Learn to master your mind and you will master your life! We’ve been talking about mastering various aspects of your life. Mastering your past, and mastering your time. If you don’t master these things, they will master you. Today let’s look at one of the greatest challenges to every Christian… mastering your mind!
It seems we suffer a perpetual onslaught in our minds, a battle that never seems to cease or let up. Advertising, media, movies and TV assault our eyes, music, gossip and negativity assault our ears, and the God of this world assaults through these and other means assaults our hearts time and time again. He wants to manipulate your mind to manipulate your life, but if we can win the battle of the mind, we will win the battle of life, so mastering the mind is essential for every believer!
THE POWER OF THE MIND
Many people have talked about the power of the mind, whether it was Uri Gellar bending spoons or Allan Turin inventing the computer. The Bible says,
Proverbs 23:7 (KJV Strong's)
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he:
The Hebrew word for think is sa’ar, which means to reason, spilt open or calculate, and interestingly also means to act as a gate keeper. It implies that we choose what we let into our minds, and then when we think, we become what we think!
Even secular teachers recognise the power of the mind. Napoleon Hill, the author of “Think and Grow Rich” said, “We are the Masters of our Fate, Captains of our Souls, because we have the power to control our thoughts.”, “Success comes to those who are success-conscious, Failure comes to those who indifferently allow themselves to be Failure-Conscious.”
If our mind is like a computer. It was once thought we used only 10% of our brains, but modern brain mapping as disproven that, because most of our brains are active all the time. However, 95% of our brain activity is beyond our conscious awareness! We only consciously use 5% of our minds, so the battle is raging beyond our conscious mind all the time.
We might only consciously control 5% of our minds, but it is through this 5% gate that the enemy can attack and control your thought life, and we must be constantly on guard, gate keepers if you will. In the end, you are responsible for how you master your mind.
Any computer, no matter how powerful and effective, must have the sight software running. It also has to protect itself from external attacks like viruses and malware, so if you want your computer to run well you need to constantly maintain it, or renew it with system updates and virus protection.
YOUR MIND AFFECTS YOU AND OTHERS
Your mind is amazing, so you need to master your mind! It affects your health, with doctors now attributing up to 80% of all physical illness to the mind. Things like ulcers, blood pressure, diabetes, heart attacks, even skin diseases and cancer all having their basis starting in your mind. Ever felt sick after receiving bad news?
Your mind also affects your behaviour. If your mind is filled with positivity, love and kindness, you will treat people with kindness and see the best in them. If your mind is filled with anger and violence, that’s how you too will behave. I spoke to a police officer recently who admitted that her default position was suspicion and to expect the worst in people. As a pastor, mine is to see the best. Your mind governs the type of fruit you produce.
Matthew 7:17-18 (ESV Strong's)
So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.
YOUR MIND IS CREATIVE
Your mind is incredibly creative, and that’s because we are made in the image of God, so you must master your mind. God created everything by simply speaking… He thought it and spoke it and the worlds sprang into being…
Jeremiah 10:12 (ESV Strong's)
It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.
Our minds are reflected in our words, and they too have power, incredibly creative or even destructive power. Our words, of course, come directly from our minds and our hearts.
Luke 6:45 (ESV Strong's)
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
ATTACKS ON YOUR MIND
So how does the enemy attack our minds, and how can we successfully defend ourselves?
1 Peter 4:12-13 (ESV Strong's)
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
We all face difficulties in life, and the Bible calls on us to rejoice. Now I don’t know about you, but I find this hard sometimes. Well, you are not called to rejoice that you’re suffering, but to rejoice in your suffering, rejoice in faith that God is working all things for good.
One of the chief weapons Satan uses to attack your mind is difficulties. When difficulties try to master your mind you also face a choice… believe God, or believe satan. These attacks will come, so get ready.
John 16:33 (ESV Strong's)
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Many of you face difficulties at the moment, and if you are not careful this will affect your mind. But make no mistake, you choose to be overwhelmed by it, or triumph over it.
Doubt is the opposite of faith. Doubt knocked at the door. Faith answered. There was no one there!
If you get enough hits, enough troubles and enough bad experiences, doubt starts to rise up instead of faith. And doubt starts to toss your mind back and forth…
James 1:6 (ESV Strong's)
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
Some of you here are experiencing doubt in your mind right now. You try to believe God, but doubts overwhelm you, and you cannot master your mind. And these give rise to…
An extension of doubt is discouragement, another thing that can master your mind. The enemy loves to discourage believers because when he attacks their mind causing discouragement it can affect every aspect of their lives.
Proverbs 13:12 (ESV Strong's)
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
When what you hope for and work for and long for is deferred, when the goalposts keep moving, discouragement is the inevitable result.
Some of you here have battled for a long time, hoping for a breakthrough, and your mind is discouraged. Perhaps you’ve asked God and believed for business success, or a loved one to come to Christ, and because it hasn’t happened you get discouraged.
4. DEFENSIVE STRONGHOLDS
Another military word for a stronghold is a redoubt… there’s that word doubt again. If we get enough discouragement and doubt this can set up areas of our life we call strongholds, and these are specific areas where we doubt more strongly and really struggle to overcome the doubt in our minds.
Anti-Christian worldviews such as materialism, hedonism, Darwinism, secularism, relativism, communism, atheism. All of the different -isms and philosophies are mental strongholds that people set up against the knowledge of God.
For you, strongholds start with the thoughts in your mind and this leads to belief systems. Negative thoughts set up negative thinking, so a thought like, “I never see answers to my prayers,” becomes a stronghold of thinking “It’s not worth praying, because my prayers never work.” Or if you fail often enough, a stronghold of “I’m always a failure” is set up. In the same way a series of bad relationships causes a stronghold of thinking, “there is no one out there who will love me,” and failing again and again in some sin entrenches that in your mind, seemingly unassailable and unconquerable. Strongholds are powerful, but…
2 Corinthians 10:4 (ESV Strong's)
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
Some of you here need to destroy some strongholds this morning to master your mind. These strongholds are not made by flesh but they are spiritual, and need spiritual solutions to break them down.
Many times the devil tries to deceive us, yes even us Christians are not immune. Jesus said one of the signs of the end of the age is when
Mark 13:22 (ESV Strong's)
false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray (deceive) if possible, the elect.
Deception is all around, even in this very day. When some church leaders can justify a homosexual lifestyle from Scripture, there is incredible deception. When evils like abortion or premarital sex are not only tolerated but justified by pastor’s and leaders, there is deception on a scale never before seen! In Romans Paul talks about many of the sins we currently overlook saying…
Romans 1:32 (ESV Strong's)
Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
6. DELUSION OF SELF
Self-deception or delusion is one of the signs of this age, and something trying to master your mind. Never before have people deceived themselves and talked themselves into self-deception as much. With the wrong input we can convince ourselves of all kinds of things, because
Jeremiah 17:9-10 (ESV Strong's)
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
“I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”
We have people who have messed up their lives thinking they are right about everything, we have girls thinking they are boys and boys thinking they are girls, we have messed up, deluded people talking like experts on Facebook. The enemy attacks us and causes self-deception, trying to master your mind. They honestly believe they are right, when common sense and decency show them clearly wrong!
1 John 1:8 (ESV Strong's)
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL
You can see how the progressions works, right? A sound mind, a godly mind, a Christlike mind, is attacked by difficulties, causing doubts, them discouragement, then defensive strongholds, opening the way to allow deception into your mind and ultimately delusion, where despite all the evidence you convince yourself that you are right, your actions justified and your mind is shut off from the Holy Spirit. You become,
James 1:8 (ESV Strong's)
he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV Strong's)
For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
To live a godly lifestyle today you need to master your mind! So how can we do this?
HOW TO MASTER YOUR MIND
Satan attacks your mind because that is the gateway to your heart and soul. If he wins that battle, he can neutralise your life with Christ, ruin your life and destroy the people you love. Mastering you mind is one of the most important tasks you have in our modern world, so what strategies can we employ to win the battle of the mind?
1. DON’T PUT GARBAGE INTO YOUR MIND
The first strategy to master your mind is to be wary of what you put into it. The old computer adage “Garbage in, garbage out” applies here. Remember the Hebrew word for think? It means be a gatekeeper of your mind. You and you alone decide what you let in, and what you reject, so step one is lifting your game in this area.
Psalms 101:2-4 (ESV Strong's)
I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil.
Now, pause for a moment and think about what you let into your mind. What you let into your mind shapes your mind, and opens you to all kinds of attacks on your mind. Many studies have shown a link between heavy metal music and suicide, and violent films or video games increasing aggression in teenagers. This is not surprising… garbage in, garbage out.
So the first step to mastering your mind is to carefully watch what you put into it. What TV shows do you watch? What movies do you watch, what music do you fill your mind with? What junk do you let in via internet sites, Facebook, or other social media? What friends do you let into your life?
Proverbs 4:23 (NIV-WS)
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
2. RENEW YOUR MIND
Just as your computer needs to be constantly updated (especially windows) and your virus protection needs to be current, so too your mind needs to be constantly updated or renewed.
Romans 12:2 (NIV-WS)
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.
The Greek word for pattern is “syschematizo” which is a pattern or a mould, and that’s a great description of how the devil acts on your mind. He tries to squeeze you into the mould of this world, to make you conform the the pattern of morality and thinking that everybody else has. Don’t believe me? Try getting on Facebook and saying that you are against gay marriage and wait about 5 Minutes… you will soon see people trying to mould you into their pattern!
The Greek for renewing is “anakainosis” which means renew, to make new again and to conform your thinking to make it like God’s thinking. So how do you renew your mind?
Read the Bible. You renew your mind by daily Bible reading. If you are a believer and you don’t read the Word of God daily you are not renewing your mind. Through reading the Bible the Holy Spirit not only speaks to you, but He washes your whole life. Renewing is washing, regenerating, rebirthing!
Titus 3:5 (NIV-WS)
he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
In Israel there are two Great Lakes or seas, both fed by the Jordan river. Galilee has fresh, clean water, and it is full of life and fish. The Dead Sea is exactly that… Dead. It has lethal concentrations of salt and nothing lives in or even near the Dead Sea. What’s the difference? Galilee has an outflow, so the waters are constantly renewed, but the Dead Sea has no flow out. It is never renewed!
Daily Bible reading with our reading plan is a great place to start renewing your mind. I challenge you to do it. Got no time? Do the loo challenge… surely you spend at least 10 minutes a day sitting down there.
Renewing your mind means putting godly things into your mind. Coming to church, listening to worship music, reading the Bible and other Christian books, watching wholesome movies…
Philippians 4:8 (ESV Strong's)
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.
3. GUARD YOUR MIND
Reading the Word of God renews your mind, but you will still suffer attacks, so when you are renewing your mind you also need to guard it. How can you guard your mind from satanic attacks?
Prayer… Not the shopping list of things you order God to do for you, the two way dialogue where you pray and His Spirit speaks back to you. This is what we are studying in our course, how to hear the voice of God! When you hear Him, your mind is renewed, and you are filled with peace and love.
Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV Strong's)
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Prayer and Bible reading not only renew your mind, they guard your heart and mind, protecting you from the attacks of the evil one in your life! They help you master your mind.
4. BE ACCOUNTABLE
Coming to church, hanging out with fellow believers not only insures more good than bad things are deposited into your mind, it also keeps you accountable. I have long noticed that people drift away from church when they are dabbling in sin, because they are embarrassed and convicted.
Being accountable to mature Christians is a great way to guard your mind and keep you on track as you master your mind.
Proverbs 27:17 (ESV Strong's)
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
In this church I have several people to whom I am accountable, notably my board and some of the elders. Some pastors act like a dictatorship, but I do not fire off and make decisions by myself. I lead as part of a team, and I am constantly accountable for my behaviours and decisions.
5. STAY POSITIVE
If you do not master your mind and start to be squeezed into the mould of the world, you will notice often times that negative thoughts begin to crop up and take charge of your life.
I am not a proponent of the positive confession doctrine, but I firmly believe that we should think and speak positive words, and that we must remain positive and filled with faith instead of being filled with negativity.
Whatever the circumstances, Christians can stay positive. I ask people how they are going and they often say, “Pretty good under the circumstances.” Then I ask what they are doing under there, they should be living above the circumstances.
Whatever the circumstances, you can choose how you respond. Negative, with doubt and fear. Or positive with faith. Whether you feel it or not, you can choose to remain positive, and your words have power. 10/12 spies gave a negative report on the Promised Land, but Caleb said this…
Numbers 13:30 (ESV Strong's)
But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.”
They all looked at the same fortified cities and giants that lived there. But their perceptions were different. Their minds were different. Most of the spies who were sent out perceived the fortified cities and giants as threats and intimidation. But Caleb perceived them as opportunity to conquer.
Your problems, your adverse circumstances are either fear and doubt or an opportunity to shine for Jesus. When Fiona and I lost everything including our home in an investment collapse, everyone was watching us, to see how we would react. It hurt, is was fearful and intimidating, but we chose to see the positive and chose faith instead of fear.
Job 13:15 (ESV Strong's)
Though he slay me, I will hope in him;
How can you stay positive in the face of pain, doubt, fear, heartache, sickness, breakups or whatever you are now facing. You do this by filling your mind with positive things. Just as you can fill it with negative things from TV, Facebook, etc, you can choose instead to fill it with the positive…
6. TAKE EVERY THOUGHT CAPTIVE
Mastering your mind is not a once off event, but a steady, ongoing and vigilant process. You have to constantly be on your guard, because when you think you have the devil pegged and you recognise his influence, he sneaks up on you another way! He’s a cheat and doesn’t play fair. All’s fair in love and war, and this is a war for your thoughts and your mind! It’s a spiritual battle for your mind… So how do we deal with all this?
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (ESV Strong's)
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
When those negative thoughts pop into your mind, take them captive and make them obedient to Christ! Don’t entertain the, don’t invite them for dinner or to stay with you, capture and neutralise them! Say, “I’m not going to listen to you, Jesus says I’m more than a conqueror, so you have no effect!”
7. STAY FOCUSSED ON JESUS
When Peter stepped out of the boat, his eyes were on Jesus. Then he stopped and looked around at the wind and waves, started to doubt and started to sink.
Matthew 14:29-31 (ESV Strong's)
He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
You can master your mind if you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV-WS)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
YOU CAN WIN THE BATTLE TO MASTER YOUR MIND!
If you are struggling to master your mind, don’t give up… fight the good fight. If you look to Jesus you can win the battle of your mind. I know many here struggle to stay positive and fill their minds with good things, but today is the day we say to the devil ENOUGH. We are choosing to fix our eyes on Jesus, we are choosing to take negative, destructive thoughts captive and we are going to master our minds!