My accountability partner suggested that I read my entire blog from start to finish so that I could see how far I have come in my growth. I took his advice and took an hour or two to read through it. It was interesting to see how my writing had improved, not only in style but in content also. I could see how I slowly got more comfortable in sharing my life and my thoughts.
In the beginning, my posts were fairly trivial but as I grew as a writer and through my recovery I started to share more and more meaningful things. Not every post is great but I can definitely see my growth.
Many people do the same thing with a journal at the end of the year. It turned out to be a great exercise and I plan on doing the same thing this coming year.
As I was reading through, I started to see one scripture appear numerous times. I thought there must be a reason for this. The scripture is Romans 12:2 which reads:
Do not conform 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.
This was the theme of the past year for me. Renewing My Mind. The funny thing is that a devotional I read the next day was all about the importance of renewing our minds. The devotional did use Romans 12:2 but it wasn’t the main verse that they focused on. They focused more on Philippians 4:8 and 2 Corinthians 5:17.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:8 (ESV)
I was doing some journaling while I did the devotional and had a question come into my head. If I’m a new creation and the old me is dead and gone, why are the commands in Philippians 4:8 and Romans 12:2 necessary?
To me the answer would seem to be that nobody told my brain. My brain still has all it’s faulty programming. My heart and spirit are new (Ezekiel 36:26). I still have the same brain though. Some may ask why God doesn’t rewire my brain when I’m saved. Why? Because he will not force Himself on us. If he rewired our brains He would be taking away our choice.
I may love God with my entire being but because of my old programming I will still struggle with my thoughts. This was even true for the apostle Paul who wrote
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. – Romans 7:21-23
Paul loved God whole heartedly but even he would still mess up. If we still have to fight our sinful nature then we have to be smart about it and diligent. The only way we are going to win the fight against our sinful nature and thoughts is by renewing our minds. We have to continually replace the sinful thoughts with the truth of God’s word.
If it’s a problem with lust then every time you have a lustful thought say Job 31:1 or Matthew 5:28. If it’s a problem with low self-esteem or not feeling good enough, especially because of our past, say 2 Corinthians 5:17 or John 3:16.
It is also good to put yourself into the verse by using I or your name. For example with 2 Corinthians 5:17 you could say “I am in Christ and a new creation. The old, sinful me has passed away, and the new me in Christ has come.”
I also want to say that just because a sinful thought pops into your head doesn’t mean you sinned. If you act on it and commit the sin then that’s a different story. A lot of times the thought isn’t even your own. The devil loves to whisper in our ear and turn around and try to make us feel bad for a thought.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. – Ephesians 6:12
I’m not suggesting that this is a magic bullet to magically take away all sinful and negative thoughts. It takes time and repetition. On this side of eternity we will always struggle with our thoughts to some degree but by renewing our minds with the Bible we will make the fight a lot easier.