The Battlefield Of The Mind
“Do not believe everything you think.”
I love quotes and had become quite the quote junky. We are told God will meet us where we are at, and in this case, he did just that. He used this quote to get my attention about something I had been blissfully ignoring…the direction of my thoughts.
I have struggled for years with negative thoughts. I called myself a realist and in a way I was. Because of my thoughts, I was setting myself up for failure before anything even happened regardless of the situation. Then when things took a negative turn, I would get mad and say, “See?!? I told you this would happen!”.
One day I had enough of myself and began to pay attention to my thoughts. I had heard that you can’t feel your way into an action but you can act your way into a feeling. That made sense to me. So when a negative thought would come, I would force myself to replace it with a positive one. At the time, it helped that I didn’t have to act (speak out loud) the positive thought and could focus on thinking it with grit and determination.
This worked for a while but I regularly slipped back into my old patterns of thinking. Being a Christian by this time, I cracked open my Bible to find the missing puzzle piece. I didn’t know where else to turn and I knew God wouldn’t let me down.
Walking In The Flesh
One of the first things I found was from 2 Corinthians 10:3-6. It says:
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
Hanging onto this verse like I was a drowning victim and this verse was my lifeline out of a choppy sea, I didn’t just skim over it and move on; I studied and pondered it. I talked to Holy Spirit about it. He helped me learn so many nuggets of truth from this study that I would like to share with you.
God’s Truth We Can Learn From These Verses
1. There are two very real worlds at work; physical and spiritual. I could ignore the spiritual and focus on the physical but I would not do so in victory and it sure wouldn’t make it “go away”.
2. God calls this a war. Not a disagreement or a fight but a WAR. He takes it that seriously so I better too.
3. If I try to fight back in the flesh, I will lose. Our power to defeat comes from God and takes place in a world I cannot see. It would be like someone spinning me in a circle as I try to hit a pinata while blindfolded. Striking back in the flesh doesn’t zero me in on the target. I don’t need a longer stick to fight. I need to put on God’s full armor daily. This requires faith.
4. Our fight is against Satan; he is my enemy. If someone said or did something to hurt me, chances are it was Satan using them as a weapon and they weren’t even aware he was using them.
Think of it this way, you are Christmas shopping and stand in the long, hot, crowded lines to get up to the register. Once there you find that too many of your items are priced differently than you thought. Your frustration and angry mount each time you catch it happening. You might get salty with the cashier and demand she adjust your prices NOW. You let her know you don’t appreciate the inconvenience and will be speaking to the manager about her.
But is she who we should be angry and frustrated with? The fact is, the cashier had nothing to do with the pricing. Her job wasn’t to price items or even put the prices in the system. Her job was to ring up your purchases. It is like that when Satan uses us like puppets to hurt and get under the skin of each other. How often do we get angry and salty with the wrong person?
5. Pulling down strongholds…a stronghold is a protected, heavily guarded place that is dominated by a particular group. These strongholds are created in our imagination. When it is lifted up over God, it means that you will believe it over what God says or does.
An imagination comes from our own mind. It is the minds ability to produce images or ideas without needing any input from what you see, hear, smell, taste or touch. So what am I thinking that I’ve placed over what God says?
6. Turning away from ungodly thoughts isn’t enough. It requires pulling down or putting a stop to every ungodly thought.
7. If we bring something into captivity, we hold it as if it is a prisoner of war. POWs are not excused, coddled or treated lightly. Our thought life is to be treated just as seriously, just as tightly held as a prisoner from our enemies camp. In Old Testament times, when Isreal went to war, they were told to annihilate the enemy. We are to do the same with our thoughts; take captive and annihilate every ungodly thought.
Conforming To This World
Then came this passage:
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2)
I could see my problem wasn’t others and this sounded exactly like what I needed to do with my thought life. But would it really work? I’d been taught that a thought is not a sin until you act on it. So did God really care what I was thinking?
God’s Truth We Can Learn From These Verses
1. Acting the way the world acts, watching the world for clues to how I am to behave or think is not pleasing to God. He wants me set apart for a reason.
2. To renew (restore, to begin again, to replace) my mind, I need to learn and focus on how God says to think and act.
3. Allowing myself (yes, it would be my personal choice) to go through this process is good and acceptable to God (the perfect will of God).
Set Your Mind
But I had a problem. If I didn’t think my usual thoughts, what would I think about? Back to prayer I went. God led me from prayer to another precious verse:
“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:2)
Yet again, God was giving me confirmation that I was on the right path. If he didn’t care what I thought about, he wouldn’t bother to tell me where to keep my focus.
I had tried the world’s way with the power of positive thinking. Obviously, it wasn’t working the way the world told me it would. My thought life was still a mess and I was constantly bewildered. If I focused on the positive I was made fun of and called a PollyAnna. If I focused on the negative, I was mean and angry. So what was I suppose to think about? Apparently, the world was as clueless as I was.
How would I put God’s knowledge and wisdom into practice on the battlefield of the mind? By following Philippians 4:6:8
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
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.”
Bingo! This was what I was looking for. Like everything of God, it was going to take faith that he would be there for me. But let’s look at more of his nuggets of truth from these verses.
God’s Truth We Can Learn From These Verses
1. If I took this issue to God in prayer, there was no reason for me to be anxious and uptight because he was there to help me in this transformation process.
2. God’s peace is so amazing. I will never understand or appreciate it but that doesn’t stop him from freely giving it.
3. God will allow his peace to guard my heart and mind as long as I stay focused on Jesus.
4. Leaving my mind empty or blank wasn’t an option. I had to replace the ungodly thoughts with godly thoughts. Jesus (Matthew 12:43-45) tells the story of an unclean spirit going out of a man, returning and finding the house swept clean and empty, the unclean spirit brings back spirits more wicked than himself. I certainly didn’t want that.
5. When I am under spiritual attack and my thoughts are swirling, I can think (meditate) on ANYTHING of God. It is best if I have a Bible verse at the ready but that isn’t always necessary. God said anything…that would be anything that is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, if it has godly virtue and is praiseworthy…those thoughts will disarm the enemy because they are replacing ungodly thoughts with godly thoughts.
Do Not Grow Weary
Putting God’s principles into practice in all areas of my life was overwhelming. I made the decision to focus on one area of my life at a time, starting with my relationship with my husband.
Although I wanted instant victory in the battle for my mind, I didn’t find it. There were many times I didn’t bother to think (let alone pray) before speaking. Even when I felt I was doing everything “right” there were still times I would catch myself with the vicious cycle of ungodly thoughts tumbling through my mind on an endless loop.
I had to keep reminding myself that God had planted (sown) the seed in me to crave a renewed mind. This wasn’t going to be a quick or easy process. When the struggle and fight seemed to be too much, I found rest in the knowledge that I was going through this transformation with the Holy Spirit’s help and, as Galatians says, in due season I would reap what I had diligently sown.
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9)
I thank you for allowing me to share with you my thought process and Bible study on renewing my mind. As I prepared to write this post, I felt strongly that someone out there needed to see in black and white how God uses the Bible to direct our thought in renewing our minds.
We are often told to renew our minds but unless someone shows us how we are too often confused and left to struggle alone. I don’t want that for anyone. Growing in Christ is a process, a journey. Regardless of where you are in your journey, we need to reach out and help each other. Because one thing every person on this earth has in common is that we fight an ongoing battle for a sound, godly mind!
Heavenly Father, you are so good to me even when I don’t deserve it. Your patience is immeasurable. You listen to my thoughts and you listen to my words. Lord, help my thoughts and my words to be lovely and good, a blessing of encouragement to all.
Father, sometimes I feel so confused and lost, trapped in my own thoughts. I’m unsure of what to do to break the stronghold. Help me to remember that even in this area you have provided for me. Although you will not do the work for me, you have given me your Holy Word and clearly tell me what is pleasing and acceptable to you. Help me to take the steps needed to align my thoughts with your thoughts.
Lord, this process of renewing my mind is hard. So many times throughout the day I feel my ungodly thoughts, my flesh, rising up and trying to take control. But you’ve said that if I lean on you, I can do all things. I stand on that promise right now Father God.
I want your peace and joy more than I want my own way. Sweet Jesus, in this battlefield of the mind, I am so grateful that your ways are not our ways. In your wisdom, you have provided me with 66 books full of many examples of others who have had the same battle of the mind. Help me learn from them and not just read their stories. Lord, I can’t do this without you. I don’t want to do it without you.
Thank you for your many blessings. Thank you for your kindness and patience. But most of all, Father God, I thank you for your son, Jesus Christ, who freely gave up his life on earth just for me. In Jesus’ mighty name I pray, Amen.
I would love to hear from you. Has God spoken to you about a particular area of your thought life that he desires to see renewed? I would love to hear from you. Feel free to comment below and tell me about it!