Our Thought Life and Brokenness

Brokenness begins and ends in the mind. We are what we think! “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Whatever gains access through our mind gate is what potentially controls us. Our mind-brain mechanism is a powerful force. We either fall prey to sin’s hold, or we take captive every thought to the obedience of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says, ”For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”

The word “fortress” is also translated, “stronghold.” A stronghold is a pattern or system of thinking – both negative and positive, both evil and righteous. Strongholds are formed when we allow our thoughts to establish beachheads in our mind. That’s why Paul emphatically tells us to be “renewed in the spirit of our mind” (Ephesians 4:23). Just as needles cut grooves in the old wax records of yesteryear, our thoughts also dig grooves in our mind. We become captive to whatever is allowed to dig grooves, or to what we give “brain space.” And sadly, this is one reason many fail to seek and find soul healing. They rehearse lies for so long, their lies literally become their truth. Strongholds often meet with resistance when confronted by truth. Be careful! That’s why some never seem to get victory over besetting sins. These are sins that we continually struggle with and have a weakness toward. Hebrews 12:1b says, “Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

Adolph Hitler’s early life has been a source of great speculation but also a concerted study by journalists and historians. He is notably held responsible for the extermination of six-million Jews during his dictatorship in Nazi Germany. As far-fetched as this might sound, history continues to support this heart-rending statistic. You might ask, “How could one man’s influence and propaganda wreak such devastation and the loss of human life to this staggering degree? Believe it or not, such mass devastation began in his mind! How could one individual be so dearly loved by his countrymen and hated by those on the outside looking in? This too is hard to wrap our minds around. But one thing I know with certainty is that whatever happened began in the mind of a German lad who allowed life’s pain, unfair atrocities and circumstances to take root in the deep recesses of his mind. It’s sobering and a bit scary to know that everything that happens in our lives – what we believe, say and do – begins in our mind.

Of course, no one knows exactly the depths of Hitler’s thoughts, but we do know that destructive forces dominated his thinking and brokenness patterns. Writer-artist Koen Smilde, in conjunction with the Anne Frank House, offers both theories and more solid proof regardings Hitler’s hatred for the Jews. The Anne Frank House is a writer’s house and biographical museum dedicated to Jewish wartime diarist Anne Frank, who herself did not survive the holocaust. In his article, Hitler’s antisemitism. Why did he hate the Jews?” Smilde contends that two Australian politicians greatly influenced Hitler’s thinking regarding the Jews and Nazi Ideology. The first, Georg Ritter von Schönerer (1842-1921), was a German nationalist. He believed that the German-speaking regions of Austria-Hungary should be added to the German empire. He also felt that Jews could never be fully-fledged German citizens. From the second, the Viennese mayor Karl Lueger (1844-1910), Hitler learned how antisemitism and social reforms could be successful. In Mein Kampf, Hitler praised Lueger as ‘the greatest German mayor of all times’. When Hitler came to power in 1933, he put similar ideas into practice. The German defeat in World War 1 was hard to swallow for many Germans, and for Hitler, too. In nationalist and right-wing conservative circles, the ‘stab-in-the-back legend’ became popular. According to this myth, Germany did not lose the war on the battlefield, but through betrayal at the home front. The Jews, Social Democrats, and Communists were held responsible.

We may not be able to control what comes into our mind, but we don’t have to allow brokenness to gain expression. The old adage which says, “I didn’t think before I spoke,” is not only inaccurate, it’s impossible! If this were true, we all would have justification to do evil. I still remember a grotesque story during my youth about a man who stabbed his wife 27 times. He said, “I temporarily lost my mind.” We speak and act on what we think. Like temptation, we are not responsible for tempting thoughts that enter our mind gate, but we are responsible for how far we let them proceed.

Do we have to live in defeat when it comes to our thought life? The choice is ours! Our war against sin and brokenness begins and ends in the mind. I wish someone would have taught me this essential principle when I came to Christ. It would have saved me from a lot of condemnation, shame, brokenness, and frustration! All of us need to mind our minds!

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