Strongholds of the mind

Very often we have formidable fortresses in our minds that restrict and limit the full realisation of our God-given potentials, patterns of thinking, in particular about ourselves but also about others, and how they view us – which are not necessarily correct but nonetheless firmly etched and ingrained upon our brains.

These can range form half to wholly unsubstantiated and sometimes even irrational untruths that we strongly believe about ourselves, others and the world we live in arising, more often than not, from a combination of past experiences – failures or successes we may have encountered – and what others (usually people with authority and influence over us like parents, teachers, peers and even workplace colleagues) have said to us.

The bible refers to these as strongholds, ingrained thinking habits and patterns that are difficult to shake off and affect our self-view playing a significant role in determining what we can and cannot accomplish. Strongholds that literally and in most cases hold us back from achieving our full natural potentials. Ironically, these hurdles are not found outside us but in our own minds and if we are to truly realise our God-given potentials we will need to overcome them.

We will need to wage war against them (albeit not a conventional one!) and bring about their demolition if we are to successfully overcome them. Here is what scripture tells us about how to overcome these strongholds:

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 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.   2 Corinthians 10:4 — 5 (NIV)

The writer refers to weapons we are to use for the destruction, the tearing down of these strongholds. But what are these weapons and what makes them different from other, physical and psychological weaponry? What constitutes the Christian’s weapons of warfare?

To start with it is important to note that these are not natural weapons in any sense of the word – they are not found in the natural realm or in the weapons of war employed by the natural world.The Christian’s armour and detailed weaponry supplied to him by God for the task of wrestling, not with flesh and blood, i.e. other humans but “…against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” is found in Ephesians 6:10 – 18. The mind happens to be the primary battleground where these battles tend to be fought and won or lost.

Out of the comprehensive armoury supplied to us by God  one is identified as an assault weapon, the Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (and also praying in the Spirit at all times – verses 17 & 18). Here we find the primary weapons of our warfare – the word of God and praying in the Spirit. This primary weapon of our warfare, the “sword of the Spirit” is in another place in scripture further qualified as “…living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”      Hebrews 4:12

In other words, by its very nature, this word of God or Sword of the Spirit is deadly in effectiveness and its primary fields of operation are the human mind and heart – where the battle is generally fought. It is here that it is most effective making it the choice weapon of our warfare that is …powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,     2 Corinthians 10:5

It is the word of God that has the power to demolish strongholds that are ingrained in our minds, thought patterns we have consciously or otherwise developed that are contrary and resistant to the knowledge of God. It is our mindsets and thought patterns, the way we think that need to be subjected to the rigorous and repeated examination of scripture to test their validity and agreement with the truth. It is on our mindsets and thinking patterns that we need to ruthlessly apply the truth of God’s word on if we are to overcome these strongholds and wrestle free from all that holds us back and restricts us from achieving our God-given potentials.

Strongholds cannot stand in the face of truth – they melt like wax in its presence. As we get to know God’s truth, we are liberated from the stranglehold of these strongholds and into the freedom God designed us to live and function in – progressively.

“…you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”                         John 8:32

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