Learning how to win the battle for your mind is a challenge on the road to recovery from infidelity for both the betrayer and the betrayed!
In reality, there are countless other struggles, too, which necessitate a commitment on our part to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. So if, like both me and my love, you want to learn how to control your thoughts and feelings and instead figure out how to allow God to keep you in perfect peace, I invite you to dive into Scripture with us to see what we can glean from our Lord!
A Quick Look Back at Our Battle
Years ago, as we set out on our own journey toward healing, Steve and I realized that the first battlefield we had to conquer was the battlefield of the mind. He had spent most of his life indulging every fantasy, and it was going to take real work to clean out that mess and allow God to renew His mind. For the first time in his life, though, it was work he was ready and willing to do. I had spent many years of our marriage battling for him in prayer, but now he was ready to jump in and join the fight.
On the flip side, I was in a very real battle for my mind as well. The trauma of our situation had stirred up all kinds of fears and anxieties for me, and these thoughts threatened to take over my entire existence. I recognized that it would have been a tragedy if, after all those years of fighting for him, I set down my weapons and refused to fight for my own mind. I absolutely refused to give the enemy such an advantage! So, I resolved to learn to fight this new battle.
“Cherith,” I said, “the battle for your mind belongs to the Lord! It will be won!”
And so, together with the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies on our side, my love and I made up our minds to emerge victorious! After all, what weapon could possibly stand against us when God was on our side?
Our Message to Anyone Fighting the Battle for Your Mind
We stand on the other side of that battle now, and though it may be waged again someday, we know now it can be won! We want you to know, friend, that it may seem like Goliath stands before you with a spear whose shaft is as wide as your neck; while you hold only a sling and a handful of rocks.
You may feel weak, and exposed, and completely foolish for even being here in the first place. But this is where God has placed you, and He is ready to be a shield around you! So don’t be afraid! Remember, one of those stones in your hand is the Rock of Ages! Friend, load that sucker into your sling and fire at the enemy with everything you’ve got!
You really CAN win the battle for your mind. The Bible gives a clear and actionable plan, and we’re here to share it with you. But first, I want to talk about a concept that is going to be important as we proceed. Let’s talk about the difference between simple and easy.
- Simple – Not complex. Straight forward. Uncomplicated. Basic.
- Easy – Effortless. Painless. Un-troublesome. No problem.
The things you need to do in order to win the battle for your mind are pretty simple. Scripture lays out some principles that, when followed, will lead to a mind controlled by the Holy Spirit. But don’t be deceived. While these things are simple, they are not easy.
Let’s dig in.
Take Every Thought Captive in the Battle for Your Mind
2 Corinthians 10: 3-5 (NIV) – 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.
These are the first two steps:
- Take every thought captive
- Make every thought obedient to Christ
In other words, we have to learn to recognize dangerous thoughts, before they take hold, and stop them. Then, we have to choose to think, instead, about something that is “obedient to Christ.”
Sure, it is simple, but it is not easy. Capturing our thoughts requires the self-awareness to know, right away, when we’re heading down a dangerous path. Then it demands the self control to turn to God in that weakness.
These steps each require extreme vigilance. But if we can learn to do it, we have picked up our first powerful weapon in our battle for the mind, and according to Scripture this weapon has divine power to demolish strongholds!
What We Learned About How to Take Every Thought Captive
In our battles Steve figured out first, and then taught me that it’s not enough to just wait until there’s a dangerous thought. By then, it’s going to be really difficult to stop and change directions. We had to learn to recognize when we were vulnerable to dangerous thoughts and, in those moments, preemptively fixate on God instead.
When he was still a slave to his sin, Steve’s focus was always on his behaviors. He wanted to stop acting out sexually, but failed time and again because he wasn’t taking seriously the warnings of Scripture. He believed he could handle it his own way.
Each time he’d act out, he would promise himself and God that it had been the last. Yet, he made no attempt to control his thoughts. He would think freely about any fantasy his mind came up with. As you can imagine, it never took long for those fantasies to spill over into his actions.
But when the focus became surrender to God, he could no longer ignore his thoughts. He had to surrender every part of himself and make it obedient to Christ
Romans 13:11-14 – This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. INSTEAD, clothe yourselves with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourselves think about ways to indulge your evil desires.
Renew Your Mind
Once we’ve learned to successfully navigate that first step and recognize our vulnerabilities, spotting treacherous thoughts right away, what do we do next? Once we’ve captured our thoughts, how exactly do we then make them obedient to Christ?
Romans 12:1-2 (NIV) – Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing, and perfect will.
According to Romans 12, we will be transformed when, as an act of worship to God, we sacrificially offer our bodies to Christ through the renewing of our minds. But what does it even mean to renew your mind? How do we do it?
Colossians 3:1-4 – Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all His glory.
Steps to Renewing Your Mind
Once again, it is simple, but not easy! When the temptations arise to think about things that are not appropriate for a child of God, we must:
- Learn to recognize those inappropriate thoughts,
- stop the thoughts, and
- set our sights on the realities of heaven.
For example, when I’m tempted by thoughts of self-pity; enticed to head down the rabbit hole of “why me”s , I have to recognize that these thoughts are not pleasing to God and instead choose to count my blessings. I must think instead about an entirely different set of “why me”s.
- Instead of,
“Why won’t I ever be able to know what it’s like to be a person’s one and only?”I must think, “Why, of all the people in the world, did God choose me to be His dearly loved daughter?”
- Instead of,
“Why can’t I have the security of a relationship where I know that I can trust the person I love most in the world?”I must think, “What is so special about me that I get to be the one who knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my eternity is secure with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?”
Honesty Before God is Key
It’s a simple (not easy) choice, and we each get to make it for ourselves before God. I can’t force him to choose the right thoughts and he can’t force me to either. No one but God ever really knows what choice we’re each making.
It can be tempting to claim victory when we’re still in the thick of the battle for the mind, because… well, pride, and who will ever know?
Don’t be deceived. That idea is a vicious trap. God knows our hearts, and He’s the most faithful accountability partner we could ever have! We will reap what we sow.
Romans 8:5-6 – Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.
How to Control Your Thoughts and Feelings
The reality is, there is always going to be a lot more to these battles than the obvious issue. A sex addict is battling more than just the addiction. A person plagued with anxiety is battling more than just fear.
Praise God, in our journey, Steve realized early on that it was not just the lustful thoughts he had to watch out for. There was a host of other notions, stemming from his insecurities, selfishness, and pride that were not in line with the Holy Spirit, but rather, were a result of the flesh.
He drew a hard line, asking God to point out ANY thought that wasn’t in line with His Spirit, and help him surrender them, and renew his mind. He then became quick to let me into his head too, which provided another level of accountability and help.
I have been learning to follow his example ever since.
Together, we are learning to listen to each other. We’re learning to know where the other is likely to go off course, and link arms in our vigilance against the schemes of the enemy. Together, we’re finding ways to practice self-discipline in areas we know have the potential to trip us up. We’re fighting anxiety and depression together by being intentional about verbally counting our blessings to one another. We’re learning to ask each other questions like, “Is that true?” or, “Is that right, and pure?” We’re learning to allow our motives to be questioned, because we may be the tool God is using to show the other something that needs to be dealt with.
Above all, we’re learning to run everything in this battle for our minds through the light of Scripture.
What the Bible Says about the Battle for Your Mind
2 Timothy 1:7 – For God has not given us a Spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
Philippians 4:6-8 – Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for what He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
He Will Keep You in Perfect Peace
Don’t get me wrong, winning the battle for your mind does not mean that you will never have negative thoughts or emotions.
There is a time to mourn, and it is absolutely appropriate to do that. When precious things have been lost, we’re going to be sad. We all have to allow space for appropriate emotions which result from our situations.
I’ve cried a lot of tears over our marriage. That’s okay. The problems start when I begin to dwell on details that aren’t right and pure. When I imagine things that are not true or believe things that aren’t honorable or lovely, you better believe I’m going to have a problem! There’s no need for that and nothing good comes from it.
Those thoughts only serve to rob us of our joy and peace and cause us to question our identity in Christ. They defeat us. What we have to do is refocus our thoughts on God and the Truth of His Word. When we do, He will keep the promise He has made to us. He will keep us in perfect peace.
Prayer to Take Thoughts Captive and Win the Battle for Your Mind
This is our prayer, and we’d love it if you’d join with us in praying it over your own marriage, and ours too.
“Dear Heavenly Father, our desire is for the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart to be pleasing to You. Search us, oh God, and know our hearts. Test us, and know our anxious thoughts. Point out anything in us that offends You, and lead us along the path to everlasting life. Create in us a pure heart, oh God, and renew a steadfast Spirit within us. Help us, Lord. In Jesus’s Name, amen.”