Right action follows right thinking

People often tell us they want to change, but they can’t.   Below is an excerpt from Joyce Meyer’s book: Battlefield of the Mind, pages 143-146.  For some reason, I was prompted to share this with all of you.  I think God wants someone(s) to hear this…so here goes:

There is a dynamic principle shown throughout God’s Word, and no person will ever walk in victory unless he understands and operates in it:  right action follows right thinking.

Let me put it another way:  YOU WILL NOT CHANGE YOUR BEHAVIOR UNTIL YOU CHANGE YOUR THOUGHTS.

In God’s order of things, right thinking comes first, and right action follows. I believe that right action or correct behavior is a “fruit” of right thinking.  Most believers struggle trying to do right, but fruit is not the product of struggle.   Fruit comes as a result of abiding in the vine (John 15:4).  And abiding in the vine involves being obedient (John 15:10).

I always use Eph. 4:22-24 when teaching on this principle.  Verse 22 says, “Strip yourselves of your former nature (put off and discard your old unrenewed self) which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires tat spring from delusion.”

Verse 24 continues the thought by saying.  “And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image, (Godlike) in true righteousness and  holiness.”

So we see that verse 22 basically tells us to stop acting improperly, and verse 24 tells us to begin acting properly.

But verse 23 is what I call “the bridge Scripture.” It tells us how to get from verse 22 (acting improperly) to verse 24 (acting properly):  “And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind (having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude).”

It is impossible to get from wrong behavior to right behavior without first changing thoughts. A passive person may want to do the right thing, but he/she never will do so unless he/she purposely activates his/her mind and lines it up with God’s Word and will.

An example that comes to mind involves a man who once asked for prayer at one of my seminars. He had a problem with lust. He really loved his wife and did not want their marriage to be destroyed, but his problem needed to be solved or he would surely ruin his marriage.

“Joyce, I have a problem with lust,” he said.  “I just cannot seem to stay away from other women.  Will you pray for my deliverance? I have been prayed for many times, but I never seem to make any progress.”

This is what the Holy Spirit prompted me to tell him, “Yes I will pray for you, but you must be accountable for what you are allowing to show on the picture screen of your mind.  You cannot visualize pornographic pictures in your thinking, or imagine yourself with these other women, if you ever want to enjoy freedom.”

Like this man, others have come to realize, on the spot, why they are not experiencing a breakthrough even though they want to be free:  they want to change their behavior – but not their thinking.    The mind is often an area where people “play around with sin.”  Jesus said in Matthew 5:27, 28, “You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery.  But I say to you that everyone who so much as looks at a woman with evil desire for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  The way for sinful action is paved through sinful thinking.

A woman who attended my first home bible study had committed her life to the Lord and wanted her home and marriage to be straightened out.  Everything in her life was a mess-home, children, marriage, finances, physical condition, etc.  She openly said that she did not love her husband; in fact, she actually despised him.  Knowing that her attitude was not godly, she was willing to love him, but she just could not seem to tolerate being around him.  We prayed, she prayed, everyone prayed! We shared Scripture with her and gave her recorded teachings to listen to.  We did everything we knew to do and even though she was seemingly following our advice, she made no progress.  What was wrong? During a counseling session, it was revealed that she had been a daydreamer all of her life.  She was always imagining a fairy tale existence in which she was the princess and Prince Charming came home from work with flowers and candy, sweeping her off her feet with his devotion to her.

She spent her days thinking like this, and when her tired, overweight, sweaty, dirty husband came home from working hard all day, she despised him.

Think about this situation for a moment. The woman was a believer, and yet her life was a mess. She wanted to obey God and live for Him, and she also wanted to love her husband because she knew it was God’s will.  She was willing to have victory in her life and marriage, but her mind was defeating her.  There was no way she could overcome her disgust for her husband until she began to operate out of a “sound mind”.

She was mentally living in a world that did not exist and never would.  Therefore, she was totally unprepared to deal with reality.  She had a passive mind, and since she was not choosing her own thinking according to the Word of God, the evil spirits injected thoughts into her mind.

As long as she thought they were her own thoughts and enjoyed them, she would never experience victory.  She changed her thinking, and her life began to change. She changed her thinking, and her life began to change.  She changed her mental attitude toward her husband, and he began to change his appearance and his behavior toward her.

So here’s my 2 cents, “How do you stop your mind from thinking wrong thoughts?” You do whatever it takes to change those thoughts:

  •  force yourself to say “NO” to your thoughts, and force yourself to think of something else.  (I actually shout it out loud)
  •  move to another location and meditate on God’s truths.
  •  read scripture over and over and over and over…..
  • run or exercise so hard that your mind can’t think of it.

God wants to FREE someone today!     Blessings…

About loveandrespectkauai

Tim and Lynn Mira host Love and Respect small groups via a 5 week dvd presentation in the hope of helping marriage relationships. Based on Christian principles.
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