It is in the mind where seeds of destruction are sown.
Destruction of families. Destruction of friendships. Destruction of churches. Destruction of lives.
The human mind is fertile ground for Satan’s subtle schemes. If he can get us to entertain thoughts of criticism, anger, jealousy, discontent and despair, then he knows the battle is half won. You see, negative thoughts marinating in the dark recesses of our minds day after day, will inevitably lead to sin unless we actively and intentionally seek to combat them.
The Bible speaks of this internal spiritual warfare in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5:
“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.” (NIV)
I believe there are several types of persistent and damaging negative thoughts that are extremely harmful to Christians, women in particular. The first is:
Thoughts that are critical towards family, friends or others.
Have you ever experienced a time in your marriage when you have been frustrated with, or disappointed in, your spouse for one reason or another? When this happens we often will dwell on the negative and allow critical, angry thoughts to creep into our minds to replay themselves over and over until a root of bitterness has taken hold. When I have fallen into this pattern of negative thinking, the Holy Spirit has graciously reminded me that Satan loves to attack on the battlefield of our minds and that he wants to damage and ultimately destroy godly marriages. As I am reminded of the verse above telling us to “take every thought captive”, I push those critical thoughts out of my mind and stand on God’s promise that if I speak the name of Jesus, Satan will flee. Maybe your negative thinking is not about your spouse but about your pastor, your neighbor, or a fellow church member . It is time for you to be intentional about pushing those thoughts out of your mind. It is a discipline that needs to be practiced with intentionality and with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Thoughts of inadequacy or unworthiness.
All women struggle at one time or another with feelings of inadequacy. We don’t believe that God can effectively use us because we have messed up in the past, or because someone years ago told us we were worthless. We think that because we veered off of the path he had laid out for us, we are now relegated to the “shelf of used and broken toys”, never to be loved or functional again. It is not true! The Bible says that our sins have been cast as far as the east is from the west. (Try to head east, you never meet west!) In addition, what someone in your past has told you about your worth is irrelevant. There is a holy God who loves you more than you can even comprehend and he can bless your life with purpose, joy and fulfillment no matter who you have been or what you have done in the past! When damaging thoughts of inadequacy begin to fill your mind, “take every thought captive”…send them far away and lean on God’s promise that you are precious to Him.
Thoughts of regret.
“If only I could go back and live that part of my life again…if only I had not treated that person in such a way…if only I knew then what I know now.” I don’t think there is a person on earth who has absolutely no regrets…sometimes regret weighs so heavily on us that we can barely function. If you are paralyzed with feelings of regret, such that you cannot even move forward in your life, take those thoughts captive! We as human beings do the best that we can with what we know at the time. We learn so much as we move through life and as the Lord allows us to grow through our experiences and mistakes. That’s the nature of life…it is not a perfect world and we are not perfect beings. Understand that God wants to move you forward, grow you, use you. Don’t remain stuck in the past. And don’t allow Satan to keep you there with thoughts of regret!
“Finally brothers, 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.” Philippians 4:8 (NIV)