The Battlefield of the Mind
Living in Hostile Territory
Probably none of us would allow someone to take their garbage and come into our home in order to use it as a dumping ground. Could you imagine putting up a sign saying: "Public Dump" on your front door, and giving everyone in your town or city a key to the house? It wouldn't take very long for your beautiful, immaculate home to become a huge smelly, disease-ridden mess! However, most of us, even though we wouldn't think of doing something like this to our homes, nevertheless allow our minds to become a dumping ground for every evil, disgusting thought that this world has to offer. We do this through things like books, Cd's or digital downloads, the internet, smartphones, television, magazines and the movies.
Most people don't realize that the world in which we live is hostile territory. Every morning we wake up we are entering a battlefield controlled by the enemy of God and his forces. Satan, or the Devil, is called "the prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2). He is also referred to as "the god of this world." And according to Paul: "He has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God" (II Corinthians 4:4). But it isn't just non-Christians that are endangered by this evil deceiving personality. Believers need to be wary of him as well.
One metaphor that is used of Satan is that of a "roaring lion seeking whom he may devour" (I Peter 5:8). Peter asks Christians in this passage to be sober and alert because the enemy of God is our enemy as well. And his aim is to go after our minds in order to make us totally ineffective in our lives and our calling for God's glory. He cannot take us away from God if we truly belong to the Lord through faith in Jesus Christ. However, he can impact us so as to keep us from being a godly influence. The effect of this is that others will not see God's power through us.
And that does not include the horrible consequences of sin which we allow to infect our own lives through Satan's influence. All of us have seen the consequences of sin in the lives of friends and family, as well as our own. Lives can be destroyed, relationships ruined, a good reputation forever lost as a result of one sin at one moment of weakness. This is a war that we cannot take lightly. And, like all wars, it is composed of many individual battles that must be won each day.
I.Two Great Battlefield Mistakes
There are two great mistakes that every believer is prone to make if he or she doesn't understand the true nature of the war we are fighting. One of our biggest errors is to underestimate Satan's power and the world system that he controls, so as not be prepared for his attacks. And the second is to underestimate God's power available for our lives.
1. First Mistake: Underestimating Satan
Satan was a powerful angel created by God. He was given the name Lucifer which literally means "light bearer" (Isaiah 14:12-15). Apparently, he was a beautiful creation of God, given much power and authority in heaven until he sinned. Ezekiel, talking about the King of Tyre, goes on to discuss something beyond the earthly man to the force behind him, Satan himself. He discusses Satan before the fall and tells us:
…"You were the anointed a cherub who covers, And I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked in the midst of the stones of fire. You were blameless in your ways. From the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you. By the abundance of your trade, You were internally filled with violence, And you sinned; Therefore I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the stones of fire.…"
Satan's greatest sin was that of pride. Although given much authority and power he wanted more. He wanted to be as God himself. Isaiah gives us further insight into this prideful being. We can see Satan's great arrogance in chapter 14. Verses 12-15 tell us:
How you are fallen from heaven,
O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground,
you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart,
I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High. But you are brought down to Sheol,
to the far reaches of the pit.
Although Satan was cast out of heaven, he is still alive and well and living on planet earth. We must not underestimate his great power. However, we have to realize that he is ultimately a defeated foe. He may win individual battles, but the war is already won by Christ on the cross.
2. Second Mistake: Underestimating God
There was an old comedian from yesteryear named Flip Wilson who used to dress up in drag as part of his act. His alter ego was named Geraldine and she used to have a saying: "The Devil made me do it!" Well contrary to Geraldine's opinion, the devil can't make us do anything. We are tempted by our own evil desires according to James 1:13.
Truthfully, Satan is much more powerful than we will ever be and, if allowed by God, can destroy us. But he is not all-powerful. Only God has that attribute. The Scriptures teach us that nothing is impossible with the Lord (Luke 1:37).
We also need to note that the God we serve is the creator of all that there is, including the Devil himself. Further, Paul says of Jesus, the second person of the Godhead, that all things were created by and for him. Not only that but he is the one who holds them all together. In Colossians he says this of Jesus:
"The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him, all things hold together" (1:15-17).
So what we see in the books and movies depicting the two equally great powers of good and evil fighting with one another and each seeking to overcome the other is not true. God is the only ruling sovereign of the universe. Satan is a very strong impostor.
And if we look further into Scripture, we can see that Jesus Christ, on the cross, defeated Satan and now he has only limited time until he is put out of the way forever. (Hebrews 2:14). His ultimate destiny is an eternity in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:10).
So we must not fail to take our enemy seriously. However, we should not cower in fear either.
II. Our Spiritual Armor
The great apostle Paul informs all believers that we do not battle with flesh and blood in this great war that we are in. Paul, in Ephesians 6, tells us of that war and of the spiritual armor that we need to put on in order to win. He says:
"Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:10-12).
Then the Apostle goes on to tell us to be prepared with our spiritual armor, which we will just mention but not take the time to elaborate upon in this article. However, it will behoove every Christian to study each one individually. They are: 1) Having your loins girded with truth; 2) the breastplate of righteousness 3) feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 3) the shield of faith to quench the fiery darts of the wicked one; 4) the helmet of salvation; and lastly 5) The Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.
The key to winning the war is to remain close to our Commander-in-chief. God gives us the victory if we will only allow him to control our lives. If you notice, of all the spiritual armor that is listed, only one is offensive. The others are defensive, to protect the soldier from harm. The Word of God is what the believer must use in the battles. We must confront Satan's lies with God's truth. So we must study, memorize and meditate upon it daily because it is God's marching orders against the enemy.
In that Word, it also teaches us to "Pray continually" (I Thessalonians 5:17). The Bible is God talking with us. Prayer is us talking to God. We need to keep the lines of communication open constantly in order to win the war of life.
Chuck Swindoll on the Mind
III. Taking Every Thought Captive
One of the main reasons to be constantly studying God's Word and praying is that our minds are like a computer. As the old saying goes: "Garbage in garbage out." We talked about the spiritual trash that the world has to offer earlier. We don't want to waste the space in our minds with the evil that the enemy is trying to program into them. So Paul tells us we need to be proactive and take control, with God's help. And he tells us that we have divine power to do this. He informs the Corinthians:
"For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ" (II Corinthians 10:4,5).
We need to realize that the Christian life is not lived alone. We actually have the Holy Spirit of God living in us and he wants to fill us and control our lives if we will only allow him to do so (Ephesians 5:18). We must ask him daily to have his way with us. And, with his help, we can obey Paul's admonition to think on those things which are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).
With the Spirit's help, we take every thought captive by fleeing from those things and situations which will tempt us to sin. These may include such things as private use of the internet or television shows that don't have wholesome themes. It may include magazines or books that cause our minds to think wrongly.
Also, every Christian has a weak area which only the individual Christian and God knows about unless we confide in a spiritual partner who can hold us accountable. This is advisable if there is a private sin that we cannot seem to shake.
Taking every thought captive also includes positive things such as hanging around other members of the Body of Christ and doing things together that are good clean fun or things that minister to others in need. We become like those we hang out with.
Of course, this isn't an exhaustive list. We need to ask God to help us to come up with other ways to get control of that wonderful and beautifully designed mind that he has given to us. And we need to start right now!
When thinking about a way to bring this article to a conclusion I am reminded of the motto of the United Negro College Fund: "A mind is a terrible thing to waste." If we don't take control of our minds and our thoughts, someone else will. And his plans for us are not good. In this battle for life, we are either maintaining ground, gaining ground or losing it. There is no neutral territory. Ultimately we are on the winning side. The war is won. But our individual battles can still be lost, leaving us with the loss of rewards for our service and the loss of a possibility of being a bridge through which some soul may cross to God in faith. This may include the soul of one of our dearest family members or friends.
The choice is up to each of us as individuals. We have been given the power to have victory over our minds. The question is: What will you choose? Please choose wisely!
© 2018 Jeff Shirley