The Battle for the Mind is what we are looking at this week.
We know some of these battles are physical, involving a chemical imbalance in the brain that can be treated using medication. But some of these onslaughts are spiritually based, and are designed by the devil to disrupt and ruin your life. And the lives of others you hurt.
The onslaught of the enemy on our minds is perpetual and relentless, with statistics tell us that 1 in 5 Australians will experience a mental illness in any given year, and that 45% of Australians will suffer from a diagnosable mental illness at some point in their life. Including depression, anxiety, paranoia, and more severe conditions like bipolar, substance abuse and various psychoses. Mental illness is a major contributor to job loss, relationship breakdown and suicide. Doctors now believe that 80% of all physical ailments are based in the mind, things like blood pressure, diabetes and ulcers.
Mental illness or not, pretty much all of us face a battle in the mind, with advertising, media, movies and TV assaulting our eyes, music, gossip and negativity assaulting our ears, and the God of this world through these and other means relentlessly assaulting our hearts time and time again. In this spiritual battle, the enemy wants to control and manipulate your mind in order to manipulate your life, so if we can win the battle of the mind, we will win the battle of life.
2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV Strong's)
For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
It is God’s will for us to have a sound mind, even with the pressure of modern life, but if we are not aware where is the enemy attacking, how can we defeat him?
THE DEVIL’S PRIMARY TARGET IN THE BATTLE FOR THE MIND
On a battlefield, not all targets carry the same weight, and some victories are more important than others. For the devil, his primary target in the battle for the mind is your inner peace. If he can upset that, it gives rise to paranoia, depression, fear, worry and these lead to victories in other mind battles.
Isaiah 26:3 (ESV Strong's)
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
The Hebrew word for stayed is SAMAK, which means to lean up against, support or uphold. So this verse is saying lean on God, when you’re down and overwhelmed, when you feel you cannot prevail, let Him support your mind and let Him give you peace. If the enemy can steal your peace, he can win the battle of your mind, but if you stay or lean your mind on the Lord, the enemy is powerless to touch you.
And in the battle for the mind, as in all of life, you cannot rely on how you feel, but instead must lean on the unchanging word of God. Remember, the devil’s best deception is to make you so deceived you can’t tell that you are deceived, and so you have no means of fighting back! Here’s a few ways in which the enemy can attack your mind…
1. DIFFICULTIES AND TRIALS
One of the chief weapons satan uses to attack your mind is difficulties. We do ok until something, or many things, go wrong… then we cave in! When you face difficulties you also face a choice… to believe God, or believe satan. These attacks will come, so get ready.
1 Peter 4:12-13 (ESV Strong's)
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
Good advice Peter, but how can I rejoice when suffering? I find this hard sometimes. Well, you are not called to rejoice that you’re suffering, but to rejoice in your suffering, rejoice in faith knowing God is working all things for good. So you can choose to let life’s difficulties mount up for you, or you can choose to see the great things God does through them.
John 16:33 (ESV Strong's)
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Many of you face difficulties at the moment, and if you are not careful this will affect your mindset. But make no mistake, you choose to be overwhelmed by it, or you choose to triumph over it.
Disobedience or sin is a prime battlefield in your mind. If you wilfully sin and refuse to repent, then this opens the door to allow Satan to attack your mind. This clearly applies to those who do not know Jesus, but for we who are being saved, it still applies because persistent sin removes God’s hedge of protection and opens you to demonic attack.
Psalms 81:11-12 (ESV Strong's)
“But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me.
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels.
God’s judgement on your sin is often just to take His hands off the wheel and let you reap what you are sowing. So if you want to win the battle for the mind, stop sinning and start being obedient!
Many times you are not in sin, but difficulties lead to discouragement. The enemy loves to discourage believers because when he attacks using discouragement it can affect everything.
Proverbs 13:12 (ESV Strong's)
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
When what you hope for and work for and long for is deferred, when the goalposts keep moving further away, discouragement is the inevitable result.
Some of you here have battled for a long time, hoping for a breakthrough, and your mind is discouraged. Perhaps you’ve asked God and believed for business success, or a loved one to come to Christ, but because it hasn’t happened you get discouraged. And discouragement often leads to…
When the enemy attacks, you can get discouraged and the next phase of his operation is doubt. Doubt is the opposite of faith. Doubt knocked at the door. Faith answered. There was no one there!
If you get enough hits, enough troubles, discouragement and enough bad experiences, doubt starts to rise up instead of faith. And doubt starts to toss your mind back and forth…
James 1:6 (ESV Strong's)
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
Some of you here are experiencing doubt in your mind right now as the enemy battles for your mind. You try to believe God, but doubts overwhelm you, and the enemy is winning.
5. DEEP-SEATED HURTS
Everybody hurts at some time or other. Many people have said and done things that hurt you at some point, but we need to bring these hurts to the Lord and Ask His forgiveness for our lack of forgiveness towards those who have hurt us. If we don’t do this, these hurts often become deep-seated hurts, ingrained into our minds, and they are classic weak spots for the devil to attack.
Hebrews 12:14-15 (ESV Strong's)
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;
When someone hurts you, regardless of who’s right and who’s wrong, if you hold on to unforgiveness, it grows into bitterness and this defiles your mind, giving the enemy a chance to attack and defeat you! Some of you here need to forgive and let go of things done to you in the past. Unforgiveness will destroy your mind and allow the enemy a foothold. Unforgiveness is like you drinking poison hoping the other guy dies. Whether you we right or wrong, forgive and move on!
Bill Newman often says, “Don’t nurse your hurts, don’t curse your hurts, don’t rehearse your hurts, you’ve got to reverse your hurts, because hurts will make you either bitter or better”
6. DECEPTION OF SELF
This is the age of the selfie, the age of me-isms, and for most people life is all about them. Advertising says, drink this beer and you’ll be cool, wear this lipstick and the guys will love you, drive this car, use this deodorant, use this phone, it’s all about you and what you want.
Don’t think this is true… remember Australian Idol, and the people completely deluded into thinking they can actually sing. There are people pouring money into scams, there are people working long hours for money while neglecting what’s important in life. People are blinded in this battle by the enemy, so they cannot see the truth about who they are and their need for Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:4-5 (ESV Strong's)
the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake.
We need to serve, not fight for our rights. In our modern, self deluded world, people fight for rights all the time, where they always have an agenda, being a servant flies directly in the face of this battle. People fight for human rights, land rights, they fight for gay rights, they are passionate about save the whales, save the koalas, yet we murder babies for convenience. We should just wrap all these rights up into one bundle, call it land rights for gay whales, and then realise our only right as believers is to serve Jesus.
A servant mindset negates many of the selfish, self centred me-isms of this age.
Mark 10:43-44 (ESV Strong's)
whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.
7 WAYS TO WIN ON THE BATTLEFIELD OF THE MIND
Satan attacks your mind because that is the gateway to your heart and soul. If he wins that battle, he can neutralise your life with Christ, ruin your life and destroy the people you love. Winning this battle for the mind is one of the most important tasks you have in our modern world, so what strategies can we employ to win the battle for the mind?
- DON’T PUT GARBAGE INTO YOUR MIND
The first strategy in the Battle for the Mind is to be wary of what you put into it. The old computer adage “Garbage in, garbage out” applies here. You alone decide what you put into your mind, and you alone are the gatekeeper.
Psalms 101:2-4 (ESV Strong's)
I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil.
Now, pause for a moment and think about what you let into your mind. What you let into your mind shapes your mind, and opens you to all kinds of attacks on your mind. Many studies have shown a link between heavy metal music and suicide, and violent films or video games increasing aggression in teenagers. This is not surprising… garbage in, garbage out.
So the first step to mastering your mind is to carefully watch what you put into it. What TV shows do you watch? What movies do you watch, what music do you fill your mind with? What junk do you let in via internet sites, pornography, Facebook, or other social media? What friends do you let into your life?
Philippians 4:8 (ESV Strong's)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
- RENEW YOUR MIND
Just as your computer needs to be constantly updated (especially windows 10) so too your mind needs to be constantly updated or renewed.
Romans 12:2 (NIV-WS)
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
The Greek word for pattern means a mould, and that’s a great description of how the devil acts on your mind. He tries to squeeze you into the mould of this world, to make you conform the the pattern of morality and thinking that everybody else has. Don’t believe me? Try getting on Facebook and saying that you are against gay marriage and wait about 5 Minutes… you will soon see people trying to mould you into their pattern!
The Greek for renewing is “anakainosis” which means renew, to make new again and to conform your thinking to make it like God’s thinking. So again it’s a choice… be moulded into the world’s thinking, or be moulded into God’s image. How do you renew your mind? Read God’s Word every day, come to church and fill it, wash it, regenerate it with good, Godly things.
In Israel there are two Great Lakes or seas, both fed by the Jordan river. Galilee has fresh, clean water, and it is full of life and fish. The Dead Sea is exactly that… Dead. It has lethal concentrations of salt and nothing lives in or even near the Dead Sea. What’s the difference? Galilee has an outflow, so the waters are constantly renewed, but the Dead Sea has no flow out. It is never renewed!
Daily Bible reading with our reading plan is a great place to start renewing your mind. I challenge you to do it. Renewing your mind means putting godly things into your mind. Come church, get involved, listen to worship music, read the Bible daily and other Christian books, watch wholesome movies…
- GUARD YOUR MIND
Reading the Word of God renews your mind, but you will still suffer attacks, so when you are renewing your mind you also need to guard it. How can you guard your mind from satanic attacks?
Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV Strong's)
do not be anxious about anything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus.
Prayer… Not the shopping list of things you order God to do for you, the two way dialogue where you pray and His Spirit speaks back to you. This is what Fiona is studying in her course, how to hear the voice of God! When you hear Him, your mind is renewed, and you are filled with peace and love.
Prayer and Bible reading not only renew your mind, they guard your heart and mind, protecting you from the attacks of the evil one in this battle!
- BE ACCOUNTABLE
Coming to church, hanging out with fellow believers not only insures more good than bad things are deposited into your mind, it also keeps you accountable. I have long noticed that people drift away from church when they are dabbling in sin, because they are embarrassed and convicted.
Being accountable to mature Christians is a great way to guard your mind and keep you on track as you master your mind. If your mind is under attack, if your thoughts are troubling you, don’t isolate. Stay here, get with people who love you and stay connected, because…
Proverbs 27:17 (ESV Strong's)
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
- STAY POSITIVE
When you are under attack in this battle, you will notice often times that negative thoughts begin to crop up and take charge of your life. We need to watch our mouths and what we say, making sure we stay positive and filled with faith instead of descending into negative.
Christians should be like teabags… their true colours come out when they are in hot water! When it’s darkest Christians should shine brightest. And Christians can stay positive. I ask people how they are going and they often say, “Pretty good under the circumstances.” Then I ask what they are doing under there, they should be living above the circumstances.
Whatever the circumstances, you can choose how you respond. Negative, with doubt and fear. Or positive with faith. Whether you feel it or not, you can make a choice in your mind to remain positive, and your words have power. 10/12 spies gave a negative report on the Promised Land, but Caleb said this…
Numbers 13:30 (ESV Strong's)
“Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.”
They all saw the same fortified cities and giants that lived there. But their perceptions were different. Their minds were different. Most of the spies who were sent out perceived the fortified cities and giants as threats and intimidation. But Caleb perceived them as an opportunity to conquer.
Your problems, your adverse circumstances, will give rise to either fear and doubt or they can be an opportunity to shine for Jesus. When Fiona and I lost everything including our home in an investment collapse, everyone was watching us, to see how we would react. It hurt, is was fearful and intimidating, but we chose to see the positive and chose faith instead of fear.
Job 13:15 (ESV Strong's)
Though he slay me, I will hope in him;
How can you stay positive in the face of pain, doubt, fear, heartache, sickness, breakups or whatever you are now facing. You do this by filling your mind with positive things. Just as you can fill it with negative things from TV, Facebook, etc, you can choose instead to fill it with the positive…
- TAKE EVERY THOUGHT CAPTIVE
Even if you are trying to stay positive, filling your mind with good, godly things, this is a battlefield, and sometimes the enemy wins a round or two. Winning this battle is not a once off event, but a steady, ongoing and vigilant fight. You have to constantly be on your guard, because when you think you have the devil pegged and you recognise his influence, he sneaks up on you another way! He’s a cheat and doesn’t fight fair. All’s fair in love and war, and this is a war for your thoughts and your mind! So how do we deal with all this?
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (ESV Strong's)
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,
Negative thoughts will pop in even to the most positive among us. When those negative thoughts enter your mind, take them captive and make them obedient to Christ! Don’t entertain them, don’t invite them for dinner or to stay with you, capture and neutralise them! Say, “I’m not going to listen to you, Jesus says I’m more than a conqueror, so you have no effect!”
- STAY FOCUSSED ON JESUS
When Peter stepped out of the boat, his eyes were on Jesus, his mind filled with faith, and he walked on water. Then he looked around at the wind and waves, Satan attacked his mind and he began to falter, started to doubt and started to sink.
Matthew 14:29-31 (ESV Strong's)
Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
The key to mastering your mind is to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Don’t look at those circumstances, don’t listen to negativity, whatever you are going through now, you can win the battle for your mind by focusing on Jesus.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV-WS)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
YOU CAN WIN THE BATTLE FOR THE MIND!
I know many of you face huge battles in your mind. If sin is tempting you, if negative thoughts or unforgiveness are controlling you, if you have seemingly insurmountable odds and you can’t seem to break our or negativity, then I am here today to tell you that you can win the battle for the mind!
I know many here struggle to stay positive and fill their minds with good things, but today is the day we say to the devil ENOUGH. We are choosing to fix our eyes on Jesus, we are choosing to take negative, destructive thoughts captive, we are choosing to renew our minds with good and godly things, because we are going to win the battle for our minds!
If you are struggling with thoughts that seem to have power over you, stand up.