2 “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how his ways will really satisfy and transform you.”
Personally, I have never understood how people don’t see the genuine practical application of what’s in the Bible to everyday life. I mean, really, it doesn’t get any more clear than the scripture above. If you copy the behaviors and customs of the world around you, you risk losing yourself, your genuine self. But, if you give yourself to God and allow Him to do his transforming work in you, you can become all you were created to be.
Here are some steps that can help you “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Step 1: Take your thoughts captive.
To do this, you will need God’s help. If you could change on your own you would have done it a long time ago. He will help if you surrender your will to Him. Your mind is the place of intellect, reasoning, and intentions; behavior begins in the mind, and the mind, in conjunction with the heart, (the deepest place of your convictions), is where spiritual transformation happens. The object of my regular thinking will determine how my days, years, and ultimately my life plays out. Everything starts in the mind.
Too often, we simply don’t bother to ask for the God’s protection, direction, and oversight of our minds. From now on, do your best to start your day with a simple prayer: God, keep my mind firmly set where you want it to be focused today.
Step 2: Recognize the source of self-focused and self-defeating thoughts.
Given that my behavior begins in my mind, and my mind is where spiritual transformation happens, is it any surprise that the devil wants to mess with my thinking? It must be his favorite first attempt to distract and disarm you, and it usually works. “Your only limitation is the one which you set up in your own mind.” – Hill
You may have experienced periods of mental oppression that seem almost physical. A feeling of heaviness accompanies self-defeating thoughts. Most of the time, I realize that I am engaged in a spiritual battle of some sort, but I cannot immediately free myself of it. I pray. I confess. I read God’s Word. I pray some more. (It should be noted that there may be additional organic, mental and physical conditions that also need diagnosis and attention.)
Eventually my mind is unencumbered, but it is not because we thought “positively” enough or talked ourselves out of it. That may work temporarily, but it won’t fully deal with the problem. Many times cyclical behavior problems due to root systems that have not been dealt with, give the devil a foothold due to unforgiveness and judgements, for example. You can try and take your thoughts captive in this case, but the roots will keep you bound up.
Step 3: Replace self-focused thinking with a God-focused mindset.
After praying for God to protect our mind and recognizing the enemy, we have a choice. Will I train my brain to concentrate on the Truth of God, or will I let it be consumed by the things of this world? ( Pride, power, riches, retaliation, unhealthy competition , etc.)
To focus my mind on God requires some work. If I don’t take purposeful action to discipline my mind, then I’m allowing my mind to go anywhere it wants to go. I know where it will go, and it’s nowhere good. I must decide what I will and will not think about. You are not under the authority of your mind unless you give it authority. People come to me saying things like, ” the devil is kicking me all of the place.” My answer? “The devil is just doing what he does… what are you doing, or not doing?”
Step 4: Rest in the comfort that you are accepted by God.
I’ll pray for the Lord to protect my mind, help me recognize the enemy, and work to keep my mind focused on God. Sometimes I will be successful, and sometimes I will not be. Over time, it will be more often the former.
There are days when all I can do is rest in the truth that I am at peace with God, that I am free from accusation, and that I am God’s child.
Through faith, we are at peace with God. Accept God’s gracious gift, and rest in it.
Step 5: Repeat steps 1-4 daily.
By using these five techniques, the next time you feel stupid, ignored, or I question your ability, you will learn to test your thinking. God doesn’t condemn you, so we know that thoughts of self-condemnation are not from him. There is no fear in God’s love, so when you feel afraid or defeated, you can safely and clearly look those thoughts in the eye, and defeat them with the Truth.
Ultimately, God wants you to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Not merely so you can be “the best version of yourself”, but so you may become more like God himself… in doing this, you will know yourself more intimately as well.
“If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and Me.”
Pretty practical, don’t you think?