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I want to speak to you on part of our spiritual protection as Christians. I would like to begin by reading a passage from Ephesians 6 which speaks about our spiritual warfare and our spiritual armor. Ephesians 6, beginning at verse 10 and reading into verse 18.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins gird about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit...”
This passage is one of many in the New Testament that show clearly that as believers in Jesus Christ we are involved in a tremendous spiritual conflict. It also tells us that God has made provision for our protection. I want to speak to you on the basis of personal experience on one particular aspect of that protection which God has made available to us which I have had to learn to use because of my own personal need.
I’ll go back a little while in my experience and relate to you how I became aware of this need. Quite a long while before some of you here were ever born the Lord graciously saved me and baptized me in the Holy Spirit in the year 1941 and called me into his service. In the year 1946 I stepped out into what is called full time service. I praise God by his grace I’m still in full time service today. From 1949 onwards for about 8 or 9 years I was pastor of a congregation in London, England. In that period I had a certain measure of success in my ministry. We regularly saw people saved and healed and baptized in the Holy Spirit. In those days that was not something that was happening everywhere, by any means. They were very dry, barren days—especially, I believe, in England. So, there was a real measure of fruit and result from our ministry.
Yet, I had various personal problems for which I did not have any answer. In particular, I had a problem of recurrent fits of depression which would come over me like a kind of dark, heavy cloud and seem to press me down and shut me in and shut me off from normal communication with other people even with my family. The embarrassing thing was that it seemed to me that when I went around with this cloud hanging over me I projected this pressure onto the people that I was with. And again, I was particularly conscious of my own family. I struggled against this by every means in my power that I knew of. I prayed, I fasted, I made resolutions, I got up early, I stayed up late, I did everything that I knew to do and it got no better. In fact, the more I prayed and fasted the worse it got. Which is discouraging.
I remember one of our daughters who was about 14 or 15 years old at the time saying to me one day, “Daddy, please don’t fast. You’re worse when you fast.” Of course, that isn’t the way to encourage a preacher. But it was true because fasting brought the thing out into the open but it didn’t resolve the problem. I had come to the end of my solutions and one day—and I was actually fasting at the time which I will throw in a little indication that fasting does not go unrewarded—I was reading the Bible and I read in the 61st chapter of Isaiah, the 3rd verse, this phrase.
“The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.”
When I read that phrase “the spirit of heaviness” I suddenly realized by revelation of the Holy Spirit that was my problem. I was dealing with a spirit, a personality that studied me, that followed me up, that knew my weaknesses, that knew how and when to attack me. I was not dealing with some mental or psychological conditions merely in myself, I was not dealing merely with some habit pattern but there was a person set against me by Satan himself studying me, plotting my downfall.
Then I saw why the pressure got worse the more I wanted to serve the Lord. Because, the great commission of this spirit was to hinder me in my service for God. When I was somewhat slack and indifferent the pressure was lifted. But the more dedicated and earnest I became, the worse the pressure became. Looking at it that way I saw clear indications that I was dealing with a personality with understanding that could read my mind and my motives and knew just how and when to apply the pressure. I also saw that this was something that ran in my family. I realized that my father had for many, many years from time to time experienced the same type of pressure.
So, at last I had come to realize the identity of my enemy. This was a tremendous advance. I would say that when I recognized what I was dealing with and specifically that it was a person, a spirit person, I was 80 percent of the way to victory by that one realization. I only needed one other scripture to bring me the solution to my problem and that was Joel 2:32 which says:
“It shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered.”
I saw that that promise in its own way was just as all inclusive as John 3:16:
“Whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
I saw that this was a promise specifically of deliverance. I put the two scriptures together, Isaiah 61:3 and Joel 2:32 and I prayed specifically to God. I want to emphasize the importance of praying specifically. I named the spirit, the spirit of heaviness, and I claimed God’s own promise. “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered.” I did not understand the deliverance ministry in any sense in which I understand it now but I was driven by personal need to put these two scriptures together. I prayed to God and said, “God, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, according to your word I’m asking you to deliver me from this spirit of heaviness.” And when I prayed that specific, scriptural prayer I was delivered. The pressure was lifted. Praise God for deliverance.
But then I learned by experience that it’s one thing to be delivered, it’s another thing to stay delivered. God began to show me that he had done his part of the job and now I had to do my part of the job. He had set my mind free from this demonic pressure. Now it was up to me to reeducate my mind, to cultivate a totally different kind of outlook and way of thinking. Before I was delivered I was not able to do it. After I was delivered it was my responsibility to do it. God had done his part in delivering me but I had to do my part in maintaining my deliverance. I believe this is always true in almost any realm that God intervenes on your behalf whether it is salvation, whether it is healing, whether it is deliverance. God does his part and then it’s up to you to do your part. Your part is to maintain, to preserve, to hold onto what God has given you.
Well, in fighting this battle to keep my deliverance from depression I became aware that the problem area in my life above others was the area of my mind. The devil was continually reaching me through my mind. I happen to have had the privilege of a very elaborate, prolonged, sophisticated mental education. As far as education in technology is concerned, I’m distinctly lacking. When it comes to the motor of a car I just know two things: when it goes and when it stops. But in this realm of analytical thinking I had a very elaborate, prolonged training. I discovered this: the more highly refined and cultivated a person’s mind is, the more vulnerable it is to Satan. The more you trust in your mind, the more you have learned to lean upon it, the more Satan is able to use it against you. I realized that I had to fight this battle for the control of my own mind.
I don’t think there are many Christians that really do control their own mind. I remember the testimony of a sister who said this once, that God showed her that she must teach her mind and her thoughts that they were the servant, not the master. See, there are many areas in our personality that we have to bring in subjection to the spiritual element within us.
Another one, frankly, is the stomach. The stomach is there for good and necessary purposes. Basically, your stomach is a good thing. But your stomach is not to be the master, it’s to be the servant. My good friend Don Basham says that he came to the place where he told his stomach, “You don’t tell me when to eat. I tell you.” This is establishing control over a major area of your life.
The same is true in our thought life. Our thoughts should not be our master, they should be our servant. I believe there are comparatively few Christians who really have control in the realm of their own thought life. They are carried to and fro, they are tossed up and down, they’re subject to all sorts of pressures which in many cases they cannot adequately handle.
So, I came to see that I needed above all else protection for my mind. Then it occurred to me that there is this passage in Ephesians 6 which we read about God’s provision of protection. Reading just the armor which is listed beginning in verse 14 and going through verse 17, you will see that there are six items of equipment. Very briefly stated, the first one is in verse 14 the girdle of truth. The second one is the breastplate of righteousness. The third is the shoes or boots of the preparation of the gospel of peace. The fourth one is the shield of faith. The fifth one is the helmet of salvation. The sixth one is the sword of the Spirit. These are made effective through the weapon that Charles Wesley in one of his hymns calls the weapon of all prayer—praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit. Actually, the complete list is sevenfold. There’s six items of equipment plus the weapon of all prayer.
I came to realize as I studied this list that if a believer puts on each piece of equipment, he is completely protected from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet upon one condition. What’s the condition? That he doesn’t turn his back because there is no protection for the back. If you turn your back, if you give up, if you say it’s no good, I can’t do it anymore, I’m giving up, that’s turning a defenseless back to the devil. And, believe me, he’ll pour his fiery darts in and wound you in the back. We have to stay facing the enemy.
As I look through that list it occurred to me that there is one piece of equipment that is obviously designed to protect the mind. I suppose that many of you would pick out the same piece of equipment. What in that list of six items, which is the one that obviously is designed to protect the mind? The helmet of salvation, that’s right. Because, the helmet covers the head which is typically and normally associated with the thought life. I saw that God had provided me with protection for my mind. The helmet of salvation.
Then I said to myself I know I’m saved, I have salvation. Does that mean that I automatically have the helmet or is there more to it than that? Fortunately for me I had a Bible with cross references. The cross reference to Ephesians 6:17, the helmet, was 1Thessalonians 5:8. I turned to 1Thessalonians 5:8 and I read these words:
“But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.”
There I saw that the helmet was specified, it’s called the hope of salvation. There suddenly was quickened for me by the Holy Spirit out of the scripture this one word “hope.” I realized how little thought or study I had ever given to the place of hope in the life of the believer. The Holy Spirit led me from scripture to scripture through the New Testament showing me that my whole spiritual experience was unbalanced and incomplete without a proper understanding of the place of hope as the protection of my mind.
I want to give you just some of the scriptures in the New Testament to which the Holy Spirit led me. We’ll begin with the last verse of 1Corinthians 13, that famous chapter on love, 1Corinthians 13:13. Paul says:
“Now abideth faith, hope, love, these three...”
And in the context of the chapter it’s clear that these are the three continuing abiding realities of spiritual experience in the Christian life. Other things, Paul says, are temporary. They have a purpose and when their purpose is fulfilled they will no longer be needed. But he says the abiding three realities of spiritual experience are faith, hope, and love. And it occurred to me then that I’d heard many sermons on faith and many sermons on love but I’d never once heard a sermon on hope. I had to preach myself the first sermon.
The first thing that we have to understand is the difference between faith and hope. I’m talking in terms of the Bible, they may be used many different ways elsewhere but I’m talking in terms of the scriptural use of these two words faith and hope. I saw that they are located in different areas of the human personality. Biblical faith is in the realm of the heart. In 1Thessalonians 5:8 it says “for a breastplate of faith and love.” The breast is the area of the heart. Faith and love are in the area of the heart.
Then in Romans 10:10 it says:
“With the heart man believeth unto righteousness...”
So the area of faith in the New Testament is not in the realm of the mind but in the realm of the heart. Let me pause and say something. This explains many, many problems that Christians have with faith. Many times Christians think they have faith. They declare they have faith. They say, “I really believe.” And yet, the thing for which they say they have faith does not come. This has happened in my experience scores of times. In fact, I’ve become almost, should I say—I have reservations about people who talk about their faith. As a preacher I’ve had many people come up to me and ask for prayer for healing. Sometimes they’ll say, “Brother Prince, I have great faith.” I think to myself, “Why didn’t you get healed if you have great faith? Why do you have to ask me?” One man said to me once, “Brother Prince, I’ve got all the faith in the world.” I thought that’s rather selfish because it doesn’t leave any for anybody else!
But setting that aside, let me share with you my experience. I do not recall ever seeing such a person get what he said he had faith for. Never once can I recall a person who declared he had great faith or argued that he had faith receive what he said he had faith for. I want to tell you this. If you have to prove to others that you have faith, you don’t have it. Much of our arguing is not really trying to prove to others, it’s trying to prove it to ourself. If we have to prove it to ourselves, we don’t have it. Oh, how many times I’ve heard Christians talk this way. “I know I have faith.” Yes, you’re perfectly sincere, you’re perfectly right but what you have is mental faith. You know about it because it’s in your mind and you know what’s in your mind.
Many times we don’t really know what’s in our heart. So many times in my experience it has happened the person who thinks he has faith gets nothing. The person who says I don’t think I have faith gets it. Because, the person who doesn’t have mental faith may have heart faith and it’s heart faith that produces the results. You can study all through the New Testament. Faith is always located in the realm of the heart. It’s very hard to know what’s in your own heart. Jeremiah 17:9 says:
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Furthermore, the Bible says that boasting is excluded. By what law? The law of faith. So, if you really have faith you don’t boast about it. I’m not saying this to be critical or unkind but it’s resolved a great problem for me. Why do people say they have faith and don’t get what they say they have faith for? Because they have mental faith.
In the New Testament faith is located in the heart. With the heart man believeth. You know, when you really believe something in your heart, you can’t help believing it. You don’t have to argue about it, you don’t have to prove it to anybody. I believe my sins are forgiven. I believe it in my heart and let everybody in this room argue about it, it wouldn’t change my belief the least bit. I don’t need to argue about what I really believe. But, if I were trying to prove to myself that a miracle would take place and had to argue, I think it’s very unlikely that the miracle would take place.
God has given me a certain measure of faith at times for miracles. I have people who come in front of me unbelieving and I can tell them the miracle will happen. I don’t need to argue with them. I have discovered the fact that you have to argue to prove yourself right pretty clearly proves you wrong. There is an absolute quite assurance which is heart faith. Many times our faith has reached our head but it hasn’t circulated to the heart. It takes longer to get to the heart than it does to get to the head.
That’s not wrong. Almost every major truth that I believe today I preached myself into believing. I started preaching it mentally because I saw it in the Bible. I said if it’s in the Bible it’s true, I’ll declare it. One day I woke up to the pleasant realization that I really had it. I had preached myself into believing it not just with my mind but with my heart.
Furthermore, the Scripture says it’s legitimate to say a thing with your mouth in order to get it to your heart. But be very sincere and don’t pretend it’s in your heart before it’s really there. You see, in that famous passage in Romans 10:8–10 Paul puts the heart and the mouth together three times. The first two times it’s the mouth first then the heart. The last time it’s the heart first and then the mouth. This was brought home to me by the fact that in the Hebrew language to learn a thing by heart in Hebrew is to learn it by the mouth. In other words, what is learning by heart? It’s saying a thing over and over again until it’s no effort to say it.
So, it is legitimate if you understand what you’re doing to confess yourself into heart faith. But don’t forget that God’s promises don’t work until you not merely confess with your mouth but also believe in your heart. I’ve met a lot of people busy confessing with their mouth but they didn’t have it in their heart.
That’s faith. That’s not the theme of my message tonight. I want to move on to hope. I believe that hope is in the realm of the mind. That’s the difference. Faith is in the heart, hope is in the mind. Another difference is faith is now, hope is in the future. Faith is something that you have right now. Hope is directed towards the future. Faith is in the heart, hope is in the mind. It’s legitimate to have hope in your mind for the future but it’s incorrect to talk about faith in your mind for the future. That isn’t faith.
The protection of the believer’s mind is the helmet of hope. Let me put it this way. I believe every Christian logically must be an optimist. I believe that for a Christian to be a pessimist is, in effect, a denial of his faith.
There are two kinds of persons born into the world. The pessimist and the optimist. Somebody defined the difference between them this way: They both walk into a room and see a glass with a certain amount of water in it. The optimist says the glass is half full, the pessimist says the glass is half empty. Both are looking at the same glass. It’s an attitude of mind.
I was undoubtedly born a pessimist. Furthermore, I was brought up to be a pessimist. I was systematically trained to be a pessimist. In my family it was a sin to be an optimist. If you weren’t worrying then you ought to be worrying about the fact that you weren’t worrying. That may sound comical but basically it’s true. I meet a whole lot of other people like that. They feel guilty if they’re not anxious.
So, we’re talking about the helmet of hope, the protection of the mind. Perhaps I could define hope in this way, as a confident, mental expectation of good. I’ll say that once more. A confident, mental expectation of good. God showed me that he had set my mind free from the oppression of that spirit of heaviness. My mind which had been captivated was now liberated.
Let me add also this—and I’m dealing many times with people that have prolonged, serious depression. I’m coming more and more to the conclusion that in almost every case it is connected with involvement in the occult. Almost every time. My involvement in the occult had been quite extensive in the past, particularly in the field of yoga. It was not until many years later that I saw the connection between my involvement in yoga and the spirit of depression. I will tell you that wherever I deal with a person who has prolonged, serious fits of depression I’m almost convinced that somewhere they’ve trespassed into Satan’s territory in the realm of the occult. Many times they’ll deny it, sometimes indignantly. But when I go on and work on them and bring the truth out it nearly always turns out that way.
God showed me that my mind was liberated that I might retrain it. He was not going to retrain it for me. That was my responsibility. I had to cultivate a totally different kind of outlook, different reactions, different mental patterns. If you want a basis in scripture for the fact that every believer should be an optimist, I could give you scores and scores of verses but I think Romans 8:28 is sufficient.
“We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose.”
If you love God and if you are sincerely seeking to walk in his purposes, that’s the condition. It’s not unconditional. But, if you love God and if you are sincerely seeking to walk in his purposes then all things work together for good to you. Well, if all things are working together for good to you there can be no reason for pessimism. Every situation is a situation for optimism. So, we have to learn this, we have to discipline our minds, we have to apply our minds to this.
If you’re not delivered from these spirits that bind you and oppress you: depression, fear, loneliness, suicide, self pity, misery, torment and a good many others; if you are not delivered then for me to tell you to cultivate new thought patterns is like a drill sergeant giving orders to a group of soldiers who are fettered. They can hear the orders but their feet can’t move to carry the orders out. Deliverance is an essential part of God’s provision but it’s not the whole of it. First deliverance, then retraining.
This is true in many other areas. It’s true in the area of lust, it’s true in the area of fear. If you have that problem and it’s demonic, step number one is deliverance from the demon. Step number two is retrain your appetites, retrain your actions, retrain your emotions. It’s your responsibility to do that in the light of the word of God. Scripture says bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. It’s our responsibility to bring our thoughts into captivity to the obedience of Christ. The obedience of Christ is the obedience of the word. We have an obligation to think about every situation, every person, every problem as the word of God speaks about it. This we have to train ourselves to do, it does not happen overnight.
I thank God now, I can look back on a good many years since this crisis came in my life. Probably about 18 years—and I have to praise God tonight I have mental victory, I have control over my own thoughts. I can say this in front of my wife. Every man, I think, should have to testify in front of his wife if you’re going to testify. It is the truth. I don’t say that I’m perfect but I know there’s been a total revolution. It began with deliverance but it was completed by self discipline in the area of the thoughts.
Now let me give you some very, very beautiful scriptures about hope. It’s really one of the most beautiful themes in the Bible. First of all, let me show you the relationship between faith and hope. As I understand, faith is basic, hope is the product of faith. Romans 4:18 tells us about Abraham when he received the promise of God about the birth of his son Isaac long after it was physically possible for either him or his wife. It says:
“Against hope he believed in hope.”
Notice he believed and as a result he hoped. Believing was first, hoping was secondary or the product.
And in Hebrews 11:1 we have this, I think, even more clearly.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for...”
Faith is the underlying bedrock of assurance on which hope is supported. So, faith produces hope. To have hope without faith may be self deception but when you have faith, then you’re entitled to hope. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. Let’s say that little distinction again. “Faith is in the heart, hope is in the mind. Faith is in the now, hope is in the future.” Both are legitimate but we must have them in the right place and we must have them in the right relationship.
Now let’s look at what the Bible says in this context about the importance of hope. This is where the Holy Spirit opened up a completely new field of understanding. I had never seen that hope is essential. You just cannot get on without hope. You must have hope. Romans 8:24 says this:
“For we are saved by hope.”
You put that the other way around—no hope, no salvation. When you lose your hope, experientially you’ve lost your salvation. You’re no longer living in salvation when you are not living in hope. I don’t mean you’re a lost soul but I mean your experience of salvation has gone. We are saved by hope.
Romans 15:13. This is a beautiful verse on hope.
“Now the God of hope...”
Did you know that he was the God of hope? He’s not merely the God of peace, the God of joy and the God of righteousness and the God of power, but he’s also the God of hope.
“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
So, when you are filled with faith through believing the result will be you will abound in hope. You’ll have overflowing, bubbling up hope within you. This hope is produced by the power of the Holy Spirit. One of the scriptural evidences of the Holy Spirit at work in a believer is abounding hope. Where hope ceases to abound, that person is no longer filled with the Holy Spirit, he has leaked out.
Now take Ephesians 2:12. This is a very somber picture of the lost, the ungodly, those that do not know God.
“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise; having no hope, and without God in the world.”
If you look at that, the lost are without three things. Without Christ, without God, without hope. When you are without hope you are without Christ and without God. It’s that important.
Look at the corresponding scripture on the positive side in Colossians 1:27 speaking about the mystery of the gospel which was hid from ages and from generations but now is made manifest to his saints. That’s verse 26. Colossians 1:27, Paul says about the saints [that’s believers, you and I]:
“To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery...”
The whole of the gospel centers in this great and wonderful revelation which was kept secret from all the prophets and sages and great men of past generations but is now revealed to humble believers like you and me. What is this tremendous revelation?
“...which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Notice the glory is in the future. That’s legitimate. But, if you have no hope of eternal glory you don’t have Christ in you because Christ in you is the hope of eternal glory. See, your salvation depends on hope. We’re saved by hope. When we’re lost we’re without God, we’re without Christ, we’re without hope. But when we have Christ in us we have the hope of glory, the hope for the future. If Christianity only saw the problems of time, it’s a failure. Paul said, “If in this world only we have hope in Christ we are of all men most miserable.” There is a future. The one who has Christ in has hope for that future, a glorious, radiant, confident expectation of eternal glory with Almighty God and the holy angels and the redeemed of all ages from age to age to age. That’s what you have when you have Christ in you. If you are getting uncertain or insecure about that hope, you better check on your spiritual condition because it’s questionable whether you really have Christ in you. Christ in you is the hope of glory.
Then we turn to one of the most beautiful pictures in all scripture which is in the epistle to the Hebrews. The 6th chapter and the last 3 verses. Hebrews 6:18–20. The writer of Hebrews is emphasizing the tremendous basis that we have for our faith in Christ. He speaks about two immutable things. You know, there are some things about the King James Version, some of the words it uses are irreplaceable. You can’t find another word that will do what immutable does. That’s my conviction. The combination of the short words and the long words in the King James in Elizabethan English is really unbeatable in some ways.
“That by two immutable things [unchangeable things, things incapable of change], in which it was impossible for God to lie...”
What are the two things? You’ll see from the previous verse. They’re God’s word and God’s oath. God not merely spoke it but he confirmed it with an oath. The scripture says because there was nothing greater by which he could swear, he swore by himself. “By myself have I sworn” he told Abraham “that in blessing I will bless thee and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is upon the seashore innumerable.” God not merely gave to Abraham a promise but he sealed it with an oath. Therefore, we have two immutable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, upon which to base our faith.
Now, let’s see what he says in the light of this.
“...we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us...”
That’s one picture of hope, then he moves on to another. I’ll show you them both.
“...which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.”
The writer of Hebrews uses two pictures in swift succession to show what hope will do for the believer in his spiritual experience. He says, first of all, we have fled to this hope for a refuge. I believe the picture is taken from the Old Testament where when a man was being pursued by the avengers of blood and he wanted a place of refuge from which the avenger would not dare to snatch him away, he fled to the tabernacle or the temple and laid hold upon the horns of the altar. As long as that man held onto the horns of the altar nobody dared to pull him away. That was his place of refuge. Paul says we come to the altar and no matter how all the forces of hell may seek to drag us away, as long as we hold onto the horns of that altar we cannot be torn away.
What are the horns of the altar? Our hope in Jesus Christ. The sacrifice of Christ is the altar, the horns, the strength of the altar is our hope. Which hope we have as a refuge that we can flee to. So, when all the forces of hell are turned loose against you and are pressuring you from every side, you don’t seem to know where you can go to find an escape, flee to the altar and lay hold upon the horns which is our hope in Jesus Christ. That’s the first picture, the picture of a person under tremendous instant, spiritual pressure looking for a place of absolute security, coming to the altar, laying hold on the finished work of Christ and the hope of eternal glory that springs forth like the horns out of the altar.
The second picture is perhaps, if anything, more beautiful. It’s an anchor of the soul, steadfast and sure, that passes out of time into eternity and fastens within the veil in the great Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ our high priest and our forerunner.
When I was going through this, and it was on the basis of my own instant personal need, the Holy Spirit began to deal with me about an anchor. It was something like this. He said, “What needs an anchor?” I said, “Lord, a ship needs an anchor—or a boat.” He said, “Why does the ship or the boat need an anchor?” I said, “Lord, because essentially a ship or a boat floats in an unstable, impermanent element of water.” That’s where it belongs, in the water. But there’s nothing in that water that that boat can lay hold of for permanent security. So, the boat needs an anchor which is passed from the boat through the unstable element of water into the stable element of rock or earth. When the anchor has been passed from the boat through the water into the rock it is stabilized and made secure.
The writer says our hope in Christ is our anchor for our soul. You see, we are living in this world in a very impermanent, unstable world. No matter how much financial and material security you may have, no matter how many insurances you may have, no matter how much you may have in the bank, no matter what steps you may take for security—I’m not criticizing any of them. The truth of the matter is none of them really grant you security. Not one. It’s like the water that the boat is in. There’s nothing in time that is permanent, that is secure that we can lay hold of. Everything we see is moving, it’s flowing, it’s here and it passes away. All flesh is as grass, the scripture says. The goodliness thereof is the flower of the grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth. It springs up in the morning and by the evening it’s withered, cut down. That’s human life. It’s very important that we never lose sight of that fact.
I remember going to the funeral of my father about 4 or 5 years ago. He was buried with an Anglican burial service in Britain. I tell you, if you don’t interfere with the Anglican prayer book for the burial service, it’s beautiful. Just don’t let preachers get in and spoil it, it’s beautiful. They’ve got a number of scriptures that are quoted. One of them is “Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He springeth as the grass and is cut down.” As I sat there I said to myself that’s the truth. You can argue about it, you can do your best to hide from it but the fact is that man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.”
There is no place of security in this world. You have got to pass your anchor through the water into the rock before you can be secure. The water represents time, the rock represents eternity. The water represents this world, the rock represents the next world. When you are in Christ you have a right to cast your anchor into that “Rock of Ages” and all the storms that blow and the tempest and the hurricanes will never detach you from that rock. That rock is Christ, it’s the word of God, it’s the two immutable things by which God could not lie: his word and his oath. The way that we anchor into it is hope. Hope is the anchor.
Probably most of you are familiar with that thing, Will your anchor hold in the storms of life? Every time I hear that hymn sung now I say, “Yes, and the anchor is hope.” No hope, no anchor. No hope, no place of refuge. No hope, no Christ in you. No hope, no salvation. It’s as important as that.
It is up to you and me to realize that we have to train our minds to hope. It can be done. I know the change. It’s like the change from night to day in my own experience. It didn’t come in five minutes, it took more than 5 years. It’s worth all the effort that I’ve put into it. I want to leave this with you. Deliverance will set you free to do your share. Deliverance will not do for you what you can do for yourself. God expects you to do that. This is in the area of the mind, it’s in the area of the emotions, it’s in the area of the physical body. Whatever you need deliverance from, if you call upon the name of the Lord you will be delivered. But remember, after that it’s your responsibility to conserve your deliverance. Remember that for many of us the mind is the most vulnerable point.
I have been for years with missionaries and full time Christian workers. I would say one 1 out of 5 missionaries has a serious problem in the realm of the mind. I can look back on the past and remember missionaries that were qualified, trained, equipped, dedicated but many times for long periods they were laid aside by problems in their mind. Doubt, unbelief, fear, despair, torment. God has an answer. The answer is if you’re demon tormented, get set free from the demon. But then remember that’s only the beginning of the process. After that, there’s the process of retraining your reactions, your habits, your thought patterns, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
When you begin to get restless and edgy and react wrong and easily—stop and say, “What am I doing wrong? Something’s got in that shouldn’t be there. I’m projecting my mind in the wrong thought channels, I’m beginning to go back on my consecration, my dedication, my faith.” But remember, there’s a reason. Remember that God has made full provision. Take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, stand. I like that order. First, withstand and then stand. Every time I make a major new commitment for Christ the forces of Satan are turned loose against me. This is invariable, it’s one sure sign that I’m moving in the will of God. I’ve learned what to do. Withstand. Withstand and then when the tempest subsides you’re left standing. The ground you’ve occupied is secure under your feet. But there always will be the need to withstand. You cannot withstand effectively with an unprotected mind.
So, let me tell you this again. Take the helmet of salvation which is the helmet of hope. Put it on, cover your mind, protect your thoughts, bring your thoughts under control and discipline in line with the word of God. May God bless you.