The biblical term for thoughts which are negative is referred to as a stronghold, an area in which we are held in bondage (in prison) due to a certain way of thinking . For example a daily negative thought pattern for me, when suffering depression, would run like this: “life is not worth living, I am worthless and I will never be happy again”. This train of thought would play over and over in my mind keeping me oppressed, depressed and in bondage, a prisoner held captive by my thoughts.
You may be experiencing this battle with a negative thought life right at this moment, maybe you have strongholds in your mind, scripts you have been playing for years and you’re not even sure how they got there. Let me encourage you, God is on your side He will not forsake you.
There is a war going on and your mind is the battlefield but here’s the thing, as Satan attempts to build strongholds in your mind rest assured we have all the weapons we need to tear down the strongholds. Strongholds in the mind are, in essence, deceptive lies and false beliefs. The Bible has promised you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32). I believe what Jesus was saying is that the truth (God’s word) is our primary weapon for tearing down strongholds. Consider it this way, the opposite to a lie is truth, therefore the more time you spend immersed in truth (reading the Bible, hearing Biblical teaching) the light of God is shed upon the darkness, the lies in your mind.
Without question the truth will dispel the darkness, that my friend, is the power of God’s word! Take a simple example of walking into a dark room, we switch the light on and the dark is gone instantly, light and dark cannot coexist and so it is with truth and a lie so go ahead ‘switch some lights on’ disempower Satan’s ability to influence your thoughts. X
Before we can heal the soul we must first understand what is the soul? God has created us as a triune being, we are spirit which has a soul and lives in a body. In pursuit of healing the soul it is most important to understand the soul consists of the mind (which includes the conscience), the will and the emotions.
The soul and the spirit are mysteriously tied together and make up what the Scriptures call the “heart.” The writer of Proverbs declares, “ Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.” (Prov. 4:23 NKJV). We see here that our “heart” is central to our will and emotions, * “ for out of it are the issues of life; of natural life: it is the seat of it, from whence all actions of life are derived; it is, as philosophers say, the first that lives, and the last that dies”.
So in healing the soul we must watch with all diligence, guarding the heart from all that would cause the spring, the stream of life that proceeds from it, to be sealed up. Failure to guard the heart will leave our spirit and soul vulnerable to fear-based living, a heart where no life flows, a life personified as a ‘dead-man walking’ carrying a depressed heart.
Purpose in your heart to continue talking to God about how you are feeling, or simply praise Him for His promises, as you do this your soul will be renewed, or as my counsellor once put it ‘pray, God re-boot me to the manufacturers original default settings’. Think about this, if all the thoughts you’ve had up until this point has not made you feel any better, have another thought. As you pursue God He will eclipse your fears, broaden your horizons, change your perspective and you will have another thought, a thought which comes from His heart and you will begin to see yourself and your circumstances as He does… through eyes of faith, hope and love. Rejoice in this truth – now there’s a thought!
Faith and doubt are not opposite’s, in fact they’re often part of the same journey. When we wrestle with doubts, not just our own but those of our friends, family and strangers we eventually come to a position of stronger faith well able to provide answers to the sceptics and at the same time having a deeper understanding of those who doubt.
In his book ‘The Reason for God’, pastor and author, Timothy Keller suggests we look at doubt in a radical new way, as such that we see doubt as normal and perhaps welcome our doubts as building block to a stronger foundation of faith: “A faith without some doubt is like a human body without any antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenceless against either the experience of a tragedy or the probing questions of a smart sceptic”.
Keller implores believers to look for reasons behind their faith, failing to do so, he writes: “A person’s faith can collapse almost overnight if she has failed over the years to listen patiently to her own doubts, which should only be discarded after long reflection”. Personally, my faith has been lukewarm for most of my adult life, up until I experienced the tragedy of losing my children, faith for me was something I had inherited, a set of beliefs that were passed on.
Amidst great pain and sorrow my faith did ‘collapse overnight’ I carried doubt and unbelief for at least two years and believed my doubts were an abomination to God. I was certain God would not heal me from depression so long as I was consumed with doubts about who He was and the promises in His word, doubt, I considered, was sin… isn’t it? Not according to Jesus.
Let me introduce you to my favourite disciple, Thomas, also known as ‘doubting Thomas’ his story resonates with many of us that have battled with reasoning, doubt and unbelief.
Now, Thomas, for whatever reason we do not know, was missing when Jesus first appeared, notice in the following verses the grace of Jesus as He was faithful to accommodate Thomas, even in his unbelief.
“ 24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”” John 24 -27 NKJV
In the end it was his doubt, his desire to know Jesus for himself, was what brought Thomas to his faith.
So we see here faith and doubt are not opposites, it is possible to have faith with doubt, to believe with unbelief. Faith and indifference are more opposite than faith and doubt. Doubt is often a key part of the journey of faith. It’s a detour, if you will, along the path of faith. I assure you when you find yourself taking a ‘doubt detour’you’re certainly not alone and most importantly you must know and believe it’s not an indication of you being a bad Christian or a disbeliever. God will bless and honour the very little faith you do have no matter how weak or how small.