Peninsula Community Church
Strongholds – The Mind
April 10, 2016
Romans 12:1-2 – I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Last week, toward the end of the service I made a statement that I want to restate today. Too often we seek forgiveness as a means to deal with guilt but salvation is so much more than guilt management. We must renew the mind and develop our minds to follow after Christ. The goal is to have the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5) and grow to be Christlike. In having the mind of Christ we are empowered to overcome the power of evil and thoughts which do not honor God. You see God never intended for us to be just forgiven, but He wanted us to live in freedom (Galatians 5:1). He desires that we have an abundant life not just a mediocre one (John 10:10). Jesus envisions a life for us that is filled with freedom and victory.
To grasp freedom and victorious living we must recognize that the mind is a reservoir of every thought, idea, or imagination we have ever had. It is also filled with everything we have ever learned. Now some of you might argue that point because like me I am sure that you feel that you have forgotten more than you have ever learned. But the fact is it is in there. That is why we suddenly recall a memory or a fact that we thought had been long forgotten. This happens to us when we seek to live a full free life. We think we have won a victory and suddenly out of the recesses of our minds a thought comes. It is our mind reminding us where we have been, what we have done, and what has been done to us rather than what God is doing and can do in us.
You see he mind is a filtering system where every thought, idea, or imagination is processed. This can include both conscious and unconscious processes which effect and impact what we do and how we do them. It is through these processes that we begin either reject or accept the truth. Most often the truth we receive is filtered through our past experiences and the things that have had happened to us. Once filtered and accepted these thoughts, ideas, and imaginations begin to form and shape who we are and how we respond to life and they begin to define who we are.
Strongholds are established when we begin to believe the lies or begin to follow after the thoughts, ideas, and imaginations which we have allowed into our minds. For example, because of past experiences we often adapt certain views about life in order to function. Let me illustrate this. When you were growing up, you may have lived in a home where abuse was very evident. The result is that you begin to tell yourself that this is the way people are. The result is you find it difficult to trust people because you begin to believe that every relationship you have will end in abuse. At times we reject others not because they have done anything but because we believe that they might hurt us. We therefore live in fear and rejection. It is a vicious cycle of defeat. But God wants to deliver us and free us from these cycles of failure and defeat.
A stronghold can also be established in the mind by way of our personal attitudes. For example, we can be filled with anger or worry which binds us and creates in us a stronghold. Rather than being controlled by God’s peace we are controlled by worry and fear. Our fail safe for dealing with issues we confront is to fall back on worry and fear rather than on God’s peace. The problem is that we attempt to control our fear and worry instead of being set free and established in Christ.
The story is told of the man who bought passage on a passenger ship. He had worked hard to save his money for this trip. The day finally came and he boarded the ship to head to America. Along with his luggage he brought a bag of food and crackers to have in his room. Just as they were about to dock in New York the captain of the ship saw the man standing by the rail. The captain approached the man and stated that he had been missed at the captains dinner. The man explained that he did not have the money to eat at the captains dinner so he had been eating in his room. The captain hung his head with sadness as he spoke to the man. He then revealed that the meals had been included in his ticket price. You see for us we have had salvation purchased for us but we are not taking advantage of the everything salvation has to offer. We have been forgiven, yes, but we have also been given a full and free life. Let’s live like it.
Because the mind is the reservoir of thoughts, ideas, imaginations, and intellect we can be negatively impacted by the stimulus around us. So how do we live in freedom as designed by God. To do so we must fulfill the command of Romans 12 to renew our minds. And how do we renew our minds? We do so by being transformed through the renewal process. The Greek word for transformation is the word metamorphosis. It is the idea of being changed from one thing to another. The classic example of this is the caterpillar which is turned into a butterfly.
With that in mind there is a caution we must also consider. Transformation is not a matter of switching from one list of things to do in the flesh to a list of things to do in the law. When Paul replaces the list of the works of the flesh he replaces it with the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22). You see the Christian alternative to immoral behaviors is not a new list of moral behaviors. It is the triumphant transformation of the Holy Spirit through faith in Christ. It is a new way of living that is not managed by a list of do’s and don’ts, but rather it is a new way of living. Rather than a list of new activities, it is way of being.
When it comes to the mind I propose four steps to overcome and break the strongholds that impact us. First we need to test every thought. To renew the mind we must control the thoughts we allow into our mind. That is way Paul stated in Corinthians that we should take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). In essence, we have to cut off the power of the stronghold at its source. So what are you thinking? The fact is what we think we become. The thoughts we allow in effects what we become and what will eventually define us.
To bring something into captivity means to control, to conquer, or to bring into submission. We take every thought captive. We make our thoughts submit to the obedience of Christ. We make our thoughts to submit to the word of God. The problem however is that my mind does not always mind. My mind wants to do its own thing. That is why we have to make our thoughts obedient to Christ and to His ways. You see the battle for sin always begins in the mind and it has to end in the mind as well. To control our minds and thoughts is to know Christ and His ways. That is the template we must use.
A second thing we need to do is to guard against garbage. The New Living Translation has an interesting interpretation of Proverbs 15:14. It says “A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash.” Nutritionist will tell you that there are three types of food. There is brain food which makes you smarter. There is junk food which is simple calories. Its not poison but it is empty calories. Then there are toxic foods which are filled with toxins that destroy the body. The same comes to the thoughts that we let in. We want the thoughts that are going to make us smarter and stronger.
Paul in Philippians 4:8-9 gives us a secret to control our thoughts and to control against the garbage that comes in. Listen to what Paul says. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
Let me ask you. Do you sit around and listen to gossip and negative comments? What do you watch on TV? What do you read? What do you allow into your mind that impacts and effects who you are and what you are about? When we put in garbage we get garbage out. The opposite is true as well. When we put truth in then we will get truth out. So we must begin to fill our minds with truth and what is pure. When you fill your mind with truth, the truth will set you free (John 10).
The third thing we can do to battle false mindsets is to feed on God’s Word and learn as much as you can. Be a student of God. This is not learning for the simple goal of learning but our learning must be focused on knowing God and understanding His ways and His wisdom. We do not study to get more knowledge; we study to become more Christlike. We must become life long learners of God’s grace. For example here at PCC we have a number of opportunities for you to learn. We have Sunday School. We have small groups. We have ladies study on Thursday. We have the men’s gathering at McDonalds. We have Sunday worship. We have opportunities for fellowship and to get together. We do this so you have an opportunity to grow and learn.
I am also reminded that Rick Warren has said that truth is never invented, it is discovered. We must discover the truth of the Gospel. We read! We listen! We study! We ask questions! That is how we learn and how we keep on learning. We feed our minds with the word of God because it renews and strengthens us. We feed our minds with the word of God because it begins to change us and begins to transform our thinking.
And finally, let God stretch your imagination. So many of us live under the power of strongholds because we do not know how to live otherwise. To overcome the strongholds in our life, we must believe there is a better way to live. We must believe that God has a plan for your life that does not contain the mindsets and strongholds that have been established against us. When we believe that God has a different plan for us, we really really believe it, and we begin to act that out we will live differently and we will act differently. By allowing God to stretch your imagination of what could be we can then move from a state of forgiveness to living victorious. That is the power of overcoming the strongholds in our life.
So how are you doing? Are you ready to live free?
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2016 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom