Strongholds of the Mind

In one week last month I encountered three people whose views were so set, whose mindsets were so entrenched that I was left flabbergasted and frustrated. I used words like “Have you considered that there might be a better way?” and “Have you studied the opposing views to that?” They wouldn’t look me in the eyes and their faces were tense and combatant. “I don’t care what anybody says”, retorted one, and “It’s just not negotiable” stated another.

Of course, I have to acknowledge that the reason I was challenged by these ‘strongholds of the mind’ was because they were opposite to my own entrenched views. We view other people’s mental fortifications from the lofty heights of our own castles. So perhaps the best we can do when confronted by ‘dug in’ mindsets is to honestly examine our own. You see, entrenched positions usually lead to conflict in families, churches, and enterprises and we inevitably lose something precious when stubborn views collide.

SandcastleWe develop our views by adding to what we learn at an early age. We read, discuss, research, and then we decide on a view. From then on we tend to fortify it by selecting only the data, opinions and circumstances that support our view. When challenged, we go to the trenches and dig in around the fortress of our mindset in order to defend it. Each such battle only serves to strengthen the mind-castle and deepen the trenches.

In 2 Corinthians 10 the Apostle Paul defends his ministry, but within this context he sets out some important principles that have a bearing on the subject of mental strongholds. He writes, ’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’.  2 Cor 10:3-5

The words ‘demolish strongholds’ evokes images of Roman siege engines. The Trebuchet hurls huge boulders at the walls.  The Battering Ram strikes at the gates. The Tower allows attackers to scale the walls and enter the fortress. So that’s how we are inclined to tackle strongholds of the mind – batter them down with debate, bash them in with arguments, or force an entry with manipulation or coercion. Yet, as Paul says, the weapons we should be using are not ‘of the world’ and if we are going to demolish mental and spiritual strongholds we had better find another way. It seems that divine siege weapons operate very differently to those of the world. They demolish by taking the stronghold captive and making it obedient to Christ.

The mythical Pied Piper of Hamelin didn’t attack the rats with cats, bats, or traps but drew them out with the charm of his music. We defeat the defenders of the strongholds of the mind not by argument, manipulation, or coercion, but by drawing them away with the sweet music of the truth – and Jesus is the truth. An entrenched position becomes just an empty trench when the defenders have walked off to follow Jesus.

What I mean by all this is that to draw away the defense of a stronghold we need to open ourselves, and others, to the ways, words, and wonders of the Lord Jesus Christ. We can demolish arguments and pretensions by simply considering what the light of the person of Jesus casts on the issue at hand. What did Jesus model concerning this? What did He say about this sort of thing?

As usual, the ways of the Kingdom of God are opposite to the ways of the world. If you find yourself suffering from the effects of an entrenched view, I sincerely recommend that you open yourself to the divine siege engine – the truth embodied in Jesus Christ. I am trying to do this and already a few of my cherished castles are standing empty and decrepit on the horizon of my world view.

 

 

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Christopher Peppler

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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.