I used to feel absolutely overwhelmed by anxiety, negative thoughts, lies from the enemy, and spiritual strongholds in my mind. I had no idea how to overcome the constant struggle that was currently my life.
Nights were difficult because I knew I’d fall asleep to nightmares instead of peaceful dreams. It felt I was in an unending battle, and I was losing.
The thing is, we’re all fighting a spiritual battle. However, we can choose to fight well and experience God’s peace or we can succumb to the onslaught of the enemy. I don’t know the intensity of the battle you are currently fighting, but I can give you the tools God gave me to experience victory.
Keep reading to learn how you can take your thoughts captive and destroy spiritual strongholds in your mind.
We’re not fighting for victory, we’re fighting from victory
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.Romans 8:37 ESV
The first thing we need to establish is that we are already victorious in this fight. We are not fighting for victory, we are fighting from a place of victory. Jesus has already won the war.
We fight differently when we understand the truth about the battle. The enemy will surely attack and he will send everything he can to destroy us, but we have to remember that we are safe in Christ.
What are spiritual strongholds?
Before we can get into what a spiritual stronghold is, let’s discuss physical strongholds. A stronghold is simply a place where a particular cause or belief is defended and upheld. It can also refer to a place dominated by a particular group of people.
If you’ve ever seen medieval movies, you’ve seen strongholds. They are the big, fortified castles kings and queens live in.
Spiritual strongholds on the other hand, exist in our minds and they are fortified “castles” that the enemy occupies and controls us from. Strongholds are built by negative thoughts and belief systems. This is why we need to take our thoughts captive – to break down strongholds and to prevent new ones from being built.
What does it mean to take our thoughts captive?
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV
We know that thoughts build strongholds in our minds that the enemy uses to oppress us. So, we take our thoughts captive so that he has no foothold in our lives.
We know that ideologies can be used as weapons, so it’s no surprise that the enemy has been using them to wage war against us. Our entire Christian walk is based on faith and belief. If the enemy can get us to believe a lie, he can shake the foundations of our faith. The thing is, he doesn’t often come with one gigantic blow. He comes little by little and builds his lies in our hearts, crippling us before we ever knew what happened. The sum of those lies become spiritual strongholds in our minds, or a safe place for the enemy to hang out and control us from.
Taking thoughts captive means that we refuse to let any lie from the enemy build a spiritual stronghold in our mind.
I know it sounds scary, but this is why God has given us tools to overcome and destroy these strongholds.
How do our thoughts shape our reality?
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 character.Lao Tzu
According to Dr. Athena Staik of Psych Central, an independent mental health information and news website, our thoughts create “inner standards” that spark neurochemical dynamic processes that govern our choices and actions.
Thoughts spark emotions and drive decisions to take action or no action at all. Whether we realize it or not, our thoughts are very much linked to our reality.
Every thought we have causes neurochemical changes in our brain. There’s no such thing as a random thought. Even the smallest thought is a big deal.
This is an actual war. The enemy wants to use our thought-life to negatively impact our reality.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.Philippians 4:8 ESV
This may be why Paul told us to think of “true”, ”honorable”, ”pure”, and “lovely” things. We fight back in the Spirit by allowing our minds to be transformed by Christ. (Romans 12:2) We think of Christ, his word, and his truth to war against the enemy.
Spiritual warfare begins in our minds
I recently read Get Out Of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts by Jennie Allen. It was an amazing read overall but she said one thing that stood out to me.
The greatest spiritual battle of our generation is being fought between our ears.Jennie Allen
I mean, isn’t that so true? We often think that spiritual warfare is somewhere out there waiting to be fought. But, what if it’s within us? What if we fight the enemy and pull down his tactics best by allowing our minds to be renewed daily?
We’re showing up to the wrong battlefield for a fight that’s taking place in our minds. Instead of addressing what is going on within us, we try to control everything around us. The truth is, we can only control ourselves. We would be so much more victorious if we used God’s spiritual weapons to fight the enemy attacking our minds.
Spiritual warfare requires spiritual weapons
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.2 CoRINTHIANS 10:4 ESV
Let’s go back to 2 Corinthians 10 and look at what’s taking place in more detail. The Corinthian Church is questioning Paul’s Apostolic authority because he appears to be “meek” and “humble” face to face but bold in his letters. In essence, he doesn’t look like he should be a leader.
So Paul responds by saying, “even though we walk in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh.” (2 Corinthians 10:3) We’re human, we’re physically weak and frail sometimes but we do not have to be weak in the spirit. The spiritual weapons we use in warfare have “divine power to destroy strongholds.”
The arguments he spoke of were potentially from a false apostle who had gained influence by speaking against Paul. But, instead of using carnal weapons to fight against this person, Paul chose to use spiritual ones.
David Guzik explains this really well:
The carnal weapons Paul refuses were not material weapons such as swords and spears. The carnal weapons he renounced were the manipulative and deceitful ways his opponents used. Paul would not defend his apostolic credentials with carnal weapons others used.dAVID guzik
We’re often guilty of trying to use carnal weapons to fight the war that’s taking place in our minds. We may not be using manipulative and deceitful methods but maybe we’re using coping mechanisms such as drugs, sex, and alcohol. Maybe we’re numbing our struggle by binge-watching TV. Instead of picking up our Bibles, maybe we fight by complaining endlessly to our circle of friends.
But, if we want victory over our struggles, we have to renounce our carnal weapons and pick up spiritual ones.
What are the spiritual weapons we should be using?
So we spoke about using spiritual weapons instead of carnal, or earthly ones. So, what are these spiritual weapons and how do we use them?
Ephesians 6 tells us about the “whole armor of God,” which helps us to stand against the schemes of the devil. Here Paul reiterates that we do not fight against “flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
We’re not fighting against ourselves, or our neighbors, or our coworkers, or our frenemies, or our siblings, or our parents, we are fighting against the devil. He is our only enemy. We’re not putting on our armor to go to war against ourselves or other people. We put on our armor to go to war for ourselves and our people against the enemy.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.Ephesians 6:13-18 ESV
Based on these verses, we wage spiritual warfare with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the readiness of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, and last but not least, prayer and supplication.
How do we take our thoughts captive and destroy spiritual strongholds
So, let me take you back to my experience that I mentioned in the beginning of this article. I told you about my anxiety, negative thoughts, nightmares, and lies from the enemy. How did I overcome?
It started with realizing that I am not fighting for victory but instead, fighting from victory. Christ had already won the battle for me. The enemy knew he couldn’t come against me and win, so he got me to fight against myself. He told me lies and I believed them. He plagued my mind with horrible dreams and I rolled over and took them. I, already a victor through Christ, was backed against a corner and pleading for help.
But the truth is, the enemy couldn’t rob me of the promises of God. Yes, he could still send lies and negative thoughts my way, but I could choose to reject them. So, I put on the whole armor of God and prepared myself to fight the right way.
While there are 6 weapons in the armor, I want to focus on the belt of truth, the shield of faith, the sword of the Spirit, and prayer and supplication.
The enemy fights us by speaking lies. We first need truth as our foundation if we want to win the battle against him. If we don’t have truth, no other weapon in the armor will be able to help us in our fight.
Next, we must take the shield of faith. We must choose to trust God even when we don’t have all the answers.
Then, we need the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Interestingly enough, the sword of the Spirit is the only offensive weapon in the armor.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.Hebrews 4:12
The word of God is powerful enough to break down the most fortified strongholds. We take our thoughts captive and destroy strongholds by having the right foundation of truth, walking in faith, and standing on the word.
There is no place for lies in a heart filled with God’s truth. When the enemy throws lies at us, we wield the sword of the Spirit and stop his attacks.
We ask ourselves, what is this thought? Why am I believing it? Is it true? What does the Word say about this? What does God want me to believe about this?
If the thought is not of God, we submit it to him in prayer. We ask God to help us believe the truth about our situation.
We simply repeat this process for every negative thought we experience. The thing is, strongholds take time to come down. A well-fortified wall doesn’t just come down in a day. But we remain persistent in believing God, consuming his word, and submitting our thoughts in prayer.
Well, you’ve come to the end of this article and I pray that it was helpful for you. I hope that you feel motivated to fight. You are a victor through Christ. Believing that will change everything for you. Learn how to use the spiritual weapons God has given you. Go to war on behalf of yourself, your family, and your friends. This battle is not an easy one, but remember, you already have victory. Believe the word of the Lord and reject the lies of the enemy.