CAST AWAY: Casting Down Imaginations
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12)… For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 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, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled (2 Corinthians 10:3-6)
Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to grow weeds in a garden than fruit or vegetables? Have you looked at a beautiful container/box sitting out on display, and opened it up to find rubber bands? That’s like our mind. Today we are going to talk about adversity, circumstances that are unfavorable and how we overcome.
Cast away: To throw or hurl; fling; to throw off or away. The reality of spiritual conflict and battle in the invisible realm is attested to by Jesus Himself, then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” 18 And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20 Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven… (Luke 10:17-20)…” and do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen (Matthew 6:13), and has characterized the life of the Church since the time of the Book of Acts, For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12). In order to live successfully, we need to realize there’s another arena of activity and a vicious adversary who is set on our destruction.
We often see adversity or difficulty as “circumstances” but Jesus unmasked the reality that they are imposed on you out of another realm. Don’t get me wrong, we human beings are capable of doing dumb things on our own without satanic intervention, but there are some things that are direct assaults on us from the adversary who seeks to steal and destroy the possibilities of purpose and joy in your life. Most people don’t recognize those things and consequently, don’t know how to declare war and return the attack:
- According to the flesh (v. 3) This does not mean a carnal commitment to indulgence. It does mean that even though we walk in a material world, the conflict we’re engaged in goes beyond this present reality, for though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh;
- Weapons of warfare (v. 4) Our resources are not found in or limited to human reasoning. Their power comes from God, for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds;
- Strongholds (v. 4) are barricades against your future, against your life being fulfilled according to God’s creative purpose for you.
- Arguments and thoughts (v. 5) are said to be things that exalt themselves. They are personified—meaning, they are living within and they try to replace God’s purpose in you
The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy
(John 10:10) The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. This passage tells us two things: God has something in mind for you but so does the enemy. Everything the adversary does is intended to reduce to rubble the image of God’s purpose in you. The adversary wants to erase that prospect from your mind by seeking to sell you what is his mind for you. He does that by something the Bible calls thoughts and arguments (imaginations) that have another source than our natural thoughts or imaginations, or the divine gifts of insight and perception, like the prophetic, words of knowledge, words of wisdom, etc. Do not be deceived, these thoughts come from Hell.
Let me address two biblical aspects of the battlefield, thoughts and arguments/imaginations, as every one of us has suffered and fallen prey to the wearying mental attack of the enemy. The thought processes are so relentless and subtly sown into our minds, they cause us to we conclude that, something must be wrong with me.
Thoughts: The word thought (noema) means a plot, plan or design, something calculated. It has to do with things that have been designed just for you. The idea is to neutralize what you know with lies designed that follow and blend into your own line of reasoning so that you assume that the thought came from you. Doubts as strongholds don’t automatically generate themselves—there is a spirit behind the doubt that can be entertained or confronted.
Among believers there is a tremendous gullibility to swallow the noemas—thoughts sown by doubt—without recognizing the plot to erode your faith. The Bible declares those noemas are to be confronted, cast down.
Arguments/Imaginations: The same spiritual warfare is to be applied to arguments (logismos). This has to do with systematic lines of reasoning (consider our word “logic”). It’s a word that relates to mathematics, referring to the orderly presentation of a philosopher making his case for what he sees as truth in a logical presentation. With logismos—the presentation of his case—is also diatribo (diatribe), the philosopher’s attempt to wear you down through debate any argument presented by a challenger.
How do thoughts and arguments work?
Jesus created us in His image and has something specific in mind for the life of every believer. In our hearts, when a vision of that begins to rise; you feel there’s something you are to be and to become. That vision constantly expands the longer you walk in it; it isn’t an idle dream. You test whether it is of God or not by three things:
- You have faith in your heart that pursuit of your goal can be realized; and
- Everything in your dream or vision aligns with the Word of God.
- Those you trust who have gone before you agree and are willing to help you.
But there are other “visions” not from God—imaginations which are really fantasies and notions. They include things that would make you wretch inside as a believer, when you realize that they ever found a place in you:
- “Dreams of becoming” that don’t align with the Word of God
- Accusations against you
- Seductions away from God’s purpose for your life
- Fantasies and impure thoughts that pollute your mind
- Internal statements that bind you to false vows and intimidate you
- Condemnation making you feel worthless and inadequate
- Covetousness that pushes you to keep wanting more
- Defeating self-expectations that go back to childhood
- Recurring memory of past failures
- Disappointments and guilt you wish you could shake off
We can break their wearying syndromes. Continuing to entertain these thoughts and arguments instead of casting them down is the equivalent of making them idols. According to the Corinthian epistles, wherever there is an idol, there is a spirit behind it. These idols are not “graven” but they are images that come to impose themselves on you by agreement—in other words, the image of the world, of other possibilities, of what you imagine you are supposed to become but you can’t seem to achieve, because they were not born in the heart of God, and you are making them happen in your own strength.
When we “bow down” to those idols by entertaining them in our minds, we become chained into patterns of thought from which we just can’t seem to break free.
You need to declare war!
These fabrications and plans of darkness constitute the strongholds the adversary intends to build against your progress in the way and the will of God. Strongholds need to be confronted and overthrown—cast down and defeated in your life, finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak (Ephesians 6).
Victory is contingent upon recognizing the plans and tactics of your adversary. He is relentlessly seeking to cut down anything that God’s purpose in you by wrestling your mind, pinning you to the ground with impure thoughts or with destructive concepts about yourself until he erodes your sense of confidence and purpose in the way and will of God. Unless you come to terms with that, you will be dictated to by ideas never intended for your life by God who created you.
The Lord is calling us to make up our minds about the spiritual arena and declare war against the adversary of our soul. When you are confronted at the mental and emotional level, the Word of God says fix your mind on Him (Jesus), and He will keep you in perfect peace because you’ve chosen to trust in Him (Isaiah 26:3, paraphrased).