God has recently brought me through a refining season of life that has taught me some extremely important lessons to take onto my next phase of life. One being how easy it is to get deceived by the enemy; how it can all happen one tiny little belief in a lie at a time, how Satan can twist things in order to make us fall for his trap. I am coming out of a season where I allowed Satan into my life through a vulnerable time and he knocked me off my feet. Thankfully, I was able to recognize what was happening in time to save myself and run back into the arms of Jesus. In this time when I realized what was happening, a friend of mine got me connected with a Christian counselor in my town. She walked me through Neil Anderson’s ‘Steps to Freedom’ and helped me become free from the enemy’s bondage. What I learned through this experience is how important it is to renew our minds; that if we do not replace sin by renewing our minds, we will ultimately fall back into sin again.
Let’s start at the beginning, what does it mean exactly to renew your mind? Renewing our minds means replacing our sin thoughts with God’s truth.
What does the bible say about renewing your mind? The main verse people talk about with this topic is: Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Of course there is much more to say in the bible about the importance of renewing our minds such as:
Philippians 4:8 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.
2 Corinthians 4:16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self[a] is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
Ephesians 4:23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds
Why is it important to renew our minds? When Paul wrote Roman’s 12:2 he was sending a warning to our human sin nature. Do not be conformed by this world he says, something we are all at risk and vulnerable to do. He warns them and all of us because he knows the death that comes with following the worlds ways and how that separates us from Christ. He continues on to say be transformed by the renewal of your mind. To be transformed means to be dramatically changed, to be transfigured. This is what Paul is saying; if you are following the ways of the world you will end in death, so you must rapidly and dramatically change your heart and your mind so to the complete opposite and turn to God’s truth and path. Our mind is the most important part of our Christian walk. It is also the most vulnerable to the enemy and where he chooses to attack us. It is so important to acknowledge this truth because being ignorant to it will only allow Satan to have more power to manipulate your mind if you are ignoring the truth that there is a battlefield for the mind. We need to be renewing our mind constantly back to God’s truth and word if we are going to stand a chance in a fight with the enemy.
How to we renew our minds? Now we need to discuss the practicality of this concept. What does this look like? How can we tangibly do it?
The key to this entire concept of renewing our mind is understanding a key fact; you cannot only renounce Satan and sin in your life and expect it to go away. There is a metaphor of a house people like to use to explain this notion; if you empty a house, it is open for more sin to come in. The only way we can stop it from coming back is by filling it with something else. The renewing of our mind is filling that house aka our minds with God’s truth, his word and his love and leave no more room for sin to fit in. Without filling it back up with positive things, the enemy will be back with more power and vengeance than before and you will fall deeper into sin than before.
Step 1 Acceptance
The first step is to acknowledge the need and believe the truth that you need to renew your mind and start working towards cleaning your mind from sin and towards everlasting truth. We need to acknowledge our responsibility to do this, and also trust God’s place in our hearts and minds. The reality is no one on earth is perfect and does not have sin in our life. The difference is some of us are in denial to it and some are ready to start breaking the chains sin has on us. This first step is the first action in saying “I am ready to walk in God’s truth and away from Satan’s bondage”
Step 2 Go Back
For the majority of people, we did not wake up one day engulfed by sin. It happened slowly and over a long period of time. It is important that you go back into your past, as hard as that may be, and start in the basement and work your way out. When we make decisions to sin, or sin comes into our life uninvited, we open doors to allow Satan to walk in and out of. The purpose of this step is to go back and close those doors and once and for all stop Satan’s power in that area. I recently went through this process through the ‘steps of freedom’ which is an amazing resource that walks you’re through this process step by step and topic by topic. Sometimes it is helpful to have a guideline to make sure you cover all the basis you need to go through and allow you to feel like you have some sort of plan while doing it. This stage can be difficult, especially if your past has some painful and/or traumatic experiences. As hard as it is, if you complete this process, it will be the most freeing and liberating thing you will ever do for yourself. This process renounces any power Satan has in your life, breaks the chains of bondage and cuts the tie’s that Satan has been holding for all the years. This stage also comes with a lot of forgiveness. You may have heard this before but unforgiveness will destroy you. As much as other people may not always be worthy of our forgiveness, God calls us to forgive and we must do it out of obedience to him, not to them. Matthew 6:14-15 says “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” An important note about this step is that you need to go through each and every sin and renounce Satan and proclaim God’s truth and your commitment to follow him out loud. It is important to speak this out loud because Satan cannot read your mind! As much as he pretends to, he can’t. He only knows human nature so well that he can predict what we will do and trick us into thinking he can read our minds; but it’s all a bluff. So when you are renouncing Satan and running towards God’s truth, it is extremely important to say this out loud so he hears it and once he does, he is commanded to flee!
Step 3 Fill it Back up
Now that you have gone back and dealt with the past and the area’s where Satan had strongholds in your life, it comes back to the notion of filling the house back up. Now we need to renew our minds back to Christ. Some ways to do this:
- Be Proactive. Pick some biblical character traits that you strive to be like. Find scripture that talks about it and study it like you have a test on it. Know what the opposite characteristics of the trait are so that if you start seeing those in yourself you can be aware that you are walking off the path.
- It is so important to be in daily prayer and in the bible on a daily basis. This needs to be as important as food and water because it is filling up your soul and mind with biblical truth and pouring into your relationship with your father God. Whatever you do, please do not skip this step. Nothing can compare to the power this step has.
- Take every thought captive. Run each thought through a filter of God’s truth and word. As an example, If you are getting thoughts like ‘you aren’t good enough for that’ see that as a red flag. God may say no or he may say wait but he will never tear you down and say you are not good enough.
- Find some scriptures that encourage you, remind you and bring to closer to God’s truth and place them in area’s of your house and/or workplace that you come into contact on a regular basis in your day. It is extremely helpful to have constant reminders in your day that remind you of the journey of renewing your mind that you are on. Memorize these bible verses so they become so stuck in your mind that they are the first thing that pops up when a sinful thought pops into your head.
- Check Up on yourself constantly. Keep doing a self-assessment on yourself to gage where you are at. One day you may feel on fire and like nothing can knock you down, but Satan is deceitful and sneaky and somethings trips us up so subtly that we hardly notice. By continuously checking up on yourself, you have a better chance to catch it early on and rebuke Satan right away before it gains a stronger and deeper foothold.
- I find that when I have someone I am accountable too, I am much stronger than if I didn’t. Even when it is something as simple as eating healthy; if I am not accountable to anyone than I allow myself to cheat and eat terribly because I have no one to answer too. This is the same but much more important. It may be a close friend you feel safe confiding it, it may be a leader in the church or it may be a Christian councilor. I would encourage you to have someone to not only keep you accountable but also someone you can talk to as you come up things that are difficult. We are brothers and sisters in Christ and it is important that we use the people God has given us to walk the hardships of life.
- Know that Its going to be hard. Most times as we go through this process we need to stop doing certain things, spending time with certain people and it can be hard to accept that. It may not be the easiest thing but if you can keep your thoughts on the end goal, and trust that God has your best interest at heart than you can accept whatever he is asking you to give up. Most of the time it is something that you have been replacing him with, and it cannot stay in your life if you want him there too. We can only have one God and even though we don’t feel like we are treating something like another ‘God’ when it becomes and idol in your life, you essentially are.
Step 4 Prepare for the Battle
Now that you have done this very powerful process, Satan is going to try to come at you again and see how serious and committed you are. You need to prepare yourself for this. Have you ever been in church or reading your bible and a thought comes into your mind out of nowhere? This is how Satan operates, he will try and test if you are willing to walk the walk after you separate yourself from him and his sinful ways. So how do we do this? Well I am glad you asked, like always the bible gives us instructions on how to do this. Ephesians 6:10-18 summarizes it for us; Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
This armor covers all the importance area’s that God tells us to protect and use to fight. The helmet of salvation protects our mind
When I began the process of starting to renew my mind, I truly felt like my thoughts were controlling me and it seemed impossible that it would ever change. It felt so powerful and all-consuming that I believed the lie that this was the way it had to be. It was not until I was working with a Christian counselor who showed me the truth that I could be free! Feeling free and feeling so close and connected to Jesus is by far the best feeling in the entire world. So many in this earthly world believe these lies’ that nothing can ever change and that we are doomed to live in sin forever. It is a sad reality because it is not the truth! I encourage you to start praying and asking God to reveal area’s in your life that need some clearing out, area’s where Satan has gained a foothold and area’s that he needs you to go back too. The truth and reality of what renewing of our minds brings is forgiveness, restoration, joy but mainly freedom. Being free is a feeling money cannot buy, it is only something given as we renewing our minds with Jesus Christ’s truth and love. If your thoughts, behavior’s or actions are being overpowered by sin and the deceit of Satan, I strongly encourage you to reach out to someone you trust and who knows the power of God and start taking one baby step at a time walking out of the darkness and into the freedom that only Jesus Christ can give you and you will gain victory over the enemy.