The Bible tells us that Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44). His goal is to make believers focus on their sin and shame so they will forget their true identity in Christ and behave in a way that is inconsistent with who they really are. As a deceiver Satan seeks to trick believers into believing his lies in order to rob them of the abundant life that Christ wants them to have. But God has provided a way for His children to overcome Satan’s lies.
“3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 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 10:3-5
1. Realize you cannot overcome Satan’s lies in your own strength. This battle is not “according to the flesh” (v. 3). Nothing in our own flesh will help us to live victoriously or draw us closer to the Lord. Since the weapons of our warfare are “mighty in God,” then we must rely upon the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome Satan’s lies (v. 4).
2. Recognize the erroneous thoughts.This battle is located in our minds because it involves “strongholds,” “arguments,” “knowledge,” and “every thought” (vv. 4-5). The word “strongholds” pictures a fortress with high walls and towers surrounded by a moat. God says these strongholds must be destroyed which means that God did not build them. A “stronghold” then, is a negative, destructive pattern of thinking that Satan has built in our minds through repetition, trauma, or circumstances. Satan does not put thoughts in our minds. He uses other people’s voices to insert thoughts in our mind. Ungodly thoughts come from us. Christ lives inside us and He does not give us these ungodly thoughts. We will not get very far in this battle for our minds until we acknowledge these satanic strongholds.
For example, a person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol has believed Satan’s lie that he is a drug addict or an alcoholic by nature and will never be anything else. When a person begins to believe that lie, he will act in a way that is consistent with who he believes he is. Often times Satan uses hopelessness to build his strongholds in our minds. When you come to the point of believing the battle is hopeless, you will stop trying to overcome the wrong way of thinking. But as long as you believe there is hope to overcome the stronghold in your mind, you will keep fighting to overcome it.
You can tell when an individual is being ruled by a satanic stronghold. He or she says things like, “I can’t help myself,” “It’s not my fault,” “I was born this way,” “I’m just a victim,” or “This is hopeless.” When these intrusive thoughts occur acknowledge them and say, “This is what I am telling myself and I do not need these thoughts.”
3. Release the lie.“casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” (v. 5a). Dismiss the lie and say, “This is not true, therefore, it is a lie and I am not going to pay attention to this. I am not going to entertain these thoughts.”
4. Reprogram your mind with the truth.“bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”(v. 5b). How do we bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ? Jesus told us: “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). The devil is a liar by nature and he cannot handle the truth. This is why the devil tries to distract us from the truth so that it never gets deep down into the areas where he has a stronghold in our lives. True reality for us is located in the heavenly places, not on the earth. This is why the Bible says, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1).
The solution to our problems is not on this earth, but in heaven. Once we change the location of our thinking from earth to heaven, we will start experiencing freedom from Satan’s lies which have enslaved us to sin.
For example, you may battle a lie that says, “You are an angry person who cannot help exploding when someone crosses you.” The first thing you do is realize you cannot overcome this lie in your own strength. Ask the Lord to help you overcome this. Secondly, admit that you are struggling with this lie. Do not fight it or deny it. Acknowledge this stronghold in your life, and then release it. Tell your subconscious the truth, “This is not true, therefore, it is a lie and I am not going to pay attention to this.” Then reprogram your mind with the truth: “As a child of God I no longer have to be enslaved by my anger.”
Dr. Don Gilbert has observed that it takes six weeks to develop a new habit. But it takes three years for the brain to create a new pathway physiologically (see diagram above). Old physiological pathways in our brain were established by childhood teachings. The more we told ourselves lies, the stronger the pathway became between brain cells. But, now as believers, we can block the old pathways by telling ourselves, “This is not true. I am not going to pay attention to these lies.” We can then build a new pathway by telling ourselves the truth. This process of building a new pathway in the brain takes about three years. So even if we do not believe or feel the truth, we are to keep persevering in the truth. Keep telling yourself the truth even when you don’t feel or see it so you can create and strengthen the new pathway in your brain. Our bodies create new brain cells the more we tell ourselves the truth. The more we tell ourselves the truth, the stronger the pathway becomes between brain cells. When we ignore the lie, the old pathway weakens – those brain cells containing Satan’s lies have less power and strength. You can continue to create new brain cells throughout your life by speaking the truth to yourself. When Paul said, “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2), perhaps he not only had a spiritual transformation in mind, but a physiological transformation in mind as well.
Consider these observations:
1. Christ spent over three years preparing His disciples to carry on His mission.
2. The Apostle Paul spent three years in Arabia and Damascus alone with the Lord before beginning his ministry (Galatians 1:17-18).
3. The king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, reeducated Daniel and his friends for three years before they could serve in his kingdom (Daniel 1:4-5).
Could it be that these observations confirm that it takes approximately three years to create new physiological pathways in the brain to replace deeply seeded patterns of thinking with new ones?
The church would be wise to train new believers for three years to overcome deeply ingrained lies so they can be all that God created them to be. Is it any wonder that Jesus says, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)?!!