“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…” (1 Peter 5:8)
Watchmen Nee said:
“Satan has a plan against the saints of the Most High. It is to wear them out. What is meant by this phrase, “wear them out”? It has in it the idea of reducing a little this minute, then reducing a little further the next minute. Reduce a little today, reduce a little tomorrow. Thus wearing out is almost imperceptible; nevertheless, it is a reducing. The wearing down is scarcely an activity of which one is conscious, yet the end result is that there is nothing left. He will take away your prayer life little by little and cause you to trust God less and less and yourself more and more and more, a little at a time. He will make you feel somewhat more clever than before. Step by step, you are misled to rely more on your own gift, and step by step, you heart is enticed away from the Lord. Now, were Satan to strike the children of God with great force at one time, they would know exactly how to visit the enemy since they would immediately recognize his work. He uses the method of gradualism to wear down the people of God.”
I don’t think any sincere believer intends to get spiritually sidetracked. It never happens suddenly, it a gradual thing. It may be our busyness with life, our dissatisfaction with our local church or a focus on material things. Whatever the cause, this gradualism spiritually erodes our fellowship with God. Suddenly we discover that our ‘heart for God’ has now turned cool or maybe even cold.
How can we prevent this gradualism from occurring? Peter’s advice is to be “self-controlled and alert”. It is the practice of continually setting your mind on truth. Paul offers good counsel in Colossians 3, “Set your mind on the things above…for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
The principal and exercise of ‘Setting the Mind’ has been especially helpful to me. Setting the mind is an intentional exercise of replacing untruthful thoughts with a Biblical truth.
There is no better way to set our mind on truth than to make sure we have regular fellowship with the Lord. The Word and Prayer keep the enemy’s gradualism from wearing us down. The Scripture affirms our identity in Christ. I like what Jack Taylor says about the importance of focusing on who we are in Christ; “Inherent in who we are is our ability to perform it.”
“…as you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.”