As Christians, we need to take spiritual threats seriously. The thoughts that we dwell on are what will dictate the choices that we make. There is not enough emphasis placed on the thought life and mindset in society today. Most people are passive in their response to their thought life. That is, people don’t protect themselves from their thoughts. Most Christians believe that they don’t need to worry about what they put in front of their eyes, or what they allow themselves to think and to dwell on, not realizing that your mind is the battlefield between choosing to walk in the spirit or to walk in the flesh. In order to be victorious in this daily battle you must:
- Identify the enemy (your mind)
- Expose the strongholds of that enemy
- Execute an action plan to defeat that enemy
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 strong holds;) 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; - 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
Identify the enemy
We are in a battle. The mind is the battlefield of the Christian:
For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. - Romans 7:15-23
We are in a constant battle to do what is right. The mind will lead you down a path that you do not want to go. Your mind in its natural state is the enemy of God:
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. - Romans 8:7And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled - Colossians 1:21
We lose control by being passive, We are passive because we have developed a false sense of security. By nature the mind will lead you to sin not to righteousness:
For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. - Galatians 5:17
Nature fights against the spirit, that is why we find ourselves doing and thinking about the things that we don’t want to do, and we don’t do things that we know that we should be doing. Our nature needs to be changed, but we can’t change it at will. We can’t change ourselves, we need to be born again, we need a spiritual birth:
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. - Titus 2:11-14Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. - 2 Corinthians 5:17
Expose the strongholds of the enemy
After identifying the enemy, the next step is to expose the strongholds or tactics of that enemy. This is similar as to why a football team watches game tapes of their opponents before meeting them “in battle”. If you are going to be victorious in battle, you need to know the tactics of your enemy. Our enemy as identified above is our mind. What are some of the strongholds of the mind?
- The mind has desires:
Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. - Ephesians 2:3
Your mind has desires of its own. You need to learn what those desires are and decide if those desires are something that will help you in your Christian walk, or if they will impede that walk.
- The mind is fueled by vanity:
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, - Ephesians 4:17
- The mind has a spirit:
And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; - Ephesians 4:23
- The mind can cause us to be shaken in our resolve
That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. - 2 Thessalonians 2:2
- The mind can cause defilement
Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. - Titus 1:15
Knowing what the strongholds of your enemy are, will allow you to prepare a proper defence against its attacks. Since you know that your mind has desires; make sure that you are not doing anything to tempt those desires. Be careful of what you put in front of your eyes, or what you allow your mind to dwell on. Don’t let vanity or arrogance creep into your thought life. We should always keep ourselves in check, and understand that we are nothing and we cannot fight this battle with our own strength:
Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. - 1 Corinthians 3:18Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. - 1 Corinthians 10:12For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. - Galatians 6:3Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. - Philippians 2:3
In order to combat these strongholds, we need to be constantly checking our spirit:
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. - Galatians 5:16-26
If what you are thinking about or dwelling on leads you towards the first list in this passage, you should avoid them like the plague. If your thoughts and the things that you are exposing yourself to, lead you towards the second list, you can rest assured that those things are coming from the right spirit.
Execute the Action Plan
Manage against what you know is going to happen. The state of your mind will have a huge impact on your spiritual strength or weakness. Your mind can be ready (1 Peter 5:2) and it can be sound (2 Timothy 1:7). In order for your mind to be ready and sound, you must pay attention to what you allow to enter into your mind.
Why emphasize your thoughts?
- Judgment is coming
Your thoughts need to be emphasized because judgment is coming. We all must stand before the judgment seat of Christ:
But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. - Romans 14:10-12For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. - 2 Corinthians 5:10
Every idle word will be judged:
O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. - Matthew 12:34-37
Secrets will be judged:
For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. - Romans 2:14-16
Allows for the proper use of liberty
The world uses its liberty to please itself. The Christian uses liberty to help others:
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. - Galatians 5:13-15
Allows for the proper perspective in your circumstances
Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself: I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews: Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently. - Acts 26:1-3
Paul was not happy to be persecuted, beat and jailed, he was happy for the opportunity that those circumstances gave to him. He would never have had the opportunity to share his testimony and the gospel with King Agrippa if it was not for his present circumstances. Without the proper perspective on what you allow your mind to think about, you could never have the perspective that Paul had. Instead, you will allow your circumstance to control your thoughts.
Leads to peace with God
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. - Isaiah 26:3
You can have peace with God, if your mind is stayed on him and if you will put all of your trust in him.
How do you get your mind under control?
Your mind needs to be renewed:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. - Romans 12:1-2And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; - Ephesians 4:23
Renewing your mind is a daily occurrence:
For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. - 2 Corinthians 4:16
Concentrating on the truth
Concentration brings conformity. In other words, you are what you think about:
For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. - Proverbs 23:7
By concentrating on the word of God, the word of God is the truth:
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. - John 17:17Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever. - Psalms 119:160
Meditate on the Bible
Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD. Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways. Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently. O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments. I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments. I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. - Psalms 119:1-11
Gods word will keep your thoughts on the right things and it will enable you to win the battle of your mind.
Our hope at Irvington Bible Baptist Church is that this podcast provided some encouragement and has helped you to develop a closer relationship with the LORD Jesus Christ.