The Battle for Your Mind

The choices that we make are generally based on the influences in our lives. These influences come about by what we allow to be fed into our minds. Therefore, we are controlled by the things we think about the most. The old saying is, “everyone has a black dog and a white dog inside of them, who are fighting constantly. The one who gets fed the most prevails”. The white dog is the desire of the mind to obey the Lord . The black dog is that sinful nature, or the flesh.
Even our emotions are controlled by what we think about. If we were brain dead, we could not feel emotion. We could neither feel sad nor happy, because we would have no thoughts. Therefore, what we think about determines how we feel.
Both of these are good reasons why we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. (Rom.12:2) . The word “renew” is compared to putting on a fresh set of clothes. The process of renewing our minds starts with the word of God, which is the truth. (Jn.17:17). The truth is paramount. Consistently, throughout scripture, truth is listed in first place, implying it’s position of importantance. Consider Philipians 4:8, where we are told what to feed into our minds. Truth is first. Also, in Ephesians 6:10-17, the passage on the armor of God, we are told to “gird our loins with truth”. This means to literally wrap the truth around ourselves, not necessarily in reference to the facts of the gospel, but, more in reference to subjective truth, such as a believer’s identity in Christ.
We often fall pray to the intimidation and harassment of the enemy because we passively approach spiritual warfare assuming that because we are believers, the enemy won’t bother us. If that were the case, then why are we told to put on the armor of God? And, do we realize that putting on the armor is a commmand not a request? Well, if that is true, and the armor is spiritual, how do we put it on? First, we need to understand that each piece of the armor is the person of Jesus Christ. That is why we are told to clothe ourselves with Christ. (Rom.15:13) Second, the armor is to be put on each morning. A soldier never sleeps in his armor. Third, since it is spiritual in nature, we need to pray it on. A good example of how to do this is found in a book called “Overcoming the Adversary” by Bubeck . In fact, this book is the best resource on the practical side of spiritual warfare that I have found.
We also need to realize that this is a spiritual battle and it must be fought on that level. The enemy wants control of our minds, because, if he controls our minds, he controls us. The best way to avoid this is to crowd him out with the things of God. We can do this by constantly listening to Christian radio, Christian tapes, Christian music, reading Christian books and watching Christian movies. We also need to spend as much time as possible in prayer and meditation on God’s word. Perhaps this is why the Bible says to pray without ceasing. (lTh.5:17). Praying and focusing on the goodness of God is vital to both your thoughts and emotions.
D.L. Moody once held up an empty bottle and asked those in attendance, “how can I get the air out of this bottle?” One man suggested sucking it out with a pump, but, this was rejected because creating a vacuum might destroy the bottle. The only right way to do it would be to fill it with something else. The analogy is that we can force out the things of the flesh by being filled with the Spirit. This needs to be our goal, but it takes a conscious effort, and an awareness of the influences and how they are affecting us.
Satan and his demons can’t read our minds, but they can put thoughts into our minds. We can let the enemy know, out loud, that we reject their thoughts, that we love and praise the Lord Jesus Christ, and that we are cleansed by the blood of Christ. One thing that they hate to hear about is the blood of Christ. Singing praise songs also chases evil spirits away. They hate to hear about how much we love the Lord. When we do these things, we are resisting them, and they eventually will flee from us. (Jas.4:7).
It is unlikely that any of us is being attacked by Satan himself, since he is not omnipresent, but, we are being attacked constantly by demonic forces. While it is true that a Christian cannot be demon possessed, we can be demonized or influenced by demons. Possession means ownership, and since we belong to God, we can’t belong to Satan at the same time.
The scripture tells us that our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. (lPet.5:8). The word “devour” means to intimidate or harrass. They want to make our lives miserable. So, they watch us for unrepented sin, which will give them a doorway into our lives. Once they have a stronghold, we have big problems. We can prevent them from causing us much pain by “being sober and alert”, aware of their schemes, and being totally submissive to the Lordship of Christ. We can also take authority over them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, but, we need to know how to conduct spiritual warfare, because the attacks of the enemy can be relentless. A thorough study of Ephesians 6:10-17 is a good place to start.
The enemy also wants to control us by putting wrong thoughts into our minds. That is why we are told to take captive all of our thoughts and make them obedient to Christ. (2Cor.10:5). An effective way to deal with wrong thoughts is to say out loud, “I reject that thought in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ”. This is also resisting the enemy, along with confessing any current or past sin, and renouncing any involvement in the occult now or in the past.
Another way to resist the oppression of the enemy is to confirm who you are, out loud and in a firm voice. Say: “I am a child of God. I have been born of the Spirit. I have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. My sins are forgiven. I have eternal life. I will never perish. No one can pluck me out of my Father’s hand. I belong to God; body, soul, and spirit, and you, enemy, have no place in me. I take back any ground, I, or any of my ancestors may have ever given to you in the past”. These confirmations about who we are in Christ, are part of the belt of truth talked about in the book of Ephesians, chapter 6.
To get a better understanding of spiritual warfare, I strongly recommend such books as “The Deliverance Ministry” by Birch, “The Adversary” by Bubeck, and “The Bondage Breaker” by Anderson. If you suspect that you are being demon oppressed, seek the advice and help of a pastor who is experienced in deliverance. The pastor of your church will probably know of one in your area. This is serious business. Do not let the enemy or anyone else convince you that it is all imagined. Seek competent spiritual advice.
Finally, if we are to win the battle for the mind, we must be thankful. Gratitude, (thankfulness) is the chief ingredient of joy. In fact, without thankful hearts, it is impossible to humble ourselves before God. Humility is the root of a grateful heart. We are told to give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for us. (ITh.5:18). If we are not thankful, then we are in opposition to God’s will. We may not be happy with our present situation, but, if we are a children of God, we have to be thankful for what Christ has done and for the future hope that we have. Too often, we waste time and energy feeling sorry for ourselves instead of being thankful. The two don’t go together. Try being thankful and feeling sorry for yourself at the same time. It can’t be done! When you are thankful, your eyes are on the Lord. When you feel sorry for yourself, guess where your eyes are? They can’t be focused both places at once. We make the choice as to where they are focused, back at the valley of decision.
Friedrich Nietzsche, a secular philosopher, had one thing figured out right. He said, “The essential thing in heaven and earth is that there should be a long obedience in the same direction. There thereby results, and has always resulted, in the long run, something which has made life worth living”. It is this long obedience in the same direction which modern society scoffs at. Society is under the assumption that anything worthwhile can be acquired at once. It cannot be. Things of real value are eternal and have their source in God, and instant gratification is an antithesis to the plan of God. Trials produce endurance, and endurance, by it’s very definition, produces long obedience in the same direction. The trials and hardships in life are really what give it value in the sense of making life more meaningful. Just ask folks who have been married for a long time to tell you about their lives. They will invariably tell you about hardships that they endured. Often they will talk about the depression years, or how they lived in a one-room cabin without running water or electricity. You will hear how they waded thru the snow at 2AM to a cold, dark outhouse, or how they used to work for a week for 75 cents. It was the struggles that they remember. It was the endurance through the trials and afflictions that molded their character and gave their lives meaning. This is what life is all about. We are promised trials in this world. (Jn.16:33). These are a sure thing. We can’t change that, but we do have control over how we respond to the trials. We can submit to God and move toward spiritual maturity, being conformed to the image of His Son, or, we can rebel and move away from God and seek to run our own lives, “doing what is right in our own eyes”. Which will you choose? It is not possible to be filled with the Spirit of God and to run our own lives at the same time. The chorus line of a song that I learned some years ago seems to emphasize this.
I want to be filled with the Spirit,
I want to be used full and free,
Can’t be filled with the Spirit,
‘Til I’m empty of me.
Trials are unavoidable. They often come without warning and take us by surprise. They can shatter or strengthen us. They can be a source of great bitterness or abounding joy. They can be the means by which our faith is destroyed, or the tool through which our faith is deepened , The outcome does not depend on the nature or the source of our adversity, but on the character and spirit of our response.
If you are a child of God whose heart’s desire is to see God glorified through you, adversity will not put you down for the count. There will be those initial moments of shock or confusion, but, the man or woman who has God’s perspective on this life and the life to come will always emerge victorious! So, “consider it all joy”.
Isn’t it odd that a being like God,
Still loves this clod, that He made from sod?
It is my sincere hope that you have been comforted with the comfort with which I have been comforted. And, that you will develop a new perspective on your trials; that is, an eternal perspective. If that is so, then you will be spurred on to perseverence, to finish this race, and to receive your prize.