Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: In 2009 you have to protect yourself from virtual dangers.

Woman: We had several viruses on our computer and the thing that happened is everything got slower and slower.

Holly Elliff: One of my kids opened an email from a friend and it contained a Trojan Horse virus, which is a type of virus that actually is hidden and so you don’t know it’s there, but it contains all kinds of stuff that is disguised.

Kim Wagner: I think one way I’ve been protected from having computer viruses—I know people have different filters and things—but I do not open an email unless I recognize that I can trust that email that’s being sent.  The person that’s sending it I am familiar with who that is, why they’re sending it, and I’m careful what I open.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, February 5.  We go to great lengths to protect our property with locks on our doors and other safety devices.  Nowadays, you also need to protect yourself from virtual predators.
Are you protecting your mind like you protect your belongings or your data?  Take a look at that question with Nancy in a series called Discerning Truth in a World of Deception.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: While I was at my laptop working on this series, I had a glitch on my email and I called our IT department in Michigan to ask them to help me troubleshoot.  I told them I’ve been studying about viruses for this series on deception and I’m a little nervous about getting close to anything that could possibly be a virus.  So this kind of spooked me.

So I was calling to make sure there was no major problem with this.  Our IT tech guy said to me, “The good news is you're protected.”  Now that was good news because I’m sitting here in Little Rock.  I did not want any major problem going wrong with my computer, and I was glad to be assured that I am protected.

We’ve been talking in this series about how to protect our minds, how to protect our hearts from doctrinal viruses, from things that could infect our own thinking and infect the church of Jesus Christ.

We’ve talked about protecting our computers, combating viruses and worms and Trojan Horses—some of these things we’ve talked about in this series.  As I’ve done a little research, I really know very, very little about computers, so anything I’m about to tell you about computers is something I found on Google.  It’s not something that I’m knowledgeable about myself. 

But I learned three important things about protecting your computer, and I think there are some applications here to protecting our minds and hearts.  The first thing they say is be sure your operating system (known as the OS) is up to date.  The operating system as I understand it is the most important program on your computer.  It’s the program that manages and coordinates all the other programs on your computer.

The operating system is also responsible for security on your computer.  It ensures that unauthorized users can’t get access to your system.  So you have to start with the right operating system.  If that is faulty, everything else that runs on your computer will be vulnerable.

Now we have a spiritual operating system.  It’s our soul, our thoughts, our feelings, the choices we make.  How we think and what we feel come together to determine what we end up doing.  So all the software programs of life have to run through our operating system—our soul—in order to function.

The fact is we are all born with a faulty operating system.  We are born with a bent towards sin.  That causes breakdowns in all the other programs and systems of our lives. Our operating system, our inner person, who we are, needs to be recreated by God.  It needs to be built by Him.  In order to be protected from spiritual viruses—spiritual Trojan Horses—our operating system, our core soul, our core being must have the Spirit of God built into it.

First Corinthians chapter 2, verse 14, tells us that “The natural person [the person who doesn’t have the Spirit of God] does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”

If you want to have discernment and want to know how to operate in all your different systems of life, all the different programs of your life, you’ve got to have an internal operating system—that program that manages and coordinates everything else.  You’ve got to have one that has the Holy Spirit of God in it.  That’s where you get discernment.

Then in addition to having an up-to-date operating system—back to computers here—you need anti-virus software installed on your system.  What I was reading here on the Internet says that it’s important to download updates frequently to ensure that your software has the latest fixes for new viruses, worms, and Trojan Horses because there are always new ones coming out.

So there are new developments and anti-virus software.  So you need to have this anti-virus software installed on your computer and make sure that you keep it up to date so that you can prevent malicious programs from even reaching your computer.

Then the third thing—an operating system, anti-virus software—the third thing is to install what they call a firewall.  A firewall is a system that prevents unauthorized use and access to your computer.  Now a firewall by itself will not rid you of computer virus problems, but if you use it in conjunction with regular operating system updates and good anti-virus scanning software, the firewall will add an extra measure of protection and security to your computer.

Now let’s go back to our spiritual computer—our spiritual application of all of this.  Your operating system was designed to run only software that is designed and approved by God.  That’s what keeps your system operating at peak efficiency and keeps you from crashing or locking up or getting an error message and shutting down. 

The Enemy tries to entice us to load software into our lives that looks like it will be fun or productive or beneficial in some way.  What we don’t often realize is that that software may be a Trojan Horse.  It may look good, sound good, but it’s designed to mess up your operating system and ultimately it starts affecting everything else that you have loaded on your life. Your whole operating system starts to be affected when you let that software that wasn’t designed for your computer, when you load that software on.

So it’s important that we avoid loading the wrong programs into our lives.  Our computer department back at our ministry at Revive Our Hearts has trained us in relation to our ministry laptops, don’t add any new programs to your computer by yourself.  Bring it in to us, check with us and let us check out the program and see if it’s a program that’s safe for your laptop.  Let us put it on because they don’t want to have to fix the mess we create when we put on programs ourselves.

I was with some friends the other night and somebody was trying to help me load on a special software and I said, “Is my IT department going to approve of this?”  I’m headed back to Michigan with my laptop next week.  We did put it on, and I’m going to go have to go ask forgiveness because I didn’t ask permission.  I’m going to say, “Check this out.  Make sure this program I put on is okay for this computer.”

Stick with the manufacturer’s recommended software.  Don’t fall for the other stuff no matter how enticing or how harmless it may seem.  That’s what wisdom is—sticking with the truth. We’re sanctified by the truth.  We’re set free by the truth.  You want to make sure you have programs that you’re loading into your life that are based on the truth.

Then running anti-virus software—the purpose of that is to scan programs before you load them to see if they are safe.  That means, in application here, running everything that you read, that you see, that you hear, everything you experience, everything you feel and think, run it all through the grid of the Word of God. That’s what discernment is.  Running all those things through that software that screens and filters and puts out stuff that isn’t safe or could be dangerous to your operating system.

Then don’t operate your spiritual system without a spiritual firewall in place.  A firewall is what keeps out people who are intending or systems that are intending to get into your system and mess it up.  There are some things we should keep out.  Proverbs, chapter 4, verse 23, says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

  • Guard your operating system.
  • Put protections in place.
  • Put walls and boundaries and safeguards in place so the wrong things don’t get in.

This is protecting from wrong kinds of people, wrong kinds of friendships, wrong kinds of influences.  For example, Proverbs 13:20 says, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

You need a firewall in your life that will help you from developing your most intimate relationships and friendships with people who do not share your commitment to the truth.  Now that doesn’t mean you don’t talk to them.  It doesn’t mean you don’t invest in their lives.  It doesn’t mean you aren’t kind to them, but you don’t make your closest friendships and relationships with people who are not going to point you in the direction of truth. You need a firewall established there.

First Corinthians 15:33 says, “Bad company corrupts good morals” (NASB).  You hang around with people who don’t think biblically, don’t love holiness, and it’s going to end up influencing your life.

I talked with a college student recently and said, “How’s it going at school?”  Here’s a young man who is trying to walk with God but he has a roommate who has some character issues.  He said, “I find myself sometimes getting pulled down by the close association with this roommate.”  You need to be careful.  Now it doesn’t mean you’ll never have a non-Christian roommate or a roommate who isn’t a godly person.  But in your heart you need to establish some firewalls so you don’t let the things about them that are not godly influence your heart.

Second Corinthians 6:14:  “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.  For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness?  Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”  Now there are a lot of applications we could make from that, but I think especially as it relates to primary and long-term relationships, close friendships, dating, marriage, business partnerships.

The apostle Paul says don’t be unequally yoked with people who don’t share your commitment to the truth. If you have a heart for righteousness and they don’t, what partnership can you have?  If you are light and they are darkness, what fellowship can you have?  Put up firewalls.  Guard your heart.

Psalm 101 is a wonderful psalm about establishing firewalls, safeguards in our hearts.  The Psalmist says beginning in verse 3, “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.  I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me.  No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes” (Psalm 101:3, 6-7).

Here’s the Psalmist saying, "I’m going to put some firewalls up in my life.  I want to make sure that the things, the people, the books, the TV programs, the things that are influencing my life are being evaluated, that I am discerning and I’m putting up barriers, protection.  I’m asking God to protect me, to guard my heart from things that could lead me in directions that are not pleasing to the Lord."

Jesus goes even further in Matthew chapter 5, and this is one of the hard sayings of Jesus in the New Testament.  We won’t exegete this whole thing right now, but there’s a principle here.

He says, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away.  For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.  For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell” (Matthew 5:29-30).

What is Jesus saying?  Well, at least He is saying you need to be willing to take drastic measures as needed to guard your heart, to guard the operating system of your life.  Don’t just go with the flow.  If there's some relationship, some connection, some habit, some reading, some types of movies you’re watching, if they’re sending you in a wrong direction, they’re pulling you away from the truth that is in Christ, if they’re diminishing your heart for holiness, cut if off! Don’t keep fueling your flesh.  Don’t keep allowing these viruses into your system.  They will infect you and then they will replicate and infect others.

Run regular updates on your system to keep it safe.  That’s what they tell us for computers. That’s what you need to do in your mind.  How do we do that?  Renew your mind with the Word of God. Keep this Word flowing into your heart, flowing into your mind.

This is one of the reasons that I’m so big on Scripture memorization.  It’s not just so that you can quote half the Bible to somebody else.  It’s so that I can have constantly running through my mind the Word of God, the water of the Word, the truth of the Word.

I want it constantly flowing through my mind so when I’m the supermarket and I’m seeing a headline on a newspaper or in a magazine, I look at the magazine articles and I say, “Is this something that I want to put into my mind?”  I’ve got a filter, a firewall, an anti-virus software. 

Red lights go off.  Yellow lights go off.  Caution lights.  There’s a protective device there.  There’s a radar.  There’s a signal that goes off that says, “I don’t think this is compatible with the Word of God.”

It becomes the grid through which I hear counsel, through which I hear my friends speaking, through which I hear something that is said on Christian radio or Christian television or a book I pick up or a Christian women’s magazine.  There’s some great Christian women’s magazines, but there are some articles in some of those magazines that if you put them under the scrutiny of the Word of God are not necessarily consistent with God’s truth.

Let me give you an example.  I picked up an article recently from a Christian women’s magazine and this was a helpful article.  It’s called "The Half-Truths of Self-Help."  It talks about four false assertions that self-help gurus promote.  Let me just read to you what these false assertions are.  This author is warning you against these things that you can find in a lot of books today.

The first false assertion is that you should put you first.  You’ll see that in so much writing today, even many Christian books.  A second thing to be aware of is this concept that you should set aside any draining or burdensome relationship.
Now we could teach on each of these and there are boundaries and helpful insights into all of these, but you’ll see this a lot in a lot of Christian literature today or self-help literature.  If there’s a relationship you have that is draining or burdensome, don’t talk to that person anymore.  Get rid of that person.  This is a half-truth of self-help, as this article calls it.

Here’s another half-truth that you need to be careful about.  You can fix yourself by yourself, that you can become the person that God wants you to be without the grace of God or the cross of Christ, that it’s just moralism.  You try better.  You strive harder and you can fix yourself.  That’s a story line of self-help that you need to guard against.

There’s a fourth one, that is that you are basically good, that you are wholly good, that you are intrinsically good or that your children are intrinsically good.  That falsehood, that half-truth, by the way, or non-truth is what has been so damaging in many political systems that view man as basically good.  People are running governments of the world today based on a false view of man.  People are running their homes and parenting their kids based on an unbiblical view of human nature.  So watch out for these things.  Renew your mind with the Word of God.

Now if you want to develop discernment, you need to ask God for it.  Ask God for discernment.  I love that passage in 1 Kings chapter 3, where Solomon was recently crowned king of Israel.  At the outset of his reign, God said to Solomon, “What do you want Me to give you?  What do you want Me to do for you?  Whatever you want, whatever you think you need to be a good king, ask Me and I will give it to you.”

Solomon says, “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern your great people?” (1 Kings 3:9).

Now if you’re a mother, you’ve probably prayed a prayer something similar to that.  “Lord, the one thing I need, besides strength to make it through this day, is discernment.  I need to know as a mother how to discern between good and evil because I’m not able to lead these children.  I’m not able to lead this class, this situation.  I need discernment.”

Scripture goes on to tell us, “It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this.  And God said to him, ‘Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies [things that you could have understood him asking for], but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word.  Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you” (1 Kings 3:10-12).

Wisdom comes from God.  So if anyone lacks wisdom, what do you do?  Ask God.  Ask God for discernment. The Psalmist prayed Psalm 119:34, “Give me understanding, that I may keep your law.”  Don’t rely on your own understanding.  To have wisdom, to have discernment requires a humble spirit, a teachable spirit.  It means we have to acknowledge that we have the potential to be deceived.  We have to be humble enough to say, “You know what, I don’t know everything.”

Though I’ve been teaching the Bible for many years and I’ve been walking with Christ for many years, I realize that I could be deceived.  So I go to the Lord, and I say, “Lord, I need You to be a firewall in my life.  I need You to install anti-virus software in my system.  Give me a discernment.  Give me a sensitivity. Make me alert to things that are coming out that are not consistent with Your truth as I’m talking with friends, as I’m listening to things going on in the culture, as I’m reading the news, as I’m listening to modern thinking.  Help me to be discerning.  As I listen to people in the church.  As I walk into a Christian bookstore, help me to be discerning I don’t want to rely on my own understanding.  I want You to give me discernment.”

And God gives discernment to those who ask Him.  Now that doesn’t just mean that God opens up my head and pours in this bucket load of discernment, and I don’t have to think anymore.  I need to do the hard work of taking everything I read and see and hear and putting it through the grid of Scripture.

Let me say that you ought to be doing that about everything you hear from me.  I’m not God, and my books are not the Bible.  I hope that my books will point you to God and point you to the Scripture and point you to Christ, but you need to read what I write and listen to what I say on Revive Our Hearts and take it through the grid of Scripture.  Say, “Is this consistent with the Scripture?”  Make the Scripture your authority.

Ladies, this something we have to be vigilant about.  It’s something we have to be alert about.  We have to always be on our guard.  Guard your heart.  Put a firewall up.  Don’t give the Enemy access.  Be careful what you read, careful about the music you listen to.

One of the things that I understand about so many in the younger generation is that they love the music regardless of what it says.  So they’re imbibing a way of thinking, a philosophy, through the music.  Music is powerful.  Make sure whether you’re young or old that the music you’re listening to is not putting input into your mind or your heart that is contrary to the Word of God.

Don’t mindlessly imbibe the culture.  Don’t mindlessly take in the Christian culture.  Input from friends, things you read, things you hear, things that you see going on around you, take it all through the grid of Scripture.  Screen it.  Scrutinize it.  Test every spirit to be sure it comes from God.

You say that sounds like a lot of work.  It is work.  It is hard work.  But it’s important work.  And I’ll tell you what will happen.  The more you get yourself immersed and saturated in the Word of God, the more you will develop an accurate sensor, a good radar, the more quickly you’ll be able to detect things that are not consistent with the Word of God.

O Lord, how I pray that You will help us as women to become discerning.  We need discernment.  We have fallen into so many things today, so many ways of thinking, even within the church that are off just by degrees, but in the long run they take people off in great directions and in serious ways.

So Lord help us to be with love and with grace, but to care about truth, to love the truth and to have our powers of discernment trained, disciplined, developed to discern right from wrong and good from evil and truth from error.  Lord, make us wise and discerning so that we may be influencers of righteousness and truth in our generation.  I pray in Jesus’ name.

Leslie: Safety is on everyone’s mind.  Whether the danger is coming from terrorists around the world or from challenges in your own neighborhood.  Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been showing you how important it is to show the same kind of vigilance for doctrinal dangers.

We want you to be able to detect error and focus on the truth.  So we’d like to send a copy of the book by Tim Challies.  It’s called The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment.  It will show you why it’s so important to be on the lookout for doctrinal error.  It will show you how to detect falsehood and it will help you speak truth in love and grace about these issues.

When you make a donation of any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, we’ll show you our gratitude by sending you a copy of this book.  Ask for The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment when you call 1-800-569-5959.

Nancy’s been telling you about this book during our current series and tomorrow is the last day we’ll be making this offer.  So visit ReviveOurHeartsRadio.com.

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve heard a lot of helpful information about discernment.  Tomorrow get some practical ideas on making discernment an active part of your life.  Please join us for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.