Peace Theology · Spiritual Formation

Black Riders and the Battle in Our Minds

We live as human beings, but we do not wage war according to human standards; for the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ. 2 Cor. 10:3-5

Taking “every thought captive to obey Christ.” Here we see the power of rationality in all its image-of-God splendour! Note that the passage says that WE destroy arguments and every proud obstacle . . . And it is WE who take every thought captive. We must realize our power, the power of rationality. That power allows us to stand back and say no to one thought and yes to another. We choose which thoughts will be our reality. Our wills, not our feelings, direct our minds.

The idea of controlling our thoughts seems daunting. The forces we contend with in our inner life may feel as terrifying as the black riders whose power infiltrated Frodo’s mind when he put on the ring of power. Our minds may be inundated with guilt for a past transgression. We may seem powerless when someone puts the thought of chocolate in our minds. We may feel like a failure, hopeless and condemned. Nevertheless, Paul says in the passage above that it doesn’t matter how intimidating the powers are, we are still in charge.

We can rise up and take control of that dark, fearful and menacing thought and make it obedient to the gospel of Jesus Christ. For example, when guilt and condemnation trouble us, the gospel says, “If we confess our sin he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9) and “you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God,” (1 Cor. 6:11) and “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool” (Isa. 1:18). This is our new reality, the reality of being born of the Spirit and being part of a new kingdom. All we need do is agree with this message and refuse any other.

One more thing. Taking every thought captive requires that we be still enough to be aware of the deeper thoughts within. If we race through life constantly in haste, our thoughts will drive us and we will have abandoned our God-given power of rationality. The dark powers will be only too willing to fill the vacuum we create by our refusal to choose God’s thoughts. If we don’t take responsibility for what goes through our minds, the black riders will gladly take the reins. Why not take a few minutes today to be still and gently place your mind on Jesus? Seeing his beauty, you will surely choose the good!

Spiritual Formation

Are All My Thoughts & Feelings My Own? (Excerpt from WHISPERS THAT DELIGHT)

Excerpt from WHISPERS THAT DELIGHT–Copyright © 2008 Andrew T. Hawkins

For God to communicate with us, we must sense him in some way and he normally chooses such commonplace means as thinking or feeling. Christians have long recognized that, just as the Evil One can put “fiery darts” in our minds (Eph. 6:16 NKJ), so God can put his thoughts in our minds. Jesus told his disciples, for example, that when the Holy Spirit came to them he would remind them of everything Jesus had said (John 14:26). In addition to thoughts, God can also speak to us through feelings or desires. . . .

Our default understanding–that everything which passes through our mind and emotions comes from us–kills the devotional life. Expectation of hearing him dies because we effectively negate the main way God speaks to us. If we believe Ignatius, we realize that the field where the treasure lies buried is the inner world, and the treasure itself is the thoughts, feelings, images, and desires that come from God. We will now pay close attention to these movements rather than see them as purely part of the unending stream of our own consciousness. We will finally be delivered from the world of psycho-babble that reduces the spiritual realm to nothing more than our own mind. We will be set free from the lie that neatly disposes of anything mysterious or supernatural as a product of our own subconscious, a catchall where apparently anything beyond our understanding can be dumped. When convinced that God speaks in us, we will sift through the flow of inward motions as a miner pans for gold. Feelings of increased love for God, sorrow for self-centeredness, thoughts of helping a neighbour in need, or desires to encourage others will be identified, at the least, as echoes of God’s voice.