A Disciplined Thought Life

SERMON TOPIC: A Disciplined Thought Life

Speaker: Ken Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 26 March 2023

Topic Groups: THOUGHT LIFE, DISCIPLINE

Sermon synopsis: You are not what you think!
But what you think, you are!
Our Feelings (Emotions) are based on what is in our minds.
Our Decisions are based on what is in our mind.

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A Disciplined thought life.

God created man in His image and gave him a mind with the ability to think, reason, understand and decide.

You are not what you think!

But what you think, you are!

It is like humility.

Humility is not thinking less about yourself, but it is thinking about yourself less.

Our Feelings (Emotions) are based on what is in our minds.

Our Decisions are based on what is in our mind.

In our weekly devotionals we have looked at how Discipline is needed if we want to change.

The discipline of Daily Prayer .

The discipline of fasting.

The discipline of not only reading but studying God’s Word and obeying it.

Today I want to look at another vital area of Discipline if we want to change and that is

“A Disciplined Thought Life.”

Patrick Buchanan.

The food that enters the mind must be watched as closely as the food that enters the body.

Frank Outlaw wrote:

Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become actions; watch your actions, they become habits; watch your habits, they become character; watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

Mark Twain 

What a wee little part of a person's life are his acts and his words! His real life is lead in his head and is known to none but himself.

All day long, and every day, the mill of his brain is grinding, and his thoughts, (which are but the mute articulation of his feelings,) not those other things are his history.

His acts and his words are merely the visible thin crust of his world, with its scattered snow summits and its vacant wastes of water-and they are so trifling a part of his bulk!

(The Autobiography of Mark Twain)

Jonathan Edwards put it this way:

The ideas and images in men’s minds are the invisible powers that constantly govern them.

At Salvation we have already had a change take place in our minds and the very word Repentance in the Greek “Metanoia” means “A Change of Mind”

Acts 17:26-34.

As some of your own poets have said, We are his offspring. Therefore, since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image made by human design and skill.

In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent (Have a change of mind).

For Salvation to take place, our consciences must be purged from “Dead Works” (Hebrews 9:13-14.)

Scripture is clear about the fact that change or renewal starts with our thoughts (Mind).

Romans 12:2.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Romans 8:5-7.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.

Now in Ephesians 6 the Helmut of Salvation is often seen as the protection for the mind, but I want to focus on another part of the armour of God that we see in Peter’s 1st Epistle.

1 Peter 1:13 NKJV

Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind.

The armour of God to protect the loins is “The Belt of Truth”. This offers protection from Satan’s lies.

The loins are the area of our body that hold our ability to reproduce and be fruitful. This is the area of our body that is responsible for conception.

The Roman cingulum or balteus held the scabbard for the sword, which is referred to in the biblical armor of God as the sword of the Spirit.

This thick belt did a lot more than just hold up pants. It held all the most important weapons at a soldier’s disposal, as well as equipment, ropes, and food rations.

A Roman soldier’s belt also had strips of armor hanging from it to protect the lower portions of the body. If a soldier did not have this thick belt secured correctly and it slipped, he wagered his own life on the battlefield.

If his belt wasn’t properly secured, he may have limited use of weapons. Or by the time he gets to them, the enemy may be able to deliver a fatal blow.

James 1:13-15.

When tempted, no one should say, God is tempting me.

For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 

Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

A basic lesson of the Christian life is that sin begins in our thoughts, which Scripture often refers to as “the heart.”

Mark 7:20-23.

What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.

No one commits these outward sins without first having committed them in his mind.

If we want to change and grow in godliness, we must win the battle over sin on the thought level.

Our loins are also a tender sensitive area that needs to be protected. Trauma to this area can be serious and painful, so How do we protect our minds.

The peace that God gives us is the safeguard for our mind.

Philippians 4:6-7.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Isaiah 26:3 (ESV)

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

It takes a choice and discipline on our part to keep our minds stayed on the Lord.

Matthew 22:37.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.

Heart, soul, strength, and mind add up to loving the Lord entirely with our whole self. If we are not loving the Lord with our mind, we are not completely loving him.

2 Timothy 1:7.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Proverbs 4:23.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Both Scripture and neuroscience reveals that what we do with our minds, how we control them or do not control them, determines the very outcome of our lives.

How can we guard our hearts and minds from sinful and selfish thoughts?

Proverbs 15:14.

The mind of the intelligent seeks knowledge.

Jesus said:

John 8:32.

You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.

To the extent that we do not know truth, we are vulnerable to ignorance and deception. As we fill our minds with knowledge and truth, we are set free to become all the Lord desires of us.

And yet many professing Christians have no appetite for God’s Word and try to settle for the bare minimum.

For a few hundred years The Bible was regarded as the truth, and it was the foundation of law in the civilized world.

Its teachings revolutionized pagan kingdoms, ending cannibalism and practices like sati and infanticide and slavery.

In recent years though, you can be fined or fired from your employment or even go to jail for quoting certain parts of the Bible.

To use the words of Pontius Pilate “What is Truth”?

Not too long ago, you could ask a new mother if she had given birth to a boy or a girl, but nowadays you must wait until the child is 4 or 5 years old and then ask them if they want to be a boy or a girl, or perhaps both.

This is the so-called truth propagated by the liberal media and politicians and backed by the social media giants who have elected themselves as the ones who can decide for us what is true and what is false and what we can say or not say.

When sharing the Gospel with unbelievers, a common reply is “I believe such and such”.

That is creating your own reality, it’s a case of whatever works for you. You can believe what you like. People argue that they have their own believes.

It is like saying that if I jump out of an airplane, I don’t have to take a parachute if I want to survive, I can take a hanky chief or a serviette.

This practice is ludicrous and defies logic, and yet this is the reasoning of the liberals who dominate mainstream media.

Jesus said this about truth.

John 14:6.

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

In addition to declaring that He is “The Truth”

Jesus also says this about the subject.

Truth will set us free (John 8:32) from Satan’s lies and Satan’s tyranny over our lives.

God is full of truth and grace (John 1:14)

God’s word is truth (John 17:17)

Everyone who is of the truth listens to God’s voice (John 18:37-38)

Many Christians struggle with this issue, especially in our highly technological world, but taking control of our thoughts is essential.

Proverbs 4:23 states, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."

The “heart” includes the mind and all that proceeds from it. Someone said that every sin we commit, we commit twice, once in our thoughts and again when we act upon those thoughts.

It is easier to rid our lives of sin if we attack it at this fundamental thought level rather than waiting for it to become rooted in our lives by our actions and then try to pull it out.

There is also a difference between

Being tempted (a thought entering into the mind) and

Sinning (dwelling upon an evil thought and wallowing in it).

It is important to understand that when a thought enters our mind, we examine it based upon God’s Word and determine if we should continue down that path or reject the thought and replace it with another thought.

If we have already allowed a habit to form in our thought lives, it becomes more difficult to change the path of our thoughts, even as it is hard to get a car out of a deep rut and onto a new track.

Here are some biblical suggestions for taking control of our thoughts and getting rid of wrong thoughts:

1. Be in God’s Word so that when a sinful thought enters our mind (a temptation), we will be able to recognize it for what it is and know what course to take.

Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4) responded to each of Satan’s temptations with Scripture that applied to the direction He knew His mind should take instead of beginning down the path of the sinful thought.

Quoting Scripture in a time of temptation is not a talisman, but rather serves the purpose of getting our minds onto a biblical track, but we need to know the Word of God AHEAD of time in order to accomplish this.

2. Live in dependence upon the Holy Spirit, chiefly through seeking His strength through prayer (Matthew 26:41).

If we rely upon our own strength, we will fail (Proverbs 28:26;Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 26:33).

3. We are not to feed our minds with that which will promote sinful thoughts.

This is the idea of Proverbs 4:23. We are to guard our hearts, what we allow into them and what we allow them to dwell on. Job 31:1 states, "I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman" (NKJV).

Romans 13:14 states, "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts."

Thus, we are to avoid periodicals, videos, websites, conversations, and situations that will set us up for a fall. We should also avoid spending time with those who would encourage us down these wrong paths.

4. We are to pursue hard after God, replacing sinful thoughts with godly pursuits and mindsets.

This is the principle of replacement. When tempted to hate someone, we replace those hateful thoughts with godly actions: we do good to them, speak well of them, and pray for them (Matthew 5:44).

Instead of stealing, we should work hard to earn money so we can look for opportunities to give to others in need (Ephesians 4:28).

When tempted to lust after a woman, we turn our gaze, praise God for the way He has made us, male and female, and pray for the woman

(For example: "Lord, help this young woman to come to know you if she does not, and to know the joy of walking with you"), then think of her as a sister (1 Timothy 5:2).

The Bible often speaks of "putting off" wrong actions and thoughts but then "putting on” godly actions and thoughts (Ephesians 4:22-32).

Merely seeking to put off sinful thoughts without replacing those thoughts with godly ones leaves an empty field for Satan to come along and sow his weeds (Matthew 12:43-45).

5. We can use fellowship with other Christians the way God intended.

Hebrews 10:24-25 states, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."

Fellow Christians who will encourage us in the changes we desire (best if of the same gender), who will pray for and with us, who will ask us in love how we are doing, and who will hold us accountable in avoiding the old ways, are valuable friends indeed.

1 Corinthians 2:11-16.

For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us…..

The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit…. For, Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:18

So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Colossians 3:1-5. Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  

We are to fix our minds on eternal things and live in this world according to the truth and values of the next.

Philippians 4:6-8.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.

Your thoughts are influenced by what you read, what you watch on TV, the company and conversation you keep and that includes social media. These are things that you have control over.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.

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.

This tells us that we are not free to let our thoughts roam.

As a result of living in a fallen world dominated by electronic media, and because much of what comes out of modern media is an assault on biblical values, in the normal living of everyday life, the typical Christian has millions of opportunities every day to let our thoughts go to places Jesus’ mind would not go.

We are not to entertain sinful thoughts any more than to entertain sinful behaviour.

Matthew 5:5:27–28.

You have heard that it was said, you shall not commit adultery; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

The heart is used as a metaphor for the seat of desire, and the point is that a person is not to sin mentally any more than he is not to sin physically.

We must keep our minds pure as well as our actions.

In Matthew we read how Jesus holds people responsible for their thoughts.

Matthew 9:4. (KJV)

And Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, Why are you harbouring evil thoughts in your hearts?

Although we can have fleeting thoughts that enter our mind, which is how we are tempted by our sinful flesh and by Satan, we have the choice whether to accommodate them (Harbour) or to dispel them, and think of things that are edifying and uplifting.

A ship has to get permission to come into a harbour.

In the same way, we grant permission for thoughts to harbour and find a place in our mind, where they fester and lead to sinful actions, worry and depression.

James 3:13-16.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.

But if you harbour bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.

For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

Chinese Proverb:

You can’t stop the birds flying over your head, but you can stop them from making a nest in your hair.

Isaiah 55:6-7.

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts.

Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

Isaiah 55:8-9.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

James 4:8.

Cleanse your hands you sinners and purify your hearts you double minded.

You need to not only stop doing wrong, but you also need to stop thinking wrong.

Proverbs 3:1-8.

My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.

A number of years ago, the news media picked up the story of a woman known as “Garbage Mary.” She lived in a smelly Chicago tenement amid mounds of garbage. She spent her time rummaging through trash cans. She would beg for cigarettes from her neighbors.

Police took her to a psychiatric hospital after she was stopped for questioning and found to be in a confused state of mind. When they went into her filthy apartment, they were astounded to find stock certificates and bank books indicating she was worth at least a million dollars. She was the daughter of a wealthy Illinois lawyer.

It’s a pathetic story, but it pictures the lives of many professing Christians, who could be immersing their thought life in that which is true, dignified, right, pure, lovely, of good repute; that which is virtuous and worthy of praise.

But instead, they surround themselves with moral filth, wallowing daily in raunchy TV programs, polluting their minds with the sordid stories of this condemned world, rather than focusing their thought life on the things of God and Christ.

The principle of sowing and reaping applies to our thought life.

What are you sowing in your mind?

We tend to relate sowing to an action, but the seeds of doubt and lust sown in our minds, bring forth a harvest of sin. Our thoughts lead to actions, our actions form our habits, and our habits shape our destiny.

We "sow" to either of our two natures by the thoughts we ponder.

Galatians 6:7-10.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Psalm 1:1-3.

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the way of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law he meditates day and night.

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.

As we meditate on the law day and night, the truth of God’s word sinks into our mind, and determines who we become.

By governing our thoughts carefully day and night, we become spiritually fruitful and flourish.

Hebrews 4:12-13.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

2 Peter 3:1-10.

Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Saviour through your apostles. 

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 

They will say, Where is this coming But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 

Hebrews 11:13-16.

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 

If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

What are you thinking of, what are you longing for?

AUTHOR: Ken Paynter

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