Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Battlefield of the Mind

The United Nations defines "major wars" as military conflicts inflicting 1,000 battlefield deaths per year. In 1965, there were 10 major wars under way. The new millennium began with much of the world consumed in armed conflict or cultivating an uncertain peace. As of mid-2005, there were eight Major Wars under way (down from 15 at the end of 2003), with as many as two dozen "lesser" conflicts ongoing with varying degrees of intensity. There are currently around 33 wars being fought in 32 countries. 

But for the Christian there is another battlefield that is often forgotten about, the battlefield of the mind. It has often been said, that “the Christian life is not a playground, but a battleground!” This is very true and while battles often come in the form of temptations of one kind or another, they often begin in the battlefield of the mind. 

Our minds are one of the greatest gifts God has given us and should be completely devoted to Him. Paul addresses this very subject in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6. In verse four he uses the word warfare. The word warfare means campaign, reminding us that we are not simple fighting little skirmishes here and there. But the little attacks are actually part a large Satanic campaign. The powers of hell are still trying to destroy the work of God (Matt. 16:18) and it is important that we don’t yield any ground to the enemy! Paul is speaking here of those who have a high minded attitude against the things of God. But what we can also learn here is the importance of bringing every thought into captivity, every lustful thought, every doubtful thought, every discouraging thought and every thought that divides us from the Lord’s plans for us.

Satan is the “father of lies” (John 8:44) and his chief strategy is to deny, confuse, misrepresent or counterfeit whatever God says in His Word. Think of it this way, God’s native language is truth (John 17:17) and Satan’s native language is lies (John 8:44). The domain where we decide what is true and what is false is the mind. Therefore our minds are the very battlefield Satan attacks us on and where victories or either won or lost!

1 John 5:19 tells us that “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.” He uses this world system to influence us and to persuade us. This is why Romans 12:2 is so important, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” It is also why the Lord Jesus emphasized loving God with all of our hearts, soul and mind in Matthew 22:37.

But how do we win the skirmishes that our fought on the battlefields of our minds? I would like to suggest a few simple battle tactics that might help fight off these attacks.

First, we need to use the protection that God has given us. This begins with salvation. The enemy seeks to blind men’s eyes from seeing the gospel as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” But Paul was also concern for that the enemy did not make head way on the battlefields of the minds of Christians. He expresses that concern in 2 Corinthians 11:3, “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” To protect our minds from being corrupted from the simplicity of Christ, from simply trusting Him, leaning on Him and not our own understanding, the Lord has given us the helmet of salvation (Eph. 6:17) to protect our minds and our thoughts from the fiery darts of the lies and influences of Satan. We must realize that as a saved person we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). As a Christian we fight from victory, not for victory! Christ has defeated the enemy on Calvary (Heb. 2:14) and we fight from the victory of Calvary. The war has been won, but we have to fight the good fight. We need to realize the position we are fighting from because it helps with the overall battle strategy! Satan seeks to insinuate thoughts that will disturb us or distract us or in some way cause us to be ineffective in our battles against him. In another place Paul calls urges us to put on the helmet and calls it the “helmet the hope of salvation.” Satan always wants to rob us of that hope that we have and he begins in our minds. 

Secondly, the path to peace of mind is prayer. Paul reminds us when we have something that is eating away at us that the best thing to do is to lay it all before the Lord and leaving there. Listen to Philippians 4:6-7, Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” He goes on to say that we should not keep thinking on these things that weigh us down hindering our peace, but we should stay occupied with “whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

Each and every time a worry, care, concern or doubt of any kind comes flying into our minds, we need to quench that fiery dart by dousing it with prayer! As we pour on prayer the peace of God is able to protect our hearts and minds! 

Thirdly, Peter instructs us on how to be prepared for battle. In 1 Peter 1:13 he challenges us to “gird up the loins of our minds.” This means to be militarily ready for battle! We prepare our minds daily by renewing it daily through the study of the Word of God. 2 Timothy 3:15 reminds us that, “the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” 

Fourth, as we face the daily battles we must remember the primacy of mind. This means that as we go into battle we must be well focused, we can’t get entangled in side issues in life’s daily grind. This comes out in verses like 2 Timothy 2:3-4, Colossians 3:1-4 and Philippians 3:14.

Fifthly, our position is everything. In the civil war and many others, victory often depended on who got to the high ground first. The army that was able to position itself on the high ground and fight from that vantage point usually won. As Christians what is our high ground? Isaiah 26:3 helps us answer this, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in You.” This is our high ground!

Lastly, we must remember that there is a process in which every piece of intelligence report is filter. 1 Peter 4:7 tells us that we need to “be serious and watchful in your prayers.” This means that we need to be clear minded by filtering every by trusting in the One who is control. We should never be rash and jump to conclusions, but weigh everything before the Lord in prayer and through the Word of God. This process helps us to respond to situations and people instead of reacting to them. Many of battles of the mind our lost begins we process information the wrong way!

May the Lord help us bring every thought into captivity so that we don’t let the enemy set up a beachhead in our minds. 

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