Jimmy Evans - Overcoming the Battle in Your Mind
I want to talk about several issues related to our minds being set free, and the first is understanding your mind as the battlefield of good and evil, and it is, and this is what Paul says in 2 Corinthians, a very important scripture. This is 2 Corinthians 10:3. "Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ".
Even though we're walking in the flesh, there's a invisible war going on around us that is not in the flesh, and God has equipped us for victory in that battle, but we have to engage in that battle, and it says here, "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds". What the devil has in every one of our minds, when you get saved, every single person has multiple strongholds in their minds. No one is born saved. Everyone is born lost into a world that is corrupted, and in that world, whether it's your family, whether it's entertainment, whether it's just your own thoughts, all of us develop mental strongholds, and a stronghold is a fortress that the devil uses to protect his place to control our lives. That's what it is. It's a mental stronghold. Fear, jealousy, anger, depression, lust, whatever it is, worry, it's a stronghold. A bondage is a house of thoughts, every bondage in our lives.
You say, "Pastor Jimmy, I've got an eating problem. I've got a drinking problem. I've got a drug problem. I've got a gambling problem. I've got this kind of problem. I've got a problem with lust. I've got this kind of problem". Every single issue is a thought issue. Every single bondage is a thought life. You change your thoughts, your life will change. Every bondage is a house of thoughts, and what this is saying here, what Paul is saying is, he says, "The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh". We're fighting a battle against an evil enemy, and he sits up here in our minds. That's why Jesus died on golgotha. He came to set this thing free, to bring truth, to liberate us from the lies of the devil. And every time we hear truth, every time we hear truth, there are these strongholds that have been built in our life through disappointment, through rejection, through failure.
We've been drug behind the truck for a long time. It's hard to believe there's a Promised Land. It's hard to believe that you can live on top and not on bottom, that you can be the lender and not the borrower, that you can be free from the scars and the reproach and the shame of your past, and so these strongholds are up here that have been built in the bad times, and now we begin to hear truth from God, and as soon as we hear that truth, the argument starts, and the devil came into the Garden of Eden, and two perfect people and a paradise were there, as God surely said. "You won't die. You won't die when you eat that fruit". Immediately, the argument begins, arguing with the Word of God. What did it do for him? Did it help him? Did it bless him? Did it lead him to a better place? It killed him, those arguments, and this is what Paul is telling us here, "Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God".
Satan only has one purpose in your life, for you not to know God. He doesn't want you to know God. Fear, lust, worry, doubt, depression, discouragement, jealousy, envy, worry, whatever it might be, it doesn't matter to him. He doesn't care. He just wants to put some high thing in your mind that occupies your mind. It's the focus of your mind that keeps you from knowing God, keeps you from reading the Bible, keeps you from praying, keeps you from coming to church, keeps you from focusing on something good. "Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought", any thought that you don't take captive will take you captive, "Bringing every thought captive, into captivity".
And, by the way, the word "Captivity" there means spear point. It means by force. We're the ones that have to take control of our thoughts. We're the doorkeepers of our brains. We're the gatekeeper of our brain. This is a gate. It's an ear gate. There's an eye gate. There's a mouth gate, and these are all gates into our brains, and these gates, the things that we hear, the things that we see, the things that we perceive, we're the gatekeeper of our brain, and when a thought comes in that begins to argue against what God says, that begins to try to establish itself as a stronghold in our life that keeps us from knowing and serving God, we have to take out the spear and put it up against that thought and say, "You're not gonna take me captive. I'm gonna take you captive". It literally means putting it into captivity, putting a spear against its neck and taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.
And the word "Obedience" is the word "Hupatoe". "Hupakoe" in the Greek, and it means to listen under, to listen under Christ, bringing every thought captive into the obedience of Christ, and it means when a thought comes into my ear gate, my eye gate, my brain gate, whatever gate it comes in, I will not let a thought come into my mind without being scrutinized by what God says. I am the gatekeeper of my mind, and when a thought comes in, it will sit under Jesus and listen to what he has to say, and if Jesus says it stays, it stays, and if Jesus says it goes, it goes. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal. They're not fleshly, but they're mighty in God to pulling down strongholds and every high thing, every argument that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. We bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
Jesus came to set us free, but we're participants in this battle, and when you get saved, you've got to learn to take your thoughts captive. You've got to learn that the battle is right here, Golgotha, the place of the skull, so the mind is the battlefield. Let me bring my second point now. Understand, the Word of God is a spiritual weapon. You have to understand, the battle is here and that we have weapons to overcome in that battle, but the second is, the Word of God is a spiritual weapon. This is Ephesians 6. "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. We do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day and, having done all, to stand. Stand, therefore, having girded your waist with truth".
Now, this is interesting thing. He's talking about a Roman soldier. "Having girded your waist with truth", ok? Well, girding your waist with truth, this is where you put your sword. When you had a belt on, you put your sword right here. The interesting thing about this part of your body is, this is where reproduction and elimination takes place. When you bind yourself with God's word, you reproduce truth, and you eliminate error. When you don't bind yourself with God's word, you eliminate truth and reproduce error. Binding yourself with truth, he says, "Having put on the breastplate of righteousness, having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace, above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one", by the way, that's his thoughts: these flaming missiles, those are his thoughts, "And taking the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God".
This is the sword of the Spirit. This is the offensive weapon, the only offense. Everything else here is defensive (helmet, breastplate, shoes, shield) but the offensive weapon that we have been given is the Word of God. This is nuclear in the spirit realm. This is nuclear in the spirit realm. Satan came against Jesus in Matthew 4, and he came against him with thoughts. The battle of the ages was fought against God and Satan in the wilderness. It was not fought with bombs, guns, knives, bullets, or anything like that. It was fought with the ultimate weapon: words, and Satan came to Jesus with half-truths and lies. "If you're the Son of God, throw yourself down because the Bible says, he will give his angels charge concerning you", and in every case when Satan came against Jesus, Jesus said, "It is written. It is written".
Jesus defeated the devil himself with that, with that. And Paul is saying, we're not battling people. We're not battling people. The battle is in the spirit realm, and when people become the problem... And I'm not saying there are no people issues in the world or in politics and things like that. I'm just saying, the underlying problem is always spiritual, and he says, "Put on the full armor of God". Think like a saved person, the helmet of salvation. You're right. Put on the breastplate of righteousness. You're right because of the blood of Jesus. Don't let the devil come and bring condemnation to attack your vital organs and keep you from knowing that you're a child of God. Put on the breastplate of righteousness. Put truth around your waist. Decide that you're gonna walk in truth and you're gonna reproduce truth and eliminate error. Decide, put on the shoes of the Gospel of salvation. Decide you're gonna live your life for a higher purpose than making a buck and spending it. Live your life to propagate the Gospel of Jesus around the world.
When I was growing up, I was introduced to pornography at, I don't know, 10 or 12 years old. Boy down the street from me, his dad was in prison, and his father had a "Playboy" subscription, and when his dad went to prison, she started giving him the "Playboys". He was, like, 14 years old, and all the boys in the neighborhood, we looked at those "Playboys" every month, and that's how I learned about sex, was pornography growing up, my friends, you know, terrible source of information, and when karen and I got married, I was saved a week, well, I was immoral. You know, I cheated on karen a week before we got married, and so I was very immoral, never felt bad about it until I got saved, but when I got saved, I still wrestled with lust and the desire for pornography and things like that, but I wanted to serve God.
I wanted to be a man of God, but I just battled it, and so we were married a year or two or whatever, and, of course, I didn't know, all I knew about sex was what i, you know, seen in bad places, and so I tried to bring that into our marriage, and karen wouldn't go for that, and I thought, "Well, something's wrong with her", and more than one thing's wrong with her, but that's another one of them, you know, is kind of what I thought back then, but I was deceived. I had strongholds. Chauvinism was one of the strongholds in my mind. I was a male chauvinist pig, and I had been programmed to be so, and I battled lust, and I battled the desire for pornography, and I battled that, and I battled it, and sometimes I won the battle, and sometimes I didn't, and I always felt bad about it, the shame, you know, when you're battling something like that, the shame that comes on you, the constant sense of shame, you know, and I just couldn't win the battle.
But one time, we went on vacation, and there was a little book, and it's out of print now, but it was by a college president, and it was on biblical meditation, and I decided I was gonna read it. I thought it might be kind of a boring read, but I was gonna read it. Well, I was fascinated by it because he was introduced to pornography when he was a boy, and he sold pornography out of his basement to his entire neighborhood, ok, so but he was a seminary president, and he was talking about, even as a college seminary president, he still battled with lust, and the only way he found to be set free was biblical meditation, what I'm gonna teach you about right now.
Well, I put down that book and began to practice biblical meditation. The victory was just like that. It didn't take 10 minutes. It didn't take 5 days, and it was one of the easiest things I'd ever done, and immediately, lust was, and, again, it's a practice. It's something that you have to regularly practice, but I'm saying immediately, it was over with, and I've taught this to many thousands of people since then.
I had a man, but this is another example. One of the most disciplined, this was a military person, a very high-ranking military person I'm telling you a story about that I was friends with, and he lives in a different city, and one day, he called me, and he said, "Wherever you are, I'll come find you". He said, "I've got to talk to you right now", and I said, "Well, come on", so he flew into town, and he came over to my house, and we sit down, and he said, "I am in bondage to pornography". Now, I'm gonna tell you this. This is the most disciplined human being I've ever known. He's an unbelievably disciplined person, strong-minded, strong-hearted, and he said, "Jimmy, I am just neck deep in pornography", and he said, "My wife doesn't know about it", he said, "But I just, I can't", he said, "I've done everything I know to do. I've taken cold showers. I've cast demons out of myself". He said, "I've done everything I know to do".
And as he was talking, you know, I feel sorry for him, you know, because I had had that battle myself, and I hadn't written this book yet, but I gave him a copy of that other book that that man had written, little booklet like this, and he called me two days later, and I prayed for him before he left. He called me two days later, and he said, "I'm free", and I said, "What"? He said, "I'm 100% free". He said, "I can't believe how easy it was. I can't believe I had tried everything else but I had never tried that".
Well, I want to talk to you about biblical meditation, but I'm saying that to say, we're all dealing with something. A lot of people are dealing with pornography and lust and fear, depression, discouragement, low self-esteem, all of those kinds of things, and so when we meditate on the Word of God, what we're doing is is we're bringing the Word of God into our hearts and into our minds, and we're letting it do its work in reprogramming our minds. It says, "Everything you do will prosper". Why? Because once you begin to meditate on the Word of God, you'll understand money. You'll understand relationships. You'll understand marriage. You'll understand life because this is a thick book because God has a lot to say, and this book covers every topic of life, and when we begin to meditate on the Word of God, we begin to succeed because the strongholds and the arguments begin to fall and God begins to build truth, strongholds of truth in our minds.
I'm a totally different human being today because of the way I think. God's word, the truth, has made me free, and I'm not 100% perfect, but I'm saying, I look back on the way I was then, and I thank God for my life today. Let me talk about the process of biblical mediation because it's easy. First of all, you wake up in the morning, and you read what you need. It says, "You meditate on the Word of God day and night". Where are you struggling? Don't make it a religious thing. Just make it a real. Are you discouraged? Are you dealing with fear?
And, by the way, in the back... I'm not trying to sell my book, I mean, we sell plenty of them, but in the back of my book, it gives you scriptures for meditation. It says, if you're dealing with fear, you know, you can meditate on this scripture. If you're dealing with, I think it's in here, I think. Let me find it before I say it. Yeah. It's in here. Ok. There it is, right here, is lust, immorality, worry, anxiety, fear, anger, unforgiveness, discouragement, condemnation, insecurity, marriage problems, pride, financial issues. We give a number of scriptures in here that you can meditate on. Read what you need.
When I wake up in the morning, I have a Bible-reading program that I read through the Bible in a year, but many times if I'm struggling in a particular area, I'll go to that particular scripture or that text that says what I need, and I read what I need, and then what you do is, you just bring it up. Load your mind with the scripture. Put the sword of the spirit in your mind and then through the day, bring it up. Now, this is Deuteronomy 6, and I'm almost finished now, but this is how easy this is. Deuteronomy 6, "These words which I commend you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them in the doorpost of your house and on your gates". God says, "I want you to teach your children the Word of God when you're sitting in your house, when you're on your way somewhere, when you're lying in bed at night, when you're laying in bed in the morning".
Why did God tell them to do it in those 4 times? Because those are the most meditative times of your day. See, one of the things I always realized about lust is, I never had a problem with lust while I was working, when I was engaged. It was always when I was laying in bed or sitting around the house or in the car, a meditative time during the day, ok, so when you're in one of those meditative moments, you're in the car, you're having bad thoughts: you're laying in bed at night, you're having bad thoughts or whatever, I've got a scripture loaded in my spirit, and all of a sudden, this thought comes up, and it will. You know, let me say this about lust or about things like that. It's not a sin to be tempted, did you know that?
And here's the old saying. Any bird can fly through a barn (that's not sin) but when you build a nest for it, that's a sin. Any thought can go through our minds. Any person can have any thought. The devil can introduce a thought into our minds, or we can have a thought. That's not a sin, but when I sit and meditate on that, that's when it becomes a problem, so when thoughts, I'll wake up in the middle of the night. I love to wake up in the middle of the night and talk to the Lord, but sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, and I've just already got a conversation with the Lord going on. I'll just sit there and pray or praise or worship or whatever. It's just the sweetest time in the world, but sometimes I'll wake up in the middle of the night, and I have bad thoughts, ok, and when I wake up in the middle of the night and have bad thoughts.
Psalm 1, by the way, is one of my favorite scriptures. "Blessed is the man who doesn't walk in the counsel of the ungodly nor stand in the path of sinners nor sit in the seat of the scornful but his delight is in the law of the Lord. In it, he meditates day and night. He'll be like a tree planted by rivers of living water which yields its fruit in its season. It's leaf doesn't wither, but whatever he does will prosper". I'll just sit there and begin to put that in my mind and just load that into my mind. When do I load it in my mind? When I'm laying in my bed and have bad thoughts, when I'm sitting around the house and I have bad thoughts. When I'm in a contemplative moment and the devil begins to attack my mind with fear or lust or worry or condemnation or anything like that, I pull that scripture, and I begin to meditate on it. You cannot take a thought out of your mind. You can only replace it with a greater thought.
See, one of the, the devil will wear you out, and, by the way, your thoughts are not greater than the devil's thoughts. See, some people use willpower to do things, but you'll wear out. The Fruit of the Spirit is self-control. I don't have to have strong willpower. All I have to have is a dependence on the Holy Spirit, and when I need more, something in my life, I ask him for self-control, and so we come and we begin to meditate on the scripture. The devil. There's a thought in our mind. I can't take that thought out of my mind.
Well, let me give you an example there. Yellow elephant. Yellow elephant. Yellow elephant. Get it out of your mind right now. Don't think about a yellow elephant. Don't think, stop. Can't do it. Red dog. Think about a red dog. Think about your favorite dog red. Red dog. Red dog. You're not thinking about a yellow elephant anymore because you just replaced your thought. When you're lusting, when you're worrying , when you're fearing, when you're doing those kinds of things and someone walks up to you and says, "Stop doing that", you just do it more.
When the devil attacks your mind, you have a scripture loaded in your spirit for whatever it is that he's attacking you with, and when the devil attacked Jesus, Jesus said, "It is written". Jesus had scripture loaded in his spirit. The devil attacked him, and he said, "Get behind me, Satan, for it is written". And that's what you need to say to him next time he attacks you. This is the battlefield. This is the weapon, and biblical meditation is how we win every single battle. I will not let thoughts come into my mind that I do not take captive. Every thought in my mind is gonna be scrutinized, and I submit my thought life to the Lord Jesus Christ. The good, the bad, and the ugly - I submit it to him.