Tag Archives: battles of the mind

Personal Spiritual Warfare (Part 6) — Keys for Overcoming

It’s not enough to identify problems and then be told by someone to overcome them. I want to be given practical tools to get me there. Maybe you’d like that kind of help, too. Here are some steps to help you win those personal spiritual battles you encounter:

Get used to the idea that you are in a war. 1 Peter 1:13 exhorts us, “Wherefore, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

“Girding up the loins” refers to how people of Bible times prepared for battle. They tucked their long robes up into their belts, so that their legs were free to move unhampered. “Be sober” means to understand the seriousness of what we’re involved in and to stay on the alert. “Hope to the end” indicates that we’re in this for the long haul. Individual battles may be short or prolonged, but the war lasts throughout our lives. We can’t quit at any point. If we stay at it, we will assuredly finish our life-race well, because the Lord Himself is right there fighting with and for us.

Corral your mind.1 Corinthians 2:16 says, “We have the mind of Christ.” Now, that’s the truth, but walking it out requires some effort. We have to continually “be sober; be vigilant, because [our] adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). We have to “resist him steadfastly in the faith” (v. 9). This means we don’t let our thoughts flow unchecked. When we notice our mind going places which are not in keeping with the way Jesus would think, we need to “cast down [those] imaginations, and every high thing which exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

The Holy Spirit is willing to expose those wandering thoughts to us, if we invite Him to. But it is up to us to keep on bringing them back to where they should be. This takes practice. Sometimes it is exhausting, especially if we are dealing not only with our own soulish nature, but with thoughts implanted by the devil.

The secret is to keep at it. If you notice wrong thoughts dozens of times a day, every time you corral them and push the reset button, you have taken a few steps toward ultimate victory.

Take a worship break. — If you have already taken authority in Jesus’ name over any evil spirits which might be bombarding your thoughts, worship can refocus your mind where it needs to be. It’s great to keep worship music playing in the background, if you can. Worship music changes the atmosphere around us. But take it a step further. Go beyond listening to worship music, to actively doing the worship yourself – out loud, if possible. Worship connects us spirit-to-Spirit with the Lord, and when our spirit-man is in the right place, it can help our mind to line up as well.

Focus on Jesus more than the battle coming against you. – This goes along with taking a worship break. The enemy wants to get us obsessed with him and the problems he is causing. When we put our attention on him instead of the Lord, we play into his hands: we end up giving him the glory which belongs to the Lord Most High.

Jesus wants us to fasten our attention on Himself, the Author of peace, the Deliverer, the One who has already overcome on our behalf. How easy it is to forget that the battle is the Lord’s! (1 Samuel 17:47). The moment we cry out for Jesus’ help, He goes to work for us.

So don’t spend all your time and energy on contending with the devil. Worship. Tell Jesus you are setting your heart on Him. Express to Him your confidence that He will take care of you and get you through.

Do the exact opposite of what you are tempted to do. – This is a simple, but highly effective, warfare tactic. We can frustrate evil desires, deflating their sails, by taking an opposite course.

Do you feel the urge to give somebody a verbal slap in the face (maybe because you felt like that’s what you got)? Be cordial and friendly instead. 1 Peter 3:8, 9 addresses this very issue: “… Having compassion toward each other, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous, not returning evil for evil or railing for railing. On the contrary, bless them, knowing that is what you are called to, so that you will inherit a blessing.”

Do you want to avoid or run away from someone who has hurt you – an individual, a pastor, or even a whole church fellowship? Conquer that flight desire. Show up, converse, be kind, participate. If you need to express that you have been hurt, try to walk through the reconciliation / forgiveness pattern Jesus laid out for His Church in Matthew 18:15-17. Don’t go into hiding mode.

Doing the opposite of the temptation is part of how we submit ourselves to God and resist the devil (James 4:7). It disarms the enemy’s ability to manipulate us.

Next time, we’ll wrap up this series with some final keys for overcoming.

Previous: Part 5 — Long-Term Assault  

The Intercessor Manual

 

The Intercessor Manual, by Lee Ann Rubsam

Personal Spiritual Warfare (Part 5) — Long-Term Assault

After reading my last post, you may have thought, “She makes it sound like ending the enemy’s assault is so simple, but I’ve tried rebuking the enemy over and over, using Jesus’ name and pleading His blood, and I’m still struggling!”

Overcoming spiritual attack on our minds can be simple, but it isn’t always. You don’t need to feel like a failure if the struggle continues long-term. It isn’t necessarily your fault, and you are not alone.

Resisting the enemy and causing him to flee is not a mere formula. Sometimes, he keeps on insisting on having his way, especially when the stakes are highest (and we don’t always see clearly when that is). During such times, the battle can be severe and extended. It is absolutely essential that we continue to stand our ground and not surrender.

Some years ago, I went through a period of many months when the assault on my mind was incessant and exhausting. Every day, every few minutes, I had to deal with another thought, all of which had their roots in the fear of man.

My head swirled. I corrected one thought, only to have another follow on its heels. It was hard to focus on prayer, although I persevered. The torment was extreme. I cried out to the Lord to help me. I countered with Scripture. I commanded the enemy to leave. But pretty soon the thoughts were back again.

Hardly anybody outside my family knew this was going on — because I was afraid people would decide I was unstable if they knew. One day, a highly prophetic lady who knew nothing of my struggle shared a word she had received from the Lord for me. She spoke many blessings, but what caught my attention the most was that she said the enemy was attacking my thoughts intensely because he was trying to destroy my destiny. She assured me that the assault would come to an end, and my mind would be filled with peace.

Only the Holy Spirit could have given her this information. It took several months more before I saw the fulfillment of what she had shared with me. In the meantime I often cried out in desperation, “Lord, WHEN is it going to end? You said it would!” And it did end – suddenly. There was no special overcoming prayer moment which brought it about. It just stopped. The peace and quiet were wonderful beyond belief!

Since that time, I have talked with others who have been through the same thing. The assault they experienced was similar — but they got through it, just like I did. You can, too. Sometimes it is a huge comfort to know that someone else has been there before you and has made it to the other side.

So, what is going on when such extreme attack comes upon us? In my case, I had initially cooperated with the enemy by not recognizing the deception in the thoughts which had been injected. My own insecurities and the fear of man which I had unwittingly harbored fed the blaze until it got out of control. When I finally realized that I had let my thoughts go on at length in wrong places, I began the process back with repentance and greater vigilance to “bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). The Holy Spirit was so kind and gracious during that time. He often intercepted the wrong thoughts by interrupting with His truth. And He comforted me in the midst of it all.

I asked the Lord why the torment went on and on. He responded by telling me He was refining me in the process. He also said He was allowing it so that I would grow strong for battle, as in Psalm 18:34: “He teaches my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by my arms.”

Another factor we could unknowingly be dealing with is the level from which the spiritual attack is coming. Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” “Principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, and spiritual wickedness in high places” are beings which are high up in the command hierarchy of the spirit realm. Their involvement could have bearing on the intensity and length of the conflict.

What can you do to make sure you come through a long season of warfare against your mind successfully?

  • Entrust yourself into God’s hands. James 4:7 instructs us, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” We are assured that if we keep ourselves submitted to the Lord and continue to resist the devil, eventually he will flee.
  • Decide upfront not to quit. Ephesians 6:13 exhorts us, “Wherefore, take unto you the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Perseverance wins the battle.
  • Be diligent to use the Word of God to repulse the enemy. Ephesians 6:17 says to “Take … the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” When we’re in the midst of a heated thought battle, pulling out the Word and wielding it may seem like extra work, but it is absolutely essential. Jesus, while being tempted by the devil in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11), consistently used the Word to deflect the assault: “It is written.”
  • Worship your way through. That’s what Paul and Silas did when they were beaten and thrown into prison. The result? The doors were opened; their bands were loosed (Acts 16:25, 26).
  • If you fail, ask the Lord to help you get up and keep going. Psalm 37:24 says of the righteous person, “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholds him with his hand.”

If you persevere, you will win. The key is in not quitting.

In the final two posts of this series, I will share some additional practical steps we can take to win our personal spiritual warfare.

Previous: Part 4 — Discerning the Source of Thoughts
Next: Part 6 — Keys for Overcoming

The Intercessor Manual

 

The Intercessor Manual, by Lee Ann Rubsam

Personal Spiritual Warfare (Part 4) — Discerning the Source of Thoughts

Personal spiritual warfare involves combatting the world system, our own soulish nature (the flesh), and the devil.

Temptations from the world come through our senses, particularly our eyes and ears. You may be familiar with 1 John 2:15-16: “Do not love the world, neither the things which are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”

Furthermore, James 4:4 tells us, “Whoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” We keep our battles with worldly temptations to a minimum by guarding our senses and restraining our actions.

But, what about evil thoughts?  How do we know if they are coming from our own soulish nature or from an evil spirit? While we might not always be sure, the more we are able to discern their source, the more effectively we can war against them. Thoughts from within ourselves can be dealt with by simply refusing to think them, repenting if we have indulged them, and then deliberately turning our mind onto a different track. Thoughts which have been injected by evil spirits, however, not only need to be rejected, but rebuked. We do that by commanding the evil spirit to be silent and telling it to be gone, in the name of Jesus.

If you are thinking in one direction, and suddenly an evil thought or a fear appears out of the blue, that’s a good indicator that it is coming from outside yourself. I wish I had been taught about enemy-injected thoughts years ago.

While still in my teen years, I experienced a mental attack which horrified me — because I thought I was the originator of what was happening in my head. Every time I was in church, profane words and blasphemies flooded my mind. I immediately asked God to forgive me, but it kept happening. I thought I must be a terrible person! Those words were not part of my normal vocabulary, I didn’t want to be thinking them, and I didn’t know why I was! They totally shut down my ability to hear the sermon. I spent my entire church time repenting, and repenting again. I felt so awfully condemned by my “sin.”

I pleaded with the Lord to help me stop this terrible behavior, and praying about it did help. God is merciful and comes to our assistance, even when we, through ignorance or immaturity, don’t address situations exactly right. But I still felt like an awful person — UNTIL I learned that these were not my thoughts in the first place, and I could deal with them by resisting the enemy in the name of Jesus. Once I learned where those thoughts were coming from and how to address them, the problem faded away.

Here are some other examples:

  • Perhaps you see someone, and the thought goes through your head, “I hate that person.” In reality, you know you have no reason to hate him or her. That is an injected thought, not one of your own.
  • You are shopping, and you have a sudden urge to shoplift something, even though you have always been an honest person.
  • You have been happy at your job or your church. Nobody has said or done anything significant to change that, but you find yourself thinking, “They don’t appreciate me here. I am not valued. Maybe I should move on.”

Injected thoughts can range from the extreme (which are usually easy to recognize) to very subtle shifts in our thinking (not so easy to recognize). We must be vigilant to uncover them and deal with them. If we do not, we will start to agree with them, thereby feeding them until the problem has become huge.

It’s not only our thoughts. Our emotions can be manipulated by evil spirits as well. Sometimes we’ve given them an opening through a weakness we have, or through indulging in fleshly thoughts such as self-pity. However, that is not always the case.

I remember feeling extraordinarily blue one morning. There was nothing going badly in my life at the time, but the heaviness persisted, and it mystified me. Finally I asked the Lord, “Why am I feeling so down? I have no reason to feel this way.”

He quickly responded, “You are being oppressed by an evil spirit.”

I was relieved, because by this time I knew what to do. I took authority over the spirit which was harassing me, commanding it to let go and be gone in Jesus’ name. Immediately, the heaviness lifted, I felt joyful, and I began to praise the Lord.

When my emotions are not in a good place, I often ask the Holy Spirit to take control of them and reorder them for me. That has been an effective tool for me. My feelings usually take on a happier tone within a few minutes, even if I felt justified in being upset or sad. This is an especially helpful tactic when emotions have gotten out of whack due to our own soulish thinking and speech.

While often it is a fairly simple job to silence the thoughts coming from the enemy, that is not always the case. Next time, we will talk about how to handle long-term attacks upon our thoughts.

Previous: Part 3 — Mindsets and Strongholds
Next: Part 5 — Long Term Assault

The Intercessor Manual

 

The Intercessor Manual, by Lee Ann Rubsam