The Mind, Our Battlefield
February 1, 2020

C. R. Oliver

February 1, 2020

The Mind, Our Battlefield
2 Corinthians 10:1-7

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"Our minds are battlefields because our enemy, satan, has waged war on us."
Joyce Meyers: Battlefield of the Mind

Dr. Avery Jackson, in quoting Joyce, added: "Satan is carrying out a strategy to deceive us and fill our minds with worry, doubt, confusion depression, anger, and feeling of self-condemnation. These negative emotions and thoughts cause us to doubt the promises God has made so clearly in His Word. That in turn, can cause us to accomplish less than we are capable of and even to make poor life choices, it often takes a conscious effort to stop worrying and instead start believing God's promises." (102)

Meyers again addressed the issue: "Satan wants you to think that you are mentally deficient — that something is wrong with you. But the truth is, you just need to begin disciplining your mind. Don't let it run all over town, doing whatever it pleases. Begin today to 'keep your foot,' to keep your mind on what you're doing. You need to practice for a while. Breaking old habits and forming new ones always takes time, but it is worth it in the end." (103)

(These quotes and page numbers, used throughout this newsletter, are from a book entitled, The God Prescription, by Dr. Avery Jackson, MD. He has written one of the most cogent texts available on how wrong thinking directly affects the human body.)

Indeed, there has never been a day in history where the controlling forces of the world seek to capture the mind than now! Daily onslaughts from media, programmed agendas and calculated error attempt to invade the mind continually. Mind control is the primary goal of a myriad of sources including governments, businesses and aspiring religionists.

Paul, the apostle, recognized these affronts and knew they had to be addressed and dealt with; otherwise, these agencies of the devil would form strongholds in the believer's mind.

2 Corinthians 10:1-7:
Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ — who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you. 2 But I beg you that when I am present, I may not be bold with that confidence by which I intend to be bold against some, who think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

Acknowledging the necessity of God's strong presence in the battle, Paul declared the weapons used are "mighty IN God." Paul, throughout the New Testament, addressed the believer's minds.

Ephesians 6:10-13:
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

In my opinion, the modern believer, in the modern congregation, is unaware of the propensities described in those several verses.

For instance, take the negative "thought loops" which course the average person's brain on continuous playback (30,000 thoughts daily). Accordingly, "75 to 95 percent of the illnesses that plague us today (diabetes, cancer, asthma), are a direct result of thoughts; what we think about affects us." (Dr. Leaf, 92)

No wonder Paul said to "bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ."

"Consciously controlling your thought life means not letting thoughts rampage through your mind. It means learning to engage interactively with every single thought that you have, and to analyze it before you decide either to accept or reject it." (92)

Satan uses these negative loops to discourage and separate us from God. Such strategy works.

"We are often quick to believe the worst possible scenario. When something goes wrong, we begin to question our abilities, or relationships and everything else. We become discouraged and even question God's love for us. We must make a choice to rebuke satan's attempts to discourage us." (Jackson, 94)

Truly, a viable relationship with Jesus Christ is the strongest deterrent to these adverse mind patterns. Dependence on the Word of God, with emphasis on Jesus' love for us, gives us effective weaponry against the onslaught of negative triggers.

Paul, in 2 Corinthians 10:3, opens with a declaration of war against the flesh.

Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal…

Even with the finest statistical data, the results of expert analysis and the compounding capabilities of computers—those tools are carnal and weigh little against prayer, speaking in tongues and the power of the Word. The weapons of our warfare are superior in the battle for the mind.

God's people must learn to use these venues in order to overcome what is seeking to capture their minds and the minds of their children.

Writing to the Philippians, Paul spells out one of the strategies that has been a blessing to me personally.

Philippians 4:5-9:
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

Any fear, doubt or anxiety that rears its head should hear a recitation of these memorized verses. (Some believe the recitation of any one of God's promises at least four times in a row, affords additional power.)

Dr. Jackson points out: "Whether we are praying, singing hymns of praise, reading His Word, listening to Christian music, speaking in tongues, or engaging in fellowship with other Christians, that focus on God can change our minds in a good way and break the loop of negative thoughts." (62)

These, indeed, are mighty weapons in God!

2 Corinthians 10:4b "… mighty in God for pulling down strongholds…"

Barnes' notes describe graphically the term "Stronghold."

2 Corinthians 10:3:
The word rendered here as "strongholds," ochurooma, means properly a fastness, fortress, or strong fortification. It is here beautifully used to denote the various obstacles resembling a fortress which exist, and which are designed and adapted to oppose the truth and the triumph of the Christian's cause. All those obstacles are strongly fortified. The sins of his heart are fortified by long indulgence and by the hold which they have on his soul. The wickedness of the world which he opposes is strongly fortified by the fact that it has seized on strong human passions that one point strengthens another that great numbers are united. The idolatry of the world was strongly fortified by prejudice, and long establishment, and the protection of laws, and the power of the priesthood; and the opinions of the world are entrenched behind false philosophy and the power of subtle argumentation. The whole world is fortified against Christianity, and the nations of the earth have been engaged in little else than in raising and strengthening such strongholds for the space of 6,000 years. The Christian religion goes forth against all the combined and concentrated powers of resistance of the whole world, and the warfare is to be waged against every strongly fortified place of error and of sin. These strong fortifications of error and of sin are to be battered down and laid in ruins by our spiritual weapons.

(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997-2014 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Whew, when viewed in such conciseness, the task seems impossible, and it would be, but for the phrase, "mighty in God." Strongholds established over a life time of wrong thinking can be pulled down by the power of God working within you. The very gates of hell cannot prevail against this weaponry.

Matthew 16:18-19:
18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

The question is how much spiritual weaponry is being applied today? These mighty weapons must be used to confront our own thought patterns and those of our children. They must be applied to those around us who are slaves to obsession and bound by sin and the flesh as well.

Oh, that pulpit and pew would recognize the daunting task of spiritual warfare, which needs to be carried out within the gates of the church even before reaching the streets. Social services have proliferated in the absence of the warrior Body! Pulling down strongholds is the churches' domain. So is casting down imaginations!

Yes, the NKJV uses the word "argument" which implies contradictory statements seeking to hinder the work of the Lord in a person's life. Satan seeks to road block the pathway to freedom on every side and from multiple reasonings. (He used such "reasonings" against Jesus in His temptation.)

When we dig deeper, the word "argument" is better understood as "imaginations."

NT:3053 imagination
logismos (log-is-mos'); from NT:3049; computation, i.e. (figuratively) reasoning (conscience, conceit):
KJV - imagination, thought.

In our current environ, with the escapes of fantasy, and the broad applications of virtual and augmented reality, coupled with bombarding media, is it any wonder that spiritual warfare entails twenty-four-seven vigilance and spiritual discernment?

"Casting down" means to destroy imaginations and their influence.

NT:2507 casting down
kathaireo (kath-ahee-reh'-o); from NT:2596 and NT:138 (including its alternate); to lower (or with violence) demolish (literally or figuratively):
KJV - cast (pull, put, take) down, destroy.

Imaginations generally portray various constructs of what may be approaching us. Fear and worry propel such thinking. For instance, if a bad diagnosis is given—a person begins imagining themselves in conditions they have seen with others of the same disease or malady.
Popping up in the mind are visions of what could happen, what the odds of survival are and how poorly others look in similar circumstances.

Worry and fear generate intense feelings into this region. Such imaginations must be dealt with immediately, lest they cause doubt to arise against the knowledge of God. Thoughts of worry and fear transcend reality and follow one even to their sleep times. Your mind continues worrying while you are sleeping.

     "When you wake up, the worry continues in the background, even though you are engaging in work and all your other normal activities. The only way to shut down the negative thought process is to think about something that is more powerful than those thoughts.

     People who never address their stress and worry have these negative thoughts running in the background throughout their lives. This leads to physical manifestations, ranging from stomach ulcers to cancer and from autoimmune disorders to psychological disorders." (105)

Dr. Jackson's posits a remedy: "Never go to sleep worrying about your circumstances; this can upset your sleep cycle, digestion, and weight. Hand all your issues over to God, and fall asleep quoting a Scripture or thinking of all the good things that have happened to you or anything that makes you happy and feel at peace. Write your cares down before you sleep, and read the promises in God's Word. Give Him your fears." (105) I Peter 5:7

God alone is the only one powerful enough to transcend the negativity that bombards us every day, moment by moment.

According to Paul, one must "cast down" everything that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.

I Corinthians 10:5:
5 casting down arguments (imaginations) and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.

Consider the anti-Christ education that storms through the classrooms from grade school through university. High things that exalt against what one knows of the truth of God are things which may come from the State, in the form of regulations and rules that run counter to one's belief system. Such things may come from society, like moral turpitude which runs counter to the Bible.

Paul admonishes the Corinthians to "capture" these thoughts and imaginations.

2 Corinthians10:5:
bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ

Notice Strong's definition of "capture" is in military terms.

aichmalotizo (aheekh-mal-o-tid'-zo); from NT:164; to make captive:
KJV - lead away captive, bring into captivity.
aichmalotos (aheekh-mal-o-tos'); from aichme (a spear) and a derivative of the same as
NT:259; properly, a prisoner of war, i.e. (genitive case) a captive:
KJV - captive.

Once a person begins to be aware of the thoughts that seek to denigrate the Scripture, he must accurate and subdue them. As a matter of fact, Webster uses a military form to express the degree of capture.

going to, reaching, or hitting the intended target: not missing the target

In such cases, it means not taking prisoners, but executing that thought immediately. Otherwise, that thought spawns more patterns that "take over" one's life. By capturing the thought, it is isolated and cannot extend to others.

This is important business for the believer. This is an obedience to the command of Christ not to allow such to exist. We are to bring these renegade thoughts to the obedience of Christ.

Strong: obedience
NT:5218 hupakoe (hoop-ak-o-ay'); from NT:5219; attentive hearkening, i.e. (by implication) compliance or submission:
KJV - obedience, (make) obedient, obey (-ing).

Dr. Jackson writes thusly, "All we must do is believe His promises for us, state those promises until we believe that they are true for us individually, and believe there is no truth above those truths from God. We cast the other thoughts down, and this will create the desired healing cascade that God has planned for us every time!" (51)

Again, Dr. Jackson prescribes nine activities which confront worry, doubt and fear.

  1. Give God glory all the time.
  2. Keep Scripture before your eyes at all times.
  3. Pray in the Spirit.
  4. Remember a time when God helped you solve a serious problem or get through a difficult situation.
  5. Focus on staying relaxed to break the chronic "fight or flight" response.
  6. Read Psalms and listen to spiritual songs that penetrate your heart so that God can transform our negative thinking and worry into hope and peace.
  7. Earnestly keep faith in God during tough times.
  8. Choose not to be upset or overly concerned about anything. (2 Corinthians 12:10)
  9. Cast down any thought that is placed above God's thoughts. (117,118) (2 Corinthians 10:5,6)

In light of Paul's directive to bring our thought life under obedience to Christ, the believer must be vigilant in using I John 1:5. Sin and disobedience can be confessed and He will forgive us our sins and return us to righteousness. To have the mind of Christ requires our thought life to be submissive to His mind.

The most cursory study of God's Word reveals the need to have Jesus garrison our heart and mind.

Philippians 4:7:
and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Isaiah 26:3:
You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.

Luke 12:29-32:
29 "And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. 30 For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. 32 "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

Romans 12:2:
be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Ephesians 4:23-24:
…be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Colossians 1:21-23:
And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Colossians 3:2:
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth

2 Timothy 1:7:
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Hebrews 8:10:
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

1 Peter 1:13-16:
Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."

Revelation 2:23:
…all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.

Perhaps Dr Jackson's summary is even more insightful than simple—

     "God's aim is to heal our bodies and minds. Our job is to pray and thank God for His miracles and grace, think about His mercy, and stay in faith. Satan delights when our spirits and minds are filled with fear, so he does everything he can to keep us fearful. He wants God's peace to be ineffective in our lives." (111)

(All quotes are from The God Prescription, Avery M. Jackson III, MD, FACS, FAANS, 2018; numbers following quotes are page numbers in this book)

Until next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


From Harvest International, Inc. - Patton & Mary Lynn Franks:

Harvest Highlights January 2020

Being persuaded that Heaven has smiled on our work in Cuba and placed us in an extremely vital position at an equally important time, we want to do everything in our power to maximize our affect on the church and society in that country. Harvest has been involved there since 1993 and witnessed an ebb and flow in what we have been able to do. In recent years, however, we have seen an exponential increase in our opportunities and have invested accordingly.

By the Grace of God, the help of wonderful people like you and committed National Champions, Harvest International has enabled, sustained and encouraged an "innumerable company" of Cuban people to impact their generation for Christ. Now, at what seems to be the season for which the Holy Spirit has been orchestrating all the efforts, workers, events, supporters and political intrigue, we want to rise to the occasion full of the Holy Ghost and ready to meet the challenge!

Only God knows what this year holds for the Cuban people, but we do know, the Gospel can change nations! We know, the church hasn't had an opportunity in Cuba equal to this in our lifetime.

During the Christmas season, we were able to help with bicycles, computers, water pumps, fans, rice cookers, shoes and construction materials among other things. In addition, we have purchased a computer system that will allow blue tooth and WIFI access to the digital library at the Bible school. Please, pray we are successful in making a safe delivery!


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