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Bible Study Notes:


Spiritual Warfare
The Battlefield of the Mind


These notes are from a transcript of the postings during Bible Study on Thursday Nights at 8 PM at Bible Study Chat at Churchusa.com.
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The battlefield in our spiritual conflict is the MIND. This is where satan has erected the strongholds, defective arguments and pretenses that set themselves up against the knowledge of God. It is disobedient thoughts that need to be taken captive by our spiritual weapons.

 

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We’ve been studying Spiritual Warfare now since 7/30/98 and have covered a lot of topics! This study grew out of our study of the book of Ephesians, specifically the armor of God.

So far we’ve discussed seventeen Spiritual Weapons: The Word of God; Prayer; The Name of Jesus; Faith; Praise; the Blood of Jesus; The Word of Our Testimony; "Jericho March"; Weapons of Righteousness; Holy Anger; Joy; Peace; Love; Discernment; The Mind of Christ; Binding and Loosing and The Power of Agreement.

Now we’re going to shift focus and glean some information from the scripture about the battlefield and battlefronts of the conflict.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 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.

The battlefield in our spiritual conflict is the MIND. This is where satan has erected the strongholds, defective arguments and pretenses that set themselves up against the knowledge of God. It is disobedient thoughts that need to be taken captive by our spiritual weapons.

The words "mind", "heart" and "soul" are often used interchangeably in the New Testament, but for convenience we will just call this inner realm the mind, which includes the thinking processes, will and emotions. The warfare we engage in is spiritual in nature and takes place in the inner man. Therefore our weapons are not carnal, of the flesh or of the world.

Mind in Greek is nous {nooce} meaning the mind, both the intellect (perceiving, judging, determining and understanding) and the emotions (feelings). It also refers to reason in the narrower sense, as the capacity for spiritual truth, the higher powers of the soul, the faculty of perceiving divine things, of recognizing goodness and of hating evil; the power of considering and judging soberly, calmly and impartially. Mind also refers to a particular mode of thinking and judging, i.e thoughts, feelings, purposes, desires

Heart in Greek is kardia {kar-dee'-ah} with a primary meaning of the heart, the bodily organ which is the center of the circulation of the blood, and hence was regarded as the seat of physical life. It also referred to the center and seat of spiritual life - the soul or mind, as it is the fountain and seat of the thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, and endeavors.

In addition, kardia is used of the understanding, the faculty and seat of the intelligence, of the will and character, attitudes whether bad or good, or of the soul as the seat of the sensibilities, affections, emotions, desires, appetites, passions. Heart also refers to the middle or central or inmost part of anything, even though inanimate. Kardia is also our root word for "cardiac" referring to the physical heart.

Soul in Greek is psuche {psoo-khay'} meaning breath; the breath of life; the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing; a living being, a living soul. It also means the soul as the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions (our heart).

And a third meaning of psuche is the (human) soul in that can by following the Word can obtain eternal life, the soul regarded as a moral being designed for everlasting life and as an essence which differs from the body and is not dissolved by death (distinguished from other parts of the body).

So although the words heart, mind, and soul have different shades of meaning, all refer in some sense to the mind, will and emotions. This is the area inside of us in which spiritual conflict takes place, and an understanding of how the mind (or heart or soul) operates is essential in spiritual warfare.

Proverbs 23:7a (NKJV) "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…" Notice here that the writer of Proverbs talks about the heart "thinking". This certainly isn’t referring to the heart as the organ that pumps the blood through the body, but heart as a faculty that thinks and feels.

An important spiritual principle that we all need to be aware of, is that what we think controls what we do and who we are. A philosopher once said, "The thought is the father to the deed". In other words what you think defines who you are.

Matthew 12:34-35 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.

Here Jesus was addressing the Pharisees, who had accused Him of driving out demon’s with satan’s power. Notice that Jesus says the mouth speaks out of the heart. Some people have a bad case of heart-mouth disease! There heart is full of venom and it comes out of their mouth!

Jesus said that it is what is stored inside a person that determines what comes out of him, whether good or evil. If what we have stored inside determines how we act and who we are, it follows then that we should be attempting to store only good things inside our heart and mind, doesn’t it?

Computers are modeled on the human brain and operate in a similar fashion. There’s a acronym GIGO that computer programmers use. It means "Garbage In-Garbage Out". If you program garbage into a computer, then your results will be garbage. The human mind works in the same fashion.

Now I’ve lost touch with that friend, and don’t know how things worked out for her, but if I were a betting person, I’d bet that she made things a lot harder on herself than they needed to be. This bears repeating: IF YOU FILL YOUR MIND WITH GARBAGE, THEN YOU WILL ACT LIKE GARBAGE.

Of course this is the devil’s plan! He wants to seduce us into filling our minds with his garbage so we will not only be unworthy servants of the Lord, but also so he can manipulate us to do his will. If we are not careful, we will begin to doubt and fear and entertain unbelieving and sinful thoughts. And if this tendency is not brought under control, we will sin.

Matthew 15:17-19 "Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man `unclean.'"

On another occasion, Jesus was criticized because His disciples didn’t wash their hands before eating. Now to the Pharisees not washing your hands was breaking a spiritual law, a "sin", not a sanitary measure as we know today. So they were accusing Jesus’ followers of being sinful.
 
Jesus said that what you eat or whether you wash your hands doesn’t make you sinful. You eat, the food is digested in the stomach, and then waste is eliminated. What you eat or don’t eat is not important. It is the things that come from the heart that make you unclean, dirty or sinful inside.

Matthew 15:19-20 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man `unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him `unclean.'"

Then Jesus listed a few of the things that make you sinful that come out of the heart or mind: evil thoughts, murder, adultery, immorality, stealing, bearing false testimony and slander. These are some of the things that originate in the mind that will cause you to sin.

James 1: 12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

Trial here is from peirazo {pi-rad'-zo} meaning, in a good sense, to try whether a thing can be done, to attempt, endeavor; to try, make trial of, test: for the purpose of ascertaining his quantity, or what he thinks, or how he will behave himself.

In a bad sense, it means to test one maliciously, craftily to put to the proof his feelings or judgments, to try or test one's faith, virtue, character, by enticement to sin, of the temptations of the devil.

God allows temptations to test our faith. When we have persevered under temptations, and withstood the test, we will be blessed and rewarded. "Withstood the test" here is dokimos {dok'-ee-mos} meaning accepted, particularly of coins and money.

Donald Barnhouse says this about dokimos: "In the ancient world there was no banking system as we know it today, and no paper money. All money was made from metal, heated until liquid, poured into moulds and allowed to cool. When the coins were cooled, it was necessary to smooth off the uneven edges. The coins were comparatively soft and of course many people shaved them closely."

"In one century, more than eighty laws were passed in Athens, to stop the practice of shaving down the coins then in circulation. But some money changers were men of integrity, who would accept no counterfeit money. They were men of honor who put only genuine full weighted money into circulation. Such men were called "dokimos" or "approved". " God uses trials to expose whether our faith is counterfeit or of true value.

James 1:13 –14 When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.

So Jesus said that it was what came out of the heart that makes us sinful. How does this process work? First of all, God NEVER tempts us. If you think that your temptations to sin come from God, well obviously you are mistaken! It is true that God TESTS us at times in order to test our faith, but He never tempts us to sin!

James tells us that it is our own evil desires that drag us away and entice us. Evil desire is epithumia {ep-ee-thoo-mee'-ah} meaning desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust.

"Drawn away" in Greek is exelko {ex-el'-ko} to draw out or metaphorically to lure forth: in hunting and fishing as game is lured from its hiding place, so man by lure is allured from the safety of self-restraint to sin.

Entice is deleazo {del-eh-ad'-zo} meaning to bait, catch by a bait, and metaphorically,. to beguile by banishments, allure, entice, deceive. So here we have imagery of a hunt, with a snare set, that lures us away from our hiding place. Ask yourself, who is the hunter?

James 1:15-16 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don't be deceived, my dear brothers.

Conceived here in the Greek is sullambano {sool-lam-ban'-o} meaning to seize, take: one as prisoner; to conceive, of a woman; metaphorically, of lust whose impulses a man indulges; to seize for one's self; in a hostile sense, to make (one a permanent) prisoner; and to take hold together with one, to assist, help, to succor.

Conceived in this verse means "after desire has seized you, taken you prisoner, and planted lust in you", then it gives birth to sin. Give birth in the Greek is tikto {tik'-to} meaning to bring forth, bear, produce (fruit from the seed), as of a woman giving birth or of the earth bringing forth its fruits; metaphorically, to bear or bring forth.

Sin in Greek is hamartia {ham-ar-tee'-ah} which means literally to be without a share in; to miss the mark; to err, be mistaken; to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honor, to do or go wrong; to wander from the law of God, violate God's law, sin; that which is done wrong, sin, an offence, a violation of the divine law in thought or in act; collectively, the complex or aggregate of sins committed either by a single person or by many.

"Full grown" here is apoteleo {ap-ot-el-eh'-o} meaning to finish; to perfect, to bring fully to an end, or to accomplish. It has the notion of a completion, and maturity, here in a negative sense. Sin matures or bears fruit, and that fruit is death. Now death has three meanings in scripture: spiritual death, physical death, and final death or the "second death", which is being cast into the lake of fire forever.

So the idea here is of a growing process. When lust takes you captive, it causes a production process to occur that brings forth sin, and sin when it has fully developed in you, brings forth death.

Many sci fi movies today have the theme of an alien seed or larvae that is implanted in a human being, and either develops into a creature that totally destroys the human, or transforms the human into an alien.

This is the same thing that yielding to lust does. It implants an evil seed that develops into sin, and sin develops until it overcomes you, and all that God intended for you to be, and then it brings death.

Sometimes we "pet" our lusts and make excuses for them, and quite frankly enjoy yielding to them, ignoring the evil work they are doing in our lives. Now, I’m not talking about this to condemn you, but to alarm you and make you more aware of the processes by which the devil is trying to devour and destroy you.

1 Corinthians 7:5 Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Now this verse is talking about a married couple’s right and privilege to experience physical happiness in marriage. What Paul is saying is that a couple should not deprive each other of this except by mutual consent for a time to devote themselves to prayer. After that, they should resume physical relations again.
 
The last part of the verse is what we want to concentrate upon. It speaks of the real source of our temptations – the devil. The success that the tempter is having on the earth is evident every time we watch the news or read the paper. We see the end results of lust and sin, which is death and destruction, and satan is always the author of it, directly or indirectly.

1 Peter 5:8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

So the hunter is the devil, and like a roaring lion, he is searching for someone to devour. If we entertain lustful thoughts, we are playing with the devil’s bait, and when we are "hooked", we enter into sin. When sin is fully developed, it brings forth death. There are several components to the battlefield of the mind: fighting the war inside your own head, discerning deception from others, and fighting the devil.

Psalms 5:9 Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with destruction. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongue they speak deceit.

If you are an honest person, you tend to believe others are honest also, and when you are deceived, it is a big shock. I’m not saying to become suspicious and paranoid about it, but to rely on the Spirit and the Word to guide you, because they discern the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Romans 15:5-6 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you A SPIRIT OF UNITY among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with ONE HEART AND MOUTH you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be PERFECTLY UNITED IN MIND AND THOUGHT.

The fourth component of the battlefield of the mind is being in unity with your brothers and sisters in Christ. We discussed the power of agreement last time as being a forceful weapon against the enemy, increasing your prayer power and giving added ability to put the enemy to flight.

So keep these things in mind as we discuss the battlefield of the mind: your own personal warfare with lust, being able to discern deception in others, and coming into unity with your brothers and sisters in Christ. And remember that the hunter who is trying to entrap you is the devil.

Romans 10:8-10 But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

The first step in winning the battle is to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Some believe that by their own efforts they must become "good enough" to get saved. But this is a devilish deception. If we could ever become "good enough" by our own efforts to merit salvation, Jesus would not have had to die for our sins. No, Jesus loves you where you are and saves you as you are.

So we see that this is a heart-mouth activity also. First you believe in your heart that God has raised Jesus from the dead, and then you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord. Believing in His resurrection of course includes believing in His life as revealed in the Word, from the virgin birth, to His healing and teaching ministry, to His unfair trials, scourging, death on the cross and burial in a rich man’s tomb.

I Corinthians 15:3-5 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.

Paul expresses our belief in Christ’s death and resurrection as of "first importance". What do you think he meant by that? Christ’s death and resurrection is of first importance because it is what our salvation is based upon. It is also of first importance because of the witnesses to its truth. And it is of first importance because it is something as believers that we must agree on. Otherwise on what basis do we base our salvation and unity?

I Corinthians 15:6-8 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

Paul goes on to say that Jesus’ resurrection was witnessed by 500 believers at once, then to James, all the apostles, and then to Paul on the road to Damascus. So the first step in winning the battle of the mind is to believe in Jesus in the heart and confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Do you see the conflict here? You can either use your heart and mouth to believe in Jesus and confess Him as Lord, or you can use your heart and mouth to yield to lust and commit sin. The choice is YOURS.

So we’ve discussed the mind as the battlefield for our spiritual conflict, and have looked at the process of temptation, yielding to lust, sin and death. We’ve talked about the fact that it is what is in our minds (also called the heart or the soul) that determines our attitudes, character and walk. Next topic is the battlefront of  the ungodly world order that satan tries to use to deter us from the right path.

 

Remember, whenever God gives us a revelation, the devil tries to steal it from us. Guard your hearts and meditate on what you've learned! And put it into practice.

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Original lesson 3/18/99
Revised: May 03, 2001