I had been a Christian for decades before I started to grasp an understanding of what it means to be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

On the two-year anniversary episode of Your Hope-Filled Perspective podcast, I shared snippets from some of our listeners’ favorite episodes over the past year or so. It was fun revisiting the wisdom of previous guests. What I realized was that so many of the favorite episodes had something to do with our thought life, and what does it mean to be transformed by the renewing of your mind? If you missed that episode, you can listen here: The Importance of Thought Life: Featuring 6 Top Episodes – Episode 105.

In this post, we’ll dive into:

  • What does it mean to be transformed by the renewing of your mind?
  • Why is it important to renew your mind?
  • How do you renew your mind according to the Bible?

Romans 12:2

Romans 12:2 encourages us, “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” (NIV).

The New Living Translation says it like this, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

What Does it Mean to Be Transformed by the Renewing of Your Mind?

The Bible talks about us moving “from glory to glory” (see 2 Corinthians 3:18 KJV) and “working out our salvation” (see Philippians 2:12 KJV). From the moment we are born until the moment we see Jesus in heaven, we are being transformed to become more like God. If we refer back to Romans 12:2, we see that He does this BY renewing our minds.

Most of life’s battles are in our minds.

Think about that for just a moment.

If you and your spouse squabble, what happens next? Often, we spend the next hour ruminating over what was said, what should have been said, how we feel about it, etc.

What about when we aren’t included in a gathering of friends? Our mind leapfrogs into feelings of rejection, abandonment, unworthiness, etc. We question why we weren’t invited, what did we do, what should we say or do now?

What if we’re passed over for a promotion or advancement? We’re likely to ponder why we weren’t enough, what did we do wrong, what do we need to change going forward, etc.

All of these battles are in our mind.

You may be thinking, “but those situations make me feel unloved, unworthy, rejected, abandoned, etc.” What we have to remember is that our feelings are the outward manifestations of the thoughts we believe. So, our struggle isn’t so much with what we feel, but it’s in the thoughts we have that lead to our emotions. Our battle is in our mind.

Being transformed by the renewing of the mind REALLY MEANS that we are changing to become more like God by changing the thoughts we have to align with the thoughts He has, and what He has told us already in His Word.

Why is it Important to Renew Your Mind?

As I mentioned, most of our battles are in our mind, and from there we struggle in our emotions. Often, our mental health suffers as a result, as does our relationships, our goals, our habits, and our perspective.

We have between 50-70,000 thoughts a day. God tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV), “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Every thought, Lord?

EVERY.

That’s a lot of work. But it’s vital work.

We recently moved into a new home in a new state. Part of what attracted me to this home were the pretty gardens that greeted us as we drove down the driveway. I hadn’t done much in the way of gardening since I had children, so the thought of having such beauty to enjoy enthralled me.

Once we moved in, I was determined to not only keep up the owners’ previous couple of gardens, but to make my own mark on our property and plant gardens (yes, plural…I never do anything halfway!) filled with the flowers and plants I delighted in.

I first started weeding the existing flower beds. Purposeful, pretty plants filled up the majority of the beds, but there were a few handfuls of weeds that needed to be removed in order to allow the flowering plants to flourish. Once the existing beds were “under control,” my attention turned to creating my own gardens.

Little did I remember or realize just how much work it is to create a new garden. It meant hours upon hours of digging up the pre-existing grass and weeds and clearing the ground before planting bulbs, perennials, and annuals.

I set out on this adventure quite enthusiastic, but eight hours into it, when I had only cleared a small patch I realized it was much easier to weed an existing garden with just a few weeds, than to unearth a plot of land that had roots from the weeds running in every direction. I knew, however, that if I wanted a beautiful garden, I needed to get down to the roots and uproot the garden of the weeds or they would just infest the garden later amongst the flowers.

One day as I was clearing more weeds from a new bed, I came across a tenacious root. It had been there for quite a while because it wasn’t a thin spindly root that I could just pull out of the ground with my bare hand. It was thick and long, and the more I pulled, the further I realized it extended underground. Once it reached the cement, I knew I had to use clippers to cut it out of there.

Just like this weed with an entrenched root, our faulty thinking can take root and grow when we aren’t careful to renew our minds and uproot our faulty thinking, limiting mindsets, and lies of the enemy.

I recently overheard a woman speaking out of frustration to her grown daughter. Her words were clipped and harsh. She clearly endured a difficult day, and her words hit her daughter like a dagger. It wasn’t five minutes later and the daughter yelled at her daughter (the granddaughter of the first woman). Grumbling, complaining, and criticism bit into that little girl’s heart, seemingly out of nowhere. Within a few short moments, I heard the granddaughter yell scream at her brother. He had no idea what caused his sweet sister to unleash on him, and tears ensued.

Our words are so important. They can bring life or death, blessing or cursing.

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21 NIV).

“And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth” (James 3:10 NLT).

Our words are much like the weeds in a garden. If we don’t dig the weeds up and get rid of them from the root, they will ruin the beauty around them. We can see from the three-generation example above how toxic, negative words will hurt someone else, who will then go on to hurt someone else, who then hurts another, and so on.

But the key is that our words are preceded by our thoughts.

We have to change our thoughts before our words and our actions can become more loving, thoughtful, kind, considerate, compassionate, etc.

As I was preparing the flower beds, I spent 40-80 hours of full-time work unearthing weeds, grass, and unwanted pests from my new gardens. At first it was therapeutic…time in nature, with my hands in the dirt, praying and listening to my praise and worship music.

I don’t know exactly when the tides turned in my mind but at some point, I realized I had spent the last hour or more having imaginary conversations in my head: I rehashed old hurts from friends, silently fought imaginary arguments with my spouse, and berated myself for all the areas I didn’t feel like I was living a Godly enough life.

What began as one thought driving a lazy country road in my mind, ended up racing from one transgression to another down the interstate of space in my brain.

I hadn’t taken a single thought captive in hours, and I left what had been the quiet therapeutic sanctuary of my new garden feeling spent, beaten, and exhausted. Sadly, I returned to further prepare the garden the next day and had an almost identical experience. The situations and people I thought about were different, but the effect was the same. It was as if I was reliving a myriad of hurtful encounters and feeling the emotional toll at the end of the day.

THAT is why it is so important to renew your mind. Idle thoughts not taken captive will begin to consume more and more of your thought life. Because our feelings are the outward manifestation of the thoughts we believe, our mental and emotional well-being suffers as a result.

On another day, I again headed out to the garden but this time with a much greater awareness of the situation: the enemy had been using my idle time to fill my mind with prior hurts, toxic thoughts, and negative feelings, none of which were healthy.

This time when I had the very first thought about something someone had previously done that hurt my heart, I stopped in that very moment and declared, “Lord, I have already forgiven this person for the hurt they caused, but I feel it again Lord. So I choose to forgive them and lay them at the foot of the cross for you to handle.”

Then I resumed listening to my praise and worship music until the next toxic thought came. And it did.

I mentally berated myself for not having a better handle on taking my thoughts captive. Then I felt the familiar feeling that I was a failure. But I knew where that thought and emotion were coming from: the thief who seeks only to steal, and kill, and destroy (“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” John 10:10 NIV).

So I stopped right there, repented for believing the lie, and then reminded myself and declared out loud that I am a child of God, completely forgiven, made in His likeness.

If we don’t take the time to take our thoughts captive and renew our minds, our emotional health suffers.
Our mental health suffers.
Our spiritual health suffers.
And our relationships with others suffer as well.

How Do You Renew Your Mind According to the Bible?

Renewing our mind isn’t a difficult process, but it is an intentional one. It’s much like my experience that I shared above.

1. Pay attention to the thoughts you have

When I was in the garden, just like so often when we’re driving, or washing dishes, or taking a walk, my mind was running on idle. I wasn’t intentionally paying attention to my thoughts until I’d gone far off the path I had started on.

We have to slow down and think about what we’re thinking about.

2. Determine if those thoughts come from God, Satan, or Yourself

Our thoughts only come from one of three places.

When our thoughts come from God, He leads us and sometimes convicts us. He loves to tell us who we are in Him.

When our thoughts come from Satan, our enemy, he often pushes us and he condemns, shames, and guilts us. He loves to tell us all we aren’t: we aren’t good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, loveable enough, etc. And he loves to stir up trouble by telling us all the bad things about others and God. He reminds us day and night of how others have hurt us, in an attempt to get us to take an offense and harbor bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness toward others.

When our thoughts come from ourselves, they often come from prior experiences. Something may happen today that reminds us of something else that happened years or even decades ago, and that’s why we are responding in a certain way now.

3. When those thoughts come from the enemy, repent to God for agreeing with those thoughts.

The Bible calls Satan “the accuser of the brethren.” “Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down” (Revelation 12:10 NKJV).

He accuses us to God day and night.
He accuses others to us.
And, he accuses God to us.

He tries to make us think bad things about ourselves, others, and God, instead of thinking the best of ourselves, others, and God.

When we realize we listened to and believed the lies of the enemy about ourselves, others, or God, all we have to do is repent to God and ask forgiveness for believing a lie instead of His truth.

4. Figure out what the Word of God says instead.

This may be the point where most struggle. When we don’t know what God says about us or a situation, it can be difficult to replace the lies we’ve believed with the truth.

If you don’t know what God’s Word says about you or a situation, a quick search of your Bible concordance or the internet will give you lots of verses.  Here are a few examples of replacing lies with truth:

  • When your mind is racing with fearful thoughts, think instead, “The peace of God guards my heart and mind.” (Philippians 4:7)
  • When you are afraid, remember God said, “do not fear, for I am with you.” (Isaiah 41:10)
  • When you feel like you don’t fit in, think instead, “I not only fit in, I’m accepted in the beloved.” (Ephesians 1:6)
  • When you feel like a failure, think instead, “Even if I stumble, I will not fall. God upholds me with His hand.” (Psalm 37:23-24)
  • When you are tempted to think, “It’s impossible,” think instead, “All things are possible.” (Luke 18:27)
  • When you feel ugly, think instead, “I am wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14)
  • When you feel unworthy, think instead, “I have been bought with a price and I belong to God.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
  • When you think: “I’m afraid I’ll always feel this way,” think instead, “God says better days are ahead.” (Psalm 30:5)
  • When you feel afraid that your situation will never change, stand on the word of God and believe that God has promised you victory. (Romans 8:37)
  • When you feel alone, remember God promises, “I will never fail you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6, Isaiah 43:2, John 14:18)

I have several blog posts on my website with posts about topics regarding who God says I am and what God says about me, including the scriptures you would use to transform your mind:

5. Forgive yourself and others, reject those negative, toxic thoughts and agree with God’s thoughts.

That can be as simple as praying, “God, I forgive _____ for the things they’ve done that hurt me. I choose not to pick up an offense, but let you handle that hurt. Forgive me for believing that __________ (for example: for believing that I’m not worthy of being loved). I thank you that your Word says _________ (for example: that you have loved me with an everlasting love).

In the beginning, it can seem a bit overwhelming to take every thought captive. But as you begin to do so, you’ll become more quickly and easily receptive to the Holy Spirit’s prompting showing you areas that don’t line up with God’s word, and you’ll become quicker at repenting of them and receiving God’s truth instead.

As we take more and more of our thoughts captive, our mind becomes a fertile place for God’s truth. Much like in my garden example, as I uprooted more and more of the weeds, the ground became a fertile place for healthy plants and flowers to grow, and the same will be true of your mind as it becomes a fertile ground for a healthy, renewed, and transformed thought life.

How have you seen your mind renewed? Or what are areas that you still struggle with? We’d love to hear in the comments below.

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Have you ever wondered what it means to be transformed by the renewing of your mind? Or, how you would accomplish renewing your mind according to the Bible? In this article, we cover why renewing your mind is important and how to do it. #transformyourmind #thoughtlife #mentalhealth #hope #faith

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