- Waging War
- 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
- Lyndol Loyd November 16, 2020
Capturing Rebellious Thoughts: Waging War
We’re starting a brand-new message series today. I wanna read to you in a moment from God’s word. I wanna set up this series for you and tell you what it’s about. It’s called Capturing Rebellious Thoughts. Over the next four weeks, what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna look at the mind of the apostle Paul. What I love about this guy is toward the end of his life, if anybody won the battle of the mind, Paul mastered his thinking. The good news for you and the good news for me is he wasn’t always there.
He battled. He said one time, the things I wanna do, I don’t do; the things I don’t wanna do, I end up doing. Who can help me? Who can deliver me from this body of death? He battled again, again, again in the mind, but he battled, he fought, he won, he took ground, and over time, he mastered his thoughts, and even when all of life was stacked against him from a Roman prison, he could say things that were other-worldly because he’d captured the thoughts in his mind. That’s what we’re gonna talk about.
Let me set the tone by reading to you from God’s word. These are the words of the apostle Paul, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
The Greek word that’s translated as power is the word dunamis. We get our word dynamite from this. It’s the explosive, miraculous power of God. The weapons that we fight with have heavenly, divine power to do what? To demolish strongholds.
What is a stronghold? A stronghold is not a word we use every single day often in our normal life, but this comes from the Greek word ochyroma, and what it means is it means a fortified prison. One commentary I was reading was talking about when you’re in a stronghold, what it is is you are a prisoner. You’re a prisoner locked by deception. You’ve believed lies that have put you in this prison.
What does our enemy do? Our enemy tries to shape our thinking one lie at a time so that we’re in this prison believing something that is not true. What does your enemy often tell you? You can’t trust people. You can’t let ’em know the real you. God doesn’t really love you. God doesn’t care about you. God doesn’t hear your prayer. You’re never gonna get over it. Your life is always gonna be bad. You’re always gonna be hurting. You can’t have real intimacy.
Whatever it is, the enemy lies to you and lies to you and lies to you. This is what Paul said. He said we demolish, we crush, we vanquish, we destroy, we demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. Anything that is not from God, we crush it. We crush everything that is not in line with God’s truth. We take captive every single thought, every single thought, and we make it obedient to Christ.
Why does this matter? The life that you have is a reflection of the thoughts that you think. Your life is always moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts. If you want to change your life, change your thinking. Change your thinking, change your life.
I love Proverbs 23:7, “For as a person thinks in his heart, so he is.” As you think, so you become. If you think you can’t, you probably won’t. If you believe through Christ that you can, you can. If you believe that you’re a victim, always suffering at the hand of some outside circumstances, you will be a victim. If you believe that you can overcome through the power of Christ, you can overcome. If you’re always looking at the problems and dwelling on the problems, your problems will overwhelm you. If instead, you’re looking for solutions, you will find solutions and see God working.
What do we know about our thoughts? I want to tell you, the mind is a battlefield. It is a battle between God’s truth about you and Satan’s lies to you, a war between God’s truth and between our enemy’s deception. What I want to encourage you to do as we just build a foundation in our message series is to think about what you think about. Think about, maybe over the last few days, what it is that you are thinking about. I’m gonna call it a thought audit. And I wanna give you three different extremes to think about what you’ve thought about.
WORRIED VS. PEACEFUL THOUGHTS We’ll start with worried thoughts versus peaceful thoughts. Worried thoughts versus peaceful thoughts. I wonder how many of you are worried about what people think about your children, about the future, about money, about job, about health, about how long I’m gonna preach today or whatever. You know, you’re worried about different things, versus those who have a peaceful mind where you rest well at night, your mind is at peace, you’re always at rest. There is not anxiety. What do you think about? Is your mind characterized by worry or by peace?
NEGATIVE VS. POSITIVE MINDSET Let’s talk about another one. Let’s contrast a positive mindset with a negative mindset. Which one are you? Are you generally negative, critical about people? Can you believe she wore that? Who does she think she is? I can’t believe he walks in here acting like that. Do you find fault easily? Are you discontented? Do you feel like life is always hard, and it’s gonna get worse? Are you negative in your mindset? Or do you see the positive? I believe the best about people. Life is generally good, and I believe in the goodness of God, and I believe he’s for me, he’s with me, and that he’s working in all things to bring about good. Are you generally negative, or do you have a positive mindset?
WORLDLINESS VS. ETERNAL MINDSET Would you say you’re more worldly, thinking about the things of this world, what benefits me, what I get, what I have, what I want, or are you more eternal-minded, thinking about what benefits the kingdom of God, how I can be a blessing to others, how I can use my life to bring glory to my heavenly King. Think about what you think about, because your life is moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts. In other words, what comes into your mind comes out in your life.
No matter what you do, no matter what you have, no matter what you know, no matter what you buy, no matter where you live, no matter where you travel, you cannot have a positive life when you have a negative mind. Your thoughts matter. Lemme say it again. Your life will always move in the direction of your strongest thoughts.
Question: Are you excited about where your thoughts are taking you? Think about it. Think about what you think about. If our life is always moving in the direction of our strongest thoughts, are you satisfied, blessed, excited by the direction your thought life is taking you?
I cannot over stress how important this is. Your life is moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts. There’s a battle. Almost every battle, the marriage you have is the result of the thoughts you think. Your financial standing is often a result of your mindset about things. The joy or lack of joy you have is based on what you think in your life, what you’ve focused on, what you believe about you, and we’re gonna dive into it.
The first thing I want you to do is this: identify the number-one stronghold that’s holding you back. What is a stronghold? It’s a prisoner locked by deception. What is the lie? What is the deception? What is your enemy using to keep you from living the life God wants you to live?
Maybe you just hear in your self talk, I’m never gonna be good enough. My past is too bad. After all that I’ve done, God could never, ever use me. I can’t trust anybody. I can’t get close to anybody. After what they did to me, you can’t trust anybody at all. I’m never gonna be in a job that I love. I’m always gonna be well behind. I’m never gonna have enough. All of my relationships, no matter how hard I try, they all fall apart. What is the number-one lie or stronghold that’s holding you back? What happens, and why is this so important?
Whenever we have a thought, our brain is literally redesigning itself around that thought. There’s a changing chemical makeup of the brain. Every single thought creates a neurochemical change in our body. If you think a positive thought, your body rewards you with a legal drug, a little dopamine. It gives you a legal buzz, a quick hit, a thrill. You know that feeling. You hear some good news. Dopamine! Someone that you like comments on your Instagram post. Dopamine! Somebody says, ooh, you’re looking good today. Dopamine.
It’s that little chemical hit, that high, that thrill, and your brain is saying, I like that thought. Let’s think it again. What happens is the more you think a thought, the more you’re creating what scientists call neural pathways in your brain. Your brain creates a path, kind of like if I walk across grass non-stop in the same place, I’m creating a path across the path, across the grass. Your thoughts, the more you think a thought, the easier it is to think that thought again. In fact, if you think a thought enough, that thought becomes a default thought in your brain.
If you tell yourself you don’t have enough, over and over and over again, you create a pathway where it’s easier to think that you’re never gonna have enough rather than believing that God is your source. You’ve created negative neural pathways. In order to change your thinking, we have to change the path that our thoughts travel on.
For example, if I’ve got nothing but a negative path, I have to stop and say, wait. That thought is not helpful, not productive, and not from God. Therefore, I’m capturing that thought, and I’m choosing a different thought. I’m choosing to walk this way, toward a different thought. I am creating a new pathway.
Here’s what happens. If you continue to travel an unhealthy pathway, the path is clear, and it’s easier to travel. If you choose to stay off of the unhealthy pathway, over time, that grass starts to grow back up, and it’s not as easy to travel and not as appealing, and you create new pathways with new God-honoring thoughts, and suddenly, the God truth becomes the default instead of the lie becoming the default.
For example, if you have a frustrating day at work, and you come home, and there’s chaos everywhere, and the kids, and then you just say, okay, I’m gonna yell at them. And every day, when that happens, you yell. You’re creating a pathway that says, when there’s chaos, I yell.
What we have to do is we have to capture that thought and say, that’s not a healthy, God-honoring pathway. And then we change our thinking. It might be, well, I stop and I count to 10, or in your case, count to 500, whatever you need. And you pray a prayer, and you walk in and you hug your spouse and you embrace your kids. You’re creating a new pathway.
Whenever your mind says, I don’t feel good about myself; let’s eat, there’s a clear pathway between a bad feeling and the refrigerator. I don’t feel good; ice cream is the solution. What you do is you capture that thought and say, no, actually, when I don’t feel good about myself, and then I eat more, then I’ve compounded the unhealthy feeling about myself. So instead, I’m going to not travel that path. I’m going to choose a new path. I might go for a walk. I might exercise. I might eat something good, and then you feel better, and you do your little walk. And the old pathway starts to grow over. It’s not as easy to travel. It’s not as appealing, and you’ve created a new and a more healthy pathway.
How do we change our lives? We change our thinking away from the lies of the enemy, and we reprogram them with the truth of God. What does scripture say about this? Very, very clear. So clear, the application of God’s truth. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” I could say it this way. Don’t conform to their pathways. Don’t think like the world thinks. Don’t live like the world lives, but instead, be transformed, be changed.
How are we transformed? Somebody help me out. By the renewing of your mind. Science would say you’re rewiring your brain. God’s word would say you’re renewing your mind. My assignment for you is this: identify the one stronghold that’s holding you back, just one. What’s yours? Whatever it is, name it. You cannot defeat what you cannot define. Give it a name. This is a lie from the enemy that has kept me imprisoned.
The second thing we’re gonna do is this. I want you to name the truth that demolishes that stronghold. What’s the truth? We’re not gonna travel the old, unhealthy, unhelpful path. Instead, we’re gonna say, that is a lie. Here is the truth, and this is the path that I will follow.
There is a truth that will set you free. I wanna look at our text again, the whole text again, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. This is the apostle Paul. This is the guy who struggled with his mind. This is the guy who fought for health. This is the guy who never surrendered to the lies, but continued to press for the truth. He said,“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
What do we do, church? We take captive every thought, and we make it obedient to Christ. I love this word captive. It comes from a Greek word that literally, it means to arrest or to seize with a sword or a spear. What I love about this is when you think about what the apostle Paul also wrote in Ephesians 6, he talked about the armor of God that we have to do battle against the forces of darkness. And every piece of armor is defensive except for one. There is one that is an offensive weapon, and that is the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
What we do is we capture the lie with the sword of the Spirit, with the truth of God, and we declare that is not from God; therefore, I will not believe it. This is what my God says; therefore, I will embrace it. And we capture any wrong thought. I’m not going down this negative pathway. This does not lead to God’s destination. I’m choosing a different road, and I’m watching. That path is starting to grow over. That’s not appealing. Now it’s not so easy. The more I travel God’s truth, the more I believe it, the more he renews my mind, the more he changes my thinking, the more I’m able to walk by faith and not by sight, the more his Spirit guides me, the more his word directs me, the more his power empowers me to do what he called me to do.
Listen to me. Do not stay locked in a prison when Jesus has opened the door. The truth will set you free.