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Articles

The Bible Changes the Mind

Christians face worrisome challenges every day living in this world.   Wouldn’t it be tremendous if there was a place where you can get help in dealing with those challenges? There is: The Bible has practical help for you regarding those challenges.  This is a series of lessons showing how the Bible helps us in dealing with those challenges.

The Bible is not a collection of ancient myths that were compiled and adopted as a holy book.  Paul wrote: The Bible was written to provide everything we need to live as God would have us (2 Tim. 3:16-14).  Peter added: God’s divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, (2 Pet. 1:2-4).  The Hebrew writer informs us that the Bible is alive (Heb. 4:12) and Peter said it gives life (I Pet. 1:23).

The Christian life is fundamentally a changed life.  Becoming a Christian requires turning from our sins to God through repentance. But repentance is not a one-time event. It defines the lifestyle of a believer. God changes us radically when we obey the gospel by imparting new life to us, but this is followed by a lifetime of changing into the image of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3:18).  The changed life stems from the transformation that God works in us through the Spirit (Rom. 8:14) and the gospel (Rom. 1:16, 17) as we put off the old life, are renewed in our minds (Rom. 12:1-2) and put on the new life in Christ while making no provision for the flesh (Rom. 13:14).

Solomon gives wonderful advice about the Bible: “When I was my father’s son, tender and the only one in the sight of my mother, He also taught me, and said to me: “Let your heart retain my words; keep my commands, and live. Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; Love her, and she will keep you. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore, get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. Exalt her, and she will promote you; She will bring you honor, when you embrace her.  She will place on your head an ornament of grace; A crown of glory she will deliver to you.” Hear, my son, and receive my sayings, and the years of your life will be many. I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, and when you run, you will not stumble. Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; Keep her, for she is your life” (Prov. 4:3-13).

Lesson 1

How Can the Bible Help Me?

It Starts in Your Mind - We Become What We Think

We tend to act out precisely what we take into our minds.  Solomon said: “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7).  Learning to live a life of excellence is a matter of programming our minds with the kind of information that will set us free to be all God meant us to be.

Many people who live righteously and have conquered mediocrity have won the battle of the mind by taking the right thoughts captive.  Paul wrote: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Cor. 10:4-5).  Everything Paul stated in this passage occurs in the mind. Paul is telling us that the believer is in a spiritual warfare. The war is not waged against flesh and blood, against physical and material beings, but against spiritual forces.  These spiritual forces attack and prey upon the imaginations and thoughts of men. They inject into our minds selfish and devilish ideas against God, against other people, and against ourselves. From the energy of these ideas come evil acts.

Paul embraced supernatural weapons to deal with the weaknesses of the flesh: "For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh" (v. 4a). Paul, of course, had long donned the soldier's armament for spiritual warfare: the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, and so on as he put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:10-20).  Paul's weapons have "divine power."  First, they "have divine power to destroy strongholds."  These are arguments that the enemies of Christianity use to attack and make a Christian’s life miserable (v. 4b).  Second, the military metaphor expands to destroying high towers and ramparts—"We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God" (v. 5a).  But Paul is not talking about just winning the battle of words and arguments in debate.  He means something far more important; he is speaking about the weapons that destroy the way people think, and he is declaring that we can demolish our sinful thought patterns, the mental structures by which we live our lives in rebellion against God.  Paul spoke of this power: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (1:16).  Paul had already said: “For it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6).  Third, Paul extends the military language to thoughts — "and take every thought captive to obey Christ" (v. 5). The word "thought" refers more specifically to the mind as the intellectual center of our being. The idea is not that Christ simply helps people to think holy thoughts, but that our thoughts are transformed by the Lord to result in a changed life.  Could anything be more wonderful than to have every thought experience captive obedience to Christ? 

Romans 12:1-2                                                                                                                                    “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

There are two commands in this passage:  First: The believer is not to conform, that is, fashion himself after the world.  "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty" (2 Cor. 6:17-18).  "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (James 4:4). “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Rom. 13:14).

Second: The believer is to live a transformed life; that is, he is to walk day by day renewing his mind more and more. He is to allow the Spirit of Christ (the Holy Spirit) to focus his mind more and more upon God and spiritual things.  The effects of genuine commitment in our lives is being able to discern the will of God, and to know what is good, acceptable, and perfect.

What Steps Must We Take for The Bible to Help Us?

First step: For our thoughts to be changed we must replace them with new and different thoughts by memorizing passages from God’s Word.  I suggest promises God makes.

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (I Cor. 15:57-58).

“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us [a]diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place” (2 Cor. 2:14).

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

Second Step: Personalize – learn to put yourself into the passages of the Bible by the use of I, me, my, mine as you come across meaningful statements. As an example:

“For though {I} walk in the flesh, {I} do not war according to the flesh {then I meditate on that thought}, for the weapons of {my} warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. {I am} destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and {I am} taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5).

Third Step: Analyze – Ask yourself some very difficult questions:

Why have I developed this bad habit?  Why am I acting so negatively about this matter?  Why did I allow myself to get so angry? Etc.

There is no “high-powered secret”, “silver bullet”, or some “overnight-success pill” to help us. We must believe that the Lord truly loves us and wants us to serve Him faithfully so we may live with Him eternally. That will help us make the commitment to Memorize, Personalize and Analyze those wonderful promises from God and allow them to change our minds.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. The Lord executes righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed” (Psa. 103:2-6).