Another manifestation of the “wiles of the devil” is evil thoughts. Have you ever been in prayer and had your mind suddenly assaulted by blasphemous thoughts? Have you ever been worshipping and had pornographic images flash across your mind? Have you ever gone through a period of time in which your mind was consumed with deplorable thoughts—thoughts that sickened and oppressed you, thoughts that you longed to be delivered from, thoughts of sexual immorality, murder, or suicide? If so, you are not alone. You know firsthand what the apostle Paul was referring to when he spoke of the “fiery darts” or more literally “the flaming arrows” of the wicked one.
An important question to ask at this point is: How can I tell the difference between the flaming arrows of the wicked one and the sin of evil surmising? Evil surmising originates from within, as Jesus said, “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts” (Matthew 15:19). Evil surmising is within your power to control and has an element of delight in it. The flaming arrows of the wicked one, on the other hand, come from outside of you and are, to a certain degree, beyond your power to control. They are also offensive to you. You not only do not want to think these thoughts, you consciously reject them.
An experience from the life of Charles Spurgeon serves as an illustration. Having gone through a prolonged period of blasphemous assaults upon his mind and being near the point of despair, he began questioning even his salvation (after all, how could a true Christian think such thoughts?). He finally confided in an aged godly man who asked him one simple question: “Do you hate these thoughts?” Young Spurgeon replied: “I do.” The man replied, “Then they are not yours; … Groan over them, repent of them, and send them on to the devil, the father of them, to whom they belong—for they are not yours.”
The devil is subtle; he plants a thought in your mind and wants to make you think it’s your thought. But don’t own it; instead reject it and realize who is behind it. You can even turn the enemy’s weapons back upon him by using those occasions as an opportunity for prayer and worship. You can be like Benaiah who wrested the spear out of the enemy’s hand and killed him with his own spear (2 Samuel 23:21).
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8
As nature abhors a vacuum, so our minds cannot long remain empty. Good thoughts leave no room for bad thoughts.