Posted by: Veroni Kruger | March 8, 2016

The Primary Battlefield For Christians Is Their Own Minds

All Christians know that we are involved in a great war

This battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6.12).

What we often miss, though, is that the primary battlefield is our own minds

The Conflict Every Christian Experiences

Paul describes this conflict aptly in Romans 7.15-25:

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; … but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.

You might say it’s the battle between good and bad, ultimately between God and Satan.

BUT: There is no more battle between God and Satan – Satan is overcome in the epic battle fought at the cross and the resurrection, where Jesus won the victory. 

The battleground has shifted to the human mind.

Satan can attack us physically – although most physical diseases have physical causes, like aging, bad habits, lack of exercise, etc. Satan can attack us in our spirits, but then comes face to face with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells in the believer, and is where your spirit is – quite an enemy for Satan to take on! The mind is the most accessible avenue for attacks by Satan

It is a fallacy that all who become followers of Jesus are free of any further attacks by Satan. It is true that when we are born again, our spirit becomes the home of the Holy Spirit. Our physical life (in our own bodies and in our behaviour in the world) is determined by what is in our spirit. However, everything is filtered through our minds. That is often where the problem is.

James describes a particular aspect of the fruit of this battle (James 3.9-12)

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water

The essential question is: How can people who have been born again and sincerely want to follow Jesus still not always do the right thing?

The answer is: It’s all in the mind

This is what Jesus said to Peter when he unexpectedly did the wrong thing. “…you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Matthew 16.23). I would paraphrase it as “Your mind is where the problem is!”

Peter As Example Of the Battle For The Mind

 Peter was called by Jesus from his career as fisherman – Mark 1.16-18. Notice the prompt response of Peter. Also, he must already have had an inkling of who Jesus was. Luke’s more elaborate account of this incident says that Peter fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man” (Luke 5.8).

Peter received the revelation that Jesus is the Christ – the first human who received this, except maybe Mary.   Matthew (16) recounts Peter’s confident answer to the question of who Jesus is: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

And yet

Immediately afterwards Matthew describes Peter’s big mistake that made Jesus rebuke him as Satan. Refusing to accept Jesus’s prediction of his suffering, Peter rebukes Him. This leads Jesus to say to him “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.

The problem is in Peter’s mind: Jesus says Peter thinks the thoughts of humans and not those of God

The pattern continues:

After three years of being in training with Jesus, he denies knowing Jesus – another slip of the mind!

He is a witness to the empty grave – yet goes back to his livelihood when Jesus does not show up quickly enough after the resurrection (John 21.3).

He receives the baptism of the Holy Spirit – yet makes another mistake in reasoning, so that Paul rebukes him as hypocrite (Galatians 2.11-14).

The key to understanding Peter’s struggle: The battle for the mind

The Same Kind Of Battle Rages In Our Own Minds

 The origin of that battle

The battle originates in the desire of Satan to counter the authority of God in people’s lives. The alternatives are Satan who wants to control our minds, and God, who wants us to enjoy the freedom Christ bought for us.

Kinds of attacks we suffer in our minds:   

Here are some:  Fear, unbelief, negative thoughts, false gods like materialism and selfish ambition, aggression, unforgivenes,

How can we counter these attacks

Paul focuses on Jesus as the one who can lead us to victory:

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Rom 7.25)

But because it’s in our minds, we CAN do something about it. As human beings, we have control over our own minds.

Peter writes about this in 1 Peter 1.13

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober (NIV Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober), and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (KJV)

(“Gird up your loins” refers to the ancient practice of tying up long, loose clothes so that they were more practical when you are working or travelling.)

Was Peter thinking of what Jesus said to him about his thoughts?

Some practical suggestions on how to win the battle for our minds

Cultivate a lifestyle of submission to God

Spend regular time in prayer

Recognize “interference” by e.g. disappointments, hurts, failures, etc. and deal with them.

Avoid bad input – press, TV, advertisements, destructive company, harmful reading matter. All of these render us vulnerable to a bombardment of worldly wisdom.

Study Scripture – the most effective way of countering the bombardment of worldly wisdom we are subjected to.

Establish correct thought patterns by avoiding negative words and expressions.

Our way of thinking must be adapted to that of God – remember what Jesus said to Peter: you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.

A man’s mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind.”
― James AllenAs a Man Thinketh

South Africa Is In The Midst Of A Battle

This battle manifests itself in politics, economy, education, and security etc.

This is a spiritual battle, but it’s all about capturing the minds of South Africans.

Of course, as citizens we need to play our role in all of the areas in which we have civil responsibilities, privileges and avenues of legal involvement.  But as Christians we also need to recognize the nature of the battle and act accordingly. Even in terms of our country, what is needed is a change of mind. If we can all have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2.16) how different would things be. That needs to start with each one of us. Before we ask “What would Jesus do?” we need to ask “What is Jesus thinking about this?”

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