It’s often said that the mind is the devil’s playground. And it’s said for good reason. The majority of the battles you face are waged between your ears. Yes, frequently issues such as fear, insecurity, temptation, or depression aren’t so much the product of the weather or chemicals in the brain, but of how you process thoughts.
Source of Spiritual Warfare
Consider what Paul penned about the source and solution to spiritual warfare. “[Cast] down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God,” he instructed. “[Bring] every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) Certainly, this describes a battle in the mind. But there’s much more here than what meets the eye.
First, note that the Greek word for “imaginations” is logismos. This is the word from which we derive “logic” or “reasoning.” Secondly, the phrase “high thing” comes from the word hypsoma, which means “arrogance.” In essence, Satan comes with arrogant reasoning in which he attempts to manufacture imaginations in you that seem more real than the truths of God’s Word. And thus begins the warfare.
Power of the Mind
In my message, “Stand: How to Win Spiritual Battles without a Fight” (available in the You Aren’t Your Feelings, Fears or Failures 4-part series), I ask the congregation to interact with a riddle that powerfully illustrates how the enemy works with the mind to create such imaginations. It’s always fascinating to hear the peoples’ answers to the following:
“A man left home running. He ran a bit and then turned left. He ran some more and turned left. He ran a bit more and turned left. And then the man ran back home. When the man arrived home, two masked men were there waiting for him.”
Here are the questions: Why did the man leave home running? And who are the two masked men?
Before I get to the answers, allow me to make a point. This riddle contains only a couple facts. The first is that there is a man who runs from home and makes three left turns before he returns home. The second is that there are two masked men who wait for the man back at home. With this little information, the mind goes into overdrive to fill in what isn’t known, most often with worst-case scenarios. And so, if you’re like most who hear this for the first time, it’s likely that you imagined a situation in which the man is in danger. But that’s far from reality.
I will now undo any false scenario with a single word of truth. Think, “baseball.” Yes, the man ran from home because he hit a home run. And the two masked men who awaited him back home are the catcher and the umpire!
How to Overcome Mind Games
The riddle reveals Satan’s strategy against your mind. That is, he often presents bits of truth—perhaps a real struggle, symptom or circumstance—and then fills in the unknowns with imaginations. These imaginations are the fodder for your fears, insecurities and so on.
Like we learn with the riddle, the solution to overcome these mind games is to confront them with truth. If a circumstance begins to fill you with fear, cast it down with the certainty of God’s Word: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7) If you face a symptom that works up worry, meditate on the assurance that “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5). Reject rejection with the reality that “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, so that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
Always remember: God’s Word is more real than what you feel (or think!). The truths God has planted in His Scripture are sure to help you overcome any imagination the devil attempts to plant in your mind.