Have you ever had what you thought was an innocent conversation with someone, only to have the person turn around a few days or weeks later and accuse you of having said this and that — things which you never for a moment meant or thought you had said? The person who so grossly misunderstood you had a filter in his mind that was distorting the information.
We all have filters to some degree, and what we hear and see does not get to us without passing through those filters. They might be insecurity filters, rejection filters, fear filters, low self-worth filters, or even cultural filters. We could call them strongholds.
Where do filters come from? They are gradually built into our thinking, often through hurts and disappointments we have endured. They are constructed by a partnership between the enemy of our souls and our own unguarded thinking. The devil injects wrong thoughts into our minds when he sees a weak spot in us or a hurt to be taken advantage of. If we cooperate with those injected thoughts by latching onto them and agreeing with them, we’ve got the beginnings of a stronghold, or filter. Over time, the filter becomes more and more plugged up, so that less and less gets through to us in its original, unmuddied form. Our interpretations of what is going on around us become increasingly inaccurate — skewed.
It is difficult to recognize when a filter is affecting our thinking. We sincerely think we have heard or seen correctly. So, we get offended with people who meant no offense. We think we are operating in discernment about others’ motives. People become hesitant to interact with us because of the backlash. And we wonder why we feel like the tail, instead of the head. A filter will also affect our ability to accurately hear and see prophetically. What a mess!
There is a way out, and it begins with frequently asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to us any areas of darkness in our minds. You might feel squeamish about asking Him to reveal problem spots to you. I know I do! But He is faithful to help us if we are willing to hear Him.
Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). The main truth we must know is Jesus Himself, Who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), but knowing Him allows us to come into all truth, including being able to recognize strongholds (filters) in our thinking which oppose His truth. So, as we ask Him to search us, He begins to point out to us where the filters are and how they are at work against us.
Recognition of the problem is half the battle. Once you understand that your thinking is influenced by a particular issue you suffer under, you can ask God to bring it to your attention whenever you fall into skewed thinking in that area. He will be faithful to do so, and you will develop a habit of recognizing false thoughts more quickly as they arise. And once you can recognize a false thought at work, you can deal with it. God shows us how, in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5:
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh (for the weapons of our warfare are not soulish, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds), casting down imaginations and every high thing which exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity, to the obedience of Christ.
Let’s look at what we can learn from those verses. First, we recognize that we don’t have to indulge or put up with every thought that goes through our mind. Truthful thinking versus darkened thinking is spiritual warfare, and God is mighty on our behalf to help us win the battle. The moment we identify a thought or imagination which does not line up with God’s thinking, we must determine to stop it in its tracks. We dethrone it, so to speak, and bring it as a captive of war to Jesus. (I like to envision it as lassoing that thought and bringing it to Him. “Here, Lord Jesus. I caught another one trying to horn in on our territory!”) We then realign our thoughts in obedience to what the Word of God says. For starters, Philippians 4:8 and 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 are great verses to thoroughly know and realign our thoughts to.
Getting rid of filters in our minds is a lengthy process, but we can all succeed if we want to, because the Holy Spirit is eager to assist us. Remember that most of them weren’t constructed in a day, so it will take time to demolish them, too. It may be an uphill climb at times, but it is worth pressing in to accomplish. As we do so, the gunk will gradually be cleared out of the filters (like opening the holes in a plugged-up sieve), so that we can process what we see and hear more accurately. Eventually, filters can be completely wiped out.
If you would like to be free of filters which have plugged up your thinking processes, please pray with me:
Dear Father in heaven, I want to see and hear things from Your vantage point. I want to be free of attributing wrong motives to other people, which aren’t even really there. By the power of the Holy Spirit at work in me, please help me to recognize the strongholds or filters in my life which must be cleared out and demolished. Help me to recognize every thought which is not in agreement with You, and to bring it captive to Jesus. Give me a renewed mind, which thinks like You think. I ask it in Jesus’ Name.