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.
–Romans 12:2 (NIV)
My son has a seizure disorder. I remember the first time we saw the neurologist, after having an ECG and an MRI. The doctor showed me the graphs, which meant nothing to me. He pointed out exactly where the irregularities were in the brain, which he said was consistent with my son’s seizures.
“So, what causes it?” I asked.
“We don’t know,” he responded.
This from a man who studied medicine, who specializes in brain disorders, and who has practiced neurology for over 20 years.
He didn’t know.
Because the brain is intricately complex. A super computer designed by the Master himself. Who can understand the way the mind works?
Our thoughts are in there, filed away, and somehow they influence our beliefs. The only problem with that is that sometimes the beliefs we have are based on lies.
- They might be lies someone told us when we were small.
- They could be lies we’ve told ourselves through the years, repeated over and over until they became “truth” to us.
- There are lies and doubts whispered ever so subtly by the enemy of our souls, lies we’ve chosen to believe
All of us have a core set of beliefs stored away in our minds, and all too often, some of those beliefs are based upon lies.
And once a belief worms its way into our brains and takes up residence there, it’s hard to get it out.
A few examples of beliefs based on lies:
- I’m not good enough
- I’m not lovable
- I’m stupid
- I’m ugly
- I’m not important
- I don’t matter
Somehow I bought into the lie that I wasn’t good enough. I fell for it early and by the time I was in my teens, I believed I had to earn my worth. I had to prove to others that I was lovable, capable, worthy of their time and attention. I had to prove to God that I was sincere in my faith, that I was committed to Him and serious about following Him. I had to try hard to be the best I could be, so that God–and others–would love me.
All because I believed the lie that I wasn’t lovable just the way I was.
It’s taken a long time to start unwedging that lie from its stronghold in my mind.
Ditching the Lies and Believing Truth
So how do we combat lies that our mind tries so hard to hold on to?
We do it by renewal through truth. By the act of renewing the mind–putting in new true thoughts to replace the old lie-based ones.
What does that mean for Christians in practice?
- It means learning the truth.
- It means knowing what God’s word says about who He is and about who we are in Christ.
- It means believing that God loves you and that you are of infinite value to Him.
Renewing one’s mind means replacing old lies with truth. It takes discipline. It’s painstakingly hard work.
It’s much easier to fall back on old habits and old ways of doing things.
- It takes discipline to memorize scripture.
- It takes discipline to stop negative thoughts in their tracks.
- It takes discipline to recognize those lies in the first place.
- It takes discipline to seek God’s truth through Bible study and prayer.
“Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.”
–Ephesians 4:22-23 (MSG)
The old lies are rotten. They aren’t worth holding on to, even if you’ve believed them for half a century or more.
God’s Word — what He says about Himself and what He says about you — is truth.
Some of my favorite ways to “renew the mind”:
1. Memorize large chunks of scripture.
In the past I’ve memorized the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Psalm 27, and Romans 8. While I can’t recite any of these completely from memory right now, they are still very familiar. Something about memorizing scripture changes you. The exact words may not stick, but the truth does. It’s totally worth the effort and the discipline it takes to get there. Because it renews your mind like nothing else.
2. Write out scripture truths on index cards and review daily.
This is very helpful for negative thoughts that need to be stopped in their tracks. For me, saying the verses out loud is crucial. You can make your own, or check out these pre-printed cards from my friend, Cheri Gregory.
3. Write scripture in a journal.
Journal passages of scripture that are meaningful. For me, the act of writing verses longhand is like a physical act of prayer. It helps me to focus on the words and their meaning.
4. Use an online tool like Blue Letter Bible
Look for the original meaning of Hebrew or Greek words in scripture passages. Then write out your own personal version of the passage, interpreting it through your unique perspective.
The spiritual discipline of renewing your mind is a lifelong process. Here are some more favorite resources for further learning:
Core Lies by Sarah Mae
Shame-Free Parenting by Sandra Wilson (my favorite parenting book)
Self Talk, Soul Talk: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself by Jennifer Rothschild
Inside Out by Larry Crabb
The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out by Brennan Manning
Believing God by Beth Moore
Let’s start the discipline of telling ourselves the truth, shall we?
*Disclosure: affiliate links included in this post.