Maybe you’ve heard this quote before:
“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” Frank Outlaw
When we give serious thought to it, the power of our thoughts is incredible, if we are willing and able to direct them aright. If not, the power of our thoughts is frightening, at best.
Recently, I’ve experienced what feels like an uprising in my thought life. When faced with uncomfortable situations, I find myself literally at war in my mind. It is a curious battle, because I’ve spent years training my mind with the promises of God. Usually, when faced with a conflict between my spirit and my mind, there is little contest. Because I know what’s right and have come to believe it with my heart, that alignment is usually enough to overthrow whatever thoughts are rising up to derail me.
But I am now encountering a resistance that feels like its been fed underground for decades. The strength of the thoughts I am battling is fierce. I have the good fortune of knowing that these thoughts are not thoughts from God, and therefore are not thoughts I want to nurture. But what is one to do when such thoughts – though they be unwanted – refuse to go?
The Bible holds the answer to this question in 2 Corinthians 10:5. “…We take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
When you and I are faced with thoughts we know we must not entertain, the only way to deal with them is to refuse them, and the source from which they came. We are to capture such thoughts – literally grabbing ahold of them and pulling them down, until they are forced into submission to the truth. Sometimes this will require a bit of a wrestling match, but it’s a battle we must fight to the death, if we are to survive.
A.B. Simpson wrote, of the conflict with ungodly thoughts:
The only remedy for bad thoughts is to stop thinking all our own thoughts, to be spiritually decapitated, and to be delivered from the natural mind as well as the natural heart. God will, therefore, put us to school in the difficult task of stopping thinking. We will not only try to think right, but we will stop our thoughts, and wait for Him to give us His mind. This may seem to you like annihilation, but you will come to it if you are going to enter into the deepest, sweetest, strongest life…”
It seems intense, I know. And maybe you haven’t yet come into such a battleground. But we are warned in Scripture that the carnal mind – the mind that thinks its own thoughts, according to its own understanding – is death. We cannot comprehend Christ with such a mind. And if we cannot comprehend Him, then we are limited in our knowledge of Him.
I don’t want to be limited in my experience of Jesus.
The truth is, we go from strength to strength, and from glory to glory, according to God’s plan. And because that is true, there will always be more opportunities to grow in our spiritual life. We need not fear or dread such opportunities, but rather embrace them, for there is the promise of more always hidden within them.
If I look at the struggle itself – how it feels and maybe even how it sounds – I will be tempted to disengage and surrender to what seems less difficult. I will give in to those thoughts, which might not seem like such a big deal in the moment, but will eventually mean the creation and empowerment of an attitude/belief/set of habits which will war against everything I have been pursuing in the life of faith.
So I will choose instead to look at this new and fierce battle as an invitation to know and experience yet more of Christ, more of His grace, and more of His blessed promises.
The reality is that we all need more of Jesus, in every area of our lives. And I believe that the uprising I am now experiencing is only an indicator that my mind is the next place which Jesus has set His aim upon. Naturally, everything in our humanity and everything in hell will resist the aims of Christ upon more of us, and so this is another reason to rejoice! The announcement has been made, both to my flesh and to the demons who would be pacified by my staying where I am: Christ has come, and is bringing with Him more of His glorious life, that I might become more fully His than I was before.
A.B. Simpson also writes: “Every second we get a sting from some fiery shaft, some imagination, some memory, some foreboding, some fear, some care, and God lets us get them in order that they may be destroyed, and we so armed against them that they can never hurt us anymore.”
Ah, we are destined for this battle, be it now or be it later. I suspect, to some degree, that we will experience a little of it every day. But we have been armed for it, and so we need not fear.
Let it be, dear Jesus, let it be – that we may become weak in ourselves but stronger in You.
Dear Woman of Breakthrough, may you spend yourself today taking captive every thought which raises itself up against the truth and the knowledge of God in your life, and may you find the life of Christ more fully alive in the recesses of your mind than ever before. May, then, your words become sweeter, your actions become kinder, your habits become life-giving, your character become stronger, and your destiny become a ray of glorious light for all the world to see.
Win the war in your mind today, Sister. I will be fighting valiantly beside you, with the help of our blessed and mighty God.