I used to notice and be confused by the fact that the stories of many people’s lives tended to repeat, when, for all intents and purposes, the people themselves appeared to have nothing to do with it. Each person’s script was different, but they somehow seemed to live that same script over and over again, growing increasingly frustrated with each trip “around the mountain”. One was chronically unlucky in the most peculiar ways; one was always in the same type of bad relationship with essentially the same person (only the name changed); one perpetually dealt with the same struggles, conquered them temporarily, and faced them again a few weeks or months later. I knew, intuitively, that this was a spiritual principle, but I couldn’t explain or define it.
It was true in my own life, as well. First with career direction and then with men, I managed to repeat the same sordid cycle no matter how I tried to break it (and I tried everything). Furious and overwhelmed, I beat my fists at the sky, thinking it was God who was thwarting me. It wasn’t until years later that I finally apprehended the truth, and the truth was staggering.
The truth is that, just as the earth operates by the laws of science, the spiritual world also operates by the laws of the spirit, which were laid out for us in the Bible. Whether or not we believe in those laws doesn’t make us any less subject to them – just as our belief in gravity makes little difference as to which direction we’re likely to go when we jump off a roof. The principle that my life illustrated so plainly was that of sowing and reaping, and it is a principle that can be applied for good or for ill. In and of itself, it is neither: it’s simply a truth that describes the way that the world works. If I sow trouble I will reap it (Job 4:8), and if I sow righteousness I will reap reward (Prov 11:18); for “a man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7).
But of course, the trouble was, I didn’t see how I was sowing anything. I thought that I was merely a victim (and a victim by nature has no control over his circumstances). I wish that I had come across Joyce Meyer’s teaching in “The Battlefield of the Mind” years ago. She clearly demonstrates the incredible power of our thoughts, drawing on both the Word of God and honest examples from her own life. Our hearts are fertile soil, and they will grow whatever is planted in them (which is why we are told to “guard [our] heart[s], for [they are] the wellspring of life”, Prov 4:23). And thoughts are the seeds that we plant in our hearts. They will produce a harvest, because that is what God designed them to do; but the kind of harvest that they produce is up to us.
“We can make a connection between what’s been going on in our minds and our lives,” Joyce says, because “you can’t get beyond your own thoughts: where the mind goes, the man follows. Your mind goes out ahead of you and prepares a life for you.” Our thoughts shape our actions. The devil knows this, and that is why Joyce affirms that “every day of our lives we will have to choose to cast down wrong thoughts that the devil throws our way.” We are told in 2 Corinthians 10:5 to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” for this very reason: if we merely accept every idea that introduces itself to our heads as our own, we sow lies into the soil of our hearts. We see an example of this pattern in the way that the devil tempted Jesus. Joyce points out, “The first thing the devil did was make Jesus question who he was. ‘If you are the son of God,’ he said.” But immediately following each of Satan’s lies, Jesus replied to him, “It is written.” Joyce says, “We are to withstand the devil and resist him at his onset. It is so important that we come against the lies of Satan right away.” Why? Because hesitation allows that seed to take root. And, as in Jesus’ Parable of the Sower, the seed that the devil plants can grow up into thorns and thistles that choke out the good seed of the Word of God (Matthew 13).
We have been given the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16), and it is a free gift, but it does not manifest without our permission; it has to be exercised (which is why we are told to be “transformed by the renewing of [our] minds”, Romans 12:2). Joyce says, “When you get born again, your mind is not born again. Unless you renew your mind, you’ll still think the same junk you used to think, and do the same things. Your behavior won’t change much if you don’t change your thinking.” If we renew our minds, then we can experience the life that Jesus died for us to have – but we have to come into agreement with the Word of God in order for that to happen.
Joyce Meyers’ concise, practical teaching demonstrates her uncanny ability to condense tremendous revelation into a single sentence. She emphasizes the importance of knowing the Word of God (you can’t know when the devil is lying to you if you don’t know the Word!), and encourages her viewers to break out of bondage and into a life of freedom in a number of specific areas where she herself once struggled. The Word says, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6), but the knowledge of how to live a victorious life is freely available to all, for “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3). Joyce Meyer’s teaching, “Battlefield of the Mind” is a tool to help believers learn how to use the principles of the Word of God to break their cycles of discouragement and enter into freedom.