I grew up attending Sunday School and so, the word “obedience” carries a heightened sense of weightiness. Immediately the 10 Commandments and an Old Testament God come to mind. For me, it brings a negative connotation. An angry God. Difficult rules to live by. And almost unknowingly, I feel my inward being start to buck inside.
However, the more I delve into Scripture, I realize that God is good (Rom. 8:28) and He is for me, not against me (Rom. 8:31). As I work through the strongholds of my thoughtlife, I realize that the boundaries God has established are for my benefit. He has my good in mind! And I come to the realization that I must retrain my thinking.
You see, in 2 Cor. 10:1-6 we have a bunch of believers who are much like you and I. They struggle with believing God and trusting Him. They want to connect with God but are unable to due to the barriers that have been built up in their mind. They have a mental blockade. There are doubts surrounding them on every side. There are some false teachers trying to get their foot in the door. Tearing down. Causing disruption. Much like the thoughts that invade our own mind. Thoughts like “God doesn’t love me. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t see. I don’t matter.”
Paul goes about addressing these problems head-on by starting to tear the walls down. The first battle he fought was occurring in the mind. He refers to it as a stronghold. This can be anything that doesn’t align with God’s Word, such as fear, anxiety, bitterness, anger, jealousy, and insecurity (to name a few). It can also be a worldview that contradicts Scripture, such as atheism or materialism.
And then Paul goes on to say “we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” But how do we do that? How do we get our thoughts in line with the Word of God? I don’t know about you…but my mind tends to wander. I struggle to stay focused. I get stuck on the treadmill with debilitating thoughts. Like a gerbil wheel going around and around.
Guard Your Mind
We have to watch over what we allow into our minds. The things we mull over, chew on, and read between the lines. We live in a world that bombards us with things that conflict with a godly point of view. If we spend too much time here, we can wind up with a confused, restless, troubled, deluded, corrupt, or blinded mind. As a result of sin, we all have a broken mind. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” We must realize that our mind is able to play tricks on us. Lie to us. Deceive us.
We have been prewired with blind spots. We too easily believe everything we’re told. We fall for the fake news. However, we need to constantly be on our toes and challenge our thought life. And we do so 1) by living in constant conversation with Jesus and 2) by comparing what we think with the Word of God.
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Phil. 4:7-8
- Develop an intentional prayer life. Talk to God about everything. Be in constant communion with Him. You can pray and carry on a conversation with someone at the same time. I’ve tried it. You can.
- Train your brain. When a debilitating thought comes into your mind, replace it with something excellent or praiseworthy. Focus your thoughts on the good. Don’t merely resist the bad thought, replace it. Fill the hole. Replace the dirt. And plant something that can bloom.
Set Your Mind
Be a continuous learner. Set your thoughts on what is above, not below. Don’t let up. Surround yourself with others that can pour into you and spur you on. Dig into God’s Word. Memorize it. Repeat it over and over again. The word “disciple” means learner. We are never too old, too young, too smart, too dumb to stop learning. God’s Word is new every morning and He has something new to teach you.
Imagine what God can do with your life and your situation. Dream about how He can redeem you right now. Cast your burden on Him and allow Him to use it, for the sake of others and the glory of God. We get stuck in our pits of despair because we fail to envision anything good coming about from it.
Ask God to help you dream. Ask Him to help you get out of the pit of despair. Ask Him to give you vision. Without it, people perish. With it, people hope.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think. Ephesians 3:20
I believe in a God that can do ANYTHING. Use ANYONE. At ANYTIME. Pray now for God to use you!