Guest speaker Yan Hadley spoke tonight on ‘tackling toxic thoughts.’ Our thoughts are vitally important in believing God can change every situation we face. Joshua and Caleb are examples of what positive confidence in God can achieve. We need our thoughts to be in line with God’s, and as Rom 12:1-2 makes clear, this can only happen as our minds are renewed which leads to our transformation.
The Seriousness of the Condition
Our thoughts essentially control our actions. Anger, selfishness and critical attitudes can affect our physical wellbeing; some estimate 70% of physical ailments are affected by wrong thoughts. So often, we become trapped by ‘could have, should have’ situations and we replay what has gone before, allowing ourselves to become prisoners of toxic thoughts. We can also be paralysed by worry or other people’s opinions of us.
What are the causes of such toxic thinking? Often, this arises from a shallow relationship with Christ which leaves us vulnerable to such thinking. We need to have our minds set upon spiritual things (see Rom 6:11-14, Rom 8:5) so that we do not get led astray into wrong thinking. Another cause is our upbringing; our past can affect us significantly, causing us to remain entrenched in toxic thoughts. If we feed on godless thoughts (following the world’s opinions and values, for example, rather than God’s), we will become poisoned by these values. The hard knocks of life can also cause difficulties for us; even Paul despaired of life due to the pressures he faced (2 Cor 1:8).
Toxic people around us can pollute our minds; we need to be people who encourage others and who can be encouraged (see Heb 3:13). Disagreements don’t have to divide; we can be strengthened as we learn to work through disagreements and let encouragement sanctify our minds. The enemy loves to infiltrate our minds, causing us to dwell on wrong thoughts, feeding doubt and fear into our lives, but we need to take captive every thought to Christ. (2 Cor 10:5)
Rom 12:1-2 urges us to present ourselves to God. He is the One who transforms. As we surrender and yield to Him, He confronts those toxic thoughts and exposes them to the light. For example, He will bring our unforgiveness into the light and remind us of the need to be pro-active in forgiving others (see Mark 11:23, Matt 5:44).
Eph 6:17 urges us to put on the helmet of salvation. This protects our mind and our thoughts. As we dwelll on Christ and His victory, we are reminded of our cleansed past, our changed present and our secured future and can grow in confidence.
We need to persevere, just as Jesus did when faced with temptation in the wilderness. His response to the devil’s toxic thoughts was ‘it is written’; He was grounded in God’s word and this provide solutions to every situation.
We need to be proactive and remove toxic thoughts from our lives. Our minds have to be washed with the word (Eph 5:26) and renewed. Praying in tongues helps us to build ourselves up and when we pray in the Spirit in this way, we are physically strengthened (according to a study by Carl Peterson, this type of prayer releases two chemicals in the body and leads to a 35-40% increase in immunity.) Ultimately, we have to choose what we think about, and Paul makes it clear that our minds must focus on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. (Phil 4:8-9)