2 Corinthians 10:3-5 "We are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ."
Just two weeks ago my husband and I rented a movie from Redbox. Having read the description I thought it sounded like an inspirational movie of one overcoming difficulty and emerging victorious. It wasn't long before the language starting spewing out like a boiling teapot. It was beyond what we considered acceptable. We thought, maybe it's just this scene; surely it will get better, I mean the storyline sounds so good. While that scene was over the top, it didn't really get better. I was foolish to think I could handle it. Eventually we turned it off. I would like to tell you we turned it off sooner than we did. Unfortunately, the languages and a few images had filled my mind. The damage had been done. My heart was disturbed. I started praying scripture and asking God to please take these words, thoughts and images away! For the next few days my mind was in a battle. Determined to rid my mind of what I had allowed there, I continued to rely on God's strength and His Truth to bring victory.
Last week we discussed how many battles are won and lost in our minds each day. As Ephesians 6 teaches, we need our helmets on in order to be prepared for battle. We also need to be taking inventory of our thoughts. This week, I will follow up more with how we can protect our minds in a very practical way on a daily basis.
The passage found in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 gives us the method for protecting our minds and for defeating the lies of Satan. "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses/strongholds. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." Any thought or idea that is contrary to God, His Word, or our position in Christ must be demolished.
A stronghold is a deception that has taken hold of a person's mind. It is an incorrect thinking pattern based on a believed lie. This progression can lead to destructive patterns and habits. We need something powerful and mighty to tear down strongholds. For example, the basis for the eating disorder I had in high school and college was an incorrect thinking pattern based on a believed lie. Do you really think they will like you for who you are? You're not pretty enough. Nobody would want you. If you lost a few pounds it would boost your self-esteem. If you were "this size" you would be noticed by others. These were some of the strongholds I allowed to take hold of my mind. The result catapulted me into a seven year struggle with anorexia and bulimia.
What are we to do with the thoughts that would seek to crush our head? It is imperative we train our thoughts to match up with truth. We must continually test every thought according to Christ. The first way to protect our minds is to evaluate our thoughts as they come. We must ask ourselves, Is this thought in accordance with God, His Word, and His character? Or, is this thought in accordance with the enemy, his lies, and his character?
Here is the glue holding it all together: It is impossible to recognize a lie if we do not know the truth!! Our enemy's objective is to destroy our mind; to cause doubt, discouragement, to confuse, intimidate, etc. We defeat the enemy with the truth. There is a promise from the Word for every lie Satan would use to destroy us. Our reinforcement comes from the Word!!
In an article written by Warren Meyers he tells us, "As we get a grip on God's Word, its Truths get a grip on us!!"
When we evaluate a thought, if we answer "yes", it is in accordance with God and His Word, then we store the thought and apply it to our life.
When we evaluate a thought, if we answer "no" it is not in accordance with God and His Word, we must reject and disregard the thought; don't dwell on it; don't entertain it. Call the devil's bluff! He's a liar!
As we take inventory of our thoughts may we recognize the lies and replace them with the Truth. Soon we will realize our thoughts have become arsenals full of weapons of Truth. For example:
Lie: "You are not good enough and you're not pretty enough. Who do you think you are anyway?"
Truth: "I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I was knit together in my mother's womb. I am God's masterpiece. I was bought with the blood of Christ and I am a child of the most High God!" (Psalm 139)
Lie: "You are such a loser. You will always have issues with food, your weight, with money, insecurity, self-discipline, materialism, etc."
Truth: "No, in all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us and greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world." (Romans 8:37 & 1 John 4:4)
Lie: "I can't control my emotions. I can't help how I react when my hormones are out of sorts."
Truth: "I don't have to be controlled by my emotions. There is no excuse for a poor attitude and ungodly behavior. I can choose to obey God regardless of how I feel."
Lie: "You have no value or purpose."
Truth: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine." (Isaiah 61:4)
The second way we can protect our minds is to control the input. This means we must guard what we allow in to our mind. Our minds are stimulated visually. What we see, watch, read via TV, magazines, movies, music, internet etc. Thoughts are fed by recurrence and by association of related thoughts of like nature. When these thoughts are put into isolation they have less control over us. We can isolate these thoughts by avoiding the very things that fuel them.
Philippians 4:8 exhorts us to think on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. These are the things we are to dwell on.
As I humbly confessed at the beginning, we are foolish to assume we are stronger than we are. For us to assume it's okay to allow some junk into our minds is asking for trouble. It's just a little. It won't hurt this one time. We justify our actions in order to convince ourselves we're okay; when really we're not. I think sometimes we have become numb to influences of the world, when in actuality we're more likely held captive to the world's influences. Does much shock us anymore? Have we become desensitized? Are we laughing at immorality or joking about shows that tear down men? Are we buying into the worlds' standard of beauty or even the worlds view of marriage?
Friends, we have a biblical answer for taking our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. However, if we don't believe in God's power to deliver us and give us victory, it won't happen.
Let's get control of our thoughts before they get control of us.
Be on your guard. Wear your helmet. Protect your mind. Renew your mind. Evaluate your thoughts. Dwell on Truth!
Ask for the Lord's strength to help you evaluate your thoughts as they come. Do they line up with God, His Word and His character? Rely on the Holy Spirit's power to enable you to control the input you allow into your mind.
What thoughts have you been presently struggling with? Are you taking control of your thoughts or are they taking control of you? What strongholds in your mind need tearing down?
What input are you allowing that needs to go?
Heart Changing Word:
Proverbs 23:7 "For as a man thinks within himself, so he is . . ."
John 8:32 "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
Philippians 4:8 "Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."
Copyright 2010 by Hester Christensen. All rights reserved.