John Wilson, my mentor, who served at a church in Springfield, Ohio, for 65 years, once said to me, “If you are going to make it in ministry, you will have to win the battle of your thought life.”
I asked him what he meant by “thought life” and he said, “Most of the time in life, you will spend thinking about things. You can discipline your thinking for creativity in serving God or let your thoughts wander in fields of lust, power, money, and pride.”
He was right. To reach the fullness of God’s calling in my ministry, I had to learn to control my thought life. For us to reach our full potential in whatever job or calling and with all our close relationships – we have to control our thought life.
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds); Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5, KJV).
I rarely quote the King James Version but have in this Interruption because I like the phrasing, “pulling down strongholds and casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God.”
In my “mind fight” throughout the decades, I’ve noticed that my battle is against strongholds and imaginations. They compete against godly thinking, seeking to emerge victorious, but then dominating my thinking.
We have to pull down strongholds and cast down imaginations as they compete against godly thinking. We lose peace by letting strongholds and imaginations roam freely in our minds.
Pulling down strongholds…
No one gets up in the morning thinking, “I’m going to be an expletive speaking angry person today.” Anger, road rage, and violence are increasing. I was speaking to a judge this week and he said, “Youth used to fight with fists; now knives are outdated. They just pull out guns and start shooting.”
Add to anger, strongholds of sensuality, racism, power, and uncontrolled self-indulgence – and note they all start in the mind. Sooner or later, our thoughts take control of our actions.
My mentor, John Wilson, told me in decades past, “When thoughts are left uncontrolled, people become human animals, having lost God’s image, to live under the control of their strongholds.”
Casting down imaginations…
When I was little, a kindergarten friend of mine told me about his “imaginary friend.” I laughed, others laughed, and by first grade my friend said that his imaginary friend had left. I’m not downplaying childlike growth in mental and emotional development, but as adults – be warned – imaginary friends can take control of your mind.
There are familiar spirits – demons influencing your mind – expressed through despair, sometimes depression, urges to kill, pornography, and many other “friends.” These spirits become so familiar they become your identity.
Our friendship with these spirits can become so familiar that we defend them with justification and denial – just like we would an actual best friend!
Pulling and casting down…
Through the years I’ve learned to say to adverse thoughts, “You are not of God, you are not my friend. God, destroy this thought by the light of Jesus.” Yes, the thought might come back – and some thoughts you will fight for decades – but they can’t take root in the presence of the light and truth of the Spirit.
Light conquers darkness.
Martin Luther once said, “You can’t keep birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.”
Jesus has already defeated strongholds and imaginations of evil in your thought life.
Command your “imaginations” and “strongholds” to leave – in the name of Jesus!