You may be outnumbered but when God does battle on your behalf, you are NEVER out powered.
We all have battles that we fight on a daily basis. Some are more intense than others. Some we feel like we can win easily, while others take everything that we have. When we come to the end of ourselves, we have to call on something, rather SOMEONE bigger. There are a number of battles that we fight daily, sometimes on a moment to moment basis. There is a battle raging around us all the time 24 hours a day. Most of the battles we have begin in the mind and spirit.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12
The Battle of Comparison and Insecurity
Don’t get me wrong, there may always be people who are smarter, who you may think look better than you, or people who have more than you. Here is the thing though, you don’t know what kind of hell other people had to go through to get those things or to be the way they are. You also don’t know if they are truly happy with what they have or who they have become. Count YOUR blessings, not those of someone else.
Theodore Roosevelt stated, “Comparison is the thief of joy”. This is so true. You spend so much time getting things, trying to improve your exterior that you forget that you need to work on the inside. You forget to work on your spiritual man. Having more stuff isn’t going to fill the void in your life. There is a void in your life that only God can fill. Don’t compare your journey to someone else’s, you may be comparing your movie to their highlights.
Philippians 4:6 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.
1 Samuel 16:7 – But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
1 Timothy 6:17 – Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
Psalm 139:13-15 – For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.
Ephesians 2:10 – For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
The Battle of Shame and Guilt
We often feel like because we are not like those around us that we should be ashamed. We are ashamed of our past, things we have said and done. We often wonder, how in the world can God forgive us when we can’t even forgive ourselves? My husband would say, who are you to not forgive yourself? If God forgave you and paid the ultimate price so that you can have unconditional forgiveness, who are you to lord over yourself and not forgive yourself. How are you going to make your unforgiveness of yourself more powerful than the forgiveness of God? Is His forgiveness not enough? I know that it is enough, but sometimes we are our own worst enemy. We get so fooled by the enemy, that we become convinced that we are not worthy of forgiveness. We choose to dwell to in our guilt and shame because as awful as it is, we feel comfortable there. It is what we know.
Romans 8:1 – Therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
1 John 3:20 – For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.
Psalm 103:10 – He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
Breaking down strongholds
2 Corinthians 10: 3-5 – For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
The apostle Paul says here that our job in this battle is to “destroy strongholds.” You know what a stronghold is? It is a mental block. Paul is talking about pretentions, arguments set up against the knowledge of God. This is a mental battle. And he says, “Destroy these strongholds.” A stronghold can be one of two things:
It can be a worldview, such as materialism, hedonism, Darwinism, secularism, relativism, communism, atheism. All of the different -isms are mental strongholds that people set up against the knowledge of God.
A stronghold can also be a personal attitude. Worry can be a stronghold. Seeking the approval of other people can be a stronghold. Anything that you make an idol in your life can be a stronghold — fear, guilt, resentment, insecurity. All of these things can be strongholds in your mind. And the Bible says that we are to tear them down.
Taking Every Thought Captive
Now look at the very last phrase in the passage: “take every thought captive to obey Christ.” Take captive every thought. The Greek word aichmaløtizø there means “to control, to conquer, to bring into submission.” We take captive. We make it submit. Every thought obedient to Christ. Make it obedient. The Greek word Hupakøe means “to bring into submission, to bring under control.”
But how do you do that? How do I make my mind mind? I have noticed that my mind doesn’t always mind. It is often disobedient. It is often very rebellious. It wants to go in a different direction. When I want to think a certain way, it wants to go another way. When I need to ponder, it wants to wander. When I need to pray, my thoughts want to float away.
The battle for sin always starts in the mind.
Paul talks about this in Romans 7, and he says, “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. . . . Wretched man that I am!” (Romans 7:19, 24). The fact is, the reason we have so many ineffective Christians today is that they do not know how to fight the battle of the mind.
Four Principles for Winning the Battle for Your Mind
Keep in mind that the battle is in the spiritual realm. Things may be chaotic in your physical world, but until you deal with the spiritual realm and your mind, anything you do in the physical won’t have much effect.
- Don’t believe everything you think. We naturally feel that if we think something, it must be true because it came from within us. Just because you think something, doesn’t make it true. The world puts suggestions in our minds that are false, and we are bombarded with false thoughts all the time. Our minds are
- Confused (Deuteronomy 28:20)
- Anxious, closed (Job 17:3-4)
- Evil, restless (Ecclesiastes 2:21-23)
- Rash, deluded (Leviticus 5:4; Isaiah 32:4)
The Bible talks about:
- a troubled mind (2 Kings 6:11)
- a depraved mind (1 Timothy 6:5)
- a sinful mind (Romans 8:7 NIV)
- a dull mind (2 Corinthians 3:14 NIV)
- a blinded mind (2 Corinthians 4:4)
- a corrupt mind (2 Timothy 3:8)
- Guard your mind from garbage. Just because you hear people talking about disturbing things, doesn’t mean you have to take all of that into yourself. Keep the attitudes of other people where they belong, on the outside of you. Also guard your mind from television, music, and other things that don’t build you up. If you feel ashamed about indulging in certain things, or they make you feel insecure, then stop doing them.
- Never give up on learning. Knowledge is the cornerstone of credibility. If you are secure in what you know, you are less likely to let false thoughts totally consume you. You are able to combat fleeting thoughts with what you know. Become a lifelong learner. Love knowledge. Love wisdom. Learn to love the act of learning. The word disciple means “learner.” You cannot be a disciple of Christ without being a learner. Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden [by the way, that sounds like a felt need!], and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me” (Matthew 11:28–29). What do you do when you take on a yoke? You share a burden with another animal. You lighten a load. And Jesus wants us to learn from him.
- Let God stretch your imagination. If we are going to learn, and teach others, how to fight the battle for the mind, we must learn how to let God stretch our imaginations. This is a part of the battle. This is part of thinking. Everything that happens in life begins with a dream. Somebody has to imagine it first.
This is a gift that God gave to us: the ability to dream and envision and imagine something before it comes into reality. Every building we see was first imagined by an architect before it was built. Every piece of art was imagined before it was painted. Every song was imagined before it was written. Every athletic award, every gold medal, the athlete imagined before it ever happened. Every church that’s been started, somebody — either a group of people or a single church planter — imagined that church first. Rarely does anything happen until somebody starts dreaming.
We need to become great, godly dreamers. Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint.” The word “vision” relates to dreaming. It means a kind of revelation, a vision from God. And where there’s not this vision, this God-directed dreaming, the people “cast off restraint” — literally, they get “out of control.” When we do not have an overarching vision or dream or goal for our lives, our lives are out of control. What we need today are great dreamers.