Battle for the mind
Jesus told Paul that He had called him to minister to the non-Jewish people of the world: “(1) To open their eyes, and (2) turn them from darkness to light…” (Acts 26:18 – numbers added are mine)
Before a person can turn from darkness to light, they must first “open their eyes” to see the difference between darkness and light.
Too often we want a person to turn from darkness to light before they’ve had their eyes opened.
When a person’s eyes are opened that there IS a difference between darkness and light, the battle for the mind begins.
For some, that initial eye-opening revelation that there IS a difference between darkness and light, can be as painful as when a person turns a room light on in the middle of the night – it hurts, they shut their eyes again, and THEN open the eyes slowly as they adjust to the intensity of the light.
When Jesus told the disciples to “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Herod” in Mark 8:15, He was using yeast as an example of error, hypocrisy, and religious compromises which could ruin their purity and simplicity of faith.
But they didn’t understand Jesus’ little parable of the yeast, thinking He was chastising them for not bringing enough bread. Jesus responded with this:
“Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you not yet perceive, do you not yet understand? Have you hardened your heart? When I broke 5 loaves and fed 5,000, how many baskets of leftovers did you have? (Twelve). When I broke 7 loaves and fed 4,000, how many baskets of leftovers did you have? (Seven) How is it you do not yet understand? (v17-21)
In the Greek, Jesus actually asked “How is it you haven’t yet put it together?”
Jesus hasn’t changed and He is asking the same of us today.
What is Your Brain For?
In the battle for the mind there is an expectation that we will in fact direct our thoughts to the differences between darkness and light, think about those differences, and ‘put it together’, as Jesus stated.
A person cannot come up to God’s higher thoughts and ways unless he first starts ‘putting it together’.
Paul prayed in Ephesians 1:17-18 that the Father would give them the “Spirit of wisdom and revelation in Him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened so you can know the hope of His calling…”
The word ‘understanding’ here is ‘dianoia’; Vine’s Dictionary of NT Words says it means: “..a thinking through, or (thinking) over, a meditation, reflecting.”
That means Paul was asking the Father:
“That He would give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in Him, so the eyes of YOUR ‘thinking through, over, meditation, reflecting’ would receive light which causes you to know the hope of His calling (on our lives)…”
The Spirit of wisdom & revelation is a part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit; our part is ’thinking through, over, meditation and reflecting’ - to apply ourselves to ‘put it together’ accordingly.
This is how our mind is ‘renewed’ and our lives undergo a metamorphosis as stated in Romans 12:2. We have our eyes opened to the differences between darkness and light, and then we turn from darkness to the light, learning new thoughts and new ways.
On the left column we have everything our life has accumulated thus far: Everything written on our blank page right or wrong, our multitude of thoughts, specific thoughts, habits, perspective and results in life to date.
On the right column is everything we see in the light – what God says about us, about our purpose, about our destiny and the ages to come. The way to grow in Christ and to transform our lives is to FORSAKE the old ways and thoughts, and discipline our emotions and thoughts to think as God says.
In II Corinthians 3 Paul is contrasting the glory of the Old Testament with the glory of the New. His point is that the Old was external and the glory of the Old was revealed on Moses’ glowing face, which he then veiled.
But that glory has now moved inside each believer through the new birth and shines outward, and revealed in His Word which is like a mirror before our eyes. As we look into that mirror we are changed as we see what He has done in us.
“With open faces we stare into a mirror (Word) and see the glory of the Lord, and we are changed into that same image from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord.” (v18)
James uses the same analogy in 1:22-25 when he says:
“If anyone is a hearer of the Word but not a doer, he is like a person looking at himself in a mirror. He looks at himself, but then goes away and forgets what he looked like. But whoever looks into the perfect law of liberty (Word) and continues in it, not a forgetful hearer but a doer, this man will be blessed in his life.”
That is Why…
…the authors of the NT didn’t spend much if any time teaching about how to fight personal demons, how to fight the sins of their fathers and mothers and generations past, pray down evil spirits in an area or try to get an open heaven or go to heaven itself, or any other self-oriented fad conference titles of today.
Nor did they spend time rationalizing self-injurious lifestyles and sins - they were consumed with staring into the mirror of who Christ has made them to be, and being changed into that image as they applied the Word in their lives and thoughts.
When we look into the Word, replace our old thoughts with His thoughts, everything else just falls away. We are not to look over our shoulder at the past, nor in our rearview mirror to see what demon or past sin is following, rather we are to look into the mirror of the Word and be consumed with Him and His Great Grace.
This is How it’s Done
WE must literally stop the old thoughts as soon as we recognize those are the old thoughts, and replace them with what God says about that subject.
“But I didn’t receive love when I was a child” – STOP – But now I am a child of my heavenly Father and have been blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies so I reject the old and think only the new.
“But there is witchcraft in my family history” – STOP – I have authority over all demons to cast them out, and I am not part of that family, but of the family of Christ – Ephesians 3:15
And that’s how you go through the battle for the mind. I’ve been there. I had a horrible self-image when a child, abandoned by my dad, always felt out of place in social situations, had generational sins of my father and his father…
STOP – I took each one of those issues as they came up and rejected them, replaced the thoughts and emotions associated with each thought with what the Father says, and brought my thoughts into the captivity of Christ – and have been doing it ever since.
There is no other way given to see our lives transformed – renew the mind, make your body a living sacrifice to apply what you see, learn, and put into practice within a community and larger family of other disciples in the making…