II Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. NKJV
You’ve heard the phrase, “Get your head in the game.” Mental preparation and mental clarity are crucial to a winning strategy. A mental commitment to overcome your opponent, to reject defeat, to fight against discouragement is so important. When teams are down big in a game, you can tell where their heads are based on the way they continue to play. If they were mentally prepared, they continue to battle and can often come back and win. If they let their enemy or the scoreboard get in their head, they make mistakes and they become discouraged. You can see it happen. Often, their opponents don’t have to do too much more. Often, those discouraged players wind up defeating themselves.
Believers, God’s game plan for you involves investing in and protecting your thought life.
Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
God knows how to keep His people. He has a pretty tight trip! No one and nothing can snatch us out of our Father’s hand (John 10:28). He gives peace. He gives soundness of mind. He gives His perfect love to cast out all fear (I John 4:18). We are the ones who have to condition our minds to be able to receive what God wants to give. We must discipline our minds to be steadfast in the Lord, trusting Him at all times. There are things we cannot control, like a torn hamstring. There are things that can become progressively challenging to deal with like a medical condition that advances over time. There are moments that come without warning, those phone calls that have the potential to create panic. We must lead our minds to a place of victory in those moments, and it will be much easier to do so if our minds have already been stayed or focused on the Lord.
Like the athlete who disciplines his or her mind to push through setbacks and upsets and even pain and unexpected challenges, the believer must condition his or her mind through regular Bible reading, regular worship, regular prayer, regular Christian fellowship, regular meditation, with the key word being regular. If an athlete thought he or she could only show up to half of the practices and still compete, which a coach would never permit, but if that athlete was given an opportunity to play, he or she wouldn’t be physically or mentally ready and would be pulverized by the opponent. If you want a sound mind, get regular with Jesus, with His people, and with the Christian disciplines of worship, prayer, meditation and Bible reading.
In order to live with a sound mind, you need to resist, reject, and rebuke fear. It isn’t from God. It is from Satan. Notice that it is called a “spirit of fear.” There are demonic spirits assigned to create anxiety, panic and fear in your heart. Fear will steal from you, paralyze you, and terrorize you. Fear is literally a prison to keep you from God’s game plan for you. Fear will make you someone you don’t want to be. It will cause missed opportunities. It will shackle you in loneliness and isolation. It will keep you from exercising your spiritual gifts in the Body of Christ. It will result in missed opportunities. It can create illness. It can saddle you with guilt and shame.
Fear begins with a thought. When a fearful thought first enters your mind, that is the time to deal with it. That is the time to arrest it. That is the time to make your thought captive to the obedience of Christ (II Cor. 10:5). After the thought comes to your mind, self-talk will follow. What you say to yourself, what you say to yourself can override that thought or can feed that fear and help it to grow. Listen, the devil may be good at planting seeds, but we don’t need to be watering them!
We are good at creating worst-case scenarios in our mind, aren’t we? Rather than feeding fear with our imaginations we need to address fear with our mouths. The first thing we need to say is, “I rebuke you, Satan, in the name of Jesus. I will not live in fear.”
You need to treat those thoughts like you would treat an intruder in your home. Defend your mind! Do not entertain intruding thoughts in your mind. Do not ruminate on the “what ifs.” Do not jump to conclusions. Do not adopt the worst-case scenario thinking. Do not panic. Spring into action and evict the fear that is attacking you. Don’t be shy about using your God-given authority. It will keep worry and fear from escalating. If an intruder came into my house, I wouldn’t ask them politely to please leave. I would tell them to get out of my house immediately. Believers, it is time to rise up against the prince of this world, against Satan and the demonic spirits that are harassing and oppressing God’s people. You have the authority and power to do that.
Ephesians 6:10-11 says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”
You are not powerless over fear. Ephesians 1:18-20 tells us that the same power that raised Christ from the dead can be accessed by us. Take authority in the power of the Spirit that God has given to you.
According to II Timothy 1:7, you also have a spirit of love. Just what does that mean? A person who lives with a spirit of love is God-like. The Bible tells us in I John 4:8 that God is love. A person who lives with a spirit of love is always moving forward, always giving, always touching, always reaching with God’s love. A person who lives with a spirit of love is always looking to give love away. God is love, and we are to extend His love to the people of this world. When we walk in love, we are moving the Kingdom forward in ways the enemy thwart. When we remember we are fully loved by God, our minds are protected from Satan’s schemes. If we sin, we don’t have to wallow in guilt and shame and condemnation, but we can go right to our loving Heavenly Father, ask for forgiveness, and find grace to start again. We KNOW that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, Romans 8:39. You never have to worry if God loves you. You never have to question God’s good plan for your life. Your mind can rest securely inside the love of God, and you can confidently share His love with others.
Satan doesn’t just want to mess with your mind. He wants to mess with your impact. He doesn’t want people to experience the love of Jesus through your life. If you can live free from a spirit of fear, you can love fearlessly. Satan is terrorized at the thought of that possibility.
Fear is an emotion, but power, love and a sound mind are your possessions in Christ through the Spirit. What you possess in Christ trumps how you feel about any circumstance. Don’t be possessed by emotion. Instead utilize your possessions in Christ to close the door to fear in your life.
God’s game plan for your life is for you to live with a sound mind. He has given you what you need to fight and combat fear in your life. Get your head in the game and direct your mind to the thoughts that will help you. Get your head in the game and arrest the thoughts that will detain and depress you. Get your head in the game and utilize the power that is in you. Get your head in the game and rest in the love that has a firm hold on you.