A better me in 2023 for God’s Glory – Overcoming destructive thoughts
Positively change the world through a better me and a better we in 2023
What goes through your mind on any given day? What consumes you? Is it good or bad? Today I want to talk about our thought life. Something that seems small and insignificant can greatly impact you and those around you. The Bible says, “For as he thinketh in his heart so is he…” (Pro. 23:7). There is an old saying that states, you are what you eat, but It should also say you are what you think.
Negative thoughts are destructive and restrictive and bring self-doubt, worry, and failure.
Positive thoughts are constructive and freeing, bringing about confidence, peace, and success.
Thoughts can dominate your life and keep you completely miserable. Or thoughts can liberate your life and bring unspeakable joy.
The cool thing is that we have control over our thoughts. Not the other way around. Our thoughts don’t have to control us.
Paul had some destructive thoughts that he had to overcome. He also helped the people at Corinth overcome their destructive thoughts.
Paul wrote II Corinthians because the Corinthians were talking trash about him. He wrote this letter in response to those who challenged his apostolic authority. To those who accused him of having wrong motives. There were a few other reasons that he wrote II Corinthians, but the primary reason was out of heartbreak and betrayal. This letter is the most personal and painful of all of Paul’s letters. After he left Corinth, for the first time, Paul’s opponents moved in and led the church astray, and criticized him. They said that Paul’s life was weak and inauthentic, trying to discredit his message. In chapter 10, Paul writes with a lot of emotion and pain.
"For his letters," they say, "are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible." (2 Corinthians 10:10)
For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. (2 Corinthians 10:12)
Paul practiced humility around the Corinthians and they talked about him because of it. Remember what he said in I Corinthians?
For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, (1 Corinthians 1:22-23)
2 Corinthians 10:1-6
Paul is telling the Corinthians how to counter the bad information that has been taught by the false teachers and reminding them of where their power comes from. Their power comes from God, not from looks, muscles, pride, or other features that the world admires.
Prop: To glorify God, our minds must be consumed by thoughts of what God can do in any situation.
Think about the unlimited power God has. How do we accomplish this?
1. Capture thoughts from the enemy
Thoughts from the enemy Destroy
Thoughts typically are like seeds planted from the environment we have lived in, or we are currently living in. You can have a destructive thought pattern in your mind because of something that happened to you when you were a child. Maybe it was abuse. Maybe there are thoughts of insecurity that come from your peers saying something about you. Maybe you doubt yourself because your parents doubted you. Maybe you had a bad relationship and the thoughts from it still haunt you today. Maybe you failed while trying to achieve a goal in your life. Or maybe you were embarrassed about something.
It is hard to overcome those thought patterns because they are burned into your mind forever. The pain that comes from hurtful comments is indescribable. We all know the old saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Is false.
Words can turn into wounds.
A. Pulling down strongholds vs. 4
The word for stronghold gives the picture of a castle wall that is heavily fortified.
There are walls of resistance in the minds of people, and these walls (like the walls of Jericho) must be pulled down. What are these “mental walls”? Reasonings that are opposed to the truth of God’s Word. Pride of intelligence that exalts itself. Paul was not attacking intelligence, but intellectualism, the high-minded attitude that makes people think they know more than they really do (Rom_12:16). Paul had faced this “wisdom of men” when he founded the church (1Co_1:18), and it had surfaced again with the coming of the Judaizers.
Paul is speaking in military terms “warfare.” Paul reminds us that anything thought that is contrary to God’s Word needs to be demolished. However in relation to stronghold these thoughts would be something that have a grip on someone’s life. A stronghold is not something that goes away easily. However if we counter every negative thought with God’s Word the stronghold will come down.
B. Casting down arguments vs. 5
The word (arguments) logismos means - computation, act of computing; a thought, cogitation
Paul states that we are to cast down each thought contrary to truth. That we are also to take captive every thought that is contrary to truth. The battle is the mind. If you can defeat someone mentally then everything else is downhill from there.
I’m sure everyone has heard of psychological warfare. Psychological warfare - The use of propaganda against an enemy, supported by the such military, economic, or political measures as may be required. Such propaganda is generally intended to demoralize the enemy, to break his will to fight or resist, and sometimes to render him favorably disposed to one’s position. Propaganda is also used to strengthen the resolve of allies or resistance fighters. The twisting of personality and the manipulation of beliefs in prisoners of war by brainwashing and related techniques can also be regarded as a form of psychological warfare.
If you are getting ready to fight or go into a sporting match you try to psych your opponent out—the odder the behavior the better.
Our enemies, the World, the flesh, and the Devil, try to psych us out from doing God’s work. Our enemies are always trying to scare, intimidate, talk us down, and make us think we cannot do something for the Lord. We need to be aware of that. Once you get into someone’s mind you have control of the person.
These thoughts need to be caught.
2. Replace destructive thoughts with thoughts from the Lord
Thoughts from the Lord Replenish what the enemy has destroyed.
When we are depleted and destroyed, where can we turn?
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Think of David when he fought Goliath.
• Not only did he have to fight Goliath, but he had to deal with his brother’s accusations.
• Also had to deal with Saul’s comments.
• He had to deal with fear and intimidation from Goliath. All of these fears could have crippled him but they didn’t.
Assault against David
1st they question his motives
Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab's anger was aroused against David, and he said, "Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle." And David said, "What have I done now? Is there not a cause?"
1 Samuel 17:28-29
2nd they questioned his ability
And Saul said to David, "You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth." (1 Samuel 17:33)
3rd the enemy tried to intimidate him
So the Philistine said to David, "Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?" And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. And the Philistine said to David, "Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!" (1 Samuel 17:43-44)
What thoughts would run through the mind of most people in his shoes?
“My family thinks I am here for the wrong reasons. I am so mad I can’t even focus on the fight.”
“Well, the king thinks I am not qualified to fight someone of that size and experience. There is no way I can win.”
“This giant has just told me that I am going to be dead meat. I think I will turn back now.”
None of that phased David.
His thoughts stayed on what God could do the whole time.
I Sam 17:26 …For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?"
Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God." Moreover David said, "The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine…”(1 Samuel 17:36-37)
Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. (1 Samuel 17:45-46)
Although we will not fight a ten-foot-tall giant, we do have Goliaths in our lives.
Your Goliath doesn’t carry sword or shield; he brandishes blades of unemployment, abandonment, sexual abuse, or depression. Your giant doesn’t parade up and down the hills of Elah; he prances through your office, your bedroom, your classroom. He brings bill you can’t pay, grades you can’t make, people you can't please, whiskey you can’t resist, pornography you can't refuse, a career you can’t escape, a past you can’t shake, and a future you can’t face. You know well the roar of Goliath. Max Lucado – Facing your giants
We all have giants that we face. That is a part of what it’s like to be human. Everyone has struggles to conquer. We can with God’s strength.
When David was doing the most for the Lord, his mind was all about God’s amazingness.
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies. (Psalms 18:2-3)
The battle for the mind is important.
Paul, in another letter tells us to keep our minds right. To keep our focus on God.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
If the enemy can disable your mind then you won’t even show up for the fight. We have weapons that are not carnal. Weapons that are not from this world. We have spiritual weapons.
• The sword we carry is the word of God.
• The power we possess is the Spirit of God.
• The hope that we look to is the Son of God.
Let’s get our minds right this morning.