Summary: God calls us to allow Him to transform us my learning how to manage our mind.
"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. " - Romans 12:2 (NLT)
We've looked at physical health and we've looked at spiritual health. Today, I want us to look at mental health. Why is it so important that I learn how to manage my mind? Let me give you three reasons.
A. Your thoughts control your life. Every single action always begins as a thought. If you don't think it, you don't do it. If it's a good thought you're going to do good. If it's a bad thought you're going to do bad.
"Above all, be careful what you think becaase your thoughts control your life." - Proverbs 4:23 (Easy to Read)
B. Your mind is the battleground for sin. In fact all temptation starts in the mind. We think temptation is something out there, something external, something that happens that we see out there and we say that's tempting to me. It wouldn't tempt you if there wasn't appealing to a desire within you. All temptation starts - between your ears. As a result sin happens in your mind.
"Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death." - James 1:14-15 (NLT)
Notice the three steps involved in temptation and sin:
1) Desire - God has given us legitimate desires - for love, for success, etc. But temptation always makes an appeal for us to fulfill legitimate desires in illegitimate, sinful ways. Lack of right thinking can lead us to believe the lie that our desires can be fulfilled in sinful ways.
2) Deception - As a result of a lack of right thinking, we can easily fall into a pattern of sinful behavior that we are deceived into thinking will fulfill our desires. But in reality, sinful behavior is leading to . . .
3) Death - Rather than fulfilling our desires for friendship, to be loved, or to succeed, sinful behaviors do the opposite sin brings death to them.
C. It's the key to peace and happiness. An unmanaged mind brings stress instead of stability.
"A double minded man is unstable in all his ways." - James 1:8 (KJV)
Now, you're the only one who can control your thoughts. Satan can't control your thoughts. He'd like to, but he can't. Even God isn't going to control your thoughts. God can transform us, but only as WE, change the way we think. So if I want to break free from all those bad patterns of thinking, so God can transform me, I need to make some choices.
1. I must choose to feed my mind with truth.
"And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.” - John 8:32 (NIV)
Notice that before the truth can set you free, you need to know it!
In England, there is a group known as the Oxford Analytica. Each day, the leading scholars of Oxford get reports from around the world about what's happened in the previous 24 hours; and then discuss them. From crop prices in China, to unrest in the Middle East, to weather on the east coast. Then they decide what needs to be said about each subject and who is most qualified to speak to it. Then they email that person. By 11 AM, they issue a report and the Oxford Analytica Report is paid for by various world leaders and heads of major corporations. They look to Oxford Analytica to get their daily report and pay big bucks for the information.
Oxford Analytica is founded on the idea that the best leaders make the best decision when they have the best information. Does that make sense? Of course. You've got to have the best information to make the best decision and the whole purpose is to get the best information on the world situation in the last twenty four hours.
You and I need the best information to live the best life that God wants us to live; and that information is in the Bible. It's called the Truth.
2. I must choose to free my mind from destructive patterns.
When it comes to changing the way we think, we need to identify wrong patterns and correct them. Now, in seeing our thoughts set free from destructive patterns, we need to realize that this is an aspect of spiritual warfare, because every Christian faces three enemies who influence your thoughts and are not going to give up ground easily.
"The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." - 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NIV)