through His Word
The mind is a constant battlefield. Satan knows that if he can influence us with negative thoughts, he can influence how we live. He can steal our peace, rob us of our impact for God’s kingdom, and send us into a tail spin of mental bondage and emotional turmoil.
Enslaving thoughts used to frighten me. As a teenager, I wanted to honor God in my mind, so when I heard bad words on TV or in movies, I was paranoid about remembering them later. Later in life, I allowed a certain way of thinking to dominate my thoughts, and I experienced a barrage of attacks from the enemy. I felt like there was no way out. I couldn’t escape my own mind, and although I knew God was powerful enough to free me, I couldn’t figure out what I needed to do.
But God was faithful. He knew how to rescue me. By His grace, I was able to overcome the spiritual attacks that Satan sent in the form of enslaving thoughts. The way out? To bury my head and heart in Scripture. I took time to look at God’s Word and to make notes about what struggles people in the Bible went through, what God did to help them have victory, and what they needed to do. God helped me to apply that to my own life, and after six months of mental turmoil, I was free. God was gracious and turned my notes into a blog series, and eventually into a book. Oh, the wonderful grace of God!
I don’t know if you’re experiencing a barrage of negative thoughts right now, but perhaps you have in the past. It can be crippling. We can’t escape our own minds. Thankfully, Satan can’t read our thoughts, but he can certainly send harassing ones. However, the God whom we love and serve is greater than any spiritual attack, and the Lord to whom we belong has more authority and power than all of Satan’s evil forces combined.
“For though we walk in the flesh,
we do not war according to the flesh.
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 10:3-5 NKJV
Instead of our thoughts holding us captive, we can take them captive and bring them before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. If they don’t match His honorable character, His darkness-piercing truth, or His matchless love, we can reject them in His name. Satan doesn’t get to have any place in our minds, hearts, or lives. They are home only to Christ and His glorious truth and perfect love. Anything that falls short of that, must flee.
When you are tempted to let a negative thought enslave you, try practicing the strategies below. If you’re caught in bondage to a wrong way of thinking, have faith in God that you can get out. Victory is possible because God makes it possible. But you have to want it and to do what’s necessary to get it. Bury your head and heart in Scripture, and see the reality you have in Christ and the restoration that’s possible when we turn to God for help. Freedom is ours if we practice what God has taught us in His Word and if we fill our minds with thoughts of God, His truth, and His amazing love.
Here’s how to disarm negative thoughts and break free from them.
1. Identify the source of the thoughts.
What started the wrong way of thinking? Understanding the source of our misery is the first step to overcoming it. Did the thoughts come from Satan, criticism, social media, a TV show, or a negative experience? Ask God for help in dealing with the thoughts and to limit your exposure to more of them.
2. Don’t feel guilty if negative thoughts come to mind.
Sometimes you can’t control what thoughts come to mind, but you can control what to do with them. See #3.
3. Refuse thoughts at the door of your mind.
You hold the power of what you allow your mind to dwell on. When an enslaving thought comes knocking, don’t open the door. Keep the door of your mind locked against everything that will damage how you see yourself in Christ, how you view God, how you relate to others, and what you do for God and His kingdom. Your mind directs your life. Keep your mind locked up against negative thoughts and open to God and His ways.
4. Flood your mind with good things.
You can’t focus on two things at once. Displace enslaving thoughts with a flood of freeing ones. Keep a journal of positive, liberating Bible verses, and memorize them! When a thought comes knocking, see if it matches up with the truth and substance of God’s Word, and if it doesn’t, quote a Scripture (or read it) to counteract the negative thought. You can also keep a journal of things you’re grateful for. Be active in a Sunday School or Bible study group that discusses God’s Word and shares what God is doing in the members’ lives. Focus on good things, so there is less room for the bad stuff.
5. Tap into the power of music to hush negative thoughts.
When a loved one was in the hospital last year, I was able to calm distressing thoughts by singing Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace). The melody and the words calmed my heart and mind, and I was able to focus on God and His power to help my family member. Silence negative thoughts by singing songs that focus on God and His power. Praise Him for who He is, and watch Him calm the turmoil within.
6. Disarm lies with the truth.
Refuse lies from Satan by holding fast to the truth of God. Know Scripture for yourself so you can refuse Satan’s lies and not allow them to steal your joy, zest for life, confidence in God, and belief in your own self-worth.
7. Align your heart and mind with God’s.
The best way to change how we think is to ask God’s help in aligning our desires, goals, and thinking to His. He is sane, He is sound, He is peace. Drawing close to Him chases away the forces that keep us captive in wrong ways of thinking. He defeats our spiritual enemies, heals past hurts, protects our minds from current attacks, and makes us whole on the inside. He fills us with a love that satisfies our hearts, and He renews our minds with the truth. He is the answer to our bondage, and He is always willing to rescue us if we turn to Him. Learn to think in the patterns of Scripture, and let your desires and pursuits match His will for you. The peace will come back, and the “sanity” will return.
Which of these 7 strategies would help you the most to disarm enslaving thoughts? Tell me below in the comments, and share some strategies that have worked for you. Together we can help each other to break free from negative thinking, and find freedom to think and act like God wants us to. With His help, we can regain our peace and soundness.
©Copyright 2016 by Katy Kauffman
Click on these links to check out the other posts in this Breaking the Chains series:
- Loosening the Grip of Fear
- Silencing Guilt
- Breaking the Chains of Unforgiveness
- Hoping for a Happy Ending
- Easing the Gnaw of Loneliness
negative thoughts, the mind, peace, soundness, Breaking the Chains: Disarming Enslaving Thoughts, Katy Kauffman, Lighthouse Bible Studies