During the early, formative years of our lives, you and I learned to live independently from God – we were born with this tendency, as has every human being since Adam and Eve, even when you are born to parents who know and love Jesus.
When you became a Christian nobody pushed the delete button in your head to make you forget how to live independently of God. All those thoughts and feelings are still in there, and this is what Scripture calls the flesh, it’s all permanently recorded in your memory.
You and I learned how to cope with life using thought patterns and behavior patterns that are not compatible with God’s way
• Lots of people learned to lie to protect or promote themselves
• We refuse to face the truth so we pretend it doesn’t exist – some people call this denial
• We indulge in a fantasy life because real life is unpleasant
• We withdraw from people so people won’t reject us
• We regress, revert to behavior from our childhoods
• We take our frustrations out on other people,
• We blame others for our troubles
• We make excuses for ourselves
All these ways of coping are similar to what Paul called strongholds in 2 Corinthians. The word “stronghold” could also be translated “fortress”, it’s your world view that was shaped by the environment you grew up in, and in which you now live, it makes you feel strong to face life. Since you can’t wipe that slate clean, you and I have to unlearn what we learned during those years without Jesus.
That’s why Paul said, in
Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”Even as believers you and I can still be conformed to this world by listening to the wrong music, watching the wrong shows, reading the wrong material, or even just being barraged with all of the advertizement that’s aimed at us.
You and I have to retrain our minds, we have to renounce the lies, reprogram the way we think by renewing our minds daily with God’s word, and we have to commit to believing the truth, speaking the truth and applying the truth every chance we get -- no white lies, no manipulation, no social niceties that are intended to deceive.
Satan knows that if he can control your thoughts, he can control your life because what you think will determine what you do and say.
in 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 Paul instructed the Corinthians to forgive the person they had been disciplining so that they would not be ignorant of Satan’s schemes – in other words, Satan takes advantage of the thought lives of people who refuse to forgive others. Unforgiveness is a major reason why people remain in bondage to their past instead of being free in Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4, Satan has blinded the minds of unbelievers
2 Corinthians 11:3 The serpent is crafty enough to lead even Christians astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Jesus.Scripture clearly teaches that Satan is capable of putting thoughts into people’s minds. These deceptive thoughts sound just like your own voice, so you think you’re thinking your own thoughts. (1 Chronicles 21:1 and John 13:2)
The antidote to Satan’s deceptions and schemes is found in 2 Corinthians 10:5, disciplining yourself to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Does that sound like work? It is. Hard work! You must take every thought because the problem with deception is that you don’t know if you are being fooled, since you might already be deceived. So you ask Jesus: is this thought worthy of You? Does this thought pass muster with Your word in the Bible?
God has given you and me an excellent sifter for thoughts: it’s found in
Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Most of the time our little captive thought won’t even pass the first test “whatever is true.” More often than not, our thoughts are based on what we imagine must be the truth, what we project must be the truth, but there is no proof of veracity. Take each of those words in that verse and meditate on them. Is it honorable.... really? Is your thought just, does it give fair judgement? Is it a pure thought? Is it beautiful or is it ugly? Would you commend this thought to someone else? To God? Is it an excellent or a shabby thought? And is what you’re thinking worth praising? Are you proud of that thought?
God cares deeply about your thought life: Jesus said love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind...” Matthew 22:37)
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