Every week for the next 7 weeks as part of the Essence teaching series we’ll be posting videos & blogs to help us get to grips with our new identity in Christ. Be sure to visit our Facebook pages regularly for resources designed to help you grow.
Let’s start by considering an important principle.
Take a few minutes to read over the Bible verses listed below. Consider as you read them what they might have in common:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 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.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, 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. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practise these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
2 Corinthians 10:4-5
Did you find a common thread woven through? I’m sure there are plenty of things they have in common but the reason I picked them is because of their mention of the mind and our thought life:
- Be transformed by renewing your mind (Romans 12:2)
- Whatever is honourable, whatever is… think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
- Take every thought captive to obey Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
The principle is this:
What we think about matters. What we allow ourselves to dwell on, matters. What we play on repeat in our heads over and over, matters. It all matters.
In my experience, what goes on in the grey matter between my ears has a huge impact on my joy, faith, peace, and contentment. My thought life greatly affects the quality of life I’m enjoying.
As a new Christian I kept a journal in which I documented my thoughts about faith. I remember on one occasion after seeing something quite miraculous take place, writing in my journal: ‘never forget! God is real, God is Good. Never forget! I’m going to live for God, wholeheartedly, 100%!!’
That ought to have settled it then; wholehearted, determined Christianity from then on. Except that it wasn’t, and it didn’t.
A few weeks later I’d done exactly what I’d told myself not to do, I’d forgotten. I’d concluded that God wasn’t real, that if he was real then he didn’t love me and wasn’t helping me. As such I wanted to quit as a follower of Christ.
That process has been (and still is to some extent) a common one for me. It’s a process of remembering and forgetting, remembering and forgetting, remembering and… you get the idea. What I find reassuring however is that I’m not the only one who battles like this. For the past 10 years I’ve had a front row seat on many people’s different experiences and Christian lives. I’ve watched again and again as others have gone through the same cycle I’ve just described.
The apostle Paul (who wrote the Bible verses above) seemed to be aware of this problem as well. He understood that being a Christian requires a diligent and careful approach to our thought life. That’s why he wrote so often about it.
Here’s some questions to consider:
How much are you aware of the positive or negative impact of your thoughts?
Do you ever find yourself walking to the shops but daydreaming about disaster?
Are you aware of where your mind wanders to most often?
At the end of the day, if I were to present you with a highlights tape of your thoughts what would the repeating themes be?
We must start to take seriously the responsibility to discern the truth from the lies in our minds. There is a call to arms in the whole area of our thinking and we can’t afford to go AWOL – too much is at stake.
To help, here’s a little challenge to complete…
By Friday have memorised the statement of truth below taken from the Freed For Purpose course. Find a friend who’s doing the same and at the end of the week, test each other:
I recognise that there is only one true and living God, who exists as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is worthy of all honour, praise and glory as the one who made all things and holds all things together. (see Exodus 20:2,3; Colossians 1:16,17)