God has given us an amazing body. In fact, we are created in His image (Genesis 1:27), perfect and complete. However, when Adam and Eve sinned, sin entered the world and our body was made subject to evil. That evil impacts our lives every day through sickness, temptation, sin, calamity, and wrong thinking.
Thankfully, Christ has redeemed us from the curse that came into the world (Galatians 3:13). Praise God! If we’ve made Jesus our Lord and Savior, we don’t have to live a life dominated by the result of the curse. We can live victoriously over sin, sickness, and all the other evil things the devil may try to inflict on us.
Before we were saved, we had a spirit that was not alive to God (Ephesians 2:1). We did not have God’s nature on the inside of us, and were bound by our fleshly lusts (Ephesians 4:20-22). However, when we were born again, God put His perfect nature on the inside of us. From that point on, we have to “put off” the old man that once dominated our lives.
That same “old man” likes to rise up and control our minds with negative, ugly thoughts. Those thoughts may come in the form of lustful imaginations, anxiety, fear, hate, evil plots, frustrations with people, etc. All of these ugly thoughts come from the author of that “old man,” the devil. Because the devil hates all of God’s good creation, he will try to throw such “fiery darts” (Ephesians 6:16) at us on a regular basis.
Jesus also gave us His mind when we were born again. Unfortunately, that carnal mind didn’t immediately disappear. It can reappear at any time . . . if we will let it. We are then faced with a choice. Are we going to coddle those thoughts, thinking them over and over again? Or are we going to snuff them out with our shield of faith, choosing God’s mind over the carnal mind?
For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (I Corinthians 2:16)
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. (Romans 8:5-7)
The Science of It All
Dr. Caroline Leaf, a Christian neuroscientist, has done extensive research on how our brains – and our lives – are influenced by our thoughts. She has discovered that our mind actually controls our brain, rather than our brain controls our mind, as most of us think.
Though the machines these scientists use do not read thoughts (also referred to as memory), they do read what the thoughts do to our brain. Every time we have a thought, that thought shows up in our brain as an image of a tree with many branches. The more we think, the more branches we create. Good thoughts create healthy “trees” that flourish in our brains. However, bad, negative thoughts show up in the form of “briers,” filling up the brain space with negativity.
Good, positive thoughts, especially those based on the Word of God, obviously are based on a choice to think like the mind of Christ. These healthy thoughts are thoughts of joy, peace, generosity, love, mercy, etc. On the other hand, toxic thoughts fall into the carnal mind category. A carnal mind feasts on anger, resentment, frustration, bitterness, rejection, fear, and so on.
Like Proverbs 23:7 says, we are what we think. Every time we think a thought, our bodies are impacted. Doctors know that someone with a positive outlook is far more likely to recover from an illness than someone who has a negative view. When we think negative, toxic thoughts, we are sending chemical signals to our bodies to bring harm. It generally shows up in the form of sickness and disease.
Renewing Your Mind
All of us have had opportunities to submit ourselves to a carnal thought. In fact, if we had the ability to look at a movie of every thought we had in life, I’m sure we’d find an embarrassing number of negative ones. If a scientist were to take a look at our brains, we would probably see a mass of “briers” taking up our brain space.
According to Dr. Leaf, there is hope for us! Scientists have also discovered that a toxic thought can be reversed within four days, changing the way our brain functions. What was once inflamed and damaged with negativity can be restored to health – and our bodies and lives with it.
This can be backed up by God’s command for us to “renew” (renovate) our minds to His Word:
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)
and be renewed in the spirit of your mind . . . (Ephesians 4:23)
God knew what He was talking about when He gave us these instructions. It wasn’t to control us or make our lives more difficult. He knew that negative, ugly thoughts would not draw us closer to Him, nor would it benefit our lives and bodies. It would, in fact, destroy us.
What to Think
The only way we can restore those “briers” to healthy “trees” is by thinking positive thoughts – God’s Word. It first begins with a decision to “put off” the old man (Ephesians 4:22), “gird up” the loins of our minds (I Peter 1:13), and “bring every thought into captivity” to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3). Each time we are tempted to meditate on a particular negative thought, we must decide to immediately replace it with a God-thought.
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. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (Philippians 4:6-8)
Following God’s guideline for our thought life does not include negativity! If we compared each thought of our day to one of the thoughts listed above, would we find them lining up with His standard? It takes work, but it is possible!
The result, of course, of applying God’s Word to our minds is only good. It includes a peace that “surpasses all understanding” as a guard to our minds. What follows is a peaceful lifestyle, a healthy body, and the ability to make wise and sound decisions. The devil then has less of an opportunity to inflict the curse of the law on our lives as we consistently snuff out his fiery darts of negativity. No room can be found for his carnal thoughts as the space in our brains is being filled with Christ-thoughts!
Love Him with Your Mind
Renewing our mind is not simply an act of self-preservation, however. It has everything to do with living the life of a true disciple of Jesus. If Jesus is our Lord and Savior, our desire should be to obey and honor Him in every area of our lives. It’s a decision to follow His lead and forsake the sinful, negative thoughts that would try to destroy and dishonor our relationship with Him. Our greatest motivation for that obedience, of course, should be because we love Him.
“If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15)
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’” (Matthew 22:37)
Like the rest of our bodies, our minds were made to love Him . . . and not just part of them. All of our minds were designed to function in such a way that would bring Him joy. Every time we cast down a “toxic” imagination, we are showing our love for Him and His Word. Each negative thought that is replaced with His thought is proof that loving Him is more important to us than hanging on to a mind contaminated with the lusts of our flesh. Once again, we are saying with love, “Jesus, be the Lord of all of me.”