How can we express the importance of our thoughts sufficiently in order to convey the true meaning of Proverbs 23:7: For as he [a person] thinks in his heart, so is he…? The longer I serve God and study His Word, the more I realize the importance of thoughts and words. On a fairly regular basis, I find the Holy Spirit leading me to study in these areas. For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every I have said, and I believe it is true, that as long as we are on this earth we will need to study in the areas of thoughts and words. No matter how much we know in any area, there are always new things to learn, and things we have previously learned that we need to be refreshed in. thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). 2 CORINTHIANS 10:4,5 What does Proverbs 23:7 really mean? The King James Version says, …As he [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he …. Another translation states, “As a man thinks in his heart, so does he become.” The mind is the leader or forerunner of all actions. Romans 8:5 makes it clear: For those who are according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit set their minds on and seek those things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit. Our actions are a direct result of our thoughts. If we have a negative mind, we will have a negative life. If, on the other hand, we renew our mind according to God’s Word, we will, as Romans 12:2 promises, prove out in our experience “the good and acceptable and perfect will of God” for our lives.
I have divided this book into three main parts. This first part deals with the importance of thoughts. I want to establish firmly in your heart forever that you need to begin to think about what you are thinking about. So many people’s problems are rooted in thinking patterns that actually produce the problems they experience in their lives. Satan offers wrong thinking to everyone, but we do not have to accept his offer. Learn what types of thinking are acceptable to the Holy Spirit and what types are not acceptable. Second Corinthians 10:4,5 clearly indicates that we must know the Word of God well enough to be able to compare what is in our mind with what is in the mind of God; any thought that attempts to exalt itself above the Word of God we are to cast down and bring into captivity to Jesus Christ. I pray that this book will help you to do that. The mind is the battlefield. It is a vital necessity that we line up our thoughts with God’s thoughts. This is a process that will take time and study. Don’t ever give up, because little by little you are changing. The more you change your mind for the better, the more your life will also change for the better. When you begin to see God’s good plan for you in your thinking, you will begin to walk in it.
The Mind Is the Battlefield F rom this Scripture we see that we are in a war. A careful study of this verse informs us that our warfare is not with other human beings but with the devil and his demons. Our enemy, Satan, attempts to defeat us with strategy and deceit, through well-laid plans and deliberate deception. The devil is a liar. Jesus called him … the father of lies and of all that is false (John 8:44.) He lies to you and me. He tells us things about Chapter 1 For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere. EPHESIANS 6:12 ourselves, about other people and about circumstances that are just not true. He does not, however, tell us the entire lie all at one time. He begins by bombarding our mind with a cleverly devised pattern of little nagging thoughts, suspicions, doubts, fears, wonderings, reasonings and theories. He moves slowly and cautiously (after all, well-laid plans take time). Remember, he has a strategy for his warfare. He has studied us for a long time. He knows what we like and what we don’t like. He knows our insecurities, our weaknesses and our fears. He knows what bothers us most. He is willing to invest any amount of time it takes to defeat us. One of the devil’s strong points is patience. TEARING DOWN STRONGHOLDS For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (theMessiah, the Anointed One). 2 Corinthians 10:4,5 Through careful strategy and cunning deceit, Satan attempts to set up “strongholds” in our mind. stronghold is an area in which we are held in bondage (in prison) due to a certain way of thinking. In this passage, the Apostle Paul tells us that we have the weapons we need to overcome Satan’s strongholds. We will learn more about these weapons later, but right now, please notice that once again we see that we are engaged in warfare, spiritual warfare. Verse 5 shows us clearly the location of the battlefield on which this warfare is waged. The Amplified Bible translation of this verse says that we are to take these weapons and refute arguments. The devil argues with us; he offers us theories and reasonings. All of this activity goes on in the mind. The mind is the battlefield. SUMMARY OF THE SITUATION Thus, so far we have seen that: 1. We are engaged in a war. 2. Our enemy is Satan. 3. The mind is the battlefield. 4. The devil works diligently to set up strongholds in our mind. 5. He does it through strategy and deceit (through well-laid plans and deliberate deception). 6. He is in no hurry; he takes his time to work out his plan. Let’s examine his plan more clearly through a parable. MARY’S SIDE Mary and her husband, John, are not enjoying a happy marriage. There is strife between them all the time. They are both angry, bitter and resentful. They have two children who are being affected by the problems in the home. The strife is showing up in their school work and behavior. One of the children is having stomach problems caused by nerves. Mary’s problem is that she doesn’t know how to let John be the head of their home. She is bossy—she wants to make all the decisions, handle the finances and discipline the children. She wants to work so she will have her “own” money. She is independent, loud, demanding and a nag. About now you may be thinking, “I’ve got her answer. She needs to know Jesus.” She does know Him! Mary received Jesus as her Savior five years ago —three years after she and John were married. “Do you mean there hasn’t been a change in Mary since receiving Jesus as Savior?” Yes, there has been change. She believes she is going to heaven even though her bad behavior causes her to feel constant condemnation. She has hope now. Before she met Jesus, she was miserable and hopeless; now she is just miserable. Mary knows that her attitude is wrong. She wants to change. She has received counseling from two people, and she gets in almost every prayer line asking for victory over anger, rebellion, unforgiveness, resentment and bitterness. Why hasn’t she seen more improvement? The answer is found in Romans 12:2: Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you]. Mary has strongholds in her mind. They have been there for years. She doesn’t even understand how they got there. She knows she shouldn’t be rebellious, bossy, nagging, etc., but she doesn’t know what to do to change her nature. It seems that she simply reacts in certain situations in an unseemly way because she can’t control her actions. Mary can’t control her actions because she doesn’t control her thoughts. She doesn’t control her thoughts because there are strong-holds in her mind that the devil set up early in her life. Satan begins to initiate his well-laid plans and to sow his deliberate deception at a very young age. In Mary’s case, her problems started long ago, in childhood.
As a child Mary had an extremely domineering father who often spanked her just because he was in a bad mood. If she made one wrong move, he would vent his anger on her. For years, she suffered helplessly as her father mistreated her and her mother. He was disrespectful in all his ways toward his wife and daughter. Mary’s brother, however, could do no wrong. It seemed as if he was favored just because he was a boy. By the time she was sixteen, Mary had been brain-washed for years by Satan who had told her lies that went something like this: “Men really think they are something. They are all alike; you can’t trust them. They will hurt you and take advantage of you. If you’re a man, you’ve got it made in life. You can do anything you want. You can order people around, be the boss, treat people any way you please and nobody (especially not wives or daughters) can do anything about it.” As a result, Mary’s mind was resolved: “When I get away from here, nobody is ever going to push me around again!” Satan was already waging war on the battlefield of her mind. Play those thoughts over and over in your head a hundred thousand times or more over a period of ten years, and see if you’re ready to get married and become a sweet, submissive, adoring wife. Even if by some miracle you should want to be, you won’t know how. This is the kind of mess in which Mary finds herself today. What can she do? What can any of us do in such a situation? THE WEAPONS OF THE WORD …If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples. And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free. John 8:31,32 Here Jesus tells us how we are to win the victory over the lies of Satan. We must get the knowledge of God’s truth in us. renew our minds with His Word, then use the weapons of 2 Corinthians 10:4,5 to tear down strongholds and every high and lofty thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. These “weapons” are the Word received through preaching, teaching, books, tapes, seminars and private Bible study. But we must “abide”
(continue) in the Word until it becomes revelation given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Continuing is important. In Mark 4:24 Jesus says, …The measure [of thought and study] you give [to the truth you hear] will be the measure [of virtue and knowledge] that comes back to you …. I repeat, we must continue using the weapon of the Word. Two other spiritual weapons available to us are praise and prayer. Praise defeats the devil quicker than any other battle plan, but it must be genuine heart praise, not just lip service or a method being tried to see if it works. Also, praise and prayer both involve the Word. We praise God according to His Word and His goodness. Prayer is relationship with the Godhead. It is coming and asking for help or talking to God about something that bothers us. If you want to have an effective prayer life, develop a good personal relationship with the Father. Know that He loves you, that He is full of mercy, that He will help you. Get to know Jesus. He is your Friend. He died for you. Get to know the Holy Spirit. He is with you all the time as your Helper. Let Him help you. Learn to fill your prayers with the Word of God. God’s Word and our need is the basis on which we come to Him. So, our weapons are the Word used in various ways. As Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians, our weapons are not carnal (fleshly) weapons; they are spiritual. We need spiritual weapons because we are fighting master spirits, yes, even the devil himself. Even Jesus used the weapon of the Word in the wilderness to defeat the devil. (Luke 4:1-13.) Each time the devil lied to Him, Jesus responded with, “It is written,” and quoted him the Word. As Mary learns to use her weapons, she will begin to tear down the strongholds that have been built in her mind. She will know the truth that will set her free. She will see that not all men are like her earthly father. Some are, but many are not. Her husband, John, is not. John loves Mary very much. JOHN’S SIDE The other side of the story involves John. He, too, has problems that are a contributing factor to the situation he and Mary face in their marriage, home and family. John should be taking his position as head of the family. God intends for him to be the priest of his home. John is also born again and knows the proper order for family life. He knows that he should not allow his wife to run the household, the finances, the children and him. He knows all this, but he doesn’t do anything about it except feel defeated and retreat into TV and sports. John is hiding from his responsibility because he hates confrontation. He prefers to take a passive attitude, thinking, “Well, if I just leave this situation alone, perhaps it will work itself out.” Or, he excuses himself from taking real action by saying, “I’ll pray about it.” Of course, prayer is good, but not if it is merely a way of avoiding responsibility. Let me clarify what I mean when I say that John should assume his God-given position in the home. I don’t mean that he should come on like “Mr. Macho,” ranting and raving about his authority. Ephesians 5:25 teaches that a man should love his wife as Christ loved the Church. John needs to take responsibility, and with responsibility comes authority. He should be firm with his wife—loving but firm. He should reassure Mary that even though she was hurt as a child, as she releases herself to God through trusting Him, she will gain confidence that not all men are like her father was. John should be doing a lot of things; but like Mary, he also has “mindsets” that open the door for the devil to hold him captive. There is also a battle going on in John’s mind. Like Mary, he was verbally abused in childhood. His domineering mother had a sharp tongue and frequently said hurtful things to him, things like: “John, you’re such a mess; you’ll never amount to anything.” John tried hard to please his mother because he craved her approval (as all children do); but the harder he tried, the more mistakes he made. He had a habit of being clumsy, so his mother told him all the time what a “klutz” he was. Of course, he dropped things because he was trying so hard to please that it made him nervous, and so he defeated his purpose. He also experienced some unfortunate rejection from children with whom he desired to be friends. This type of thing happens to most of us at some time in our lives, but it devastated John because he already felt rejected by his mother. And there was a girl whom he really liked in his early high school years who rejected him for another boy. By the time all of these things had tallied up in John’s life, and the devil had worked on him, building strongholds in his mind for years and years, John simply had no courage to be anything but quiet, shy and withdrawn. John is a low-key type person who simply chooses not to make waves. For years he has been having thoughts directed into him that go something like this: “There is no point in telling anyone what you think; they won’t listen anyway. If you want people to accept you, you just need to go along with whatever they want.” The few times he tried to stand his ground on an issue, it seemed that he always ended up losing, so he finally decided that confrontation wasn’t worth the effort