Suppose Jesus were to suddenly materialize in front of you and say, “Quick! Sit down on the ground!” So you do because, after all, it’s Jesus. But as soon as you get settled onto the ground, Jesus says, “No, no, get up again—hurry!” So you scramble to your feet, only to have Him then say, “Quick, sit down again—hurry!” So you do, and at this point, you’re feeling quite confused. But soon that confusion is paired with exhaustion as Jesus keeps having you hop up and down for no apparent reason.
In this post, we’re going to deal with the issue of contradictory convictions. Now and then some eager-to-please soul comes to us for help because the God they’re trying so hard to please just isn’t making any sense. One minute He tells them to do something that seems rather bizarre and usually quite inconvenient. The next minute, He tells them to do just the opposite, and the end result is usually some kind of loss or embarrassment or misery. As if one round of this isn’t confusing enough, some souls find themselves getting caught in what feels like an unending cycle of God double talking them. They usually hang on for a while, dutifully obeying every order He gives, no matter how much of a hassle it is. But after a while, they get so frustrated that they start to wonder if maybe they’re missing a piece of the puzzle. And they are, because the truth is that they’re being duped by a rather nasty little game that demons love to play with serious Christians. In this post, we’ll explain how the game works, how to see through it, and how you can get yourself off of the exhausting treadmill.
THE TARGETS & THE GOAL
Now demons have a whole host of shady tricks up their sleeves, but many of them only work on certain kinds of targets. Trying to run souls into the ground with contradictory convictions is one game that only works on souls who sincerely care about pleasing God. So if you’re currently a target of this “go-stop-go-stop” game, recognize what a compliment it is that demons are even succeeding at jerking you around like this. You see, if your commitment to God was nothing more than hot air, then they wouldn’t be succeeding at conning you. This particular trick only works on souls who actually walk their talk about really wanting to please God. No matter how cockamamie His orders sound to them, they’ll put their little hearts into obeying Him. These souls act—they don’t sit around arguing and fussing. They demonstrate stellar commitment to God and a willingness to look like total buffoons for His sake. These souls are ahead of the pack in submission to God, so of course their submission is what demons are trying to use against them.
The goal of the contradictory convictions game is to turn sincerely submitted souls into bitter rebel burnouts who get so fed up with God jerking them around that they start telling Him to shove it. Remember this key spiritual discernment principle: demons want to shape your soul attitudes into the polar opposites of whatever they know pleases God. If you’re strong in submission, they’re going to try and get you to flip into rebellion. Their end goal is easy enough to understand, but their methods are a different deal.
Demons are super smart and super dumb at the same time. Being smart is about having knowledge, and when it comes to the subject of you, demons are far smarter than you are because they understand you so much better than you understand yourself. They know the difference between what you think you want and what you really want. They know all of your core fears and insecurities. They know all of your weak points, they are excellent strategists, and very talented con artists. They’re going to snow you a lot in life—especially when you’re trying to learn spiritual discernment. And when you discover how successfully you’ve been conned by them, don’t get down on yourself.
If you’re new at playing chess, are you going to be able to compete well with a grandmaster? Of course not. The fact that you lose to someone who has a huge advantage over you doesn’t make you a dunce cap. Don’t fall into the trap of being too prideful to admit when you’ve been totally had by demons. We all get duped by them countless times in life, but if we don’t get hung up on pride, then we can learn from every experience, and soon we’ll start amassing a nice set of knowledge ourselves. Demons have a big advantage over you because they’ve had a ton of practice with duping humans, but the more experience you have with them in your own life, the harder you’re going to be for them to mess with.
Now while demons are really smart, they’re also incredibly stupid, and that stupidity ends up giving you a critical advantage over them. What makes demons so stupid is that they’re spending all of their resources trying to attain an impossible goal. Their whole focus in life is to somehow trump their own Creator—how dumb do you have to be to think that’s even possible? No matter how many times God trips them up, demons keep clinging to the dream that they can somehow outsmart or outmaneuver Him. Trying to trump God is all they’ve got left. Because they’ve rebelled against Him too much in the past, they’ve gotten themselves eternally damned, and it’s only a matter of time before they find themselves chucked into a Hell that they can’t get out of. If they had any wisdom, they’d be prostrating themselves before God and doing anything they could to try and make amends with Him. After all, He is incredibly merciful. But instead of trying to do something to improve their personal dynamic with Him, they just keep digging themselves into a deeper hole by putting their all into warring against Him. They’re complete spiritual morons, and sadly, many humans choose to make the same kinds of self-destructive choices. You can’t do anything to stop other creatures from trying to war against their own Creator. Your own soul choices are the only ones you have any control over. But when it comes to dealing with demons, it is helpful to understand the big picture.
So now that we understand what sad sacks demons are, let’s talk about how they’re managing to snow you with their classic “go-stop-go-stop” game. This little scheme involves several distinct elements. First, this is a con in which demons are intentionally imitating God’s Voice in your mind. Not all demon cons involve imitating God. When it comes to many of their terror antics, demons want you to be very clear that another non-God entity is attacking you (see Mind Wars: Defending Against Demonic Voices in Your Head).
So what we’re dealing with in this post is a con in which demons want you to mistake their voices for the Voice of God. This is very easy to do because of the way your mind translates incoming messages. Simply put, your mind is used to translating messages from multiple sources into the same sounding voice that you think of as your thought voice. Demons can perfectly imitate your thought voice, and they know all about the set of rules you are currently using to try and determine when God is talking to you. By sticking to those rules, they can get you to accept a whole range of messages as being from God when they’re really not, and soon they’ve got you running in exhausting circles.
Now in this particular con, the goal is to erode your submission to God. You’ve got too much of it, and demons are finding it irritating. Submission to God is one of the four soul attitudes we’re always talking about which are critical to pleasing God and gaining intimacy with Him. So of course demons aren’t going to sit on their hands while they watch you flying down the road of spiritual maturity. They detest submission to God, and they want to stomp it out whenever possible. In their contradictory convictions con, they try to turn your own devotion to God into a weapon that they can use to torture you with. They want to drive you mad with the sheer frustration of trying to please a God who can’t make up His mind about what He wants. They want to set you up over and over to feel jerked around and unappreciated by God until your little feelings are just crushed. All of that pain can then be cultivated into hate until you just despise God and want to do anything you can to stick it to Him. This is the golden dream–the long term goal that demons are shooting for. But once you see through the con and learn how to counteract it, that golden dream will crumble and, well, it sucks to be them.
So what about God? What role has He been playing in all of this? Well, if you’ve been getting successfully conned by demons up until this point, then so far God has been letting you get conned…on purpose. And as bad as that sounds, stick with us, because God really is on your side in these things.
God has created countless creatures to date, and they don’t all know about each other. The only reason demons and humans are aware of each other’s existence is because God has given those two kinds of creatures access to each other. For all you know, there could be billions of creatures living on worlds spread throughout this universe who you’ll never meet and who will never know anything about you. God is controlling what kinds of creatures you’re aware of as a human, so don’t even think about trying to separate Him from your demon problems. God is the only reason you have demon problems in the first place. If He’d kept demons separated from you, you’d never be conned by them. But instead, He gives them many opportunities to mess with you in life, and given what sadistic, hateful little creatures they are, you have to wonder why your loving Creator would do such a thing. So why would He? Because He’s all about helping you grow closer to Him.
To understand why demons are in your life, you need to understand God’s personal agenda for you. He created you to have a personal relationship with Him. From His perspective, demons are just one of many tools He uses to cultivate, strengthen, and improve His personal relationship with you.
Now if God had wanted you to begin life with a deep understanding of who He is, He could have easily made that happen. But here’s a critical thing that you need to understand about God: He loves evolution. By evolution, we don’t mean that moronic theory which tries to say that humans are a freak product of primordial slime. Just as homosexuals don’t own the rainbow, evolutionists don’t own the term “evolution.” Before Darwin went bonkers on the Galapagos Islands, the term evolution simply meant “the gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form.” This is what God has designed humans to do. You were created to constantly evolve—to constantly mature, grow, and increase in complexity. Where evolutionists lose it is that they try to say you can change species. You really can’t. God made you a human, and you’ll always be a human. Your offspring won’t someday morph into aliens. You won’t morph into an angel when you die. You didn’t used to be an ape in a previous life. Apes will always be apes. Slime will always be slime. Humans will always be humans. But while you’re stuck always being a human, you are supposed to be constantly evolving into an even better version of human than you were before.
You’ve already done a ton of evolving in the short time that you’ve been alive—just think of all the things you understand today that you didn’t understand when you were born. Think of how many concepts you think about today that never crossed your mind when you were 4. Evolution is a thrilling part of being human—we’re supposed to be ever changing in positive ways. We’re supposed to be deepening in things like compassion and love, growing in character, acquiring new perspectives. We’re not like rocks in the desert which just sit there being slowly eroded by the wind. We’re more like seeds that sprout and slowly grow into massive trees with complex systems of roots and branches. A tree is still a tree whether it’s a sapling or a hundred year old pine—but what a difference there is between the two. In the same way, who you are today is not who you’re supposed to be a billion years from now when you’re cruising around in Heaven. If you’re listening to God, then in a billion years, you’ll be a very different person than you are today—and those differences will be very positive.
So then, God created you to be continuously maturing, and He loves that whole process of nurturing you along. Sure He could just drop an understanding of complex topics into your head overnight, but where’s the fun in that? God loves teaching you and introducing you to new concepts. Consider how much fun human parents get out of introducing their young children to new experiences and watching their eyes light up with wonder. This is how God feels about spiritually maturing you—He enjoys the process so much that He intentionally drags it out. He’s just not in any mad rush to get you to a certain point by a certain day. Instead, He considers the teaching process to be an important part of how He strengthens your bond with Him.
Understanding how much God loves teaching you is going to help you understand why He lets demons mess with you. You see, in the process of having demons con you, God ends up teaching you some critical truths about how He perceives you and what He wants from you. He then uses demons to help reinforce those truths, and when all is said and done, you end up in a much more solid position with God because He let demons harangue you.
Now if that seems rather hard to swallow, then let’s look at it a different way. Little Janie has a father who loves her more than she realizes. As long as things are going along smoothly, Janie doesn’t have much opportunity to see how deep her father’s love for her really is. But when Janie gets in a bad accident that leaves her badly injured and very scared, suddenly her father has the opportunity to demonstrate his love for her in new ways. As he helps her and comforts her and talks with her, Janie gains a deeper understanding of how much her father really does care about her. The bad things that happened to Janie gave her father opportunities to express his love for her in new ways, and after seeing the way her father treats her, Janie emerges from the experience with a deeper trust in his love for her.
Christians are far too quick to view all demonic attacks as terrible things. As soon as they sense demons afoot, they decide that whatever’s happening is not God’s will for them, and they start pleading for God to make the whole thing go away. Such a response demonstrates no confidence in God’s love for them—no faith in the fact that He is for us. Happily, you don’t have to follow the example other Christians are giving you. Instead, you can realize that God allows demons to mess with you for the purpose of drawing you closer to Him. Then, instead of hitting the panic button, you can take a teachable attitude and ask God to help you learn everything He wants to teach you. Every nasty con demons come up with to try and mess you up with God will only serve to strengthen your relationship with Him when you keep a grip on the fact that God is your Ally in these things. So now let’s talk about the fabulous spiritual lessons you can learn from the contradictory convictions con.
THE POSITIVE LESSONS
While demons try to use this con to wear down your submission to God and make you feel unloved by Him, God uses this same con to increase your understanding of just how easy He is to succeed with. You see, God judges you by your soul’s response to Him, not by your external actions. We’ve already explained that the only souls this con works on are those who have real submission to God. They don’t just claim to care about pleasing Him—they rush to act on it. But now let’s talk about this rushing thing.
You don’t erode strong submission overnight. A lot of battering is needed, and if demons are going to burn you out with any kind of dispatch, then they need to run you through many rounds of their frustrating game in a relatively short period of time. The only way they can do that is if you are very quick to do whatever they tell you to do. Souls who get suckered by this con often have a very rapid, angst-driven style of obedience. The very moment they think they hear God telling them to do something, they fly into action. At first glance, this can look like evidence of super intense devotion to God, and often this is how these souls interpret their own behavior. They think, “I’m in such a rush to do what God wants because I care so much about pleasing Him.” But a closer look will reveal that there’s actually a darker side to their motivation: fear. These souls are often very worried that any stalling on their part will get them into big trouble with a God who is very impatient about having His orders obeyed. It is the fear of having God grow angry with them that makes these souls feel they can’t afford to dillydally when He gives an order. Even when they have serious doubts about whether they are hearing God or not, they feel they must hastily obey to avoid the risk of being punished by Him. Such souls often feel uncomfortable with trying to ask God for clarity, because they assume He’ll take offense at their questioning and accuse them of trying to slack off.
It is this very dark perception of God being a harsh Taskmaster that makes these eager-to-please souls so easy for demons to run in circles. As we said before, demons know you better than you know yourself, and they understand how insecure you are in your walk with God. And by the way, everyone is insecure in their walks with God—those who think they aren’t just haven’t had their insecurities thrust into their faces yet. But being blind to your insecurities doesn’t make them go away, nor does it make you immune to their effects. As long as you believe God’s approval of you is as fragile as a snowflake, demons will try and use that fear to their advantage. But in the process of trying to use your fear against you, they have to amplify it, and that is how God makes their schemes backfire.
If you own a cell phone long enough, you’ll have the experience of missing a call because you accidentally had the ringer volume down too low. This is what it’s like when you’re going through life lugging around fears about God that you’re oblivious to—they’re ringing, but you’re not hearing them because they’re not very loud. But then there’s that time when you accidentally had your phone ringer all the way on high, plus you just switched Aunt Martha’s number to ring some new obnoxious ringtone. The first time it goes off, you nearly jump out of your skin. This is what happens when demons try to run fear-based cons on you. As they’re working you, specific fears you have about God move to the foreground and start clanging loudly. You’ll see this happen among souls who are drowning in guilt—such souls will often feel paralyzed by very specific fears they have about God. Some fear that they’ve been eternally damned. Others fear He’s put a curse on them to punish them for whatever they did. These false beliefs about God are critical to demons, because those false beliefs make their guilt trips work. But while they’re piling on the guilt, they are also making souls more aware of specific fears that they have about God. Awareness makes us more willing to discuss things, and here’s where God will move in and specifically address the fears that souls have about Him.
As long as you’re refusing to admit you’ve got errors in your theology, you refuse to be teachable, and you reject all of the good news God offers you. But when God uses demons to force you to see some major problems in your view of Him, you will often become much more receptive to Him helping you with those issues.
When we really want to please God, we like to think our motives for pleasing Him are as pure as the driven snow. But of course they’re not. We’re all lugging around a bunch of fears and false beliefs about God which greatly impact how we attempt to relate to Him. In the process of improving His relationship with you, God points out these problems one by one and starts gently helping you correct them. Let’s take this issue of you rushing to do some crazy thing that you think God has told you to do because you’re afraid of Him punishing you. The problem with you viewing God like some impatient Taskmaster is that you’re going to shutdown on Him and default to cowering when He wants you to relax and share your heart with Him. Sure, God wants you to obey Him—but not at the cost of you reinforcing lies about who He is. God really doesn’t need your help to run this world or make His will happen here. He doesn’t tell you to do things just to set you up for falls or as a way of making you prove who He is to you. God already knows who He is to you, and when He sees that you really care about pleasing Him, He’s not going to pretend He has doubts about that.
Souls who are getting run around in circles with the contradictory convictions con often interpret God’s bizarre instructions as a series of tests that are designed to prove how real their submission to Him is. But is this really what God is doing? Is He feigning ignorance about your soul’s attitude while He acts like how you behave defines who you are? No, He’s not.
Here’s a key discernment principle to bear in mind: God judges you by what your soul is doing while people judge you by what your body is doing. Joe really cares about pleasing God on the inside, but because he is a mess on the outside, other Christians write him off as a carnal rebel. What’s going to happen if Joe treats other people’s assessment of him as an accurate reflection of how God views him? He’ll become very sad and conclude that God is impossible to please.
When they know you don’t have a clear understanding of how God judges you, demons will try very hard to reinforce the idea that God judges you by what you do instead of by your soul’s response to Him. Because they know that it will often be impossible for you to make your body’s actions reflect the desires of your soul, getting you to judge yourself by your actions is a guaranteed way to drive you down into despair.
But now let’s see what happens if we align your judgment system with God’s. God says it is your soul’s response to Him that He judges you by. If you sincerely care about pleasing Him, then He’s very pleased with you. So do you care? Of course you do, or you wouldn’t be breaking your neck trying to please Him with your actions. But now suppose you get some really weird command and you’re strongly suspecting that maybe you’re getting played. What is at stake if you hesitate? God is judging you by your soul’s attitude towards Him, and since you really want to please Him just as much now as before you received the weird instructions, He’s still very pleased with you. God knows you’re not stalling to be a punk—you’re honestly confused. So is He going to get steamed if you put the brakes on and ask Him for clarification before acting? Of course not.
BEATING THE CON
God isn’t like a teacher who yells at you for asking a stupid question. To God, no sincere question is a stupid question, and when you’re feeling a check about obeying some voice in your head, you should question it. Remember that the con demons are working on you only works if you cooperate by quickly doing whatever they say. If you’re going to break out of this snare, it is vital that you slow down and refuse to just fly into action at the slightest prompt. The way you get up the nerve to do this is by aligning with God’s judgment system, and that means focusing on the fact that He knows you really care about pleasing Him, therefore He is pleased with you. When you’re eager to please God, you’re not on thin ice with Him. Instead, you’re on secure ground, and that means you can afford to question things and wait for Him to help you be sure of His will.
Everything demons do with you is going to be about driving you further from God. This is why they will work so hard to amplify your fears about God and discourage you from talking to Him. At the same time, God is constantly drawing you towards Him, and that means He’s going to encourage you to talk more with Him, not less. Having doubts is not something to be ashamed of—doubts are opportunities to learn something. Whenever you doubt, you need to talk to God about it, not try to pretend you’re more confident than you are.
Now when demons are trying to play their contradictory convictions con and you respond by stalling instead of acting, you’ll be throwing sand in their gears. They are trying to have you experience God jerking you around by making you do and undo a series of random activities. If you’re just standing there refusing to budge, their whole effect gets lost. To try and get you back in the game, they will try to come up with a new ridiculous order for you to do. As you hear them keep switching commands, trying to find one that spurs you to action, you will know for certain what game they’re playing.
When God is actually the One telling you to do something, you’ll be sure right off. If you try stalling just to be sure it is God, He will give you the clarity you need. But here’s the thing: God will bring that clarification in a positive way. He’s not going to start accusing you of rebelling against Him because He knows that’s not what you’re doing.
Now because the whole point of this con is to encourage you to view God negatively, demons who are imitating God’s Voice in your head will keep His tone negative. When you start stalling on them, they will either start changing orders to something they think you’ll be more likely to fall for, or they’ll start pouring on the condemnation. “Do what I’m commanding you to do! How dare you defy Me?”—that sort of drama. You can tell this is not God talking because this false God is talking like He doesn’t understand that your soul really cares about pleasing Him. Since you know that you do care about pleasing God, you can know that He isn’t going to accuse you of trying to rebel.
Let’s summarize some key steps here. First, here are some key indicators that demons are working their contradictory convictions con on you:
- In the recent past, you’ve been receiving quite a few bizarre instructions from God which He keeps reversing.
- The final result of you completing a “do it, undo it” cycle is that you feel bad and/or you have experienced some kind of loss or misery. Perhaps you felt like you flushed good money away for no reason, or you felt publicly embarrassed.
- You can’t identify any positive spiritual lessons from the cycles you’re going through—instead, they just feel like tests that you have to pass.
- You notice the instructions are getting increasingly bizarre and more costly.
- You’re starting to feel increasingly frustrated and discouraged about staying in a good place with God.
If you can identify with one or more of these criteria, then it’s time to start fighting back using the following strategies:
- The next time you think you hear God giving you a bizarre instruction, wait one week before acting on it. After the waiting period is done, don’t act on the conviction unless you have become confident that it is from God. If you still have doubts, ask God to give you clarity and keep waiting until He does.
- If you start hearing “God” accusing you of having soul attitudes that you know you don’t have during the waiting period, you can throw the conviction out as false.
- Every time you receive a new bizarre or random instruction, reset the clock and wait a full week before acting on it.
- If you’re getting hammered with many instructions at once, try keeping a log of them and note which ones are proven false.
- Keep your focus on your soul attitudes with God. To get a better idea of what your soul attitudes are, try writing a short paragraph describing how important pleasing God is to you.
- Be guarded against doing things just to prove to God that you really care about His opinion. Ask God to show you when you’re trying to earn His approval through actions, and ask Him to help you align with His judgment system.
Remember that the point of this con is to make you feel distant and bitter with God. If instead you’re going to increase your communication with Him, focus on how easy He is to succeed with, and practice trusting in His willingness to help you sort through confusion, demons are going to abandon this con and look for a better strategy. They don’t want you to go running to God for help, they want you to shove Him away. This is why your best response to any stressful situation is to talk to God more, not less, and to ask Him to help you grow closer to Him through the trial. Keep taking this tact, and everything demons throw at you will only speed you down the road of spiritual maturity that much faster.
Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t: Finding Peace in the Midst of Moral Dilemmas
Voices in Your Mind: Discerning Between God & Demons
Understanding Divine Judgment: Illumination, Empowerment & A God Who Delights In Mercy
Identifying False Conviction: Three Easy Tests