BREAKING MENTAL STRONGHOLDS

(HEY, I’ll be teaching this at a seminar this Saturday 9-12 at Redeemer Lutheran in Fridley. FREE–and FUN!)

“You should not be teaching Sunday School.  You’re not a good Christian.”  “You’re dumb.”  “You’re ugly.” “God is angry with you for what you did as a child.” “Most people have three times the talent you have.” “God has abandoned you.”

“For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3,4).

War is serious business. Paul uses the words “war” and “warfare” when speaking about coming against mental strongholds. This war has weapons, like any war. Thoughts from the enemy threaten to neutralize or eliminate us. The battle deals with eternal rather than temporal realities.

The power in this war is divine rather than human. People make atomic bombs, but only God can search the heart and mind and uncover the plan of our sinister enemy. We cannot fight this battle with human weapons. Paul uses the word “destroy” two times. We are encouraged to “destroy strongholds” erected in our minds, thoughts that turn to habits. Satan uses “arguments” and “lofty opinions.” He whispers to a young adult Christian woman, “You are not beautiful. You will never get married.” She fights to believe. If she doubts what God or her parents say about her identity, she may adopt the enemy’s lie. Strongholds are arguments allowed to stay uncontested. We must come against them aggressively.  Satan tries to take us out by messing with our picture of God and ourselves. He managed to derail Adam and Even by changing their outlook of God. “Did God really say?” It became a convincing argument. They bought the lie and bit the apple. Devastating!

We have weapons to come against “lofty opinions” and self-centered thoughts, ideas to contradict the truth of God. Thoughts need to be discerned and not received blindly. Satan’s battle plan is “to steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10a). Satan tells young men that video porn is not bad–not that bad. And he takes them out, sometimes for years, when they believe the lie and hide in the darkness. Satan has an army of demons with supernatural power and sinister intent like himself. Thoughts sent from the enemy and embraced have the power to demoralize us.

We must stay alert. We are in a war, not on a picnic. Paul writes, “We are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober” (I Thess. 5:6).  Peter tells us, “Therefore gird up your minds, be sober” (I Peter 1:13).

And Paul says that “we are not contending against flesh and blood [normal warfare], but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). He urges us to arm ourselves with the armor of Christ’s righteousness so we don’t yield to the enemy. We need to learn how to “quench all the flaming darts of the evil one” (16), aimed at our minds. Our offensive weapon is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (17). Use it, dear Christian friend!

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