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The Battle Within: Overcoming Negative Thoughts and Emotions
by Sue Detweiler
The Battle for your Thoughts and Emotions
If you were to write about your most raw moment of unguarded thoughts, how would you feel? Exposed? Vulnerable? Insecure? It is our thought lives that lead to our irrational feelings.
Most of the time we do not talk about our thought lives. We don’t want others to know about our angry outbursts. It’s our instinct to keep our faults concealed. The hidden habits of the heart can imprison our mind and emotions.
The invisible struggle in our minds is visible to God. Our thoughts lead to choices, which lead to outward habits. Anger begins as a seed in the mind that takes root and grows. Your face begins to show your displeasure. Your body language reflects annoyance. Before you know it, your ill temper burns into rage.
Once you let the fire of exasperation linger, you have entered into the danger zone. Most crimes of passion are committed in the context of family. The battle may begin in the recesses of our minds, but it may end on the front page of the newspaper.
An emotion in itself is not good or bad, but how we choose to act upon it can be. Anger is a normal human emotion that can fuel positive things. Jesus fashioned a whip in the temple and drove out the moneychangers who were stealing from people and dishonoring God’s house (See John 2:14-16). The human emotion of anger can be a righteous indignation that leads to positive change.
Most of the time, however, we become angry or frustrated when we do not get what we want. We have a goal that has been blocked or an agenda that has been thwarted. Anger that is out of control can become destructive. It can make you feel like you are at the mercy of a powerful emotion that is unpredictable and, at times, irrational.
5 Ways to Guard Your Thoughts and Emotions
You can walk in freedom. You do not need to be controlled by your thoughts and emotions. We have a great guide in Scripture that instructs us on how to guard our thoughts and emotions. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 says
We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do.
We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons,
to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning
and to destroy false arguments.
We destroy every proud obstacle
that keeps people from knowing God.
We capture their rebellious thoughts
and teach them to obey Christ.
So here is a great step-by-step plan when faced with tormenting thoughts and toxic emotions:
1. Get up and Fight
It will not do you any good to wallow in self-pity. You need to get up and fight! You don’t fight with a gun or sword. You fight with the Word of God. Make everything that goes through your mind and comes out of your mouth line up with God’s Word.
2. Knock Down Strongholds
A stronghold is a place where the enemy can hide in your mind. Often it is a fortress of lies. One lie leads to the next until you are trapped in deception. Human reasoning is a system of thought where you think that you are right. Before you know it, you have false arguments occurring in your mind and you are trapped in a stronghold of falsehood. KNOCK IT DOWN WITH THE TRUTH OF GOD’S WORD!
3. Destroy Pride
Pride is deadly. It deceives the most God-loving people. Religious pride is the worst type of pride. You can be blinded by your own preferences and prejudices. God opposes pride but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5). When you are in a battle with tormenting thoughts – you need to stop, drop and roll the pride off you back. Get low. Choose humility.
4. Obey Christ
If you are struggling with something, it may be that there is an issue that you simply need to obey Christ. The sweet result of obedience is a peace that passes understanding. When you fully obey what God is calling you to do, you will be FREE. Often this will involve forgiving another person from the heart so that you can move forward unencumbered by bitterness or resentment. God will show you how to make restitution and/or how to restore relationships. As you obey Christ you will walk in His peace and confidence.
GET IN THE FIGHT. When you engage in Spiritual Warfare God’s way you knock down strongholds, and destroy pride as you obey Christ. The Battle is in your mind, will and emotions. You will overcome as you walk step-by-step strengthened by His word.
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