Ephesians 4:25-32 ESV
“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Portals of the Mind
As I was reading this passage of Scripture this time, the words that jumped out at me were “Give no opportunity to the devil.” So, what does that mean? Another word for “opportunity” is gateway, and a gateway is an entry, or a door, access, or “portal.” And there are many ways in which we can give the devil entry into our lives, or us entry into his world, if we are not careful.
This is why the Scriptures speak so much on the subject of guarding our hearts and minds, for if we do not, we potentially open a door for Satan to have influence and sway in our lives or for us to enter into his world through a “portal.” Children are particularly susceptible to this for they are so impressionable, so we need to guard the minds of our children, too.
Many popular books, movies, cartoons, and videos available to children today dabble in the occult, in witchcraft, magic, spells, crystal balls and something called “portals,” which take the characters to another dimension or to the “other side,” or into another world of some sort, though I admit I am not well versed yet in this subject of “portals.”
The Bible condemns witchcraft, magic, sorcery, divination, mediums, conjuring spirits, or anything to do with the occult (Gal 5:19-21; Rev 9:21; Rev 18:23; Rev 21:8; Rev 22:15; Ac 16:16-18; Ac 19:18-20; Jas 3:15). So, we are not to engage in such things, not even in what may appear to be harmless fairytales. For, we can’t give the devil an opening of any kind.
And this is not limited to the subject of magic or portals, either, although that is what is particularly on my mind and heart this morning. But anytime we play with sin or think we can handle just a little bit of this or that bad thing, we give the devil an opportunity (opening) into our lives and us into his world, as well.
This, too, is why the Scriptures speak often about the mind, and the renewing of the mind, and concerning what we are taking into our minds. For, as the saying goes, “Garbage in, garbage out.” What we take into our minds will impact our beliefs, values, morals, attitudes, and behaviors.
So, if we are watching movies or videos or TV shows which glorify sin of any kind, or which contain sexually suggestive or explicit material, or which romanticize extra-marital affairs, or which entertain us with what is sinful so that we don’t see sin as bad, but as something fun, then we are giving the devil a portal (gateway) into our minds and hearts.
Therefore, Put Away…
Beginning with the message of our salvation from sin, we are taught that we must put off sin, that we must forsake it, that it should no longer be what we practice. We are to die with Christ to sin that we might live to Christ and to his righteousness. And then we continue to be taught that this is a daily dying to sin and to self, and a daily walking in obedience to our Lord.
But this isn’t just about behavioral modification. This has to do with a change or heart and mind away from living for sin and self to now living to God and to his righteousness. And this change is of the Spirit of God as we surrender our lives to Christ and yield our lives to his control.
So, we are not going to be able to put off sinful practices if what we are taking into our minds and hearts only feeds them. We will not be able to control sensual lust if we are watching TV, movies or videos which feed sensual lusts or which glorify or promote sensuality. And we will not control temper, bad attitudes, etc. if we are feeding our minds with the world.
So, this whole putting away of what is sinful and putting on what is holy is centered in our walks of faith with the Lord. Are we guarding our hearts and minds against evil? And are we filling our hearts and minds with the word of God and the encouragements of Scripture to us to live holy and godly lives?
And are we putting into practice what the word of God teaches us we must do? Or are we vacillating back and forth between obedience and giving way to the flesh, to do what our flesh desires?
Do Not Grieve the Holy Spirit
Jesus Christ died on that cross not just to forgive us our sins and not just to give us the hope of eternal life with God. But he died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died to deliver us from our slavery to sin so we might become slaves of righteousness.
So, when we who have died with Christ to sin, and who have been given new lives in Christ Jesus to be lived for him, ignore his word and his instructions to us, and we choose to go our own way and to deliberately and habitually sin against God, we grieve God’s Spirit.
It is a lot like having children who do not listen to our instructions to them and who go their own stubborn way and then end up in terrible situations which are destroying their lives. If we love them, we grieve over their wrong choices and the disastrous results of those choices in their lives.
So, just like we want our children to respect and obey us, for their good, our Lord, as a loving parent, desires that we love, respect, and obey him, too, for our own good. For sin is not for our good but for our harm and for the harm of others we sin against.
So, this is why he has given us so many instructions on forsaking our sins, putting them off, and on living godly and holy lives, pleasing to God, for this is for our good, and it is for the good of others with whom we have any kind of contact or relationship.
But it all comes down to surrender to Jesus Christ. For, as long as we maintain control over our own lives, and we choose how we live and what we watch and listen to, we are going to give the devil opportunity into our lives and us into his world. And that is extremely dangerous!
So, let the Lord have your all today. Surrender all to him and let him have control over your life and what you do and watch and listen to. Forsake all your sins, putting them to death daily, and walk according to the Spirit so that you don’t gratify the sinful cravings of the flesh.
A Believer’s Prayer
An Original Work / July 31, 2012
With my whole heart, Lord, I pray
To be Yours, and Yours always.
Lead me in Your truth today.
May I love You, and obey.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
When I sin, may I confess;
Bow before You when I pray;
Live for You and You always.
Love You, Jesus, You’re my friend.
Life with You will never end.
You are with me through each day,
Giving love and peace always.
You will ne’er abandon me.
From my sin You set me free.
You died on that cruel tree,
So I’d live eternally.
Soon You’re coming back for me;
From this world to set me free;
Live with You eternally.
Oh, what joy that brings to me.
I will walk with You in white;
A pure bride, I’ve been made right
By the blood of Jesus Christ;
Pardoned by His sacrifice.