What we believe determines our emotional state as well as our behavior. Are you experiencing the power that comes in victorious thinking or the pain from misbeliefs? In our last article entitled “Victorious Thinking – Changing the Way You Think”, you learned how much our misbeliefs could hinder our life from the freedom Christ purchase for us at Calvary (Galatians 5:1). God’s desire for us is to set us free from those destructive misbeliefs.
Misbeliefs are any negative or false thought patterns we have about God, ourselves, or other people. Sometimes those misbeliefs are the result of our interpretation of things that were said or done to us by important people in our lives when we were young and impressionable. Other times our misbelief are the result of painful life circumstances. In any case, the task for us is to evaluate where the beliefs came from and whether or not they are true. As we discover those misbeliefs, it is essential to verify whether they are true of false. In Philippians 4:8 we find the key to gage the validity of our thinking. In it the apostle Paul instructs us on the importance of where our mind dwells. Notice that he is not suggesting a good idea, but giving us a command when he writes:
“…whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Write your thoughts next to the above list, and then ask yourself the following questions:
Are my thoughts true, just, pure, lovely, of good report, are they virtuous, are they praise worthy? Are you aware of what types of thoughts control your thinking and where they come from as well as where they lead you? Do you see the need for making some changes?
The Lord’s desire is that we manage our thought life with integrity and He made this quite clear in the above passage. For better or for worse, we become masters at what we practice. In Proverbs 23:7 we are told “For as he thinks within himself, so is he.” The power of our thoughts impacts the quality of our lives at every level. Such impact requires our careful consideration, if making changes is our goal. But changing our thinking is not easy task.
First of all, we need to evaluate our thinking and ask ourselves what we need and want to change within our thoughts. This needs to be followed by a conscious decision, that we are the masters of our mind, rather than allowing our mind to master us. We are not victims of our thoughts, but we allow our thoughts to victimize us. The decision to change our way of thinking does not come naturally or easy, but it is a decision we make on a continual basis. The renewal of our mind is not only a spiritual process, but a biological one as well where new neurological pathways are created as a result of where we focus our attention. If our focus is according to what we have read on Phillippian’s 4:8 the end result is a spiritual outcome. However, when the focus is on something contrary to such valuable instruction the result are devastating both emotionally and spiritually.
When David in Psalm 1:2 state that, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” I don’t think he is talking about a casual look, but rather the Word of God becomes his guideline for living. Further in Psalm 119 he makes a declaration of what God’s word is to him when he writes, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” He has come to understand the meaning and value of meditating and where to keep the focus of his attention. However, he also understood the danger of an idle mind that is allowed to wonder. His sin of adultery was the result of his idleness and allowing his mind to wonder in places he shouldn’t have.
When you’re idle where do you allow your mind to go?
In 2 Corinthians 10:5 we read God desires for us to:
“Cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
How do you bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ?
• Step 1: Identify your thoughts and beliefs – The first step is to pay attention to your own thoughts and become more aware. At the beginning and end of each day (and throughout the day if you can), use a journal and list out the things you are telling yourself about God, yourself, your circumstances and other people. Don’t spend too much time, just write phrases, not sentences. Do this for one week and see what you can learn. This is important because you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge. Ask God to reveal any misbeliefs you might have that you are not aware of and begin watching for him to show you what those things are.
• Step 2: Evaluate your thoughts and beliefs – Use the standard found in Philippians 4:8 (above) to determine which of your thoughts and beliefs are true and which are false. Indicate in your journal which thoughts are healthy and helpful, which ones are lovely and praiseworthy and which are not.
• Step 3: Submit your thoughts and beliefs – Once you learn what thought patterns you have adopted that do not line up with God’s Word, begin to ask God to change your thought patterns. The God of the universe loves you, created you and desires that you live a life of freedom. He came that we might have life, and have it more abundantly! (John 10:10). You may not be able to change your life circumstances however, you can change how you think about them and how you react to them.
• Step 4: Experience peace and victorious thinking – Philippians 4:7 is a great verse about the peace of God.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Looking for peace in your thought life? Through prayer and supplication, give thanks and ask God to move in your life.
Peace does not come from putting ourselves down rather peace come from learning to have peace with ourselves. It comes from having an understanding of God’s Word and choosing to believe it no matter what life and experience throw at us.
Backus and Chapian, Telling Yourself the Truth (Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 1980). pp.128-129, 180-182.
Co-Authors: Elodia Flynn L.C.S.W. Founder, Walking Worthy and Angela Duval M.Ed.