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The Battle for the Mind.



The history of the human race is scarred and defaced by conflict. Despite the ebb and flow of the intensity of that conflict, it is almost impossible to find a time that was free from conflict somewhere on the planet. Of all the strategies employed in warfare, few are as important as the battle for the mind.



Time and again the outcome of many military campaigns has been determined by which side won the battle for the minds of the people involved in the conflict.



Propaganda. That's the word I'm looking for in this context. Propaganda involves the presentation of selected facts mixed with a good dose of half-truths and deliberate lies to create an impression desired by the one who is spreading such a cocktail of misinformation.



What is true in the natural world is also true in the spiritual world.



As Christians, we are engaged in a spiritual conflict. According to the Bible, we have a determined enemy referred to variously as Satan, the Devil, Lucifer, Adversary etc. From the very beginning this enemy has engaged in a strategy of propaganda because he knows that, if he can control the way we think, he can then control the way we speak and act.



We only need look at the first encounter between Adam and Eve on the one side and Satan on the other (Genesis 3) to see the way this malevolent enemy mixes some truth with misinformation and “sells it" to the humans. They believed and thus “bought" the lie. Having believed the deception, they then acted on it accordingly and that part of the campaign was won by the enemy.



To win the propaganda campaign almost always leads to the winning of the whole war. It's no wonder, then, that the Bible places such a great emphasis on the importance of the human mind and the “renewing" of our minds. Consider the following statement - the same statement from two different translations



Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Rom 12:2 New International Version)


Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. (Rom 12:2 New Living Translation)



God is not into reforming the human race. But He is into transforming the human race. Reformation has to do with outward behavioural modification. Transformation has to do with inward, renewal of perspective.



Reformation can often be temporarily achieved by the application of rules and regulations with the accompanying promises of reward or threats of punishment. Transformation can only be achieved by a radical paradigm shift within and an accompanying empowerment to respond accordingly. Real, life transformation can only take place when the way we think is radically changed.



The NIV uses the term, “….the renewing of your mind". I take that to mean the total re-programming of our thoughts and thought patterns. We Christians talk a lot about being involved in spiritual warfare - and rightly so. But do we realize the nature of this conflict and the kind of weapons that are deployed against us? Equally, do we appreciate the kind of weapons that we are called upon to use? Have we recognizedthe subtlety of the propaganda war?



In recent times I have been reminded about the vital importance of thinking accurately, truthfully, positively, consistently. The New Testament is filled with references about the importance of right thinking.



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. If your sinful nature controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls your mind, there is life and peace. (Rom 8:5-6 NLT)



And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Phil 4:8 NLT)



Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits at God's right hand in the place of honor and power. Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth. For you died when Christ died, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. (Col 3:1-3 NLT)



We know our enemy, right? We know we're in a battle, right? We know the ways in which Satan tempts us, right? Or do we? Well, there are the obvious strategies he deploys against us, some of which Paul lists



So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust, and shameful desires. Don't be greedy for the good things of this life, for that is idolatry…….You used to do them when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don't lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old evil nature and all its wicked deeds. (Col 3:5-9 NLT)



At the risk of seeming to contradict the Apostle Paul (!), I am not sure that he is altogether right when he says about our enemy,



“…… that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are very familiar with his evil schemes". (2 Cor 2:10-11 NLT)



Are we very familiar with his evil schemes (battlefield strategies and tactics)? Really? Let's apply this to our particular emphasis in this article by asking the question, “In what ways and using what means does Satan try to manipulate and control our thoughts?" What is it that influences my thought processes and thus helps shape my opinions, values, behaviour, convictions and speech?



Television would be one such factor. What I read would be another. What I listen to is yet another. Now I'm not arguing that we should isolate ourselves from these realities nor am I suggesting that we substitute ignorance for awareness. But I am appealing for us to recognize afresh that propaganda, by its very nature, is subtle in the way it operates on our minds.



God help me (us) to be newly sensitized by the Holy Spirit of Truth to the reality of the battle for my (our) mind.


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