Mental Health

Distraction, deception and the devil

Delphne Tan // November 29, 2019, 5:45 pm

Distraction

In his sermon on spiritual attack, Stef Liston, Senior Pastor of Revelation Church in North London, spoke about the two main ways the devil wages war. First, he turns our attention from God through distraction, and second, he makes us doubt through deception, which quenches our full potential.

It struck a chord in me because so often those are the two things I struggle with the most in my faith. Since coming back to Singapore, I have been bombarded with distractions. My mind can’t fully be still – even when I’m reading my Bible in the morning, my thoughts are racing about what’s next.

Another battle is fighting the lies about my identity, which have become like weeds that wrap around the plant that is blossoming, choking the life out of it slowly (Luke 8:14).

DERAILED BY DISTRACTION

In my journeys to and from work, I have observed that many Singaporeans are glued to their screens. Sometimes, by virtue of “everyone’s doing it”, I find myself gravitating to my phone as well, checking empty updates of people I don’t really know or care about.

The Lord speaks to us in the stillness of our hearts and minds, but when we fill our time with visual stimulation and mindless social media, how will we actually be able to hear Him?

Distractions keep us blind to others and oblivious to the voice of God.

I call it the “abyss of screen time”: my mind and awareness darken, and I delve deep into the lives of other people, succumbing often to unhealthy comparison. That, or I’m numbed to all other sensations because of the escapism afforded by watching videos or thumbing through social media.

How distracting it is and, ironically, unsatisfying for my soul. To quote Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings movies: “But we can give Frodo his chance if we keep Sauron’s Eye fixed upon us. Keep him blind to all else that moves.”

Singapore’s connected generation: Anxious and disempowered?

Distractions keep us blind to others and oblivious to the voice of God.

What would it look like if, instead of waiting for that two-hour session during a church camp to do street evangelism, we open our eyes every day to see needs on the streets as we are travelling, to observe people and pray for our nation?

How much more will God be able to move through us if we spent more time focusing on Him and serving the people around us than on our screens?

Look no further, our mission first lies in this nation

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:16-17 ESV)

I’m convicted to let my Bible readings dwell in me richly each day by thinking about them, processing them, breaking them down into smaller parts and really delving deep into them.

Best time to do this? Every morning on public transport, or when eating alone.

DISTRACTED INTO DECEPTION

Lies start to creep in about my body image when I scroll through Insta-perfect models. Lies about the futility of my life start taking root little by little when I see all the powerful lives others seem to live.

Bitterness and disappointment fight to the surface when I begin to compare myself to friends who are seeing breakthrough in their lives.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:10-13 ESV)

Putting on the armour of God requires awareness and focus. Often times the devil’s schemes are subtle – he creeps in like a thief to steal, kill and destroy. To steal our joy, kill our hopes and destroy our faith in Christ.

They may start like little foxes (Song of Solomon 2:15), but if we don’t remember that we’re in a fight, we leave ourselves vulnerable to attacks that may slowly tear down the good work that God has done in us.

Unpacking the basics: Who is the devil?

“O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.” (1 Timothy 6:20-21 ESV)

The Apostle Paul exhorts his young friend in ministry, Timothy, to guard the truths, the gifts, the downloads and the faith given to him through the Spirit. Because the enemy will come and try to take them away.

“It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” (C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters)

This is an exhortation to us as believers to be aware of what we let into our lives, what we fill our time and minds with. It’s something that comes out of personal conviction and a desire to walk more closely with God and to live out the freedom that He has already won for us.

This article was first published on Delphne’s blog and has been republished with permission.

THINK + TALK

  1. What are some unhelpful things that dominate your time, mind and emotions, and have kept you from hearing the voice of God? 
  2. Have you noticed what happens when you engage or disengage with these distractions?
  3. Are you able to distinguish between the lies you’ve started believing about yourself and what God says about you?