most of the filters I set-up to protect me from harm don’t work on a consistent basis. Our intellect, our wisdom, our common sense, our iron will and our experiences are not always reliable in helping us avoid and best deal with the harm that comes our way.
I know a couple of filters that works very well — one is Holy Scripture. Problem is, I don’t always have my “Bible” filter turned on. Another good filter is the very presence of God, his Holy Spirit. But, sometimes, I get so “wrapped up” in my day, that I forget I have my friend the Holy Spirit as a filter and a shield. As a result of unconfessed sin in my life the special “abiding” presence of God will leave me. When I forget I even have the Holy Spirit in me or when I think I’m doing pretty dealing with life (pride?), all heck seems to break loose.
Like viruses on the Internet, our enemy is always devising new (or re-packaged) “viruses” to threaten our well-being and our relationship with God. When we sense a new threat to our spiritual life (our walk with God), I think we should seek out Scripture. This way, when the threat tries to rear it’s ugly head again, I can recall the scripture “fix”, sort of like the email filter.
Hebrews 4:12 says:
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
The word of God is extremely powerful. It is a strong and reliable weapon against threats that come our way.
So what do we do?
I’m not sure we need new filters, new personal techniques, new intelligence or more will-power to thwart the harm that comes our way. We already have two very reliable filters or shields to protect us – Scripture and the Holy Spirit. Perhaps we just need to submit to both and soak up more of what God has for us in scripture. It seems like the more scripture we are familiar with the more ammunition we , in essence, give the Holy Spirit to bring to our mind, as we encounter threats.
(10) “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. (11) Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. (12) For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (13) Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (14) Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, (15) and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. (16) In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (17) Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (18) And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.- Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV)
(7) Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (8) Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded..” James 4:7-8 (NIV)