Break free from oppressive, negative thoughts and begin to live an abundant life filled with joy, peace, and mental wholeness. Join Joseph Prince in this three-part series and discover how you can overcome all mental bondages by resting in Christ’s obedience and finished work at the cross.
Rest In Christ’s Obedience
If you are struggling with negative thoughts today to whatever degree, don’t give up. The Lord knows the mental and emotional struggles you’re going through and He really wants to set you free from discouragement, depression, and defeat. He wore the crown of thorns on His head so that you can have a mind that’s free from oppression. He bore the chastisement for your peace so that you can enjoy His divine wholeness and shalom-peace (Isa. 53:5). The fact that you are reading this now shows that He cares deeply about you and is already working to free your mind—just keep reading!
The first thing you have to realize is that the battle takes place in your mind. You see, the devil doesn’t have any real power (Col. 2:15), so he can only resort to lies and deception. He puts lies and half-truths in your mind to deceive you and make you believe what he wants you to believe. And he does it subtly and cunningly by using the personal pronoun “I”—I’m ugly. I’m a loser. I’m an addict—so that you’ll take the thoughts as your own and believe that that’s who you really are. He plants such lies in your head to confuse you about your identity or give you an identity crisis!
So the battle is not so much out there with your spouse, boss, colleagues, or even the failing economy, as it is in your mind. Your mind is the enemy’s preferred battleground. And thoughts are his weapon of choice.
Believe Right And Flourish Outwardly
Margaret Thatcher, the well-known former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, said this, “Watch your thoughts for they become words. Watch your words for they become actions. Watch your actions for they become habits. Watch your habits for they become your character. And watch your character for it becomes your destiny! What we think, we become.”
Right believing produces right living.
Those words are so true. The Bible says that as a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Prov. 23:7). That’s why I preach strongly that right believing produces right living. The opposite is also true: Wrong believing produces wrong living. The apostle Paul tells us, “…do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Rom. 12:2). We are to renew our minds with God’s truths, and not continue to think the way the world thinks or the way the devil wants us to think.
My friend, it’s so important to guard what we think in our hearts or minds because the Bible says that you “prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 1:2, emphasis mine). In other words, how well you flourish outwardly is tied to how well you flourish inwardly in your soul.
The soul comprises the mind, will, and emotions. If you want your health, family life, career, ministry—all things—to flourish, then you need to prosper in your soul first. Jesus said that if you have good treasure in your heart, you will bring forth good things, and if you have evil in your heart, you will bring forth evil things (Matt. 12:35). So it’s important to fill our hearts and minds with the good treasure of God’s new covenant promises instead of the junk of the world, then we can bring forth good things in our lives. If we allow lies and other bad stuff to come in, then the results are depression, anxiety, fear, cynicism, paranoia, apathy, and other forms of death.
Breaking Free Of Mental Strongholds
The lies and negative things that we believe and dwell on will become strongholds, and strongholds will form habits that eventually shape our lifestyles.
For example, if you believe that being in a crowded shopping mall will trigger another frightening anxiety attack, then you will form the habit of avoiding shopping malls or any crowded places. If you believe the saying, “Once an addict, always an addict,” then you will tend to reject any help offered and end up perpetuating the cycle of addiction. If your parents and teachers tell you that you are stupid or useless and you believe them, then you will see yourself as a failure with no future. You won’t see any point in applying yourself to your assignments. You won’t realize nor discover the giftings that God has put in your life, nor will you see any point in cultivating a good work ethic.
The apostle Paul talks about these strongholds that exalt themselves against the truths of God. And he shows us how to break free of them—by bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ:
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
—2 Corinthians 10:4–5
Notice that we are to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. It’s unfortunate that some translations such as the New International Version (NIV) and New Living Translation (NLT) translate it to mean that we are to make all our thoughts obey Christ. Because of this, many Christians think this passage is about obeying Christ perfectly in their thought life. But what Paul is saying here is that we are to think on and turn our thoughts to the obedience of Christ, not our own obedience.
Focus On The Obedience Of Christ
My friend, this is how you win the battle for your mind—by realizing that it’s about Jesus’ obedience. That’s what God wants you to focus your mind on. What is the obedience of Christ then? It’s simply His obedience all the way to the cross that has brought about your total forgiveness and everlasting righteousness:
For as by one man’s [Adam’s] disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s [Jesus’] obedience many will be made righteous.
As a believer, you are eternally forgiven of every sin, including every negative thought (past, present, and future), not because of your obedience or good works, but because of Jesus’ perfect obedience. And you are righteous forever not because of your obedience or good works, but because of Jesus’ perfect obedience. Hallelujah!
You are righteous forever not because of your obedience or good works, but because of Jesus’ perfect obedience.
You see, beloved, it’s all about looking to the cross where the Son of God laid down His life for you. He didn’t have to suffer and die, but He chose to so that you can be made righteous and blessed with every blessing including everlasting life. That’s how precious you are to Him and that’s how much He loves you!
Now, how do you focus on Jesus’ obedience to win the battle in your mind? Well, say you’ve been entertaining thoughts of shame, condemnation, and worthlessness over a past mistake or a particular area of weakness. I encourage you now to see how the price for your forgiveness and acceptance has been fully paid by the Lord. See how you are now forgiven in Christ (Eph. 1:7), completely accepted, loved, and valuable in His sight.
Similarly, when the devil tries to entangle you with thoughts of lust, envy, greed, or hatred, meditate on how in Christ, you have His mind (1 Cor. 2:16) and His thoughts that are pure, holy, and noble. Meditate on what His obedience has accomplished for you and speak these truths over yourself. This is how you bring your thoughts to the obedience of Christ and counter the negative thoughts the devil plants in your head. This is how you break the cycle of sin and defeat in your life.
Perhaps you have a mental stronghold that says, I’m always weak and sickly. Instead of focusing on this thought, focus on how Jesus in His obedience to the Father and love for you has borne all your sicknesses and diseases on the cross so that you can have divine health. Meditate on verses like Isaiah 53:4–5 and say, “Surely Jesus has borne my diseases and carried my pains. The chastisement for my total well-being fell upon Him and by His stripes I am healed!”
You are who God says you are in His Word.
As you meditate on God’s promises and love for you, see yourself healthy and strong. See yourself playing sports and going for that holiday. Remember, the devil puts negative thoughts in your mind so that you will identify yourself as a sickly person, unable to enjoy life. But you are not who the devil says you are. You are who God says you are in His Word. Come on, say this out loud with me right now: “I’m not who the devil says I am. I AM WHO JESUS SAYS I AM IN HIS WORD!”
Beloved, as you bring your thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ this way, the Lord’s life sap will flow into you. You will find the dead leaves of depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, hopelessness, and bitterness simply falling off supernaturally. You will produce new fruits of self-control, emotional stability, peace, and joy effortlessly. You will begin to live life with an expectation of good and say, “I am the righteousness of God in Christ! I am deeply loved and highly favored by the Lord! I am more than a conqueror through Christ who loves me!”
Enjoyed reading this article? You can find out more in this MP3