If you want to experience victory over the darkness of your life, the battle will be waged in your mind. Paul in 2 Corinthians 2 helped the Corinthians understand that even in forgiveness, they were locked in a spiritual struggle. He encouraged them to extend forgiveness to a repentant sinner so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. (designs = reasonings, schemes or strategies) In Ephesians 4:6-27, Paul challenges us to deal quickly with anger so we don’t give Satan a foothold or opportunity.
The fact is we are locked in a battle against the enemy of our souls and that battle, for the most part will be fought in our minds.
2 Corinthians 10:3–5 (ESV)
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
Even though we live in a physical world, our battle is not a physical battle. In Ephesians 6:10-12, Paul tells us that our battle is against the “schemes” of the devil. We’re not wrestling against people, rather against spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
This is an important principle. People who are lost are not your enemy; even those who mock and oppose you for your faith are not your enemy. Your enemy is Satan and his demonic forces. People who are lost are captives of the enemy.
Back to 2 Corinthians 10:.Paul says our weapons have divine power to destroy strongholds. From the next verse (5) I believe that the strongholds that Paul is speaking of are lies that have become entrenched in our minds.
Satan works through lies and he is committed to leading you away from obedience to Jesus Christ! Take a moment and read Acts 5:1-5 (the story of Ananias). Peter looked at Ananias and said, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit? (5:3) I’m pretty sure that when Ananias thought about lying to the Apostles, he believed that the idea was his own (and a great one at that); but it was actually Satan planting that thought in his mind! When Peter tried to talk Jesus out of going to the cross (Matthew 16:21-23), I’m guessing he thought he was speaking on his own; but the fact is he was a mouthpiece for Satan!
Satan’s desire is that you wouldn’t even be aware of his activity in your life. In order to win the battle of your mind, you must understand Satan’s tactics; recognize his attacks, and resist him. The great news is the promise of God’s word that when you resist the devil, he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
Let me give you a short list of Satan’s tactics:
- Satan attacks the goodness and integrity of God. Genesis 3:1-6
- Satan brings difficulty into the life of the believer to entice the believer to separate himself from God. Job 1:6-12; Revelation 2:10
- Satan seeks to hinder God’s communication to us. Daniel 10:10-14; Matthew 13:18-23
- Satan entices us to act independently of God. Matthew 4:1-11
- Satan seeks to distract us from God’s Mission. Matthew 16:21-23
- Satan seeks to draw us away from simple intimacy with Christ. 2 Cor 11:3
- Satan seeks to stir anger and discord between brothers and sisters in Christ. Eph. 4:26-27
How does Satan do this? I believe by placing thoughts in your mind and then deceiving you into thinking that those are your ideas!
How do you fight this?
First, grow in your knowledge and use of God’s Word. Hebrews 5:11-14 says that the solid food is for the mature believer who by means of practice has his senses trained to discern good and evil. As you study and memorize God’s Word, you will develop a lie detector that will help you spot Satan’s attacks.
Second, allow the Holy Spirit to use God’s Word to renew your mind. Romans 12:2 says that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. Learn to submit your mind and your heart to the Holy Spirit and meditate (slow down and let it simmer in your mind) on God’s Word. Don’t simply read God’s word to reinforce your previous beliefs; use His word as a mirror to show you where you need to change. (James 1:22-25)
Third, be alert for Satan’s attacks. 1 Peter 5:8 says be on the alert because Satan is prowling like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Satan and his demonic forces are looking for any opportunity to divide, plunge you back into sin, or distract you from God’s work. You’ll discover that you can recognize his attacks quickly.
Fourth, resist him! 1 Peter 5:9 and James 4:7 both challenge us to resist Satan. Resist him by identifying the lie and casting it out of your mind. The picture that helps me is an old WWII movie where the Germans throw a hand grenade in the window. Before it can explode, the American soldier grabs it and throws it out the window where it explodes and kills the enemy. If you can identify the attack and reject it before it explodes in your mind, you can gain victory. If you’re slow and it explodes, you’ll have some major mental damage control to do.
Let me give you one personal example. I had trouble moving beyond some hurts I had because of my wife. I forgave her, but every so often the thoughts of the hurt would come back and I’d relive the event. My emotions were wiped out as if the event happened all over again. What I didn’t realize is that I was getting sucker punched by Satan. He was throwing the hand grenade of that thought in my mind and I let it explode! Once I realized it was an attack of Satan, it was a lot easier to reject that thought. When I won the battle of my mind, my emotions were able to heal.