Think On These Things

In the great eighth chapter of Romans, which is the solution to St. Paul’s wrestling with his sin in chapter seven, we see a profound truth. It is that those who live according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires, set their minds on and pursue those things which gratify the flesh.

But those who are according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit, set their minds on and seek those things which gratify the Holy Spirit. So the life of the Spirit requires a mind change. We will need to turn from setting our minds on the flesh and instead, set our minds on the Spirit.

In dealing with the problems of people who are addicted to the flesh and its evil desires, we see the mind becomes fixated on the flesh and its evil desires. This is the result of finding the seeming “answer” and covering of pain in the flesh.

The momentary pleasure seems worth the cost of getting a high and seeming to find brief relief from pain in something that is deadly. As the high quickly falls into reality, the person is left with pain plus guilt and regret for using a ploy of Satan to further ensnare and confuse–to discourage and attempt to cause the person to give up.

So the work of this mind change seems obvious to break from the enslaved thoughts of the flesh. We can expose the lies that the mind has believed as the temptation presents itself. It is then that the thoughts go into old patterns of unreality, attempting to use old methods of dealing with pain that were established in childhood and were rooted in lies and ungodly reactions to pain.

This is the work of the journal, to write down these old reactions and look at them in the light of God’s reality and truth. That is why we ask you to write what you feel and then write what God has to say about what you feel.

Generally the mind dwells on the fleshly pain and feelings of longing to have some acceptance, some pleasure, some relief. That is when the mind pushes or blocks out the thoughts of the Spirit until after the sin. Then the person seeks the Lord and thinks of the need for cleansing and the mercy of God. If, after sinning, you beat yourself or hate yourself for what you have done, you cannot receive the great mercy and forgiveness that God pours out on you when you confess your sin because you feel unworthy.

So allow yourself to receive His forgiveness and cleansing power so that you can hear from Him the lessons you need to learn from this time of unreality and sin to prepare for the next temptation. Loving yourself and believing in the truth that you are being set free as you go through this change in your thoughts and emotions is very important. You are truly forgiven by God after you confess your sin. Thank Him for that great mercy and love.

So the obvious work to break from the enslaved thoughts–the mind set on the flesh–is to work through any emotions that resist His love or fear His punishment or believe His is a wrathful God who wants to hurt you. These are false concepts of God and not at all who He is. He is loving and kind and patient with you as you are working out your salvation with fear and trembling. He desires that you have an abundant life, full of all the blessings and fulfillment He planned when He created you.

It is good for you to see His character in the Word and dwell on His love and truth. Remember that you have had a false view of Him and you can let go of your old fears or anger against Him. Some of this could be feelings about your earthly father that were transmitted to God. Some of it could be your own ungodly reaction to pain in childhood.

Choose to believe that He is a loving God who desires good for your life. He is pleased with you as you work to reset your mind to the Spirit and not the flesh. You will then be able to begin by the power of the Holy Spirit habitually to put to death the evil deeds prompted by the body. This will give you true joy and peace because you are walking in the Spirit.

In order to keep our minds on the Spirit and not on the flesh, we need to listen to the words of Isaiah 26:3 (Amplified Version):

You will guard him and keep him in perfect peace and confident peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You and hopes confidently in You. So trust in the Lord—commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him—forever, for He is an everlasting rock—the Rock of Ages.

So this is the motivation to keep your mind stayed or set on God. It will bring joy for today and everlasting fellowship with our Savior and God.

We are also told in Philippians 4:8, what to think about. For a lot of people who have had pain in childhood or who were raised in depressive homes, it is a habit to think negatively–to expect bad things. It feels like a protection from disappointment, but truly it makes all of life a dread. There is not joy or expectation of good. Only one gray day after another and no hope for change. So learning to think on these things will feel like a shock after living in such hopelessness.

Take one thing from the list of things to think on and begin to think about and speak what is true for a day. Write down what you thought and keep adding to the list as you take on more of what is given in this scripture. Soon you will have a new way of thinking that will brighten your day and begin to give you the joy which is the Kingdom of God.

Finally, brothers, 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 these things.

One other scripture stands out in regard to your thoughts and that is Colossians 3:1-14. This glorious scripture sets forth the rules for godly living. This is a very eloquent version of this scripture found in the Amplified Bible. The parentheses( ) and dashes — signify additional phases of meaning included in the original work, phrase or clause or varying texts. The brackets [ ] contain justified clarifying words or comments, whether implied or not, which are not actually expressed in the immediate original text.

If then you have been raised with Christ {to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right Hand of God. (Psalm 110) And set your minds and keep them set on what is above–the higher things–not on things that are on the earth. For [as far as the world is concerned} you have died and your (new, real) life is hid with Christ in God.

When Christ Who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in (the splendor of His) glory. So kill (deaden, deprive of power) the evil desires lurking in your members—those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin: sexual vice, impurity, sensual appetites, unholy desires, and all greed and covetousness, for that is idolatry. [the deifying of self and other created things instead of God}.

It is on account of these {very sins] that the [holy] anger of God is ever coming upon (those who are obstinately opposed to the divine will) the sons of disobedience. Among whom you also once walked, when you were living in and addicted to [such practices]. But now put away and rid yourselves (completely) of all these things: anger, rage, bad feelings towards others, curses and slander and foulmouthed abuse and shameful utterances from your lips.

Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old (unregenerate) self with its evil practices and have clothed yourselves with the new [spiritual self] which is (ever in the process of being) renewed and remolded into (fuller and more perfect knowledge upon) knowledge after the image (the likeness) of Him Who created it. ( Genesis 1:26) [In this new creation all distinctions vanish], there is no room for and there can be neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, [nor differences between nations whether alien] barbarian or Scythians [who are the most savage of all], nor slave or free man, but Christ is all in all–everything and everywhere to all men without distinction of person.

Clothe yourselves therefore, as (God’s own picked representatives), His own chosen ones, [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feelings, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways and patience–which is tireless long-suffering and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper.

Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference, (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other, even as the Lord has freely forgiven you, so must you also [forgive]. And above all these [put on] love and enfold yourselves with the bond of perfectness—which binds everything together completely in ideal harmony.

We pray that you will take captive your thoughts until they obey Christ and are set on the Spirit and on the truth and love of our precious God and Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. It is possible and it is glorious. (II Corinthians 10:4-5)

Think on These Things
by Joanne Highley