“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit” Romans 8:5
Have you ever heard someone say “The mind is a powerful thing”? I have, but never really thought about the impact that our thoughts can have. In the last few months however, Jesus has been showing me how true this statement really is.
In November of 2011 I was diagnosed with type II diabetes, which is a preventable disease. This diaganosis caused me to take a step back and examine my life and what had brought me to this unhealthy point. Yes, I made bad food choices and chose to keep my couch occupied rather than my body fit, but what was behind those bad choices? I believe the answer is my mind-set. Websters defines mind set as “a fixed state of mind”. The problem was that my mind was never fixed. I ate what I felt like eating, and exercised when I felt like it; which was never. I quickly realized that in order to get my physical health back I needed to set my mind on getting healthier. I decided to only eat things that are beneficial and to exercise at least 3 times a week, whether I felt like it or not. As a result, I’m physically healthier. I have more energy, feel better, have more endurance, and am completely off all medications for my diabetes; all results of a changed mindset about my physical well-being. I believe that my physical health is important, but so is my spiritual health. This led me to ask “How can my spiritual growth be impacted by my thoughts and mind-set?
When I look back at times when I have found myself knee deep in sin I can always trace back to find that it all started with a thought. John 8:44 says “He (Satan) was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Just like he lied to Eve, Satan lies to us. He whispers in our ear and plants a thought. We can choose to entertain those thoughts, or combat them with the truth of God’s word. Unfortunately, I entertain those thoughts way to often and eventually I give in to them and fall right back into sinful habits. I must change my mindset to be prepared to fight the spiritual battle that begins in my mind. 1 Peter 1:13 says “Therefore, preparing your minds for actions, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” We must make up our mind to fight our battle with sin and not entertain the thoughts that Satan so often whispers in our ear. It goes on to say in verse 14-15 “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.” For those of us that are Christians, it is easy to fall back into bad habits that the world tells us are acceptable. There is so much around us that can spark false thoughts. Maybe there is a T.V. show that you watch, that may cause you to think about things that lead to sin. Maybe it’s listening to music that doesn’t glorify Jesus, but plants thoughts in your head that are not holy, and those thoughts lead to unholy actions. The world tells us that our importance is found in the number of friends we have, the brand of clothes we wear, or the way we look. These are all lies that make us doubt God and who he says we are. Romans 12:2 says “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” The way to combat the lies that we hear so often is to renew our mind so that we think upon the truth of God’s word. There are several ways to do this. One, spend time in God’s word daily. I would even encourage you to do it first thing when you wake up. It will start your day off with the right mindset. Another way to renew your mind is to memorize scripture. Philippians 4:8 says “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Memorizing scripture gives you something true, pure, and praiseworthy to think about. It’s impossible to just stop your thoughts. You need to replace your tempting thoughts with something that is worthy.
We live in a fallen world where living a holy life is hard. I’ll be the first to tell you that there are days when I fail far more than I succeed. I’m so thankful that I serve a God who is in control of all things and loves me beyond anything that I could ever understand. He desires a relationship with me and extends His all sufficient grace that covers my many failures. I want to leave you with John 16: 33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”