Thinking Patterns — Refocus Your Mind

Question from a Site Viewer
I am a 21 year old guy. I am a Christian and have been raised by great Christian parents and my life is good. But over time I have failed to read my Bible regularly and find a good church to go to. I have fallen and gotten into bad things like looking at pornography — things I know I shouldn’t be thinking about. My mind’s thinking patterns have gotten really skewed. I have prayed for forgiveness so many times, but I eventually stumble. What can I do? I feel like I have failed God. He is so good to me, but I just do what the flesh wants. I know it’s wrong, but I do it anyway and it hurts me so much that I disobey God after all that He’s done for me. Will He really forgive me for all that I’ve done?

Tim’s Answer
Thank you for your email. The web of evil can entangle us sometimes to the point that we think we are hopelessly trapped. We think we escape in one direction, only to find ourselves right back in the web. We flee in another direction and find ourselves right back in the web. Ultimately, we reach the place where we think there is no hope, and depression sets in.

What I want you to know is that the web is an illusion. Though it may seem very real, it is all a mirage. We sin because we choose to sin. We think about and practice righteousness because we choose to do so. Our choices drive us. Satan would like us to think that we have no control over our choices. But such is a lie. Just as we chose sin, so we can choose righteousness. Whenever we blow it, the very next moment is always a choice. What will we do now? We can choose to repent. We can choose to stay in sin. The longer we stay in sin, the more we reinforce and strengthen those thoughts in the mind. The sooner we turn back to Christ, the more we reinforce His position in our lives. And the longer we think about Christ, the more we reform our minds to think about Him. These are always our choices.

It is easy to think sometimes when we blow it and begin to think wrong thoughts that we have no access to God. Such is not true. The prodigal son always has a welcome at home. Jesus came to save sinners. He rejoices most over the sinner who repents and turns to follow Him. Thus, we should not stay away any longer than the time it takes us to realize we have fallen. We should repent immediately.

But a life of sin and repentance is not where we ultimately want to live. We want to live a life of righteousness. To this end, we need to reform our thinking patterns and focus our minds on Christ. We have the power to do so. We are commanded to think about right things (Philippians 4:8). But many of us are too lazy to take the effort to discipline the mind. Scripture admonishes us to gird up the loins of our mind (1 Peter 1:13). I always see this as an admonition to get rid of the fat and get ready for strenuous exercise. It takes discipline to retrain the mind. We must have a goal, and we must take action towards that goal, and we must be diligent to keep at the action. One great way of reforming the mind is by the memorization of Scripture. For many, this is a very daunting task. But the sheer effort of doing so is well worth the effort. Because, with each new verse or thought one learns, such creates new pathways in the brain, and new thinking patterns. Over time, such new thinking patterns will replace the old thinking patterns. And, just as fat is defeated and replaced by muscle through diligent exercise, so evil is defeated and replaced by the good through diligent mental exercise. I have found that it may take months to begin to see progress, but if one persists in fighting evil thoughts by forcing the mind to think about what is good, victory comes and is very sweet.

It is not that we will ever be to the place where bad thoughts cannot come in. But we can get to the place where bad thoughts are not allowed to stay and they recede and no longer trouble us with their insistent knocking.

I am convinced that if you so pursue Him, you will not only find your former feelings of rightness restored in your life, but you will find a greater relationship than you ever had before. The one who is forgiven much, loves much.

May the Lord Jesus guide you, encourage you, and help you to see that only in devotion to Him is there life more abundantly. Everything else is a cheap substitute.

a fellow pilgrim,

tim

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