Have you ever struggled with your thoughts? Every person should raise their hand. Scripture tells us there is an ongoing battle for our minds that started in the garden of Eden.
“Did God really say…..?” (Genesis 3:1), we hear the words of Satan to Eve. Genesis 3 shows us how crafty Satan can be. Satan caused Eve to doubt by attacking her thoughts. Eve struggled with her own doubt despite her perfect surroundings, perfect history, perfect spouse, and perfect relationship with God. How much easier our minds struggle as we live in brokenness!
Our thought life is so important there is an entire field of psychology related to targeting our thoughts: Cognitive psychology. Cognitive psychology presumes our thoughts are formed from our core beliefs (what we believe about ourselves), and our core beliefs are shaped by our interactions with others and our environment. Sound similar to Scripture?
What Scripture teaches is that our environments, relationships, and our hearts (what we believe) are products of being formed in both God’s image (before the fall) and in Adam’s image (after the fall); we struggle because of the latter. Living in a broken world and with a sinful nature means that we will struggle in our hearts and also in our minds. We must fight for our hearts and minds, and that isn’t easy. It means fighting against the spiritual forces, the sinful nature, lies of satan, and the broken messages we receive from others and our environment. How do we do that? How do we challenge our thinking and take our thoughts captive? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Start with prayer and petition to God.
Philippians 4:6 “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4 tells us that “through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God,” and that He will “guard your hearts and minds.” God already knows our thoughts and our hearts. He actually knows us better than we know ourselves (Psalm 139). And he wants us to come to Him with our struggles. So start with praying and asking God for help with your thoughts and your heart.
2. Stop part of the battle before it starts.
Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
The heart and mind connection operates in a cyclical pattern, where one feeds the other. What we think comes from our hearts, but what we choose to focus or dwell on also influences our hearts/beliefs. This means we need to intake healthy and spiritual “food.” Choose wisely to surround yourself with God-honoring entertainment, media, news, and friends.
3. Pursue Christ.
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2 NIV)
Pursuing God through His Word and spiritual disciplines allows us to know the truth. Knowing God’s truth is important in the fight for our minds and hearts. We cannot detect lies if we don’t know the truth.
4. Actively challenge your thinking.
Scripture is very clear that we are engaged in spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:12). Being in a war means we have to be active participants in fighting against the enemy. In this case, we have to actively fight against lies, false assumptions, and negative thinking. One tool we can use to fight for our minds is a thought log. This is a tool typically used in cognitive psychology. I have adapted the thought log to incorporate questions for followers of Christ.
Adapted Thought Log:
- What am I thinking and feeling?
- What evidence supports this thought?
- What evidence goes against this thought?
- What does Scripture say about this matter?
- Who is God? (characteristics- keep a list for reference)
- Who am I in Christ? (characteristics – keep a list for reference)
- What lies am I believing?
- Based upon the information, what is a truer and healthier thought?
- How does that thought make me feel?
5. Examine what you are worshiping.
Scripture is very clear that our hearts and minds (thoughts) are interconnected.
“As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.” (Proverbs 27:19 NIV)
“They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.” (Mark 6:51b-52 NIV)
“Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, ‘Why are you thinking this in your hearts.’” (Luke 5:22 NIV)
What we worship affects our thoughts and hearts. We cannot turn off the act of worship. We just get to choose what we worship. Sometimes we struggle with our thoughts because we have chosen to worship the wrong thing (i.e. idol). So if you are struggling with your thoughts and heart, start examining what you are worshiping.
6. Seek support.
Satan would love to keep you isolated in your thoughts. He would even lie to you about your thinking. Maybe you can relate to these:
“No one else thinks this way.”
“If people knew I had this thought, they wouldn’t want to be with me.”
“I’m a horrible person for struggling with this thought.”
Don’t believe those thoughts! One of the best ways to fight the battle of your mind is to find a trusted person to share in your struggles. This person may be a confidant, pastor, or Christian counselor. God created us to be in relationship with others so we can “help carry each other’s burdens.” (Galatians 6:2 NIV).
Struggling with your thought life? You are not alone. I pray these practical steps will help you in the battle for your thoughts and heart. And may you continue to fight to be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2) through the finished work of Christ.
Posted on March 11, 2022
Sarah has her masters and doctorate degrees in Clinical Psychology. She specializes in child and adolescent mental health and development. Sarah is also the co-host of the Parenting & Pennies podcast (Jan 2022) on the Christian Parenting podcast network. Sarah serves in leadership at her church for women’s discipleship, and enjoys discipling other women. She also enjoys being a guest writer, speaker, and podcaster for different organizations.
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