The Power of Right Believing by Joseph Prince: reflection 4
The last reflection was on 23 Dec 2013. That was about two months ago. I have been rather occupied and there were other event-related blog posts I wanted done more urgently. However, I still want to finish the reflections on this book that I started off with. In Part 4, Joseph Prince writes about a topic that has helped many of his hearers. He has received much feedback on messages related to these chapters. The title of Part 4 is “Win the Battle for your Mind”. Let me highlight some of the main points as it appears to me and give you my reflections:
Win the battle for your mind (chapter 10): The battle of the mind has to do with replacing wrong beliefs with right beliefs. The devil wants negativity, lies, condemnation to occupy believers’ minds. These deeply embedded wrong beliefs are strongholds that affect their emotions and feelings and even their health. Thus negative emotions like fear, worry, guilt and anger find their source in people’s thought patterns and beliefs about God and the world and people. Thus the battle of the mind is won by establishing the truth of Jesus and what he has accomplished on the cross. It is won by believers knowing who they are and what they have in Christ. It is won by bringing every thought into captivity, which means to focus on the obedience of Jesus in the place of believers, the perfect righteousness of God granted to all believers by faith.
Prince shows insight into how the devil works in planting wrong thoughts in the believer’s mind: he uses the first person pronoun “I“, instead of “You” to deceive believers into thinking the bad thoughts were theirs, instead of an external evil source. Instead of “You are such a lousy Christian” he will insert “I am such a lousy Christian.” This alerts us to the devil’s tactics.
Victory over the enemy’s mind games (chapter 11): The unpardonable sin is dealt with in this chapter. Joseph Prince shares his experience of condemnation. “I was really worried that I had already committed the unpardonable sin and was on a one-way ticket to hell. The more I tried not to, the more I would have all kinds of blasphemous thoughts about the Holy Spirit when I prayed and even when I was earnestly worshiping God. It was a harrowing experience, with the devil relentlessly oppressing and attacking my mind with all kinds of evil thoughts.”(Prince, 170). The mental oppression lasted a year for Prince. He won the battle by ignoring the enemy. “When the devil suggests things to your mind, just ignore him. Spiritual warfare doesn’t have to be combative. It can be restful, peaceful, simple, and easy. It’s all about seeing Jesus’ finished work”(Prince, 173). I liked the way he interpreted the “unpardonable sin” as “simply the sin of an unbeliever continually rejecting Jesus as his or her Savior,” something any true believer simply cannot have committed.
Prince quoted an excerpt from John Bunyan’s autobiography, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, in which Bunyan was delivered from his despondency by a revelation of God’s gift of righteousness. “I saw, with the eyes of my soul, Jesus Christ at God’s right hand; there, I say, was my righteousness……………..I also saw, moreover, that it was not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor yet my bad frame that made my righteousness worse; for my righteousness was Jesus Christ himself, ‘the same yesterday, and today, and forever’.”
We also get Prince’s idea of repentance. It is “metanoia”, a Greek word from the original text which literally means “a change of mind”. He debunks the caricature associated with repentance as grovelling, tears, self-condemnation and feeling bad enough for long enough so that God’s forgiveness can be earned. For Prince it is changing your mind to align it to what God thinks and has said about believers. Let right beliefs based on God’s word replace all the falsehoods planted by the devil in the believers’ minds. “It is right believing that brings about true repentance (change of mind) and hence genuine transformation”(Prince, 176).
Beware the roaring lion (chapter 12): Prince dealt with one of the greatest struggles of believers: the persistent thought that God does not approve of them. He is not happy with them. In fact, he is angry with them. He debunks this and shows that God is not mad at us but mad about us. He shows that the armor of God needs to be put on and the armor shows all the ways the devil will attack our minds. The belt of truth shows Satan will attack us with lies. The breastplate of righteousness shows that the devil will attack us with accusation and condemnation. The shield of faith is to protect us from fears and doubts. The shoe of the gospel is the peace that protects our joy from being stolen. And so on. His main idea: the armor of God has to do with what you believe in Christ. When you believe right, there is nothing the devil can do with you.
I prefer the way Arthur Wallis put it in his book, “Into Battle”. He demonstrated how Jesus fulfilled all the pieces of the Christian’s armor. He is truth. He is righteousness. He is our peace. He is the author and finisher of our faith. He is our salvation. And He is the Word. When we continually believe in Him, we have in effect put on Christ and therefore the whole armor of God, and are fully protected in Him.
However I was not comfortable with his interpretation of Proverbs 19:12 “The king’s wrath is like the roaring of a lion, but his favor is like dew on the grass.” The best interpretation is the obvious sense. The wise writer of Proverbs has simply made a wise observation that it is scary when the king is angry with you for your life is in his hands, but if he likes you, the blessings will nourish and prosper you. Prince has spiritualised the text. The king is the Lord Jesus, and when Jesus is angry it is the disease, the injustice, and what sin is doing to you that he is angry with. “But the devil comes to you all dressed up as a lion, impersonating the King. He wants to give you the impression that God is angry with you, even though He isn’t…..The devil is going about as a roaring lion because he is pretending to be Jesus and trying to intimidate you through the impression that God is angry with you. The devil is an imposter! He wants to make you feel alienated and cut off from Jesus. He wants you to think Jesus is saying, “I am not pleased with you. I am really disappointed in you. How could you make such a mistake?” His description of the devil’s tactic is spot-on but the usage of the Proverb betrays a slant for spiritualizing, when a plain reading of it has nothing to do with the devil or spiritual warfare. However other scriptures about the “accuser of the brethren” more plainly expose this aspect of the devil’s tactics.
Overall, Part 4 is very practical and useful, as our minds are a spiritual battleground in which we need to enforce the victory that Christ has already given us. The chapters give us practical handles for winning the battle of the mind.