God created man and gave him full authority over the earth. He gave him a job (tending the Garden of Eden) and He gave him the gift of free choice. He also sent Lucifer, His most beautiful cherub, to serve him.

Lucifer became proud and desired the godlike authority which God had given man. He successfully tempted man into discontentment and ingratitude, which led to rebellion. By obeying Lucifer, instead of God, man ceded his authority to Lucifer, who thereby became the god of this world.

This act of rebellion turned the universe upside down. Entropy immediately set in - instead of eternal existence the universe is winding down. Man’s default position, instead of innocence, is sinfulness.

Knowing what was going to happen, God had made two provisions:

  • The tree that had been placed in the garden as a choice, was the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Thus, even though man’s default position is sin, he does have a conscience - he is able to distinguish between right and wrong.
  • Because it was man who had ceded his authority to Satan by sinning, it would take a man who was without sin to redeem that authority. God knew that no son of Adam would ever be sinless, so He Himself became man, through His Son, Jesus. Because He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus did not inherit Adam’s sinful nature. He did, however, also have the freedom to choose. He humbled Himself in obedience to the plan of God (not without anguish - see Gethsemane [Mathew 26:36-46]) and became the atoning sacrifice, taking upon Himself mankind’s death sentence.

Man now has the option to be free from sin, guilt, death and Satan’s power. This option requires accepting Jesus as a personal Saviour and Redeemer.

The only power Satan now has over the redeemed is temptation and accusation - first he tempts man through a combination of half truths and outright lies into sinning, and then he plagues him with guilt and shame.

The battlefield is, therefore, the mind.

By influencing man’s thoughts, he affects his emotions and turns them from positive to negative - fear or anger or both, leading to depression and guilt. Habitual negative thoughts become patterns, known as spiritual strongholds. 

Secular science sees the problem as mental illness - a physiological condition caused by low brain chemicals (serotonin and dopamine especially). The Bible tells us that it is the negative thought patterns (strongholds) which deplete the brain chemicals. 

To fight the enemy effectively, you have to recognise and accept the sequence. 

  • Not low brain chemicals leading to negative feelings, leading to negative thoughts. 
  • Instead, negative thoughts leading to negative emotions leading to effects on brain chemicals.

It is therefore of the utmost importance to guard the mind.

Twelve Spiritual Exercises to Guard Your Mind

  1. If you have never accepted Jesus as your Saviour and Redeemer, then that is the first step. At the moment of spiritual rebirth, you receive the Holy Spirit. Without His assistance and guidance you are a lost cause.
  2. You have to become familiar with your Bible. It is the only way to know the truth which will set you free. Start with all the verses which have been used in this study. They will provide you with a foundation on which to build your knowledge.
  3. Put into practice what you read in the Word. Submitting to God is fundamental to chasing off the enemy.
  4. The overall strategy for breaking down strongholds is to take every one of your thoughts captive - and you do this by renewing your mind. Obviously, reading, learning and meditating on the Word is the main way to achieve this, but you will also have to examine your reading and television viewing habits. Eradicate anything which counters faith, love and purity.  Visit a Christian bookshop for your reading matter. Avoid negative people.
  5.  Watch your words. Remember that death and life are in the power of the tongue. Don’t curse yourself with negative words. Instead, strengthen your faith by constantly speaking the Word of God. Don’t receive any criticism about yourself from others - reject it in the name of Jesus. Don’t speak negative words about or over others. It damages you too!
  6. Analyse your spiritual weaknesses in the light of the Armour of God and the Three Words. Find Scriptures relevant to your weaknesses. Read them, meditate on them and learn them off by heart so that you can be ready when any demon ventures near. Then use the Sword!
  7. Keep your mind fixed on God by developing an attitude of gratitude. Count your blessings regularly. Make it a habit. Learn Bible verses which praise God. Meditate on them before you go to sleep and when you wake up. Repeat them out loud while you bath or shower or during household tasks.
  8. FORGIVE, FORGIVE, FORGIVE!!! Make a list of everyone who has ever offended, wounded, or injured you - physically, mentally or emotionally. Forgive them, in the name of Jesus, out loud. Your spouse, your parents, your siblings, your children, other relatives, teachers, friends, colleagues, superiors and subordinates, health care professionals, shop assistants, whoever comes to mind. Even if you know that the person concerned had a good reason for behaving as they did. (A pastor, whom I once saw for counselling because of feeling vaguely depressed, suggested that I forgive my mother-in-law for disrupting my life. I had cared for her for the ten months before she died. I thought this was silly because she had done nothing on purpose. She was very ill and in terrible pain. But I did as he suggested and what do you know? He was right!)
  9. Bless any person who is often in your thoughts for negative reasons. Bless them aloud in the name of Jesus with whatever quality they need to overcome their weakness.
  10. Forgive yourself! If there things you know you have done wrong, cleanse your conscience by asking God to forgive you. If you find yourself asking for forgiveness for the same thing over and over again, then you know it is the enemy who is accusing you. God is not deaf! He heard you the first time! Remind the enemy (and yourself) that you are forgiven and that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. (This does not refer to habitual sin. That should be confessed each time.)
  11. Find a Bible-believing church. (Unfortunately the west is full of dead churches or churches which simply do not let the Bible get in the way of what they believe!) If your circumstances present difficulties, there are plenty of excellent resources on the Internet. Joyce Meyer conferences and her “Enjoying Everyday Life” broadcasts are very encouraging. The Andrew Wommack Ministries website has excellent resources. There you can access his “Gospel Truth” broadcasts, live Bible Studies, and conferences, including healing conferences. You can download his material free of charge! One preacher we have met through Andrew Wommack is Duane Sheriff. His amazing teachings are freely available on YouTube.
  12. Find a Bible Study fellowship or home group where you can receive spiritual support and sustenance. This is not optional. By disobeying you are not threatening your salvation, but you deprive yourself of the strength which come from Christian support and friendship. 

Finally, never give up! It won’t be a simple matter,  but if you persevere it will gradually become easier and easier until it is all second nature to you. We are MORE than conquerors in Christ!