I have been teaching the girls in the county jail how to recognize and overcome wrong thinking and unhealthy beliefs. One lady received court papers concerning her children being adopted out. Her mother is now the foster parent for the children. The inmate was furious. Her angry thoughts generated a plan to hurt those whom she perceived as hurting her. This situation was a great opportunity to teach why we need to take our negative thoughts captive, and how to transform them so they don’t control our behavior.
I set aside my lesson that night and prayed for God to help me as I helped her apply what I had been teaching. As she shared why she was so angry, she revealed several unhealthy beliefs and the painful memory triggering her anger. She believed her mother wanted to keep her from raising her children. She had painful memories of growing up with a controlling mother who still was trying to control her. I began to ask questions to help her recognize her wrong thinking and unhealthy beliefs. I explained how our wrong thoughts come from many sources, such as painful memories and demonic forces creating misunderstanding, wrong perception, misinterpretation, and wild imaginations not based in reality. To learn more about the reality of the Spirit world, read: Four Realities of the Spirit World
Wrong perception and misunderstanding generated negative feelings of anger. We discussed each wrong thought, and the related unhealthy belief. It is amazing how wrong thoughts affects our emotions that then negatively feed our wrong thinking. When you recognize a wrong thought and unhealthy belief, you need to capture them by first asking God to help in your weakness to control your thoughts, then pray to loose (release) and put them off from your mind and heart. Then I led her to think positive thoughts and find things to be thankful for. She admitted she loved her mother and did not believe her mother would deliberately hurt her. She also had a wrong belief that CYS had lied to her.
We explained that her mother and Child Youth Services were not the enemy, but that demonic forces were. We read and discussed Ephesians 6:10-12, which state, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11) Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Then we read 2 Corinthians 11:3, which states, “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” My co-teacher explained how the devil wants to destroy our faith in God and to resist believing the lies and trust God to work everything out for her good and the good of her children. Many who read this post may not believe demonic forces of evil can influence us. According to the Bible, demonic forces are actively looking to devour us (see 1 Peter 5:8,9) but we must stand strong in our faith. If you have this wrong belief, please capture this thought/belief by acknowledging it and pray to loose/put off the wrong thought/belief, and then bind-in/put on the truth found in the Word of God. We need to daily submit our minds to God and resist the devil’s schemes and influence to derail our faith (see James 4:7).
Next, we read and discussed Romans 8:26-28, which state, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27) And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28) And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (The Holy Spirit is in those who believe in Jesus Christ and received Him as their savior from eternal death and the wrath of God for sin.) I explained how the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness and will intercede for us according to the will of God. And know whatever happens, when we love God, He will use it for our good to accomplish His purpose. Then we talked about how we know we love God, and we read John 14:15; 1 John 5:3; and 1 John 3:21-24. Next, we went to our theme verses in Hebrews 4:14-16, which state, “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15) For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16) Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” This verse is key to living a victorious life because we are weak to control sinful desires and we need the help of God. God’s grace gives us the power to overcome our weaknesses to sin.
Then I shared my testimony of how my ex-husband promised that I would never see the children again if I left him. He tried to fulfill his promise, which created tremendous anxiety in my mind. But God came through because I trusted Him. My X even brought a psychologist to court to testify that I was not a good mother and my X should get full custody of the children. God caused the psychologist to testify on my behalf. To learn more about how God showed up for me and the many miracles I experienced read: Trust God to Keep His Promises. After sharing my testimony, the inmate could see how her thinking was wrong and how trusting God was better than being tormented by angry thoughts from the demonic forces at work to destroy her and her faith in God.
The next week she reported good news. When she talked to her mother, she realized she mis-interpreted the court papers and her mother’s intentions. She realized she was allowing her imagination to torment her, and God was for her and the devil was against her. Next, we discussed Ephesians 1:7-9, which state, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ.” Then, we discussed a few things the Bible describes as the will of God outlined in 1 Thessalonians 5:14-18. When we do the will of God, we are training our minds to think right thoughts so the demonic forces cannot torment us with negative thinking, unhealthy beliefs, and out of control emotions. I also explained the main purpose of God for our lives is to conform us to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. Lord willing, that will be my next lesson.
There is hope because God is our help in our time of need.