Be Careful What You Download: How to Ensure No Malicious Software Ends Up in Your Belief System

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By the nature of my day job, I sometimes venture into the world of IT. For me, it’s a wonderous world full of binary code, terminals, and operating systems, but if you’re not careful, it can also be a very scary place. You need to know what you’re doing and take the right steps to ensure the security of your system, or you could end up with viruses that bring the whole enterprise crashing down. See, I told you, scary stuff.

It seems strange at first to contrast this with our belief system, but really there are some striking similarities. We live in a world full of evils and dangers that are just waiting for an opportunity to infiltrate and infect our beliefs. Society, our own flesh, and the devil are all working against the Spirit that God has given us for our edification and protection. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us, “Be alert and sober of mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” This isn’t meant to scare you, but to make you aware and give you the opportunity to safeguard yourself against these things. So, if we know that evil and bad intentions are lurking around every corner, how do we take the right steps to protect ourselves?

Have the Right Antivirus

Antivirus software is a must have to protect any organization’s assets from viruses caused by malicious software. You add it to your computer system, and it acts as a defense—a literal wall—against any intentional attack on your network. If we want to keep the wrong things out of our belief system, we need a sort of antivirus for our hearts. As Proverbs 4:23 warns, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” The best way to protect your belief system from viruses is to ensure that you have a strong defense against the evils of the world, the corruption of the flesh, and the devil’s schemes. That requires an impenetrable foundation built on the Word of God and a regular and active prayer life, to safeguard your beliefs from all that is trying to be downloaded. In other words, we need our belief system to be connected properly to the source of our protection and all truth. We can’t fight these battles alone. We need the security and shelter of our Loving God. At times, even with our Godly antivirus in place, we may find that we need to run occasional diagnostic tests.

Run Frequent Tests

Any good computer technician will tell you that frequent tests of the system are necessary to ensure that nothing got through the firewall. Hackers are becoming more sophisticated with each passing day, and their whole goal is to find ways around the protections that you’ve put in place. In the same way, it’s necessary for us to check up on the health of our belief system, from time to time. This isn’t to say that God’s protections aren’t perfect, because they are, but that our human hearts are sometimes frail and led astray by false teachers, our carnal desires, and at times the best of intentions. There are situations when the Spirit of God is trying to teach us something or leading us in a certain direction, and there are times when other spirits are trying to lead us astray, or we’re merely hearing what we want to hear. In 1 John, we learn how to discern between these instances when it says, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Just because someone says something is true doesn’t mean it’s true unless it aligns with scripture and what you know to be the infallible characteristics of God. You can ensure the health of your system by running everything by those two things and determining whether it is truly God’s Spirit or something altogether different trying to download harmful falsehoods to your belief system. It also helps to have other people looking for you.

Hire the Right Techs

It’s always good to have another set of eyes and ears around, with knowledge of how a healthy computer system operates, to ensure that nothing goes awry. Good computer technicians are invaluable and can save a company a lot of heartache. When it comes to the health of your belief system, the people you choose to surround yourself with matter just as much. In 1 Corinthians 15:33 it says, “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.” You are who you choose to hang out with. If the people in your inner circle are compromising their own faith, not wanting to grow themselves, or aren’t believers at all, then you may be tempted to fall in lockstep with their lifestyle. I’m not advocating for a life free of non-believing friends or abandoning those in your life who may need a strong Christian influence, but just reminding you and I alike that we need to be careful of the influences around us. If you feel confident that your firewall is strong, and you’re testing yourself regularly, then you probably possess the strength to influence these friends more than they influence you. But also remember to surround yourself with people who are strong in their convictions, and even several people who have things they can teach you. Spending time around the right people is a good reminder that what we allow in will influence what comes out.

Don’t Just Download Everything That Sounds Good

I’m sure that by now most of us working on a computer daily receive the never-ending stream of emails from IT on how to safeguard ourselves against phishing scams. For anyone who might not know what a phishing scam is, it’s an email, text, or other form of digital correspondence that appears to be from a legitimate source but is really intended to trick you into downloading a virus to your system so that hackers can steal your information. It may appear as a too-good-to-be-true promotional offer, or an urgent offer of help (your account has been hacked, click here!), but it’s always intended to make you think that the sender has your best interest at heart. There are a lot of senders of “spiritual messages” in the world that are pretending to be looking out for your spiritual wellbeing but are really hoping to sell you something that they know isn’t true, for the purposes of their personal gain. It’s possible that some of them even believe what they’re peddling, but the truth is they’ve been deceived themselves. In Matthew 24, Jesus talks about this very thing when He says, “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time.”  Having a firm grasp of the scriptures will help you discern truth from lies and keep you from falling for the deception of these false prophets. Sometimes though, it’s not the external deceiver that gets us, but the deceiver within.

Don’t Access Sites You Know You Shouldn’t

In some cases, this can be taken quite literally. Any good IT professional will tell you that you’re safest navigating avenues that you already know and not venturing into untrusted territory on the internet. Not all sites are secure. Likewise, there are avenues in our lives that we know we shouldn’t traverse, but sometimes we do it anyway. This isn’t always related to what we view, but any type of sin that we knowingly and consciously enter into. Sin is a disease, and like any disease it starts out small and then grows exponentially. We make a small concession in our lives, and before we know it, we’re living in a way that is not God honoring and allowing additional sin to take root in our lives. The devil loves to exploit this, and will help you rationalize this behavior, if you let him. The good news is that the Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” In other words, others are being tempted just as you are, and when you face these temptations, God will give you the strength to resist them. If you do get trapped in the cycle of sin, God is faithful and has provided you a path to repentance. Talking about the removal of sin from our lives is a good Segway into our final point.

Be Sure to Delete Things You’re Not Using

In the world of computer systems, anything older than a day seems archaic. Technology moves quickly, and if you’re not paying attention to the things that have become outdated, you could be putting your system at risk. Files, software, and stacks that aren’t constantly updated can become fertile ground for bad actors with nefarious intentions. This can be true of our belief system, as well. Sin is an obvious instant delete, but there could be things in your life that aren’t necessarily bad for you but need to be removed at a certain point. God takes us through seasons in our lives, and sometimes something that was keeping our system healthy and running for a season has become outdated. God might want to replace it with something new in your life. Maybe it’s just not producing growth anymore, or maybe you’ve turned it into an idol and it’s taking the place of your relationship with God. In Isaiah 43:18-19, God tells the Israelites to, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” God certainly did a new thing for the Israelites, and He will do a new thing for you, too. Trust in Him and allow Him to update your system when things have become outdated.

Technology can be tricky. It can help you see and do amazing things, but to accomplish these things, you must ensure that your systems are healthy and up to date. Similarly, through our belief in Him, God can show us amazing things and allow us to be part of the work He’s doing in this world and the world to come. For our part, we must be vigilant and regularly maintain the health and vitality of our belief system. We are called in scripture to be in this world but not of this world. While we live in this world, we face a never-ending war against the desires of our flesh, the secular “norms” of societies, and the devil himself. But God didn’t leave us alone to fight these battles. He sent His only begotten Son so that we may have hope in the assurance of our salvation. Jesus highlights this in John 16:33 when He says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Give your everyday to Him through scripture reading and prayer, test every spirit to ensure it’s truly of God, surround yourself with the right people, remember that not everything that sounds good is good for you, avoid sin with the help of the Holy Spirit, and when God brings you into a new season, be willing to let old things go. In this way, we will keep our belief systems healthy and whole, and see the Kingdom of God come alive in our hearts.


2 Responses

  1. Michael,
    Your mother, Andrea, is in my bible study. I love her. She is a Godly, prayerful woman. I’m sure thousands of prayers went up to the Holy Altar of God on your behalf. As usual, God is faithful to answer our prayers! This blog is a blessing. Your writing is a blessing! God’s gift, once again, satisfies the soul. It really spoke to me. It made me laugh and caused me to think about how God uses the routine, familiar things in our daily lives to teach us His profound lessons. So much like a human father does with his children. I also venture into the world of IT daily through my job and this really relates to me. I intend to read all the blogs as time permits. Thank you for having the courage to boldly proclaim the Word of God. You know our Faithful Father will use it to change lives!

  2. Michael you are 100% correct and all these steps are needed daily. Tech has become an easy outlet for wrong information that bombards all readers and seem so true. Great writing.

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