In my last article; The Militant Church, I looked at why the church needs to be Militant, and what can happen when it is not. We saw that having the "just holding the fort" mentality will keep us from the good things of God. In our next study, we are going to simply look at the greatest battlefield that we have to enter... our minds!
THE MIND (SOUL) - THE BATTLEFIELD OF SPIRITUAL WARFARE
We briefly talked about the Soul and its battleground in a previous study. However, we want to refresh our minds about the importance of entering the battlefield of the Soul (Mind). When we deal with the soul, we are dealing with one of the most complex parts of our being. Within the soul dwells our will, our emotions, affections and our desires. The soul IS THE MAIN control center of our being. The soul can sway us towards evil or good. It is the place where our thoughts are embedded and cemented. However, and most importantly, the mind (soul) is also the playground of the devil. The reason is, because the soul has access to that sinful seed (nature) of the flesh that was planted there by the devil. In this spiritual battle for the mind, the devil seeks to keep a person in bondage to sin. For us to win the battle of the mind against the devil and sin, we must learn how to deal with and control our thinking. After all... this is the most important stronghold a person must win at if they want to be victorious.
THE MOLDING OF THE BRAIN
Without getting into a complex science lesson here; we need to understand how our brain processes images and thoughts. But, most importantly how it deals with things that don't belong there (such as sinful thoughts).
As a newborn child, your brain is brand new; a clean slate if you will. As you start to grow and experience life, the things that you choose to see, hear and learn are "burned" into your memory, whether good or bad. During your early years, bad thoughts start to surface and depending on how you handle them determines who you become. So, as a child grows into an adult, and the adult lives for any length of time, all the thoughts, experiences that they learned manifest themselves in their actions. We are truly like a computer that stores this information; the question is how to correct the bad information stored in our minds?!!
RIGTHLY DIVIDING OUR THOUGTHS
The hardest thing for a baby in the Lord to learn is the difference between their thoughts, God's voice, satan's voice, their sinful nature's voice, the world's thoughts and what is just their "natural" thoughts. This may seem like a lot to have to figure out, but a person has to be patient and learn as they go. They will actually learn through trial and error. And through trial and error if they read God's word every day, they will learn what God has to say about life and it's thoughts. Below, I am going to try and explain the various thoughts you may have...
1) Life's Natural Thoughts: Things learned to help you live such as; how to dress, eat, work, build friendships, relationships, natural desires, emotions, fears... these are just what naturally happens.
2) Sinful Nature Thoughts: Typically, these are bad thoughts that were molded in you from childhood. You were born with these and they usually are character flaws or your greatest weaknesses. These thoughts lead to our own lusts and mistakes. Your flesh (sinful nature) draws you away from God.
3) Demonic Thoughts: These are thoughts that come from demonic oppression. These thoughts are typically bad thoughts that are not a part of your sinful nature; although they are connected in some ways. Demonic thoughts are just voices of devils trying to tell you something against God and his word or to get you do sin. Often pleasurable temptations are from demon spirits (or your own lustful nature). Demons spirits can also cause un-natural fear that destroys or hinders faith. Satan's voice draws you away from God or keeps you from seeking God.
4) Worldly Thoughts: These thoughts are the ideas and philosophies of the world. These thoughts originate from satan's kingdom here on earth because he is the prince and power of the air. Worldly thoughts try to get you to think and act like the world does. The world and satan are team mates and they draw you away from God.
5) God's Voice: Being human usually means that God's voice is the least heard until someone has learned to push by their flesh and carnal thinking. God typically speaks through His word or when preached. He sometimes will impress something on your heart. God's voice draws you to His holiness (to be like Him).
HOW BAD THOUGHTS BECOME STRONGHOLDS
As a child with no wisdom, they often get involved in things that feel good or are fun. Sinful thoughts and/or demonic oppression will barrage a child's mind until it acts upon those thoughts. And when a person (child or adult) constantly obeys those thoughts, they "cement" those thoughts in their mind and they become major habits or wicked deeds (or strongholds).
I liken this process to a trickle of water that runs down a hill. After a while of steady rain, it carves out a crevice in the hill and it always goes the same path every time the water runs down the hill. Thoughts are like that! When we continually think about something it forms a "crevice" habit in our mind. This works for both good and bad thoughts. However, when they are bad thoughts they become strongholds of addictions, habits and deeds... and some worse than others. These strongholds are the reason we can't stop sinning or keep struggling with the same things. If a person keeps falling from the same thing over and over... they have a stronghold that keeps them bound. And the solution is to build a dam (make weak) on the old thoughts; re-channel it with good thoughts and make good strongholds.
HOW DO WE DEAL WITH STRONGHOLDS OF THE MIND?
2 Corth 10:3-5 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (4) (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) (5) 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;
According to the scripture above, strongholds and imaginations are pulled down through God and His spirit. This type of spiritual warfare takes place through fasting, prayer and learning what scripture teaches about that weakness (stronghold). Ultimately, the goal is to change your thinking about that sinful stronghold and have those thoughts transformed into the obedience of Christ... or in other words... what you are supposed to think according to the truth of His word.
The process of "pulling down strongholds" is a large subject, however I will touch on some things you need to do...
1) When those bad thoughts come, resist them and draw close to God. It is through resisting the thoughts (and devil) that you are re-training (transforming) your thinking to what God thinks.
2) Then ingrain in your mind the scriptures that support what God has to say about the temptation. You are not enforcing that the thoughts are wrong (for you already know that), but you are enforcing the GOOD thoughts that you should be thinking according to Gods word in place of those bad thoughts.
3) Fast and pray if the stronghold doesn't disappear. Fasting helps pull your flesh down so you can get closer to God. Do not try to deal with major strongholds without God's help.
4) Some strongholds may be demonically binding you, you may need deliverance if a spirit has bound you. See experience people in helping you with this.
5) Just like the way bad strongholds take root; think on godly, good and true things just as much. It is through repetitive learning we form habits... good, godly strongholds can be made the same way as bad ones!
WHAT ABOUT DREAMS AT NIGHT?
There is not much you can do about dreaming. However, dreams can reveal your spiritual or emotional state. If you are having bad dreams with fear in them, then there is most likely fear trying to affect you. The same for lustful (or any other type of) dreams. Most dreams are just "dreams" from everyday life. Not all dreams mean anything. You will know if a dream is from God or not by the anointing you feel when you awake. Sometimes devils attack you with dreams as well. But, when he uses dreams it is usually always to get you to think about "fear, lust, condemnation" when you wake up; and this he hopes will make you spiritually weak when you wake up, and to struggle the rest of the day.
GIRD UP THE LOINS OF YOUR MIND
The key in having a joyful and godly life is to control your thinking. It has been said... "You cannot stop a bird from flying over your head, but you can stop him from building a nest in your hair." This is true of thoughts! You cannot stop bad thoughts from entering your mind (that is how the devil speaks to us), but you can control what you do with them.
1 Pe 1:13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
The words "gird up" means to bind about or to control. To "gird" your mind means you have to take those thoughts and make them obedient to truth. This is a tedious process for a new baby in the Lord, but it does get easier over time. The reason being is that after being saved, they now have a whole set of new thoughts and emotions flooding in when they got the Holy Ghost. But also; Light reveals all the unclean thoughts that are floating around as well.
Now, that a person has all these thoughts floating around, they have to take them and sort them out and get rid of the bad thoughts. Re-training the mind takes time, but intercessory prayer helps the renewing of your mind. As you learn more of God's word, your mind is renewed to think about godly things.
In the past when you were not saved, you did things that were sinful, now you have to take those thoughts and repress (weaken) them and ingrain new godly thinking. And here is a good scripture to point you in the right direction...
Php 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
The subject of the "mind is the battlefield" of the soul is so big, I don't have the time to expand on it. As you read the entire series of this study I touch on this subject here and there. But, what you do have to know is that it took a long time to get certain thoughts "cemented" in your mind and they do not go away overnight.
The truth is, your mind will always remember things whether bad or good. The purpose of controlling your mind is not that you will eradicate those bad thoughts, but that you will weaken their hold so they don't make you sin. Controlling your mind is about taking all those thoughts and making them obey Christ.
You may of been an idol worshiper all your life, got saved, but you still have those thoughts of bowing down to an idol. Your faith, the Holy Ghost and the controlling of your mind represses the thoughts to the point that they don't control you, but you control them!
When we speak about crucifying self or conquering self; it all begins in the mind. If you control the mind, you control your sinful nature, you control your soul, you control your flesh. Self-denial is wrapped up in controlling your mind. And when your desire is towards pleasing God, controlling the mind is crucial, because if you control your mind then you are doing what Jesus did... He denied self! And when you can control all your thoughts, pull down all the bad strongholds and make them obedient to Christ... then you will know how to keep your body under subjection (or what we call conquering self)!
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