Summer rolls around, and out come the pests. You know what I am talking about. Mosquitoes, sweat bees, flies, wasps and gnats. They swarm, sting, bite, dive bomb and hover. They love the scent of the salty perspiration puddling around the base of your neck, the sweet aroma of laundry detergent wafting from your t-shirt and the warmth radiating from your sun-kissed cheeks. We try our best to repel these minute critters with store-bought and homemade solutions, but nothing seems to completely deter them all. No amount of bug spray nor concoction of essential oils can eradicate their irritation; even if your trusty citronella candle achieves success most of the time, it will inevitably run out, lose potency or meet its insectile match.
These pesky bugs can ruin any good get-together or other outdoor shindig. The same can be said of their ill-natured emotional counterparts, i.e. anger, jealousy, self-pity, pettiness and the like. They are literally the epitome of rain on the parade.
Chances are if you have a pulse and a family, you have been both the giver and receiver of these less-desirable emotional expressions and the havoc they can wreck. Whether caused by something done to us, unmet expectations, downright failures or others’ idiosyncrasies, we all know personally what it is to have a mood killed and event soured because of someone’s “stinking thinking.”
Perhaps you are the one with a proclivity toward the negative. One minute you are joyful and basking in the goodness of the moment, but quickly you find your spirit dive bombing, just like those pesky flies heading for your hamburger. Sometimes you know exactly what or who caused it—even if it is yourself—but other times, you just cannot quite put your finger on it.
No matter the physical source, the ultimate source is the king of stinking thinking: Satan, himself. After all, because of his pride, he has forever been cast away from all joy, peace, kindness, beauty, love, compassion and forgiveness. He will never know what it is to be unconditionally loved by someone because he is so fixated on himself and what he wants. He remembers what it was like to be in the presence of love, but he willingly forsook it all in the quest to be the most powerful.
He literally abandoned the One who is love because he thought he was better (see Isaiah 14:12-15). He hated the idea of living under the rule of someone else, even though that someone else is peace, patience, kindness, goodness, righteousness and love. He despised it so much, he has lived his entire life trying to kill this someone else. All to his destruction, for this someone is the One and only God who cannot be overcome, eliminated or manipulated. And that, my friends, is why Satan is the king of stinking thinking, and he is seeking for people to join him. More accurately, he is seeking people to devour (see 1 Peter 5:8).
Satan is the source of your stinking thinking.
But! And with God, there is always a “but.” But God is greater, and not only has He already defeated Satan (yes, you read that correctly, the victory is already won), He has also given us the perfect enemy repellent when it comes to his stinking thinking.
But God is greater, and not only has He already defeated Satan...He has also given us the perfect enemy repellent when it comes to his stinking thinking.
What is this prized treasure and how much does it cost?
Good news: the price has already been paid and is yours for the acceptance (1 Peter 1:18-19; see also Romans 5:8, 2 Corinthians 5:21). It will never run out, fade or meet its match because it comes from the One who is eternal and all-powerful, God Himself.
Skeptical? Yeah, I was too, but then I met Him, and He has proven Himself every single time to be exactly who He claims to be. He is the Great I Am, never beginning, never ending, never overcome (see Psalm 90:2, Revelation 22:13). He is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), Wonderful Counselor (Is. 9:6) and Savior of the World (John 3:16). He is El Roi, the God who sees (see Genesis 16:13), and Jesus, the God who saves (see Matthew 1:21). He has many different names, but He is One God, manifested in three distinct persons: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ) and God the Holy Spirit.
He is the One who bestows us with His 100% effective enemy repellent. It’s called gratitude.
Think about it. How long can you remain in a negative head or heart space while being thankful?
“But my life is a mess,” you say, “I have nothing for which to be thankful. My relationship is a wreck, my work is beyond stressful, my friends have all abandoned me, my health is failing and the world is a mess.”
I hear you, and so does the One who hears you. He hears and sees all the evil in our world, and it angers Him infinitely more than it could ever anger us (see Ps. 7:11, Rom. 1:18).
Because He is absolutely holy, He cannot even be in evil’s presence. The mere idea of it ignites His righteous wrath. It is the very reason He expelled Satan from His presence when Satan pridefully (and futilely) tried to take His place (see Isa. 14:12-15), and it is also the reason He came down from His perfect dwelling place to save people like you and me from this enemy’s clutches (see Hebrews 2:14-15). Satan is the source of all the evil in our world, not God. Satan wants us to suffer in eternal torment with him, not God. Satan wants to trap us in stinking thinking so we will not see the goodness of God and the love He extends to us through His Son.
God is the source of all things good (James 1:17). He wants none to perish, but all to come to repentance and thus, everlasting life (1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9). God wants to transform you through the renewing of your mind and mold you to be more like Him (Rom. 12:2).
There will come a day when God will finally put an end to Satan and his evil minions (see Rev. 20:9-10), but He is waiting so that more people will turn to Him. Jesus came the first time to demonstrate in an obvious, tangible and magnificent way His love for us, and He will come again to eliminate Satan, his minions and all those who like him, have chosen themselves over God.
In the meantime, God has given us His armor to protect us from the enemy and his tactics. Paul speaks about this armor in his letter to the Ephesians; he tells them, and us, that we are to put on the armor every day in our fight against the evil one:
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil…Stand, therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…” Ephesians 6:10, 14-18
Along with this armor, we can repel the enemy with the ultimate pest spray: gratitude.
Paul tells of this repellent in another one of his letters, this one to the Corinthians. In it he writes, “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere” (2 Cor. 2:14).
Because of His work on the cross for you, taking the penalty for your sins (all we do that goes against God), you, my friend, can walk in triumphal procession with Jesus Himself! What else does this ignite in our hearts other than infinite gratitude?
This procession is far greater than the one which marched around Jericho (see Joshua 6). It is a freedom procession, led by the One who possesses the “whole fullness of deity” and is the “head of all rule and authority” (Colossians 2:9-10). Following His resurrection but before His returning to Heaven, Jesus told His disciples (and us) these amazing words: “‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me…I am with you always, to the end of the age’” (Matt. 28:18, 20). Read that last phrase again.
When we remember this blessed assurance, when we wield this sword of the Spirit, and lift our voices to the One who makes it all possible, we snuff out the enemy. With our shouts of gratitude, we exterminate Satan and his stinking thinking. When we remember who God is, we confidently trust He will squash Satan for the gnat he is.
The victory is already ours. We are called to march in the triumphal procession, behind the Victor, the Savior of our souls. And as we do, we allow Him to “spread the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere” (2 Cor. 2:14b).
Are you fanning the fragrance or are you allowing the enemy to snuff it out? Are you proclaiming the goodness of God or of yourself? Walk in Christ’s triumphal procession and flick Satan away like a gnat. Rejoice in gratitude and watch God’s enemy repellent do its work.
English Standard Version Bible. (2001). Crossway Bibles.