Where’s Your Mind?
“For everyone who continues to feed on milk is obviously inexperienced and unskilled in the doctrine of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action)…
But solid food is for full-grown men, for those whose senses and mental faculties are trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and what is evil…”
I’m currently diving as deep as I can with my teen class into these two verses and thought I’d take a moment to share some of my thoughts with my blog as well (since I haven’t written in over a year lol). As Christians, there is a growth process that we must commit to so that eventually we’re postured to digest the “solid food” of the Word. But before we can really even discuss what verse 14 says about being “grown”, we apparently have to become “experienced” and “skilled” in the “doctrine of righteousness”…. What does that even mean?!?!
So I set out on a journey to study righteousness, and I have been absolutely fascinated by all the Bible has to say about it. Righteousness is “true goodness”. It’s “conformity to the character of God”. The Bible says that our own righteousness is like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6)… We are ONLY considered righteous through faith in Christ (Philippians 3:9-10); it’s not something that we can earn.
This is like Christianity 101.
However, our righteousness journey doesn’t stop there. According to the Bible, we are supposed to PURSUE righteousness and even TRAIN in righteousness.
To pursue righteousness means that we are actively seeking right standing with God, and Jesus said that those people who hunger for righteousness would be satisfied (Matthew 5:6). Why is it important to pursue and to hunger? Because God does not waste. He will only feed us if we are truly hungry for more of Him (Psalm 81).
Sooo much more is to be said about pursuing, but it’s the “training” aspect I’ve felt most led to write about. Training in righteousness means “learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage” (2 Timothy 3:16 AMP).
Hmmm… “Learning to live in conformity to God’s will PRIVATELY” and “personal integrity” stand out to me. What does it mean to have “moral courage”?
Who we are when no one else is looking determines our true character. I once was reading Jefferson Bethke’s book Jesus> Religion and was met by a question:
“If I were to hook a projector up to your mind, what would we all see?”
Wow. I don’t know about anyone else, but the idea of that makes me squirm. Bottom line: Training in righteousness is HARD because it begins in the MIND and goes against our FEELINGS. But it’s so important because the condition of our mind really determines how close we are allowed to the heart of the Father (Matthew 5:8, Psalm 24:3,4).
So basically it’s like this: When we are saved, we are washed white as snow (Isaiah 1:18). Now when the Father looks at us, He sees the righteousness of Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21). Our sins have been cast as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). We are given a new identity. He forgets our sins, but we still must break some HABITS!
There are “mind ruts” and thought processes that we now must change in order to grow and mature in righteousness as a child of God. And again, this process is so hard and there is resistance because it goes against our feelings. But as we give ourselves over to this process, it’s amazing the fruit we begin to see in our lives. (Abi Stumvoll has an awesome testimony about this, by the way.)
Important to note… We aren’t left to this process alone. The Holy Spirit is like our personal trainer! We have the Holy Spirit, and the sword of the spirit (the word of God), so now we just have to learn how to USE IT!
He teaches us the art of sword fighting.
Last night, I asked my class to picture myself being put into a ring with an Olympic sword fighter…. I WOULD DIE. But really. I would have a sword in my hands having absolutely NO idea how to use it, simply because I’ve never had any training in this area.
Well, I think this is a picture of many Christians today. The moment we got saved, we entered the ring, whether we realized it or not, with an Olympic sword fighting Devil.
We’ve been given all the right gear, but the truth is, if we don’t allow the Holy Spirit to teach us how to apply what’s on the pages of our new Bible, we will live defeated lives.
However, if we learn technique… We become deadly Kingdom warriors.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds😉 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
– 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
So here are some of the practical steps I left my class on how the Holy Spirit trains me to use my sword to renew my mind:
- Practical steps for training the mind and building up our spirit man:
- Identify the unhealthy thought. (As we spend time with the Lord, He will begin to expose unhealthy thought patterns.)
- If you’re not sure whether the thought is right or wrong, search for the topic in scripture. Do not choose to stay ignorant in order to appease your flesh.
- Find scripture concerning that thought (in addition to scripture, I also try to find a song).
- If scripture doesn’t talk about the specific issue, then ask yourself: Does this thought undermine my confidence before God? Am I just as bold or less bold before Him after thinking this thought? Does this thought bring Him glory? Is it true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, worthy of praise? (Philippians 4:8)
- If you still aren’t sure, consider seeking someone older than you whom you respect spiritually to talk to about it.
- Transform that scripture into a personal prayer and pray it over that thought.
- Every time the thought arises, cast down the thought—DO NOT CONTINUE TO MEDITATE ON IT—Instead, declare (speak out loud) the scripture.
- Remember: Some images/thoughts are not ours, but are from the enemy. We’ve been given the Holy Spirit! He will come to our aid when we cry out to Him.
- Pray and worship Jesus until the thought/image is gone and your mind and heart has been renewed.
- If you try to resist but find that you cannot escape from certain attacks, it could mean that you are holding on to unconfessed sin.
- If this is the case, renounce this sin. Ask the Holy Spirit to close the door that was opened to the enemy, and ask that all ties between you and the enemy over this be broken in the name of Jesus.
- These moments require us to literally raise our voice and cry out to God.
- Journal the experience and God’s deliverance to you. You will need to be reminded of these things in the dry/wilderness seasons of life. (Psalm 106:13)
NOTE: We will not feel the truth we are declaring at first. But if we continue declaring it in faith, our feelings will catch up.
- Thought: You fear giving a presentation in class.
- Scripture: “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”Romans 8:15 // Also: Isaiah 41:13, 2 Timothy 1:7, Psalm 118:6
- The Spirit I received does not make me a slave, so that I live in fear again! The Spirit I received brought about my adoption to sonship. And by him I cry, “Abba, Father!”
- God has not given me a spirit of fear. I have power, love, and a sound mind in Jesus’ name!
- You are the Lord my God and have taken hold of my right hand! You tell me not to fear; You will help me!
- You are with me and I will NOT be afraid! What can mere mortals do to me?
- Personal Prayer: Jesus, I thank you for the freedom you won for me on the cross! Thank you, Father, that you have adopted me as a daughter and that you give me a sound mind by Your Holy Spirit! I thank you that I don’t have to fear what others think of me because Your opinion is the one that matters most! I am not a slave to fear but a child of God! Hallelujah!
- Song: “No Longer Slaves” – Jonathan & Melissa Helser