Mind Games

Bible Book: 2 Corinthians  10 : 3-5
Subject: Mind; Strongholds; Thinking; Satanic Attacks

(After the video of Hershel Walker) Oh, those were the glory days! Now there is something most of you probably missed in seeing that video. You thought the focus was on Hershel Walker, but the key to what you just saw was the offensive line. Not even Hershel Walker, the greatest college running back who ever lived, who happened to play for the greatest college football team, at the greatest university in history, cannot run one yard unless he has an offensive line opening the holes.

There is an old football adage that is as old as football itself that every football coach knows is the first truth you better learn about winning. That is, the team that controls the line of scrimmage usually wins the game. Now I want you to get this down into your heart. The mind is the line of scrimmage in your life, and whoever controls the line of scrimmage controls your life.

The passage we are studying this morning says this: "For 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" (vv.3-5).

As you read this passage of scripture certain terms almost leap out of the page; terms such as "war," "weapons," "warfare," and "strongholds." It is as if Paul has transported us to the front lines of a battlefield. You can almost hear the guns firing, the bombs exploding, and smell the smoke all around you.

The reason for that is, there is a battle for your mind, taking place at this very moment. Paul compares the mind here to a fortress. He says your mind is like a castle; it's like a stronghold. It is constantly under attack. There is a battle raging within your mind in which the only prisoner that can be taken is you. The devil wants to make your mind his spiritual headquarters. You are the target and your mind is the bull's-eye.

Now why would the devil be so interested in your mind? The answer is very simple: if he can control your mind he can control you, because the mind is the control center of who we are. That's why the Bible means when it says, "For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he" (Prov. 23:7). You are not what you eat, but you are what you think.

I heard about a lady who went to see a psychiatrist and she said, "Doctor, you've got to help my husband." The doctor said, "What's wrong with him?" She said, "He thinks he's a race horse." The doctor said, "How do you know?" She said, "Well, he wants to live in a stable, he walks around on all fours, and he even eats hay." The doctor said, "Well, I'm sure I can cure him, but it will take a long time and it will cost a tremendous amount of money." The lady said, "Well, money is no object, he's already won two races."

You really are what you think. Yogi Berra once said about the game of baseball: "90% of this game is half mental." Well the fact is, when it comes to spiritual warfare, 100% of the game is all mental.

An old proverb put it this way: "You sow a thought you reap an act; you sow an act you reap a habit; you sow a habit you reap a character; you sow a character you reap a destiny." But, notice that the beginning link of the chain is the thought. In other words, it's all in the mind.

If you are going to win the mind games that the devil and the world will try to play with you, you must realize that you not only learn with your mind, you've got to learn about your mind. We find here three things we need to learn that will help us to guard our minds against the attacks of the devil so that God can use our minds for His glory and for our good.

I. Learn that Satan Wants to Capture our Mind

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh" (v.3). Paul clues us in on the fact that even though there is a war going on, it is an invisible war. It is not a military war, it is a mental war. It is a war that is in the mind, it is of the mind, and it is for the mind. From the time that Satan entered into this world he has always had only one strategy to attack this world. He wants to capture, control, and corrupt the minds of men. The reason is very simple. He knows if he can get us to think wrongly he can push us to live wrongly.

Now don't be surprised that the devil is so interested in your mind. The most powerful force in the world today is the human mind. Did you know that if you could build a computer that could do everything that one human mind could do, this computer would have to be the size of the empire state building, and would be a city-block wide and a city-block deep?

As a Christian you need to understand that your mind was originally enemy-held territory. Before you became a Christian, Colossians 1:21 tells us that "...you once were alienated and enemies in your mind," but when you give your heart to Christ He storms the citadel of your mind, breaks down the walls, casts out the devil, and He takes over. But the devil never gives in and he never gives up. He wants to take your mind back because he considers it occupied territory and he will not give it up without a fight.

You know it is easy to be a soldier in a parade; the weapons aren't loaded, there are no enemies firing back; all you have to do is just keep in step. But when you're in a war your weapons better be loaded. The enemy is always near, and you better do everything you can to stay alive and win the battle.

I'm convinced the problem with a lot of Christians is that they think they are in a parade instead of a war. They don't mind coming to a nice comfortable church, singing a few songs, hearing a nice little message, and then spending the rest of their week doing what they want to do. But they are not interested in knowing how to go to war. That's why we have so many casualties on the spiritual battlefield. You better listen to what I'm about to tell you. Satan has aimed hell's heaviest artillery at your mind. He storms your fortress everyday with all of the strength you can muster and you will never win this war until you realize it is going on. So learn this: Satan wants to capture your mind, because if he captures your mind he captures you.

II. Learn that the World Wants to Contaminate your Mind

"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds" (v.4). Now, we know what the devil wants to do. He wants to lift up every barrier he can to keep you from the knowledge of God. How does he do this?

Well first of all, he darkens the mind of the sinner. "...Whose minds the God of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them" (2 cor. 4:4). Here is the reason why this world rejects the knowledge of God, and does not love God, nor care to obey Him. It is because the world is literally "flying blind." You see, this world does not see spiritual truth for two reasons: First of all, it cannot see spiritual truth. Paul said earlier in this book, "But the natural man does not receive the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 cor. 2:14). But the greater problem is this world will not see spiritual truth. You remember what Jesus said in John 3:19-20: "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed." This world is in darkness not because there is no light, but because the world loves darkness rather than light.

It broke my heart recently to find out that Larry King asked Chuck Colson not long ago to go to dinner. He told Chuck Colson the invitation was for one purpose. He said, "I'm going to give you two hours to convince me that Jesus Christ is Savior, Lord, and King." At the end of the two-hour conversation Larry King said, "I am not convinced." Chuck Colson said, "I don't believe you want to be convinced." To which Larry King replied, "You are right." That is exactly why once a person hears the gospel and rejects Jesus, his number one problem is not that he cannot be saved; his number one problem is he will not be saved.

But the other thing the devil does is he defiles the mind of the saved. In 2 Cor. 11:3, Paul warns against the danger of our minds "being corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." You see, Satan will use anything he can to pollute the river of your mind. I believe he has more tools at his disposal to poison the rivers of our minds than ever before. Let me just give you just a few tools he uses every day to pollute the mind of the Christian.

The first tool is movies. In the last 30 years in this country we have seen the movie industry decay like rotten fruit. Religion is presented at best as irrelevant; preachers of the gospel presented as deceitful money-grabbing adulterers on the make, who cannot be trusted. I am not against going to certain movies, although I would hasten to add very few make the cut for any spirit-filled Christian in my opinion. But if you do go to a movie, I want you to at least remember the kind of people who are making them. In a recent research study done on movie makers it was found that 55% say they have no religion; 96% say they seldom or never attend worship; 96% say a woman has the right to an abortion; only 7% strongly agree that homosexuality is wrong; only 13% strongly agree that adultery is wrong; and only 1% feel that TV has been too critical of traditional values.1

Another tool he uses is the media. Now I'm talking specifically about television. I was amazed to learn that more homes in America have television than have indoor plumbing-98% of all homes in this country have at least one TV. In the average home television is on at least 7 hours every day. The average American watches more than 1,200 hours of television a year. If the typical young American lives to be 70 years of age, he will have spent 10 full years of 24-hour days in front of the television.2

What is the problem with television? Listen to this: if you include rape and prostitution, 94% of all sexual relationships occur between unmarried people.3

Extra marital affairs are mentioned on television shows 5 times as often as sexual activity by married couples.4

Even though 50 million Americans go to church regularly, how many television characters go to church? How many ever pray? How many ever read their Bible? How many live by biblical morality? No, the message we get from TV is loud and clear: everybody drinks, everybody has sex, nobody goes to church, and God is irrelevant.

The final weapon he uses is music. Our young people are being bombarded by obscenity, violence, and perversion in the music they are listening to. Teen Vision Incorporated, a non-profit group that evaluates music and media, found obscene material prevalent in up to 1/3 of all current rock music. Studies now show that the average teenager listens to rock music four hours a day.5

We better learn that the devil is working overtime to corrupt our minds, and he's got plenty of tools available to do it.

III. Learn that God Wants to Control our Mind

Now I hope you see why this war that we are fighting and this battle that we are in is one we cannot afford to lose. Because the only way you can control you is to control your mind, for your mind controls you. Woodrow Wilson rightly said, "He that will not command his thoughts will soon lose command of his actions."6

Now the good news is we do not fight this war empty-handed. We have been given weapons. We find in verses 4 & 5:"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." Think about that. God wants every thought brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. But I remind you that this is a spiritual war, and it will only be won by spiritual weapons. You cannot fight cancer with aspirin, and you cannot fight this war in the flesh. One writer recently put it this way: "You've got to admit some of our hearts and minds [and minds] are trashed out. Let any rift raft knock on the door and we throw it open. Anger shows up and we let him in. Revenge needs a place to stay so we have him pull up a chair. Pity wants to have a party, so we show him the kitchen. Lust rings the bell and we change the sheets on the bed."7

Well, how do we win this battle for the mind? How do we learn to say no with the mind to the wrong things and yes to the right things? First of all, we need to refocus the mind. Colossians 3:2 says, "Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth." It is a wonderful thing to realize that we can indeed determine the direction of our minds. Romans 8:6 says, "To be spiritually minded is life and peace." What does it mean to be spiritually minded? It simply means that the Holy Spirit of God is always pushing thoughts of God to the forefront of your thinking. No matter which way you turn a compass its needle will always point to the north.

Similarly when you are spiritually minded no matter what you think about your mind will always turn to God.

Secondly, we need to refill the mind. We need to fill our minds with good Godly thoughts. You may think that is impossible, but think about this: Is it possible to get all of the air out of a glass? Absolutely, all you have to do is just fill the glass with water. Is it possible to remove dirtiness, distortion, and deception from our mind? Absolutely, by filling our mind with thoughts from God.

Paul put it perfectly when He said in Phil. 4:8, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things." You see, the key to controlling your mind is not in trying not to think bad thoughts, but in constantly thinking good thoughts.

May I tell you the greatest way to do that-saturate your mind with the word of God? The psalmist said, "Your word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you" (Ps. 119:11). The word "hidden" literally means "to store up" or "to load." I'm still trying, even after several years, to become computer literate. One thing I have learned about a computer is, it only has so much memory. After you have fully loaded the memory of a computer it cannot carry any more information. The psalmist says your mind is to be so loaded with the truth of the word of God, there is no room for the lies of the devil.

Finally, we are to renew the mind. The bible clearly teaches that any mind, no matter how dirty, distorted, deceived, or damaged, can be renewed. Eph. 4:22 says, "…be renewed in the spirit of your mind." Romans 12:2 tells us we ought to be continuously "transformed by the renewing of our mind." It can be done.


I read recently about a woman in St. Louis who invited a man to come and live in her home though she was not married to him. It really was more than an economical arrangement than anything else, but they were still unmarried and living together. After a while her conscience began to bother her. She knew that she was doing wrong and she asked the man to leave, but he refused. He said, "You invited me in and I'm not leaving. My clothes are here, my belongings are here and I'm not leaving." She said, "I am commanding you to leave." He laughed at her and said, "You can't make me leave, and you can't put me out." Well, then she began to plead with him, but he said, "I am not going." He continued to stay. She was so embarrassed, humiliated, and convicted that what she had done was wrong by inviting him to come and live in her house, but she didn't know what to do. She finally went and talked with a lawyer. The lawyer sent her to the judge and the judge issued an injunction that said the man had no legal right and that he must move out. She went back with that legal injunction and showed it to him and said, "Now I'm asking you to get out." He began to cry and to howl and to complain. But she just stood her ground, her legal ground. After a lot of protest he left because he knew he had to go.

Listen carefully. The devil is just like that. There are some of you here today who have given a place to the devil, and he has come in and gotten some stronghold in your heart and in your mind and in your life, and you ask him to leave, but he won't leave. You command him to leave, but he won't leave. You beg him to leave, but he won't leave. Well I will tell you this-if you will go to a heaven's court, and in the power of attorney command him to leave in the name of Jesus, he will not play mind games with you anymore. So remember we do have weapons. They're not carnal, but they are powerful and they can tear down any stronghold: they can cast down any argument; and they can bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. When you have victory in your mind you will have victory in your body and in your soul.

End notes

1 Randy Alcorn, Christians In the Wake of the Sexual Revolution, (Portland: Multnomah Press, 1985), p. 93.

2 Ibid.

3 Alcorn, p. 94.

4. US News & World Report, May 17, 1982, p. 17.

5. "How Shock-rock Harms Our Kids," Reader's Digest, July, 1988, p. 101.

6. Inspiring Quotations, Compiled by Albert M. Wells, Jr., (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1988), p. 133.

7 Max Lucado, Just Like Jesus, p. 118.