December 18th

Spiritual Warfare in the Thoughts

3  For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4  (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5  Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;2 Corinthians 10:3-5 KJV 

These powerful verses from 2 Corinthians give us two important skills for spiritual warfare in our thoughts: taking our thoughts into captivity to the obedience of Christ and casting down sinful imaginations. Practicing these skills will be important to our full recovery from sexual addiction, as well as any other struggle with sin.    

We take an evil thought captive by exercising Christ’s authority over it (Luke 10:19-20; Mark 16:17-18; Acts 16:18).  This can be known as “binding” the evil thought or the spirit behind it (Matthew 12:29, 16:18, 18:18). In doing so, we prevent our minds from entertaining the thought any longer.  This also prevents the thought from engaging sinful memories that may be related to it.  For example, a passing temptation may ignite a past memory of sexual sin that was pleasurable.  Choosing not to entertain that memory, we can say (aloud or to ourselves), “I take that thought captive in the name of Jesus Christ,” or “I bind that evil thought and plead the blood of Jesus Christ over my mind.”  There could be other ways of verbalizing it, but the idea is to stop all further thought into the temptation.  After this, we can then shift our thoughts to a safe topic that will help us pull away from the temptation.   

Our imagination is a powerful gift that God has given us.  To imagine something is to focus our thoughts to create a type of reality or image in our minds.  When God created the universe, he spoke it into existence from his thoughts.  He imagined it before he made it.  Since He made us in his likeness, we have imagination ability like His (on a smaller scale).   

We run into trouble when we use our imagination for sin.  For example, pornography is a potent stimulus for our imagination.  With one glimpse at a porn picture, our imaginations can fill in the blanks by creating an X-rated video in our minds.  By running the images through our thoughts, we sin through lust and sexual idolatry.  Such imaginations are raised up against God, and as Paul wrote, we have the responsibility to cast them down.  Thankfully, we have spiritual weapons such as prayer, the Sword of the Spirit and the Shield of Faith to help us do so.   

Prayer:  When we realize that we’re going down the road of sin with our thoughts, we can immediately ask God for help in aborting the sin while repenting from any sin we’ve already entertained.  For example prayer during temptation could be, “Lord, please forgive me for entertaining that evil thought. I repent. Please help me find the way out of this. Thank you, Lord. Amen.”  Based on 1 Corinthians 10:13, we know that God will then provide a way for us to overcome the temptation or escape it.  Praying in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18) is another form of prayer that we can use in casting down imaginations.  It can help us shift our thoughts to God and tap into the Holy Spirit’s power to overcome the temptation.   

Sword of the Spirit:  The Sword of the Spirit is the spoken word of God (Ephesians 6:17).  We use the sword by speaking God’s word as it applies to the temptation we’re facing.  The truth destroys the lies of the temptation that are involved with the imagination.  Jesus demonstrated the effective use of the Sword of the Spirit in the wilderness temptation against Satan in Luke 4.   For example, a man who is tempted to lust after his friend’s wife can respond to the temptation with “It is adultery to lust after another man’s wife.  It is written, ‘Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart’.” 

Shield of Faith: When we believe what God’s word says, that faith will act like a shield around us.  Paul wrote that the shield of faith extinguishes all of the fiery darts from the evil one (Ephesians 6:16).  For example, the scriptures say that the Lord is good to those who wait on him (Lamentations 3:25). The scriptures also say that if we seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness, he will provide for our needs and desires (Matthew 6:33).  If a man is tempted to commit fornication, he can fend that temptation off by standing firm in his belief in those promises, knowing that God will bless him with a fulfilling sexual relationship in his future marriage if he averts sexual sin in the present.   

By exercising these warfare skills, we will have victory over the evil thoughts and temptations that come our way.   

Questions for further thought:

Prayer:

“Lord God, Thank you for giving me the tools to bring my thoughts into obedience to you. Thank you for the gift of imagination.  I repent from any sin I have entertained in my thoughts.  I renounce my use of imagination for sin.  Please forgive me and cleanse me from my sin. Please train me in exercising the warfare skills in my thoughts.  Thank you, Lord! I praise you now and forever, Amen.”