As we pray for healing and wholeness this month, last night’s sermon looked at the question of healthy minds. Following on from recent Bible studies, Garry looked at the way we think – using the analogy of paths we follow – and encouraged us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:1-2 TNIV).
Rom 1:28 in the Message version tells us that since people did not acknowledge God, God quit bothering them and let them loose. Effectively, before we come to know Christ, we have a ‘depraved mind’ and do whatever is right in our own eyes (as in the Judges’ cycle.) Rom 2:14-15 TNIV reminds us that certain laws are built into people (hard-wired, so to speak) by God, but if we allow our consciences to become hardened or seared, this is like God’s pathways becoming overgrown through disuse and neglect. The mind which is governed by the flesh is actually hostile to God (Rom 8:7-8 TNIV) and our thinking without Christ is futile (ses Eph 4:17-19 TNIV.) Our consciences and minds have effectively been corrupted (Titus 1:15 TNIV), just like a spot of coloured dye affects a beaker of clean water. This is what is meant by ‘total depravity’: not that we are all necessarily evil murderers but that every part of our thinking has been affected by sin; our minds are not hooked up to reality, becasue we need God to find truth and reality.
The Christian’s mind is to be renewed by the Holy Spirit so that we become mature, thinking as Christ thought. We do this by focussing our attention consciously on everything that is true, lovely and praiseworthy (see Phil 4:8 TNIV.) As we think in our hearts, so we are (footnote to Proverbs 23:7 TNIV). The word used here focuses on ‘style’ – whatever we think about constantly, the style or manner in which we think, influences our paths. Research has suggested that if we do not think a particular thought for between 2-6 months, that neural pathway breaks down, like the well-trodden pathway becoming overgrown with weeds. Similarly, in a computer, dynamic memory needs to be continually refreshed or we lose what is stored there. We have to work consciously at letting wrong thoughts go.
One way to do this is through the washing of the Word of God (Eph 5:25-26). Permit a personal illustration here. I have been struggling with waiting for an answer from God to a specific prayer request recently and in the waiting, I have been tempted to think that the answer is slow in coming because God is toying with me, as a cat does with a mouse. This is clearly not a Biblical thought, since we know that God is a kind and loving Father (see Matt 7:9-11 TNIV.) How I was thinking was colouring my view of God and making me feel both disillusioned with Him and angry with Him (I felt that He was being unfair.) I had to be washed by the Word in order to be cleansed from this wrong thought. The actual means was initially through a Scripture-soaked song quoted on the blog a few days ago, which says:
“He won’t abandon
He won’t deceive
He won’t desert us
He won’t ever leave
He’ll never forsake us
He won’t ever run
He’ll never reject us
The faithful One.” (‘Mighty Fortress’, Aaron Shust)
‘Mighty Fortress’, Aaron Shust
The lyrics here took me back to the Biblical definition of God’s character and washed the wrong thoughts away.
God wants to heal our minds and correct our thinking. He wants us to have a ‘sound mind’ (2 Tim 1:7 KJV). His goal is that we become mature like Christ (see Gal 4:19 TNIV, Eph 4:14-16 TNIV), thinking God’s thoughts. He wants us to take every thought captive to Christ (2 Cor 10:5 TNIV) and wants us to be, like the healed man, ‘seated and in our right minds.’ (see Luke 8:34-35 TNIV). In thinking, as in living, we reap what we sow. We need to be careful to sow to God in how we think and to allow Him to wash us and cleanse us and heal us.