The mind is a truly amazing part of the psyche, a personalized computer. But as with a regular computer it is subject to many problems–negativism, obsessions, worry, racing thoughts, and unwanted thoughts–with seemingly no shut-off button.
This seminar investigates Biblical answers to these distressing issues.
Find the PDF worksheet here: Renewing the Mind
1. The Call for a Renewed Mind
- The God of wisdom, the intellect of the universe, made us with minds and calls us to think with Him.
- Christianity is not a faith opposed to reason. Faith is viewed as the opposite of sight, but not the opposite of reason.
Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. This is your spiritual act of worship. Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.Romans 12:1-2
The call is to be mentally transformed in order that you may know what the will of God is.
2. Context of the Renewed Mind
A. The mind and God
Romans chapter 1 describes the descent of the human mind into darkness and depravity
They knew God from the evidence of creation:
- They suppressed this truth
- They became futile in their reasoning
- They became foolish, worshipping the creation
- They became depraved
“Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose”.The opening line of the best selling book, The Blind Watchmaker”, by Richard Dawkins
From this astounding admission, he then proceeds to expound on the purposeless evolution of life using the engine of blind chance and natural selection.
The first characteristic of a renewed mind is humility before God.
The heart has to be submitted to the worship and service of God before my mind is renewed.
The transformation and renewal of the mind is in the passive voice.
It is the work of God to transform my mind.
A divine metamorphosis takes place.
B. The mind and the brain
Research indicates that brain disorders, like schizophrenia and depression, may have a genetic basis to them.
- The manifestation of the disorder is an interplay between the inherited weakness and the experience of life stressors.
- Judicious use of medication is certainly not wrong, and in certain cases is definitely indicated
The mind and the brain are closely linked, but not synonymous.
- The mind is non-material, a part of my soul.
- The brain is material, a part of my body.
- The Bible affirms that mind can and does exist apart from the brain.
- God is the greatest mind in the universe and he does not have a brain!
Is. 55: 8-9
The Renewing of the Brain
- For 400 years in medicine and science it was thought that the brain, once developed, could not change, and once damaged, could not heal.
- In the last 30 years that thinking has changed greatly. The brain is able to heal itself.
- The brain is able to change its own structure and function through thought and activity.
“I saw people rewire their brains with their thoughts to cure previously incurable obsessions and traumas”.Dr. Norman Doidge U. of Toronto
Counseling alone produced significant changes on the brain imaging of depressed patients and brought results that were as good as antidepressants.Dr. Helen Mayberg U. Of Toronto
Attention can alter the layout of the brain very powerfully.Studies at U. Of California
Disordered brain chemicals -> Disordered thinking
Disordered brain chemicals <- Disordered thinking
Restores brain chemicals <- Orderly thinking
This created enormous hope for recovery!
C. The Mind and Spiritual Warfare
- Satan is the leader of the powerful forces of darkness. Jesus called him ‘the father of lies’. John 8: 44
- He blinds the eyes of the unbelieving so that they cannot see the light of Christ. II Cor. 4:4, I John 5:19
- The devil has the ability to input into my mind. John 13:2
- He does not have the ability to read my mind. Heb. 4:12-13, Kings 8:39
Through prayer we have protection from the evil one. Matt. 6:13
We are able to resist the devil by a word of faith. James 4:7, I Peter 5: 8-9
3. Content of the Renewed Mind
Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. Eph. 1:18
…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend…what is the breadth, and length and height and depth… Eph. 3:17-18 NASB.
A. The Communication of God’s truth is not natural, but supernatural.
It is empowered at every step by the Holy Spirit. I Cor. 2: 11-12, Eph. 1:17-18
B. Christ Dwelling
Dwelling means being ‘at home’.
Christ is ‘at home’ only in those who trust and obey.
The renewed mind requires a foundation of truth.
Ignorance of God’s truth is a cause of darkness, even in the mind of a Christian. Eph. 4: 17-20
In seeking to find answers to the problems of life, we need to ask the question, “What does God think?”
The principle of first fruits: When I give first thought to God, He blesses the rest of my thinking. Matt. 6:33
The principle of double focus: Without losing sight of Christ, I interact with the world. Christ is the default position of my mind.
4. Control of the Renewed Mind
The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. Rom. 8:6
Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness. I Tim. 4:7 NASB
A. Purity of Mind
- In the human brain there is a natural process of filtering thoughts that we deem inappropriate or unnecessary.
- The renewed mind employs a new filter, the mind of Christ, and a new power to accomplish the filtering, the Holy Spirit.
- We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. II Cor. 10:5
- The principle of first pass
- I am not the author of all the thoughts that move through my mind. The Evil One can inject a thought as well.
- If I reject the thought and give it up to God, I have not sinned.
- If I dwell on the thought, it becomes mine.
B. Positive Mind
- Popular psychology preaches the power of positive thinking.
- Such teachers include Norman Vincent Peale, Tony Robbins, and Dr. Phil.
- It is usually an exercise of self-effort, although for some it involves mystical experience.
- One of the most recent examples is “The Secret”, written by Rhonda Byrne.
- The secret is that by having a positive mind set you attract only good to your life.
- In other words, your mind orders your destiny.
- This is a “pretentious thought that sets itself up against the knowledge of God”. 2 Cor. 10:5
Beliefs ——> Thoughts (Sum of thoughts = attitude) ——> Emotions (Sum of emotions = mood)
Pessimist —– Negative ————————————— Negative
Optimist (self-confident) – Positive —————————– Positive
Christian Realist (Christian confident – Positive —————– Positive
Three Pillars of Thought
Faithful thoughts ——————————————— Faithless thoughts, Mistrust, Worry
Hopeful thoughts ——————————————– Hopeless thoughts, Despair, dread
Loving thoughts ——————————————— Loveless thoughts, Hate, apathy
Faithful thoughts —————- Noradrenalin ——————— Faithless thoughts, Mistrust, Worry
Hopeful thoughts ————- Serotonin ————- Hopeless thoughts, Despair, dread
Loving thoughts —————– Dopamine —————– Loveless thoughts, Hate, apathy
1. I experience the hateful thought.
2. I pass it through the filter of moral acceptability and condemn it.
3. I ask the Lord to remove it. If I have dwelt on that thought or acted on it, I need to ask the Lord to forgive and cleanse me.
4. I replace that thought with the opposite, the godly thought.
5. I express it out of my mouth and / or act on it.
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in you. Is. 26:3
Peaceful thinking can be looked at in two ways, the government of the speed of thinking and the ability to stop thinking.
To use the analogy of the car, we need the accelerator and the brake.
1. Control of racing thoughts: managing the accelerator. Racing thoughts are fueled by the excess of fear, anger, or excitement or the combination thereof. They occur in such conditions as ADHD, mania, and agitated depression.
2. Learning to turn the mind off: managing the brake. I need the brake in order to stop thinking, i.e. to sleep. My thoughts can persist and will not stop.
Thoughts that won’t turn off are similarly fueled by emotion, usually of lesser degree than racing thoughts. They occur in such conditions as anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Practicing Peaceful Thinking
1. Call on the Lord for peace. Phil. 4: 6-7
2. Learn what is causing the excessive emotion and commit the source of distress to God’s care.
3. Focus on the Lord through praise, worship, and Bible verses. Phil. 4: 8&9
4. Resist the devil when appropriate.
A Point to ponder:
We only use 5-10% of our brain.
Is this the effect of sin?
How much will we use in heaven?
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him. – 1 Cor. 2:9