“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. ”
– Ephesians 6:12
Our thoughts hold immense power. Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinks, so he is.” Our thoughts contain all our decisions (good and bad), all our habits (good and bad), all our fears (good and bad), all our personality traits (good and bad). They hold all of our hopes and dreams, all of our anxiety and insecurity. Our thoughts contain everything we think about God, everything we think about other people, and everything we think about ourselves. Shame starts in the mind. When we’re worried about what other people will think about us – that starts with a thought. Stress starts in the mind. If we’re worried about the future – it’s because we’re thinking about all the things that could go wrong. The way we think about a situation can be what motivates us and pushes us forward with confidence, or what paralyzes us and holds us back in fear. In times of spiritual warfare, we need to be in control of our thoughts. It is essential to our survival.
“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. 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, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.”
– 2 Corinthians 10:3-6
Sin starts in the mind. We have to take our thoughts captive before they become actions. In Genesis, Eve first saw that the fruit was “good for food, and that it was a delight to eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise” (Genesis 2:6). She had already thought of three justifications for sinning before she ever reached out and touched the fruit. When she took it, she ate it. When she ate it, she gave it to her husband, and he ate it too. It created a ripple effect as all sin does. Satan tempted her. Satan asked the question, and planted the seed of doubt, but Eve reasoned within herself and she acted upon her reasoning.
2 Corinthians 10:3-4 tells us we walk in the flesh, but we war in the Spirit. Walking in the flesh is easy – it’s comfortable, and it comes naturally to us. But war is not easy – it requires preparation and training; it requires a willingness to sacrifice. The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh. According to Ephesians 6, the only offensive weapon we have in our Spiritual Armor is the Sword of the Spirit. This weapon is capable of destroying fortresses. A fortress is defined as “a castle, a stronghold, anything on which one relies” (Thayers Definition). Our sins become strongholds when we start to rely on them. They start to rule over us. They become kings and queens in the castles of our mind – and they must be overthrown. They must be replaced with the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace. Only the Spirit is capable of destroying such strongholds. When we wage war against strongholds with the Spirit fighting for us, we advance into enemy territory. We take the castle captive. We win the victory. We replace those sinful thoughts of the flesh with thoughts of the Spirit. In the Spirit, we find strength for the fight. Matthew 26:41 tells us the flesh is weak, but the Spirit is willing. Romans 8:5-6 says, “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.”
“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”
– Colossians 3:2
We are living in a time of information overload. We have encyclopedias of knowledge at the end of our fingertips. We can google search and find the answer to just about any question we have. We can find opinions on topics ranging from every end of the spectrum. No matter where you stand on a subject, the odds are you can find someone who adamantly agrees and another who adamantly disagrees. Social media is often where Satan does his best work nowadays. From pop culture to political commentaries – there is always something in the headlines causing division. From Instagram influencers to Facebook’s advertising algorithms – there is always something trying to sway our thoughts and opinions. Technology is being designed to get into our minds and anticipate our behaviors, our needs, and our desires. They try to sway us to vote us a certain way, to spend our money a certain way, to look a certain way, to act a certain way, to believe a certain way. If we don’t have control of our thoughts, we can be swayed in any way the wind blows. We have to be firmly planted in the Word of God. We have to focus our thoughts and set our minds on things above.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
– Romans 12:2
Changing our behavior doesn’t change the source of our problems. We have to renew our minds. We have to get to the root of the issue. If we don’t pull up a weed from it’s root, then it will just grow right back in a matter of time. If we don’t learn to think differently, nothing will ever change. Those strongholds will start to rise up again. Repentance is more than just asking God to forgive us of our sinfulness, it is actively turning away from our sins. To turn away from our sins, we often have to turn away from the things that cause us to sin. The people who tempt us. The situations that entangle us. Our thoughts become actions. Our actions become our habits. Our habits become our behaviors. When we start thinking about God’s truth, we start believing God’s truth, and eventually we start living in accordance to God’s truth. We can’t just accept something to be true because it’s what we’ve always heard. We have to study to show ourselves approved. We have to rightly divide the Word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). We have to take in the truth, reflect on it, think about it, apply it, and let it transform us from the inside out.
1 Corinthians 2:16 tells us we have the mind of Christ. We need to put Him in His rightful place of power and authority. We need to let His truth rule our thoughts. We need to put Him in control, and let Him fight for us. We need to trust Him. He has already won the victory. It’s ours to claim.
“The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You.”
– Isaiah 26:3