Jack Graham - The Battle for Your Mind
Well, we are in a series of messages called "Invisible: There's More to Life Than What You See", and there truly is. We need to learn how to live above "see-level"; just what we see, just what we feel. Beyond our physical senses there is a real world, a realm of life beyond what is seen. Beyond what you would consider perhaps normal or even natural. The supernatural or the spiritual! And as believers in Jesus Christ we understand that we are engaged in a spiritual battle. We've been talking about that the last several weeks. Where do we fight this battle? What is this battle? Let me talk about battles. There are battles of different kinds, of course, but primarily the battle that we fight, the battle that we face is between the ears.
That's why I'm calling this message "The Battle for Your Mind". Satan desires to create doubt, confusion, even despair in the pathways of your brain, in your mind, and to control the way you think. We know the Bible tells us Proverbs 23:7 "As a man thinks in his heart so is he". We are what we think. you may not be what YOU think you are, but what you are is what you think. You think what you are! And it is the brain that becomes the control force of our very lives. Of course, we're to protect the brain against the onslaught of Satan himself. I brought a prop. Ephesians 5:17 says that we are to put on, look at it, Ephesians 5:17 that we are to "Put on the helmet of salvation and take up the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God".
Now I've got a Prestonwood Academy Lions helmet here. The helmet today is much greater than the helmet that some of us wore back in the day. Some of you guys who played football in the fifties, you would have loved a helmet like this, right? I mean because the helmets in the fifties... Some of you wore leather, I think. Right? That's why you're drooling on yourself this morning. But these helmets are thickly padded and, of course, we're very concerned. One of the objects of a lot of discussion today, both in football as well as other sports, is protecting the brain from injury and concussions, and the effect of concussions it would be a very dumb thing to do to play a football game without your helmet. I'm a baseball player former, but I never went to bat without a helmet. Even the helmets today are better. I don't think you want to go and face a ninety-five mile an hour fast ball without a helmet. And so we understand. We get that part; that the helmet then, like a Roman soldier's helmet is to be taken up. It is to be appropriated, it is to be worn!
"Put on, take up the helmet of salvation which is the... And the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God". Why? Because the brain is the control center of the body. And what the brain does is to think. The brain is the control center of our emotions, our intellect, and our will. It's true that what you think ultimately becomes what you do. The actions you take or the reactions you take are a result of the way that we all think. And what we think, therefore, we become because ultimately the actions and the reactions become patterns and pathways in our minds and in our behavior and ultimately become the way that we live. Whether we take a pathway into righteousness or whether we take a pathway into unrighteousness.
Now the Bible tells us that Satan desires to take the mind captive, to control our thought-life. This is how he wages war against us. Now there are ways in which believers and unbelievers relate to Satan. Satan and his demonic forces, and in Ephesians 5 we learn from the principalities and powers and rulers of the darkness there mentioned earlier, that there is not only Satan, but he presides over an evil hierarchy of demonic and powerful forces, demonic beings, minions from hell, the hordes of hell. He can possess us, not only himself, or possess our thought-life, not only himself, but through demon powers and demon spirits. Jesus often dealt with demon powers and demon spirits in the Bible.
Now how can Satan affect us? One way is by demonic or satanic oppression, in which he comes against us with assaults of various kinds and oppresses the mind. And then another way is satanic possession. Now a believer cannot be possessed by the devil, but an unbeliever can be so controlled by Satan that he no longer does his own will but rather does the will completely and totally of Satan himself. There is another way in which Satan attacks us and that is with satanic or demonic occupation. Oppression, possession and occupation! And that center one there, that's what we're going to focus on today; when Satan can actually begin controlling the way even a believer thinks, that we become slaves to our own sin; that there are mental fortresses set up in our lives that must be overcome in order for us to live the Christian life in power and in victory. It's a very deep subject, I hope you'll be praying for me as we deliver it today.
Spiritual forces can occupy our mind, creating doubt and confusion. And since the Garden of Eden when he tempted and tested the mind of of Eve and Adam, as he deceived their minds, Satan and his demon forces have been polishing their tools and their weapons; they know how to use them very, very well. And the deciding factor between victory and defeat in your life, indeed, takes place between your ears. So what do we need to know? First, I want to talk to you about the pre-requisite of salvation. If you are going to win this battle for your mind you need to understand the prerequisite of salvation. I'm simply saying Put on the helmet of salvation; the helmet of deliverance.
This is obviously talking about salvation from sin because it is impossible for you to overcome the enemy in your life if you are caught in the grasp of Satan himself; if you are held helpless in his arms. And therefore, you need to be delivered from sin. And Paul is making it clear here that the helmet of salvation is something we need to take, that we need to put on! We're told that at times the Roman soldiers would actually receive their helmets from the commander in chief. Before battle they would take the helmet from the commander and put it on. And so in a salvation way, essentially we put on the helmet of salvation when we receive Christ as our Lord and Savior. But that's not the end!
Remember this is the armor of God! And we are to be putting on this armor, appropriating all of these, the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness, and the shoes of the Gospel of peace, and the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation. All of these pieces are to be put on appropriated not because we haven't received salvation already but because we have received it, we must now apply it and take it up and put it on on a daily basis. Salvation could be translated in Ephesians 5:17 as deliverance. That we are delivered from all of the oppression of the enemy! We are delivered! John 8:32 "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free"! The Gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to set you free!
I want you to hear this at the outset! This Gospel, our great God and Savior, He has the power to deliver you from every assault of the enemy! From every bondage! From every occupation, from every addiction! Don't listen to the lies of the world which will tell you you are stuck in a certain lifestyle, or you were born in a certain way, or you're genetically programmed and you cannot change! That is a lie from the pit of hell! Jesus Christ can deliver you from every sin no matter what it is! And no matter how long you've been living in this sin and how long Satan has occupied your mind or even possessed your soul 1 John 4:4, "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world". You begin by receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and your Savior! And then day by day you're delivered from the works of the enemy! Jesus taught us to pray Matthew 6:1, "Deliver us from the evil one"! He said, "I've come to set the captive free". So start there!
Turn in your Bibles to 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. This is a very critical passage in our Invisible series: words from God that instruct us regarding the problem of strongholds and how to tear them down. "For though we walk in the flesh we're not waging war according to the flesh; for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh", that is, they're not carnal, fleshly, carnivorous is the word root word there, "not of the flesh, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds". And circle that word strongholds there. We're going to review that in just a moment as to what that means, strongholds. "We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion that", King James said every imagination. This has to do with the mind, "and every opinion raised against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to obey Christ".
What is a stronghold? How can Satan get a foothold which ultimately becomes a stronghold in our lives? This pattern of thinking developed. It can take the form of mental obsessions, "Why can't I stop thinking this way"? "Why does my mind always take me there"? You have something in your head that you can't put away. It's an obsession. Sinful habits can be a stronghold. Our sin becomes like a slavery, like strongholds in our life. The word stronghold can also... maybe you can just write in the margin of your Bible there "a mental fortress". A strong, the root word there is cement. Something that is stuck in your head. It can be a fixation, phobias, fears, anxieties of all kinds; compulsions to do things that you don't want to do. A stronghold can be in the realm of the emotions like bitterness; bitterness is a very strong bondage in peoples' life. Anger turned inside out. Uncontrollable lust can be a bondage, a stronghold.
We're not talking here about passing thoughts or ordinary common temptations that are common to all of us, but controlling, captivating ideas and imaginations that do not come from God, but rather their lofty opinions raised against the knowledge of God! Arguments and imaginations and ideas that oppose God! And it's possible that a person can so listen to the lies of Satan that you become confused, and chaos is the result. It can happen in a believer's life. We start listening to other voices! We start hearing the world instead of hearing from the Word. We don't listen to the signals that come from God, but the signals that come from Satan himself.
And ultimately he can deceive us, he can distort the truth so that we begin believing lies, and therefore, living lies. And some of you are caught in one of these strongholds, one of these sinful patterns of behavior, an addiction, and you don't know how to get out! You don't know how to break the habits. Drugs and alcohol, these can be satanic bondages, strongholds. Pornography, sexual sin, sensual ideas that control the mind. And yet today so many are addicted to pornography and sexual sins of all kinds. How do we tear down these fortresses that are built in our mind? How do we de-construct these passages, these dirt roads that are built in our minds? How do we win?
Second Corinthians 10:4 says, "For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds". Our weapons are not carnal, they're not fleshly, they're not human weapons. I want you to listen very carefully to what I say. I believe in Christian therapy, I believe in Christian counseling, I believe in programs if they're Christ-centered, especially to help people through their addictions, I believe in medications under certain terms when doctors prescribe medicine to help people with mental issues. I believe in all of that. But let me tell you something: You can't overcome the power of the devil by education, just knowing more. The world tells you that. No more understanding. Go to your bookstore in the mall and look under self help. The world has a lot to say about helping yourself and overcoming your additions and living a better life, and living a greater life, but it's not education! It's not more knowledge that we need! Nor is it medication! More pills to sedate us, to calm us, to lift us.
Again, medication, education has it's place but these are not powerful enough to destroy the works of the enemy in your life! We need something stronger! We need something better! Positive thinking won't destroy the works of the devil in your life! I heard about a teenage boy, he said to his daddy, "You know, I think I'm going to fail geometry". Daddy said, "Man, you gotta be more positive than that"! He said, "Okay, I'm positive, I think I'm going fail geometry"! No, positive thinking has it's place. Positive thinking beats negative thinking every single time! But just smiling and hoping that it goes away and thinking positively will not root out the works of the enemy of your life! And that brings us therefore, to the principle of sanctification, the principle of surrender. It's really the Lordship of Christ.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 says "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you". The word "sanctify" means to be made more like Christ, to be made pure, to be made whole. Sanctify you completely and he mentions your whole body, or your whole spirit, your soul and your body. That's the whole you! The body is your physical life, the soul is the psyche, the emotional life, the emotions, the will, the intellect. And the spirit is your spiritual life, how you relate to God. So you have a body, you have a soul, you have a spirit... you are a body, you are a soul, you are a spirit, I should say. You are a new creation in Christ, and Jesus wants to reproduce His righteousness by His Spirit in every area of your life, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Satan's strongholds are destroyed, mental fortresses are torn down when we first of all repent of all known sin in our lives. That's an important biblical word, an important biblical instruction you need to know! Repent, identify the strongholds in your life! And having identified them, turn from sin and turn to Christ.
If your stronghold is lying, if it's guilt, if it's anger, if it's bitterness, if it's lustful behavior, repent of it! I promise you the Lord Jesus Christ will forgive you of any and all of your sins past, present and future. Repent of all known sin! Allow the Holy Spirit to show you, allow the word of God to pierce your heart to show you every evil imagination, every evil idea, every thought that is not of God, and as soon as the Holy Spirit, the divine Physician diagnosis it, you repent of it! Turn from it! And you will discover Romans 8:1, "There is now no condemnation to those who are in Jesus Christ". And the next time the devil reminds you of your past, you remind him of his future! Because when I read my Bible, he's destine for the pit forever and ever! And there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. But what about those strongholds? What about those past sins in your life that the affect and the behavior and the temptation is still strong.
We all have besetting sins, we all have vulnerability, we all have certain weaknesses in our lives that must be overcome by putting on the armor of God and what I'm going to say, having repented of your sin, renew your mind. Now there are those who teach, regarding demons and getting rid of Satan and the devil in your life that what you need is a big-time deliverance. You know, get you down here, lay hands on you. And I don't want to minimize, I'm not making fun of anyone or anything, but so often the emphasis is on have some kind of deliverance service; demand and command the enemy and the demons to come out and zappo, whappo, you're done! But the Bible teaches more than a deliverance model, it teaches a discipleship model, that we are sanctify... Most people are not instantaneously, miraculously delivered from all the past bondages and strongholds and ways of thinking in their life.
For example, if you're under the bondage of alcohol, God Himself could just take away every desire or taste for alcohol. He can do that. I've had people say the Lord did that for me. But I've also talked to some people who have dealt with addictions, let's just keep on the alcohol issue, who have dealt with addictions who said, "You know, if I smell it, I still have a desire for it". There still a behavior pattern. It's dug deep in. So whatever your stronghold is, you have to deconstruct the path by the Word of God, you have to overcome what took place in yesteryear by rebuilding and renewing your mind. Amen? The last thing is to resist Satan in the name of Jesus. Remember Satan has no right or authority in your house. Throw the bum out! In the name of Jesus! James 4:7 "Submit yourself therefore to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you".
When we resist, he runs! And if you in Jesus' name will submit to the Word of God in obedience to Him and His Word and to His will, you stand. That's the idea again that we found in Ephesians, to stand, to stand, to stand, to stand and resist, to trust in the power of God, to wait patiently on the Lord and His timing, to heal our thoughts, to heal our emotions, to heal our brokenness, to tear down the strongholds. And when we do that, when we resist the devil, he will flee from us. When you do this in Jesus' name, giving Jesus His rightful place of authority and control of your mind and therefore, ultimately your behaviors, the footsteps that you hear fleeing behind you won't be yours but the devil himself running in the presence of a powerful believer who is more than conqueror through the Lord Jesus Christ! Resist Satan in the name of Jesus, in the blood of Jesus! With the word of God, with the testimony of our faith! Connect yourself, engage fully in the church.
The Bible says, Ecclesiastes 4:10, "For if they fall one will lift up his fellow, but woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up". This is why we need each other. Because if you're isolated you're a sitting duck. And you don't want to be a sitting duck to Satan, isolated, alone. You want to be in the family of faith. You want to be in the family of God. One shall chase a thousand but two shall chase ten thousand. There's strength in being together.
I worry about you, sheep, when you wander off and you stop attending church, you stop engaging in the word of God. You're just in and out, you're hit and miss. I get concerned when you do that because you're getting yourself isolated! So engage fully in the church of Christ and watch God work. Claim and confess your victory over all sinful behavior because the devil is bluffing! He really has no cards. You call his hand in Jesus' name and live in the victory that is ours in Christ. You are more than a conqueror. Put on the helmet of salvation! Protect the way you think and therefore, the way you live. Take the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God and live in the power of Jesus' name! Amen?