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How to Win the Battle for Your Mind

Learning how to win the battle for your mind is a challenge on the road to recovery from infidelity for both the betrayer and the betrayed! In reality, there are countless other struggles, too, which necessitate a commitment on our part to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. So if, like both me and my love, you want to learn how to control your thoughts and feelings and instead figure out how to allow God to keep you in perfect peace, I invite you to dive into Scripture with us to see what we can glean from our Lord!

A Quick Look Back at Our Battle

Years ago, as we set out on our own journey toward healing, Steve and I realized that the first battlefield we had to conquer was the battlefield of the mind. He had spent most of his life indulging every fantasy, and it was going to take real work to clean out that mess and allow God to renew His mind. For the first time in his life, though, it was work he was ready and willing to do. I had spent many years of our marriage battling for him in prayer, but now he was ready to jump in and join the fight.

On the flip side, I was in a very real battle for my mind as well. The trauma of our situation had stirred up all kinds of fears and anxieties for me, and these thoughts threatened to take over my entire existence. I recognized that it would have been a tragedy if, after all those years of fighting for him, I set down my weapons and refused to fight for my own mind.  I absolutely refused to give the enemy such an advantage!  So, I resolved to learn to fight this new battle.

“Cherith,” I said, “the battle for your mind belongs to the Lord! It will be won!”

And so, together with the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies on our side, my love and I made up our minds to emerge victorious!  After all, what weapon could possibly stand against us when God was on our side?   

How to Win the Battle for Your Mind

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You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You. All whose thoughts are fixed on You. Isaiah 26:3

Our Message to Anyone Fighting the Battle for Your Mind

We stand on the other side of that battle now, and though it may be waged again someday, we know now it can be won! We want you to know, friend, that it may seem like Goliath stands before you with a spear whose shaft is as wide as your neck; while you hold only a sling and a handful of rocks. 

You may feel weak, and exposed, and completely foolish for even being here in the first place. But this is where God has placed you, and He is ready to be a shield around you! So don’t be afraid! Remember, one of those stones in your hand is the Rock of Ages! Friend, load that sucker into your sling and fire at the enemy with everything you’ve got! 

You really CAN win the battle for your mind. The Bible gives a clear and actionable plan, and we’re here to share it with you. But first, I want to talk about a concept that is going to be important as we proceed. Let’s talk about the difference between simple and easy.

  • Simple – Not complex. Straight forward. Uncomplicated. Basic.
  • Easy – Effortless. Painless. Un-troublesome. No problem.

The things we need to do in order to win the battle for your mind are pretty simple.  Scripture lays out some principles that, when followed, will lead to a mind controlled by the Holy Spirit.  But don’t be deceived.  While these things are simple, they are not easy. Let’s dig in.

Take Every Thought Captive in the Battle for Your Mind

2 Corinthians 10: 3-5 (NIV) – For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 

These are the first two steps:

  1. Take every thought captive
  2. Make every thought obedient to Christ

In other words, we have to learn to recognize dangerous thoughts, before they take hold, and stop them. Then, we have to choose to think, instead, about something that is “obedient to Christ.”  

Simple, right? 

Sure, it is simple, but it is not easy.  Capturing our thoughts requires the self-awareness to know, right away, when we’re heading down a dangerous path. Then it demands the self control to turn to God in that weakness.

These steps each require extreme vigilance.  But if we can learn to do it, we have picked up our first powerful weapon in our battle for the mind, and according to Scripture this weapon has divine power to demolish strongholds!  

What We Learned About How to Take Every Thought Captive

In our battles Steve figured out first, and then taught me that it’s not enough to just wait until there’s a dangerous thought.  By then, it’s going to be really difficult to stop and change directions.  We had to learn to recognize when we were vulnerable to dangerous thoughts and, in those moments, preemptively fixate on God instead. 

When it comes to how to win the battle for your mind, it is imperative to learn to recognize when we're vulnerable to unwanted thoughts and preemptively fixate on God instead. Click To Tweet

When he was still a slave to his sin, Steve’s focus was always on his behaviors.  He wanted to stop acting out sexually, but failed time and again because he wasn’t taking seriously the warnings of Scripture.  He believed he could handle it his own way.  

Each time he’d act out, he would promise himself and God that it had been the last. Yet, he made no attempt to control his thoughts.  He would think freely about any fantasy his mind came up with.  As you can imagine, it never took long for those fantasies to spill over into his actions. 

But when the focus became surrender to God, he could no longer ignore his thoughts. He had to surrender every part of himself and make it obedient to Christ

Romans 13:11-14 – This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. INSTEAD, clothe yourselves with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourselves think about ways to indulge your evil desires. 

Philippians 4:6-8 - Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for what He has done... Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Renew Your Mind 

Once we’ve learned to successfully navigate that first step and recognize our vulnerabilities, spotting treacherous thoughts right away, what do we do next?  Once we’ve captured our thoughts, how exactly do we then make them obedient to Christ?   

Romans 12:1-2 (NIV) – Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing, and perfect will. 

According to Romans 12, we will be transformed when, as an act of worship to God, we sacrificially offer our bodies to Christ through the renewing of our minds. But what does it even mean to renew your mind?  How do we do it?  

In the battle for your mind, you will be transformed when, as an act of worship, you offer yourself to God by renewing your mind. Click To Tweet

Colossians 3:1-4 – Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all His glory. 

Steps to Renewing Your Mind

Once again, it is simple, but not easy! When the temptations arise to think about things that are not appropriate for a child of God, we must:

  1. Learn to recognize those inappropriate thoughts,
  2. stop the thoughts, and
  3. set our sights on the realities of heaven. 

For example, when I’m tempted by thoughts of self-pity; enticed to head down the rabbit hole of “why me”s , I have to recognize that these thoughts are not pleasing to God and instead choose to count my blessings.  I must think instead about an entirely different set of “why me”s.  

  • Instead of, “Why won’t I ever be able to know what it’s like to be a person’s one and only?” I must think, “Why, of all the people in the world, did God choose me to be His dearly loved daughter?”
  • Instead of, “Why can’t I have the security of a relationship where I know that I can trust the person I love most in the world?” I must think, “What is so special about me that I get to be the one who knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my eternity is secure with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?”  

Honesty Before God is Key

It’s a simple (not easy) choice, and we each get to make it for ourselves before God.  I can’t force him to choose the right thoughts and he can’t force me to either.  No one but God ever really knows what choice we’re each making. 

It can be tempting to claim victory when we’re still in the thick of  the battle for the mind, because… well, pride, and who will ever know? 

Don’t be deceived. That idea is a vicious trap. God knows our hearts, and He’s the most faithful accountability partner we could ever have! We will reap what we sow. 

Romans 8:5-6 – Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. 

How to Control Your Thoughts and Feelings

The reality is, there is always going to be a lot more to these battles than the obvious issue. A sex addict is battling more than just the addiction. A person plagued with anxiety is battling more than just fear.

Praise God, in our journey, Steve realized early on that it was not just the lustful thoughts he had to watch out for.  There was a host of other notions, stemming from his insecurities, selfishness, and pride that were not in line with the Holy Spirit, but rather, were a result of the flesh. 

He drew a hard line, asking God to point out ANY thought that wasn’t in line with His Spirit, and help him surrender them, and renew his mind.  He then became quick to let me into his head too, which provided another level of accountability and help.

I have been learning to follow his example ever since.

Together, we are learning to listen to each other.  We’re learning to know where the other is likely to go off course, and link arms in our vigilance against the schemes of the enemy.  Together, we’re finding ways to practice self-discipline in areas we know have the potential to trip us up.  We’re fighting anxiety and depression together by being intentional about verbally counting our blessings to one another.   We’re learning to ask each other questions like, “Is that true?” or, “Is that right, and pure?”  We’re learning to allow our motives to be questioned, because we may be the tool God is using to show the other something that needs to be dealt with.   

Above all, we’re learning to run everything in this battle for our minds through the light of Scripture.

What the Bible Says about the Battle for Your Mind

2 Timothy 1:7 – For God has not given us a Spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 

Philippians 4:6-8 – Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for what He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You. All whose thoughts are fixed on You. Isaiah 26:3

He Will Keep You in Perfect Peace 

Don’t get me wrong, winning the battle for your mind does not mean that you will never have negative thoughts or emotions.

There is a time to mourn, and it is absolutely appropriate to do that. (Click to read more on that.)  When precious things have been lost, we’re going to be sad. We all have to allow space for appropriate emotions which result from our situations.  

I’ve cried a lot of tears over our marriage. That’s okay. The problems start when I begin to dwell on details that aren’t right and pure. When I imagine things that are not true or believe things that aren’t honorable or lovely, you better believe I’m going to have a problem! There’s no need for that and nothing good comes from it. 

Those thoughts only serve to rob us of our joy and peace and cause us to question our identity in Christ.  They defeat us.  What we have to do is refocus our thoughts on God and the Truth of His Word.  When we do, He will keep the promise He has made to us. He will keep us in perfect peace.

*Want more information on how to control your thoughts and feelings? Check out this article on how the Mind is a Battleground at Worth Beyond Rubies and learn how to set a watchman on the wall.

Prayer to Take Thoughts Captive and Win the Battle for Your Mind

This is our prayer, and we’d love it if you’d join with us in praying it over your own marriage, and ours too. 

“Dear Heavenly Father, our desire is for the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart to be pleasing to You.  Search us, oh God, and know our hearts. Test us, and know our anxious thoughts. Point out anything in us that offends You, and lead us along the path to everlasting life.  Create in us a pure heart, oh God, and renew a steadfast Spirit within us. Help us, Lord. In Jesus’s Name, amen.” 

*How about you? Have you ever struggled to control your mind? What are some strategies you used to focus on what is true, and honorable, and right?


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***Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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30 Comments

  1. Joella

    Isaiah 26:3 is one of my favorite verses! I also love how you talk about the difference between simple and easy. Loving Jesus is simple, but it’s not easy! Also appreciated the thoughts of how victory starts in the mind. It’s like that not just in sexual purity, but in every area… being joyful, no worrying.. it’s a choice to have victory over those things. Thank you for the inspiration!! 🙂

    • Esther Hosea

      Amen! We have so many choices to surrender to Christ and gain the victory, or to continue in our own strength and fail. Thanks for the encouragement!

  2. [email protected]

    Thank you for your openness and vulnerability of what you are going through. This part really stuck out to me: “For example, when I’m tempted by thoughts of self-pity; enticed to head down the rabbit hole of “why me”s , I have to recognize that these thoughts are not pleasing to God and instead choose to count my blessings. I must think instead about an entirely different set of “why me”s. ” This has been something God has been dealing with in me. I have had the tendency to encourage everyone else around me and turn around and trash talk myself with the idea that it was “humility.” how awful! Here I was trashing myself-a woman made in the image of God, of whom he says he sees as good. Basically saying that what Christ did on the cross wasn’t enough. Yet, what Christ did for us is enough. He paid the highest price so that we could be in right relationship with him. The point about stopping the thoughts as soon as they start is so right now. We cannot allow ourselves to even harbor one thought that is contrary to the Word of God. Not easy, but absolutely necessary.

    • Esther Hosea

      Wow! That’s awesome that God is teaching you to see yourself through His eyes! To count the cost that He willingly paid for you and agree with Him about that. Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for the encouragement! God bless!

  3. Diana

    Negative thoughts can most certainly take us into the Enemy’s cave, especially if they are lustful thoughts. Setting our heart straight with prayer , fasting and having an accountable partner can help a lot.

    Thank you for the inspiration, Esther.

    Diana

    • Esther Hosea

      Thanks Diana! You’re right, fasting is a powerful tool! I haven’t talked about that one yet on here… still trying to figure out how to do it properly. But it has been used mightily by God.

  4. Naomi

    This is beautifully written and such an encouragement! Sometimes we forget the simple things because they are not easy. Grateful to have come across your page through By His Grace Bloggers today!

  5. Cathy McIntosh

    Such mighty words for a season when weariness tempts us: “It would be a tragedy if, after all these years of fighting for him, I set down my weapons and refused to fight for me; for my mind. I absolutely refuse to give the enemy such an advantage! I will learn to fight this new battle, and together, with the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies on our side, my love and I will emerge victorious! After all, what weapon could possibly stand when God is on our side? ” What a lovely, transparent post. Thank you for the inspiration and encouragement.

  6. Rosie Williams

    Beautifully expressed Esther. Your gift of sharing with an honest, open heart will bring hope to others and equip them in their battles. The truth will set people free. Thank you for sharing truth. Blessings to you alway.

  7. Alice Mills

    I once had a student who had tremendous guilt over watching pornography. I told him to invite Jesus to look at it with him. After all, Jesus was there anyway, right? Whe he didn’t this, Jesus gave him a revelation of just how much He loved that girl. He began the process of changing women from objects to people. It wasn’t an overnight healing, but it hastened the process.

  8. April Boyer

    Thank you for sharing your heart. It is true in many situations that we need to firmly fix our thoughts on Christ. It is critical that we are “giving appropriate weight to the warnings of Scripture” in this increasingly evil world. How can we not? You make many important points here. Thanks!

  9. DONNA MILLER

    As one whose husband used to indulge fantasies also, I can completely understand the need to reign in my mind and not let it go there. I had to make up my mind what was important (saving my marriage) and set my mind like flint on Jesus and the joy He has for me up ahead in eternity. It literally felt at times like I was dragging my feelings through mud to make them obedient to my focus on Christ. I couldn’t give them the vote ever or they would take over. I’m in a lot better place now but every now and then my mind tries to wander back and I have to capture that thought early and push it aside. Thank you for your beautiful post Cherith. You are always such an encouragement to me. ❤

    • Cherith Peters

      Thank-you so much Donna, you encourage me too friend! I can completely relate to being in a better place, but still having to be very careful that the old thoughts and habits don’t sneak their way in! It is a battle I’m sure we’ll fight for as long as we live, but how encouraging it is to finally know it can be won!

  10. Angie Cleary

    Fighting the Battle for Your Mind. I find such courage, inspiration, and truth in your posts. I let the battle in my mind over past issues and failures hold my mind captive for the longest times. But God…my two favorite words… Heals and restores. Great post!

    • Cherith Peters

      Where would we be without those two beautiful words? But God!!!! The battle for our minds would be lost for sure… but God heals and restores. I love that Angie! Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the beautiful encouragement!

    • Cherith Peters

      Yeah, totally agree Alice. I think that is an area God has really been working on with me lately – my need to be very intentional all day, every day, as I listen to His leading and learn to obey His voice. I love the way His sanctifying work is constantly drawing me in closer and closer to Him. Sometimes, when I see that I’m still so far away from His standard, it helps to look back and see how far He has brought me. It gives me the confidence to trust the promise that He will finish the good work He has started in me, and carry me through until the day of His return!

  11. Heather

    I have never experienced anything like this in my marriage, but let me share with you the battle of my mind. When I lost my daughter in an accident, anxiety came with a vengeance. I became terrified of the possibility of losing another child to the point that I would not let them out of my sight. I knew I needed help in gaining some control over my constant fear. I often find myself pausing and recognizing the panic, confessing it to God, and then praying for peace.
    It works! Thank you for your encouragement!

    • Cherith Peters

      Oh Heather, what a nightmare! I’m so sorry you had to face that heartache. And I am sure the battle for your mind was very real! I am so thankful that no matter what terror we face, God knows how to get us through it, and He is always faithful… even when I am not.

  12. AnnMarie

    This was such an encouragement to me Cherith! Fall is a particularly vulnerable time for me, so I loved the steps you laid out to renew our minds and control our thoughts and feelings. This will be so helpful! Interestingly, I do pray a prayer very similar to yours! I just need to add “renew a steadfast spirit in me.”

  13. Tiffany Montgomery

    Love this! This is exactly how to win the battle for your mind. Choose to fight, take the thoughts captive and change the pattern to obey Christ! It sounds so simple… yet it requires so much discipline and persistence. It’s something I go back to again and again. Thanks for the reminders!

  14. Erin @ LullabyLark.com

    What an encouraging post about how we can win the battle of the mind! Taking our thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ is such an important part of overcoming sin and our sinful nature. When we choose obedience to Christ, our minds, hearts, and lives can be filled with peace.

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