September 11, 2022
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not wage battle according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but [a]divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying arguments and all arrogance raised against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,
The Big Idea:
God gives you the power to change your most destructive thought patterns. But it’s a battle. Against habit, against broken desires, against a dark enemy.
To Fix Our Thoughts
I. Treat It Like a Battle
"for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses."
II. Build a Battle Plan
"We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,"
Download the handout mentioned in this sermon:
Fix A (lying) Thought:
1. Become Aware of Your Struggle
2. Find the Root
3. Tell the Truth (that destroys the lie)
"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."
"28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired.
29 He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power.
31 Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary."
“in tribulation, or trouble, or persecution, poverty, or need, or danger … we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”
4. Make it your own
(a faith declaration)
I’ve got to say what an incredible moment we just experienced. Worship needs to be an encounter within God's presence. And I think we've experienced that in this place, especially for everyone in this room, who laid a burden down before the Father. And that's what worship should be; and I think we've been in it. So, we turn to the Word, to the Word of God; it's powerful and effective in our lives. And so, we're in the middle of a series, kind of an early Fall series, right, and we're in the middle of a series that's called “Fix my Thoughts”. And so, because we're in the middle of it, I really need to pick up what we were doing in the last message. So, let's just jump in, and let's start here, looking at the power that God gives you. You can fully participate in building out who you become. Your circumstances do not have to be the determining factor. Your past does not have to be the determining factor in who you become. How some others in your life have lied to you about you, does not have to be the determining factor. How you have come to deceive yourself in the past does not have to be the determining factor. The worst thing that's ever happened to you doesn't have to be the determining factor. Do you realize that God has given you this powerful endowment that you can fully participate in who you become and how He does that is through the renewing of your mind. That's why we're calling this series “Fix My Thoughts”. If you want it in a really short, distinct phrase, here it is: If you want to fix your life, you've got to start with your thoughts; or stated this way: fix your thoughts, fix your life. And so, the first two messages have introduced this. The last time we met, we started working it out. And we're going to pick that up in this message.
And so, we're working through this first stage of the process of how we fix our thoughts. And we're going to find that in the Word of God. And one of the most potent, most powerful places in all the word that shows you the power that God has given you is in II Corinthians 10, starting in verse 3. This is where we were the last time. We're going to review a little and then we're going to plow new ground. And so, listen to the Word of God. The Bible says that “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not we do not war according to the flesh.” Verse 4 “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God. And we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” And so, this is the word of God. And we make a declaration about it every single time that we open the Word, and we say about the word that it is powerful; it has a spiritual energy that flows through it. And we believe that, and we open our hearts to it and watch this big idea flow out of it. This message has a big idea. It continues from last time. Here's the big idea: God gives you a power to change your most destructive thought patterns. But it's a battle against habit, against broken desire, and against a dark enemy. And so, let's work that out in our lives now. So, what do I mean by that? Look, it just means that a lot of the challenges that we face; for instance, certain addictions, certain destructive behaviors, some anxiety and depression are rooted in how we think.
And so, to fix our thoughts, we started this last time, we said to fix our thoughts, this is the starting place. Two major principles. The first one was this, I'm going to give you a quick review. The first one is treat it like a battle; treat what like a battle? The battle is how we fix our thoughts, the process of going through the repair of our thinking, we’ve got to treat it like a battle. And where do I get that? Well, it's written all over verses four and five. In fact, it's, it's inescapable. In fact, you wonder, why is it so loaded up with military, with battlefield terms? I mean, the Spirit of God leads the apostle Paul, to use this stark battlefield language to describe something that we think is kind of passive, our own relationship to our thoughts. Except Paul says, No, it's a battle, it's warfare. And so, look, verse four, uses the words weapons of our warfare, they, they are powerful for the destruction of fortresses. It's nothing but battle, verse five, we are destroying, like an army destroys an enemy installation, we are destroying every lofty thing. That word lofty thing is actually a technical military term for a tower built by an enemy in order to attack you. And so, he's saying, we’re tearing those enemy towers down. And we're taking captive, that literally means taking prisoners of war. And so, in two verses, it's so loaded up with battle language. And the reason that I'm making a big deal out of it is because this is where often our defeat is; we think our relationship with our own thoughts as a passive process. And in fact, you got to raise it to DEF- CON four. You've got to raise it. That's an 80s term, right? You haven't heard that war term? You know, I keep revealing myself over and over, don't I? And so, look, why is it loaded up with battle language? It ought to clear something up for you - dealing with your own thoughts; the lying ones, the self-deceiving ones, the selfish and careless ones, the ones that are full of self-pity, the ones that are self-defeating, this can't be a passive process. Either you're in the battle, or you lose; there's his point. And so, that's what we said last time, what we didn't say clearly enough, and I want to raise it up. He tells us though, in verse four, “But we have weapons, and they are spiritually powerful weapons.” And I want you to have the confidence in these weapons. And so and so we have these weapons that are divinely powerful. He states they're the battle is primarily a spiritual battle. I promise. That's true. And so that's why he gives us multiple weapons. I'm going to raise up two, and then one really specifically today, but it's clear, these are divinely powerful weapons.
Number one of these weapons is the Spirit of God Himself. Ephesians three says that we can be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner person. That's where we get the spiritual power, from the Spirit of God. What is that power, like? Ephesians 1 says it's the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. And so, it comes into our life, as a result of the gospel. So, for some of you, you think I make this a big deal all the time about being gospel centered. Here in verse 6, so gospel centered is right here; it is the gospel that brings this power into your life. What is the gospel? It is that Christ went to the cross for you and me. And he went there to pay the penalty that we owe God for our sin. Yeah, sin is a big deal. I know, even in some churches now that kind of make fun of preaching about sin, but sin is a big deal to God. He sent His Son to die for it, in order to defeat its power in our life. A part of sin is defective thinking, broken thinking, and He can heal that in our lives. And so, the Spirit of God is one of your weapons, but also the Word of God itself is a powerful, powerful weapon, and we're going to flesh that out in the moments to come.
And so, you have these powerful weapons, and we're going to put them to use in this next principle. And so, what did we say first? We said, first, if we're going to fix our thoughts, it comes down to this: First of all, you’ve got to treat it like a battle. And we have punctuated that over and over and over. Because if we miss that, we're going to lose. But then secondly, build a battle plan. That's what verse five is all about. Look at the plan. This verse says, it involves at least two strategies, destroying speculations and every lofty thing and taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. And so, he gives us this two-tiered battle plan, destroying speculations and every lofty thing. He's describing what he means there; it’s the lying thoughts, the unfounded, anxious predictions that we build up in our mind, the unwarranted fears, all the negative rumination, they've got to be torn down. They’re the destructive thought patterns that have got to be torn down in our life. And then secondly, taking captive every thought; it's the process of taking control of your whole thought process. It’s as if you're taking every single lying, destructive thought as a prisoner of war, locking them up, so they can never do battle with you again.
And so, we turn to application; how do we do that? Now, let me give you a mental framework here, so that you follow easily. So, I'm going to give you four steps, four steps for doing this battle: the battle plan. Alright, so I'm going to give them to you and then I'm going to turn, I'm going to take one single lying thought, and we're going to do the four principles again, applying it to that one lying thought, and then you take it to your own life, you take it and apply it to your own life. And so, this is how to get started in with the battle plan. Last time, we just mentioned it, we just said it. So, just mentally take this note, number one, start getting aware. That's the point we made, start getting aware. And we just said the reason this is a step, the reason that this is a principle is because we live lives where we have no awareness of our own thoughts. And there's a reason for that: it’s the nonstop, external bombardment, that never allows us to be able to even think about what we think about. It’s the air pods that don't allow you to think about what you're thinking about. The conspiracy podcast doesn't allow you to think about what you're thinking about. The death scroll doesn't allow you to think about what you're thinking about. All of the multiple streams, all the streaming that streams into your life, doesn't allow you time or space to think what you're thinking about. And so, the very first step is, the reason it's a battle is because this is hard. Because you have to turn some stuff off and you have to stop doing. And so how do you get aware? Two words, two ways: silence and attention. silence to become aware of what my thoughts even are.
And then focused attention. So, neuroscientists know this. One of the ways, one of the most powerful ways you build neural pathways in your brain, in other words, certain thought patterns. You know, a neural pathway with the dendrites on top, and it's filled with all kinds of knowledge, concepts, emotions, and memories. The way you build strong thought trees is by focused attention. That's why multitasking is a lie. It doesn't work., you’re just jumping is all you're doing. But in order to build a strong thought pattern in your life, I mean an actual physical neuro pathway, it comes with focused attention. And so, it's silence and attention. That's why the Bible commands 3000 years ago, “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 62, “My soul waits in silence for God only”. I’ve got to make the point that I made last time. Do you realize the Spirit of God was speaking not into a modern contemporary man or woman with their cell phone, headphones, and video screens. He's making this point to a 3000-year-old person: no electricity, therefore no lights, therefore no nighttime stuff to do. Therefore, no computers, no phones, and no anything. And so, the sun comes up, I live my life and the sun goes down and I go to bed. He's telling that person, you’ve got to be still. You’ve got to sit in silence before me. And so, the first part of the battle is learning how to pare down all of the external stimulation and create the time and space for you to just simply become aware of your thoughts. If this is too scary for you, just do it in the car. Then if it's all too scary, just turn off whatever in the car, and drive silently. And every few moments, just become aware; what was I thinking while I was on autopilot? Just start becoming aware of your own thoughts. Now here's the practice that makes this work and that gives you power: a time alone with God every day gives you silence and focus. A time alone with God every day gives you silence and focus. You ought to start your day with a time alone with him; however many minutes that you can carve out; if it's seven minutes, good. That's seven times greater than you were doing before, right? Or 10, 15, or 30 minutes. But create some silence, hopefully at the beginning of your day. Create some silence before the Lord and spend time with Him in prayer, communing with him in prayer, speaking to Him in prayer. Let him speak to you through the Word. And then make this a part of the routine; make this an everyday routine. Don't get out of that space, until you say to God, “Search me, O God. And try my heart know my heart. Try me and know my anxious thoughts and see if there be any hurtful, any deceptive, any lying way in me and lead me in the everlasting way. Psalm 139: 23 and 24. This will start the process.
I said there's four there's, there's Number one: The first is start getting aware with silence and attention. But then second, secondly, capture the lying thought; number two is capture the lying thought. That's what the passage concludes with in verse five says here's where it culminates; taking captive every thought to the obedience of Christ. This is you becoming aware of all of your lying, self-deceptive, self-pitying careless thoughts. This is becoming aware of them and capture them. Put them away. And you're thinking, I don't even know where to start with that. I don't have any idea where to start. Let me be really practical. Here's where to start. If you want a place to start, just start here: Where am I struggling? That place that you don't really tell anybody about. Where am I struggling? Answer that for yourself. Take a second right now and answer: Where am I struggling? Is it with a lot of self-doubt? Or do you carry around a lot of fearful thoughts? Or is there a habit? You know, a habit that is turning into an addiction that's taking root in you? Is that where you struggle? Are you struggling with some desires that you really wish would go away? Are you struggling with something like anger that gets out of control or other emotions or attitudes that get out of control? Is that where you struggle? Maybe your words consistently get out of control? Maybe you're convinced you're a failure. And that nothing you will ever attempt will succeed. Maybe you carry a thought process around that just constantly tells you you're not going to succeed. Or maybe you're struggling with why you're so negative all the time. But you wish you weren’t. That's a starter list. What is it for you? Where are you struggling? Now go find its root. Go find the root of that. And nine times out of 10, it's going to be a lying thought, it's going to be a lying thought pattern that has taken you there. Or it's going to be a selfish, sinful thought process, it's going to be a deceptive thought process from the devil that, you know, maybe in an addiction, well, I deserve this because my life is so hard over here. And so therefore, I deserve this, this, this thing that is becoming an addiction in my life - that's killer, you got to kill that, you’ve got to get rid of that. Go find its root. And in order to do it, (Have I mentioned yet that’s it’s a battle?) you’re probably going to have to work hard at this. You're going to have to get alone and get quiet and get in God's presence and ask him to peel back the layers of incorrect thinking, or excuses, the lies or the stuff you've come to believe that's just not true. Because it's repeated in your brain so often. And so, this is battle, you pray, you think, and you write until you find the lie, or the lies that are at the root of it all; go find its root. Here's what lots of counselors know, you already know it. For whatever reason, you're just not letting it come up. Either you don't want to admit it, or you're afraid of it, or you don't want to deal with it. And so, you here's an insight, you probably already know what the root is. You just got to be ready to tell yourself the truth, have the courage to tell yourself the truth.
So that's one and two, here's number three, then find the truth in God's Word that destroys the lie. I mean, this is taking out the sword of the spirit, the one that Hebrews 4:12 says is razor sharp on both sides. In fact, it can divide between physical and spiritual, spirit and soul. I mean, it is that razor sharp and precise. It has the ability to do its work in you. And so go to the Word and find the truth that applies to the lying thought in your life. In fact, I've given you like a little assignment card, if you came in and the door greeter gave you something, it is just a little assignment card here. And this is all about who God has created you to be in Christ. I mean, if you don't even have any idea where to start, start here; with your identity. Start here with just infiltrating your mind with the truth of God about who you are. For instance, I am a child of God, according to John 1. My old self was crucified with Christ, and I'm no longer a slave to sin. (Romans 6) I've been set free from the law of sin and death, Romans 8. I've been accepted by Christ, Romans 15. My body is a temple of the holy spirit, who lives inside of me, I Corinthians 6. I'm a new creature, a new creation in Christ. II Corinthians 5. I'm no longer a slave to all the things we just talked about, Galatians 4. I'm redeemed and forgiven, by the grace of God, I live forgiven and redeemed by him. Ephesians 1. I'm God's workmanship, the meaning of that word is masterpiece. Ephesians 2:10. I've been made complete in Christ. Colossians 2. My life is hidden with Christ in God. Here's the starting point. Here's the starting point of just find the truth in God's word about you. Just put this somewhere that you see all the time and start building this up in your mind. And these thoughts will become the power of your life. And then number four, make it your own. You're going to do some work here, make it your own, make it your own personal faith declaration of the truth over the lie.
Okay, there it is, theoretically. Now, let's just apply it to one single lie. to one single lie. And then we're going to pray together. All right, we're going to do the four again, but over one single lie. Number one is become aware of your struggle. Let's name a struggle. What if you struggle with that thing that I mentioned, of always feeling that you fall short? That that always you're always failing at just the critical moment? That's your thought process. Therefore, you have concluded I'm a failure. Moreover, you have concluded beyond that, I must be really defective. And you don't even want to try hard things anymore. Because the lying thought processes have so overtaken your brain that all that you can think is what's the use, I'm going to fail it in any way. Let's confront that lie. Number two, find the root of it. So, a lot of our struggles are fed by a lie, which has become repetitive. We don't even recognize it anymore. Because it is so rare. It replays over and over so many times in our mind, we just, we just stopped opposing it, we just let it flow through our mind. And we've come to believe a lie that we know is a lie, but we believe it. And so, ask this, go to God, get in silence and focused attention and get this answer: What's the lie at the root of my struggle? Now maybe not this for you, and maybe screaming out that it's a habit or an addiction are for you. Maybe it's an attitude issue that just keeps pouring out of your life. But we're taking this, we're just asked the question, what is the lie at the root of my struggle? I think you're going to have to do battle here. I think you're going to have to get alone with God and ask Him in prayer, what's the lie that feeds this attitude in me? What's the lie at the root of it, and you know what, again, you may have known it, you've just kept stuffing it down, not letting it be conscious, maybe it turns out to be the root of that lie for you. Maybe it turns out to be the lie, you know, that one of your parents told you over and over out of their brokenness, “Hey, you're broken”. So, they were and their parents were broken, too; that’s why they told you broken lies. But maybe it's the lie that one of your parents, out of their brokenness, they said the most careless thing to you, you can't do anything right because you don't try hard enough. Or you're just not as smart as you know, you can already fill in the blank. Or even if you did accomplish or win, for them, it wasn't a good enough win. And after a while, a thought tree formed in your brain: I can't, because I'm just not good enough. I'm defective in some way. And because that was the previous prevailing repetitive thought of your life, when things get hard, you give up. When things get hard, you run away. Because you don't want the pain of failure again. Do you see? Listen, the reason I'm going through this in excruciating detailed way is to show you how destructive a lying thought can be. And so, what do you do? So, we were moving to number three, and that is apply the truth. Number three is apply the truth that destroys the lie. You’ve got to go to the Word of God, this powerful weapon that you have, this sword of the Spirit and the Spirit of God is your primary weapon. And what does he use, he uses the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. This one weapon of power, God has given you to tear down lying thought patterns in you, and to build up the truth about and in you. And so and so you come to believe the word of God is a powerful force. It's living, it's active, it's full of energy, it can cut through spirit and soul. And so according to Hebrews 4:12; it's the weapon that demolishes strongholds. It's the power that tears down the lying towers of the enemy. Or for you, maybe you're saying, okay, yeah, you know, I've already lost because I don't know the word. Then go to somebody who knows the word, someone who knows you and is wise, who can help you find it. So, let's say this lie, I'm defective in some way. I always fail. I must be defective in some way. And so, let's say you go to the Word, and you open the Word, and you find Psalm 139:9, “I praise you God, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. And I know that full well.” And you come to realize you're broken by sin, but you're an image bearer of God, and that God has made you in a majestic and powerful and wonderful way. And actually, I am a reflection of you. That's who I am. I'm not who the lie says I am. And then you find Isaiah 40 to deal with the lie of how diminished and depleted you feel from that lie, you find Isaiah 40, and the Bible says, “Do you not know, have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the heavens and earth, does not get weary or tired, he gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might, He increases power. And those who wait for him will gain new strength, they'll mount up with wings like eagles, they'll run and not get tired, they'll walk and not become weary.” And I become convinced of the truth, that God makes me strong when I feel weak. And then you find Romans 8:37. This is so powerful. That passage says that in tribulation, you got that in your life? Or trouble, or persecution, or poverty and need, or danger? In those circumstances, we overwhelmingly conquer. Wait a minute, how do we overwhelmingly conquer in those circumstances? Through him who loved us. A person convinced of the power and love of Christ flowing into their lives, circumstances do not destroy them. That he has made you an overcomer. He's made you an overcomer. What if you thought that was your nature? What if your belief system was this: because of my relationship with Christ, he has changed my nature. And I'm an overcomer of hard things. That's who he's made me to be. And then number four, we've confronted it, make it your own. And so, here's what you’ve got to do: You’ve got to make this your own by making a faith declaration. I'm convinced that a lot of believers have such powerless lives because they never engage their faith. They just simply don't declare what is true in the word about themselves. And here's why they don't feel it. Big deal, if you don't feel it. Start, start here. Just declare what the Word of God says is true; make a faith declaration. I believe God that when I am weak, you make me strong. I put my faith in that. Guess what happens? God makes you strong by energizing your faith. And so, make a faith declaration, write it out. So, make it your own. Take the word, confront the lie, write the truth, learn it, memorize it, get it in your life, write it out and refine it. Make it truthful and powerful. And then learn it so well, that when that when the lying thought starts creeping in, you can capture that thought and destroy it with this faith declaration. Let me just take a shot at it. Maybe it sounds like this. I wrote this out. The thought that I'm a failure and that I always fail is a lie. It's a lie from the dark side to make me hopeless. But I demolish that lie. I tear down that strong tower with a massive power of the Word of God. I am not a failure because I have been formed and created by God as a fearfully wonderfully created soul in his image. (Psalm 139) And when I am tired and weary, God will always come alongside and always give me strength and increase the spiritual power in my life. (Isaiah 40) And so I know that nothing hard can destroy me because Christ lives in me and he's made me an overwhelming overcomer simply because he loves me. (Romans 8:37)
But do you see the power of confronting every lie with the power of the truthful Word of God? You have this endowment that is so incredibly powerful. It is the ability to participate with God in fully renewing your mind. I'm going to ask us to bow again. I want to give you a moment. Right here, I want to give you a moment just to pray, as we enter a moment of worship here. I just want to ask you make this the most important moment in this service by just looking inside of you and saying, what's the lie? What's the struggle? What's the lie at the root of it? And Spirit of God, would you give me the truth, the powerful weapon to tear it down, to tear that thought tree down in my brain and build a truthful, powerful neural pathway that has the Spirit of God in it and transform my life.
Maybe for you, you walked into this place, and you've actually never placed your faith in Christ. I want to give you this opportunity. And we'll give you a chance to do that. God loves you so much that he was willing to send His own Son to die in your place for what you owe him, for what your sin has done. But he loves you, and he is so full of grace and mercy that he wants he wants so much to forgive you and put his grace in your life and put his power in your life. Are you open to that? Then right now you can bow your life and pray and ask Him into your life. This could be the most transformational moment of your life. You want to pray if you want to put your faith in Christ in this moment. Let me help you pray something like this; Father, thank you, for your son, Jesus that you sent from heaven, to die for me. I ask you to forgive me of all of my sin. I ask you to come into my life. I asked you to give me eternal life. And I turn to you to be the Lord and the leader of my life. Make me brand new from the inside. Father, I also pray for every believer in this room that you just give us the confidence of the power that is in us that we can confront every lying thought, we can tear it down, and we can rebuild it and transform our lives. And we pray that now in Jesus’ name, amen. Amen. Amen.