Monday night I witnessed a man tormented in his mind by what he says is a lack of clarity he has had most of his life. He spoke of this lack of clarity coming upon him while in college at the age of 18. Having left home at age 14, then serving in the air force for 3 years, he found himself at a college where the confusion began and is still with him today. Despite growing up and attending church from age 10-14, he left the church to pursue the world. At the age of 84, he confessed that he could hear clearly the truth that was being proclaimed, and even that he had heard a similar message before, yet he was not quite ready to take the step of faith required to surrender his whole life to Christ.
While continued prayers for this man and his believing wife will be lifted to the throne of our Father, the question remains as to how many more people are still without clarity in their lives. How many more believers are still trapped in a mental prison? From the moment one awakens to the moment the head hits the pillow, a million thoughts will rush through the mind. Good as well as bad thoughts throughout the day. Those that haunt us and those that give us peace. How does one live with a free mind?
The war in the mind must be won in the heart.
For a believer, the battle for the mind begins in the heart. Satan knows that if he can capture the mind of a believer then he can get the believer to sin and thus paralyze him from being a witness for God and hinder the intimate relationship the Father has with His child. In the book, Lord, Is it Warfare? Teach Me To Stand, Kay Arthur states it this way:
“Satan’s primary objective is to get us into sin. His target is your mind, or as the New Testament refers to it, your heart. (The Jews believed that you thought with your heart.) Sin doesn’t originate in your actions; it begins in your mind. If you don’t learn to control your thoughts, you’ll find yourself ensnared by the devil.”
Often times when we find ourselves in sin, we try to fight it by imposing rules and regulations on ourselves to remove the sinful behavior; behavior modification. However, that is not what the Lord Jesus Christ says.
“Are you even still lacking in understanding? He asked. Don’t you realize that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is eliminated? But what comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this defiles a man. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immoralities, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies. These are things that defile a man, but eating with unwashed hands does not defile a man.'” Matthew 15:16-20
For Christ, the issue was not behavior modification, but a change of the heart so that the mouth would speak His truth. Christ was more concerned about the condition of the heart and one’s mind than the religious acts being performed. Said this way by Erwin W. Lutzer in his book, How to Say No to a Stubborn Habit: Even When You Feel Like Saying Yes:
“God strikes at the core of our motivations. He is not interested in merely applying a new coat of paint, imposing a new set of rules. He wants to rebuild our minds and give us new values. The most important part of us is that which nobody sees, except God. And He wants to begin His work there” (Lutzer, 21)
Our family is in the middle of doing some remodeling in our home. Fresh paint has been applied to three rooms in our home so this illustration is extremely relevant to us. God desires to do more than just cover us with a new coat of paint. He desires to transform us by renewing our minds. He longs for our thoughts to become more and more in line with His thoughts and conform more to the image of His Son, Christ Jesus. But how can we have the mind of Christ? We must guard our heart.
“Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
Freedom comes when our heart is guarded. This brings us to a common misconception when talking about mental freedom and one that causes many believers to live in defeat.
Your mind is enslaved either to sin or to Christ.
Society has many different ways of convincing a person they can be mentally free. But is this a misconception? The idea that one can be mentally free leaves the impression that one can be free from evil thoughts, fantasies, etc. While a believer can be free from these things, and Christ’s death provides this for the believer, the bible tells us that our mind is free from those things by being enslaved, captured, by Christ.
“For though we live in the body, we do not wage war in an unspiritual way, since the weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
True mental freedom comes only when our mind is under obedience to Christ. To allow our thoughts to run rampant is to enslave our minds to sin. Thus, to be mentally free, we must guard our heart, take every thought captive and reject any lies the enemy might try to send our way. Kay Arthur tells of the enemies tactics and the battle plan our own heart and mind should have against him:
“The enemy will send a fiery dart (thought) to our mind: a lie, a thought of rejection,a wrong doctrine, a deprecating thought, a suggestion to do evil, whatever.
When the thought comes, we should bring it captive to Jesus Christ:
1. Evaluate the thought. Frisk it at the door of your mind. Philippians 4:8! “Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.”
2. Reject this thought if it doesn’t meet the qualifications (2 Corinthians 10:5) and replace it (Philippians 4:8; Isaiah 26:3).
If the thought does not meet the qualifications of Philippians 4:8, we must not consider or entertain it. We must take it captive! If we don’t, it can become a stronghold of wrong thinking, a fortress which will hold us prisoner. We will become the captive, instead of the captor.”
What is your mind enslaved to today? Take some time to work through Philippians 4:8 with your thoughts. Don’t let the enemy enslave you, but let your mind be taken captive by Christ, and be mentally free!!
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