Shelby G. Floyd
We are in a war that is being fought around the world and here at home. It is a battle against evil, terror and fear. It is basically a battle for the mind of man. Paul describes this battle in his second letter to the Corinthians:
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 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 10:3-5 NIV).
These words indicate that our warfare is not with conventional worldly weapons, but with the powerful arguments of truth that can demolish all false pretensions that array against the knowledge of God revealed in the Bible.
Satan is a Usurper
There are two opposing armies in this battle for the minds of men. Satan is the leader of all those who oppose the God of heaven. He is a usurper and he inspires those who join him as a rebel, to oppose everything that is good and decent. He is a murderer, and he is a liar and the father of all lies. Because this is how Jesus described him and those who are allied with him, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). The devil’s mission is to persuade people to believe lies, to kill, to steal, to destroy and to create fear. But God’s people must oppose him and his followers without fear.
Satan is always on the offensive. Therefore the people of God must recognize that we are always under attack. But we must not cower in fear and give in to these assaults on the church and the truth of the Gospel. The apostle Peter said we must be watchful and vigilant, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Therefore, we must speak and act with courage and without fear. Those who love the Lord can be as bold as a lion, “for God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but his spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).
The devil is often referred to as the dragon that makes war against the church. John while on the Isle of Patmos described this war against the people of God: “and the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17). Therefore, let all the people of God realize that our enemy is the devil who opposes God and his people.
The Weapons of our Warfare
The church is in a spiritual battle that is to be fought with spiritual weapons. Paul declares to the Ephesians, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6: 12). He also describes our defensive and offensive armor. We are exhorted to put on the full armor of God so we will be able to stand in the evil day against all of the strategy that the devil can present (Ephesians 6: 10-18). Since this is a spiritual battle with spiritual armor, it is a war and battle for the minds of men.
The Battle for the Mind
Our mind can either be our best friend or our worst enemy. We can either set our minds on the things of the flesh or the things of the Spirit. If we live according to the flesh, then we will set our minds on the things of the flesh. But if we desire to live according to the Spirit, then we will set our minds on the things of the Spirit. “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be” (Romans 8:5-7). In this great tug-of-war, we are going to either give our minds to God or over to the arch enemy of all mankind—the devil. It is therefore very important that we bring every thought and idea into captivity and obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
We Are What We Think
In this great spiritual battle, our mind is our first line of defense. Our thinking defines who we are. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Solomon also said, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Our mind—heart is the great workshop that will produce either goodness or evil in all of our actions. It is a workshop for either sin or salvation. Jesus said that our mind—heart can defile us and make us unacceptable to God.
“Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?” And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man” (Mark 7:18-23).
Not only does the mind that Jesus described defile us, but it also alienates us from God (Colossians 1: 21-22).
We Must Renew Our Mind
All of us can win the battle for the mind by giving our body as a living sacrifice and by renewing our mind according to the good, acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12: 1-2). The way that we do this is to set our minds and our thinking upon the things that are good: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9, NKJV). We can only be victorious in the battle for the mind when we are baptized into Christ where all spiritual blessings are to be found (Ephesians 1:3, 7).
We Are Raised In Christ by Baptism
Water baptism for the forgiveness of sin is the culminating act of faith that lets us into Christ where salvation is found (2 Timothy 2:10; Romans 6:3-4). Paul declares that we are children of God by faith when that faith leads us to be baptized into Christ:
“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27). After we are raised with Christ in baptism, we are then to set our mind upon the things above and not upon the things of the earth (Colossians 3:1-4).
It is in this way then that God can win the battle for our mind. And it is in this way that Satan can be defeated. Let us give our mind to God and our body as a living sacrifice.
Copyright © 2016 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved
Shelby G. Floyd
Heartland Church of Christ
1693 West Main Street
Greenwood, IN 46142