Do you have challenging thoughts that seem to have a life of their own - thoughts that persist even when you try to push them away? It can cause us to ask “how can I go forward in my Christian life with a mind which seems to be running amok?”
It’s tempting to think that our mind-struggle is caused by the 21st Century world, which seems such a wicked place, with the media constantly bombarding us with thought-provoking images and arguments. Our heart cry is “Oh, to have a pure mind, the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).
However, it seems from our verse today that this isn’t a new problem. Even in the first century Paul recognised that the believers in Corinth were struggling with issues of strongholds in their minds and really needed some practical help. I wonder if they had intrusive thoughts of revenge, or sexual lusts, or jealousy, or self-hatred. We can only surmise. However, Paul is a great realist and, probably from his own experience, knew that the battle that raged in their minds had to be won by every believer.
The Greek world had increasingly valued thinking and the rational mind over every other part of human life. It isn’t so very different today in many cultures that have Greek understanding as their basis. Even as Christians we tend to live primarily out of our cognitive understanding. Our minds have been educated and elevated, and have often taken over as ruler of our lives, which isn’t God’s plan for healthy kingdom living.
God’s design is that our human spirit would be in charge of our lives and that our mind would be subservient to our human spirit leading. The disorder, allowing the mind to be in charge, has given the enemy rights to have authority in our minds and to sustain negative or even tormenting thoughts. Our ungodly thoughts and his intrusive power have built a stronghold. So if Jesus is to be Lord of our mind then there is a battle to be fought. Passivity in this battle would leave a disciple trying to live a godly life whilst coping with unwelcome but recurring negative and sinful thoughts. This doesn’t sound like abundant life. It sounds more like a recipe for shame, hopelessness and despair.
However the verse today gives us hope. There is a way to pull down the enemy’s stronghold and get the victory over these unwanted thoughts. But we need the right weapons with which to fight; not carnal weapons but spiritual ones, and tomorrow we will consider further how to fight and win this battle.
Prayer: Father God, thank You that You understand all about us and our lives in this fallen world. Today we acknowledge that there is a battle for our minds and we confess that we haven’t been able to win this on our own. We need Your help to understand how to gain victory, and thank You for inspiring these words that Paul wrote so we can learn and apply the tools that will give us victory. Amen.
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