Rom. 12:2 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.
Isaiah 26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind Is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.
Col. 3:2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
Phil. 4:8 Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, 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.
The Bible tells us many times that it is important to renew our minds by following correct guidelines for thinking. One of the main causes of emotional and spiritual problems in our lives is believing the lies we think. What we think plays an important role in determining our emotional and spiritual health. God, Who is Truth, wants us to think and believe the truth because that is how we truly become free.
Satan, who is called the deceiver and father of lies, has a different agenda for us. It is his plan that we think and believe lies because they destroy us and put us into bondage both emotionally and spiritually. Satan has many lies in his arsenal, all of which are destructive. Some common examples are:
· “I must be perfect.” This is one insidious lie that helps cause anxiety about making mistakes and can lead to self-condemnation. God wants His people to be holy (1 Pet. 1:16) but we need to accept that growing in Christ is a process that will involve making mistakes along the way. Even though it is true that we have the responsibility to strive in the sanctification process daily, it is important to remember that sanctification is a process that will continue until the day we die or are raptured and God glorifies us and He will be faithful to complete His good work in us.
· “I must have everyone’s love and approval.” This lie leads to focusing on pleasing people rather than God. (Gal. 1:10) We were designed by God for fellowship with other people, but we cannot make the love and approval of others more important to us that the love and approval of God.
· “Things have to go my way for me to be happy.” This unbiblical belief leads us to focus on circumstances rather than God, and on being happy rather than being mature. Our peace and contentment should not be based on the situations we find ourselves in (Phil. 4:11), but on being unconditionally loved by God. It’s important here to place your focus on God and His truth –the truth that all things work together for the good for those that love God. This focus is more important than the circumstances. It may be that through this new focus, that a change in circumstances may become apparent or a new, godly, true way of perceiving the circumstances may present itself, but the important thing is the focus on God and His love and promises.
· “Life should be easy.” The effects of sin on us and the world we live in are pervasive and make life hard. Jesus promised we would have troubles in this life (John 16:33). Believing that lie that life should be easy sets us up for bitterness and resentment when life becomes difficult.
These and other lies create spiritual and emotional difficulties which slow our progress toward becoming mature in Christ. There are some things we can do to replace these lies with the truth in order to be transformed into the people God intends for us to be. First, it is imperative that we understand that we cannot renew our minds apart from God. Believing and applying the truth needs to be done within the context of a relationship with Christ. Only then can we develop the beliefs and attitudes that lead to true emotional health and spiritual maturity.
Some common ways in which we can distort the truth include all or nothing thinking in which we view situations in only two categories instead of on a continuum; fortune telling in which we predict the future in negatively; discounting the positive; emotional reasoning in which we tell ourselves something must be true because we feel it so strongly; overgeneralization in which we make sweeping negative conclusions that goes far beyond the current situation; personalization in which we believe people are acting negatively because of us without considering more plausible explanations for their behavior; and “should” or “musts” statements in which we have precise, fixed ideas of how we and others should or must behave.
It’s important that we pay attention to our self talk. Listen to what we are saying to ourselves and then ask, “Is this true?” “Are any part of these thoughts lies?” It’s important to study Scripture regularly. The more familiar we are with Scripture, the easier it will be to identify lies. When we suspect we might be believing lies, analyze these beliefs in the light on God’s Word. For each lie we believe, we must find a Biblical truth that contradicts it. Then we can memorize that truth, meditate on it. And apply it to real life situations as often as possible. This process – memorizing, meditating, and applying – will transform our thought patterns and lives. Our emotions and actions will be transformed as we replace lies with truth. This is a difficult, lifelong process that involves challenges at every turn. As we grow in awareness of the unbiblical beliefs we hold and commit ourselves to taking a Biblical view, our minds will be renewed and we can experience true freedom in Christ.