YOU are under attack! And your chief enemy, Satan, is using a very dangerous weapon against you. What is it? Propaganda! A weapon specially designed to attack, not your body, but your mind.
The apostle Paul was alert to the danger that satanic propaganda posed, but not all his fellow Christians were. Some in Corinth, for example, had apparently become overconfident—thinking that they were so strong in the truth that they could never fall. (1 Cor. 10:12) That is why Paul gave this warning: “I am afraid that somehow, as the serpent seduced Eve by its cunning, your minds might be corrupted away from the sincerity and the chastity that are due the Christ.”—2 Cor. 11:3.
Paul’s deep concern shows that there is no room for complacency. If you are going to win the battle for your mind, you must recognize the danger that propaganda poses and protect yourself from it.
PROPAGANDA—HOW DANGEROUS IS IT?
What is propaganda? In this context, it is the use of biased or misleading information to manipulate the way people think and act. Some equate propaganda with “lies, distortion, deceit, manipulation, mind control, [and] psychological warfare” and associate it with “unethical, harmful, and unfair tactics.”—Propaganda and Persuasion.
How dangerous is propaganda? It is insidious—like an invisible, odorless, poisonous gas—and it seeps into our consciousness. Because we may not see propaganda for what it is, behavior specialist Vance Packard observed: “Many of us are being influenced and manipulated—far more than we realize.” Under its influence, says one scholar, men and women have been “quite easily led into the most preposterously dangerous behaviour”—such as ‘genocide, war, racist hysteria, religious intolerance and many other forms of irrational behaviour.’—Easily Led—A History of Propaganda.
Now if mere men can fool us with their propaganda, what might Satan be able to do? He has studied human behavior since man was created. “The whole world” now lies in his power. He can use any part of it to disseminate his lies. (1 John 5:19; John 8:44) So effective has Satan been in ‘blinding people’s minds’ that he now ‘misleads the entire inhabited earth.’ (2 Cor. 4:4; Rev. 12:9) How can you resist his propaganda?
BUILD UP YOUR DEFENSES
Jesus gave this simple rule for combating propaganda: “Know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31, 32) But since truth is often the first casualty of war, you—like any other soldier in the heat of battle—need a source of trustworthy, reliable information to prevent the enemy from playing tricks with your mind. Jehovah has provided this. In the pages of the Bible, you can find all you need to combat Satan’s propaganda.—2 Tim. 3:16, 17.
Of course, the great propagandist, Satan, knows this. So he uses his system of things to discourage Bible reading and study. Do not fall for his devious schemes! (Eph. 6:11, ftn.) Become “thoroughly able to comprehend” the full scope of the truth. (Eph. 3:18) That will take real effort on your part. But remember this basic fact expressed by author Noam Chomsky: “Nobody is going to pour truth into your brain. It’s something you have to find out for yourself.” So “find out for yourself” by being diligent in “carefully examining the Scriptures daily.”—Acts 17:11.
Keep in mind that Satan does not want you to think clearly or reason things out well. Why? Because propaganda “is likely to be most effective,” says one source, “if people . . . are discouraged from thinking critically.” (Media and Society in the Twentieth Century) So never be content passively or blindly to accept what you hear. (Prov. 14: 15) Use your God-given thinking abilities and power of reason to make the truth your own.—Prov. 2:10-15; Rom. 12:1, 2.
BEWARE OF ATTEMPTS TO DIVIDE AND CONQUER
Military strategists may use propaganda to undermine morale and weaken the fighting spirit. They may induce enemy soldiers to fight among themselves or fool them into isolating themselves from the main fighting force. A German general, it has been said, admitted that one reason for defeat in World War I was that the people “were hypnotized by the enemy propaganda as a rabbit is by a snake.” Satan uses similar tricks in his attempts to divide and conquer, trying, for example, to stir up contentions among Christian brothers and sisters or to induce them to isolate themselves from Jehovah’s organization because of some perceived injustice or grievance.
Do not be deceived! Let God’s Word guide you. For example, in the matter of maintaining unity with your brothers and sisters, the Bible encourages you to continue “forgiving one another freely” and to be quick to resolve matters of dispute. (Col. 3:13, 14; Matt. 5:23, 24) It strongly warns us against isolating ourselves from the congregation. (Prov. 18:1) Test your defenses against satanic propaganda. Ask yourself: ‘What governed my thinking the last time I faced such a situation? Was it the world’s spirit or God’s spirit?’—Gal. 5:16-26; Eph. 2:2, 3.
DO NOT ALLOW YOUR CONFIDENCE TO BE UNDERMINED
A soldier whose loyalty to his leader is weakened will not fight well. So propagandists attempt to break bonds of confidence and trust between a soldier and his commander. They may use such propaganda as: “You cannot trust your leaders!” and “Do not let them lead you into disaster!” To add weight to these attacks, they may cleverly exploit any mistakes those leaders might make. Satan does this. He never gives up trying to undermine your confidence in the leadership that Jehovah has provided.
Your defense? Be determined to stick to Jehovah’s organization and loyally support the leadership he provides—no matter what imperfections may surface. (1 Thess. 5:12, 13) Do not be “quickly shaken from your reason” when faced with what appear to be damaging attacks by apostates or other such deceivers of the mind—however plausible their charges may seem. (2 Thess. 2:2; Titus 1:10) Follow the advice given to the young man Timothy. Stick to the truth you learned, and remember where you learned it. (2 Tim. 3:14, 15) Surely there is ample evidence to show that you can trust the channel that Jehovah has used for nearly a hundred years now to lead us in the way of the truth.—Matt. 24:45-47; Heb. 13:7, 17.
DO NOT LET TERROR TACTICS WEAKEN YOU
Keep in mind, though, that Satan’s propaganda is not always subtle. At times, he uses terror tactics—“one of the oldest of all forms of propaganda.” (Easily Led—A History of Propaganda) The Assyrians, for example, dominated their enemies with “a policy of terror coupled with one of propaganda,” wrote British Professor Philip M. Taylor. Satan will use fear of man, fear of persecution, fear of death, and any other kind of negative fear to try to dominate you and make you shrink back from serving Jehovah.—Isa. 8:12; Jer. 42:11; Heb. 2:15.
Do not let Satan use fear itself to weaken your morale or break your integrity. Jesus said: “Do not fear those who kill the body and after this are not able to do anything more.” (Luke 12:4) Have complete confidence in Jehovah’s promise to watch over you, to give you “the power beyond what is normal,” and to help you withstand any attempts to frighten you into submission.—2 Cor. 4:7-9; 1 Pet. 3:14.
You may, of course, encounter frightening, morale-weakening events. But keep in mind Jehovah’s words of encouragement to Joshua: “Be courageous and strong. Do not be struck with terror or fear, for Jehovah your God is with you wherever you go.” (Josh. 1:9) If anxiety strikes, go immediately to Jehovah in prayer with all your concerns. You can be sure that “the peace of God . . . will guard your hearts and your mental powers” so that you will have the strength to resist all of Satan’s propaganda.—Phil. 4:6, 7, 13.
Do you remember the propaganda used by the Assyrian envoy, the Rabshakeh, against God’s people? He said, in effect, ‘Nothing can protect you from Assyria. Even your God, Jehovah, can do nothing for you.’ He boldly added: ‘Jehovah himself told us to destroy this land.’ What did Jehovah say in return? “Do not be afraid because of the words that you heard, . . . with which the attendants of the king of Assyria blasphemed me.” (2 Ki. 18:22-25; 19:6) He then sent an angel who destroyed 185,000 Assyrians in one night!—2 Ki. 19:35.
BE WISE—ALWAYS LISTEN TO JEHOVAH
Have you ever watched a film in which, from your vantage point in the audience, you can clearly see that someone is being deceived and manipulated? Did you find yourself thinking: ‘Do not believe it! They are lying to you!’ Imagine, then, the angels shouting the same message to you: “Do not be fooled by Satan’s lies!”
Shut your ears, then, to Satan’s propaganda. (Prov. 26:24, 25) Listen to Jehovah and trust in him in all that you do. (Prov. 3:5-7) Respond to his loving appeal: “Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice.” (Prov. 27:11) Then, you will win the battle for your mind!