The battle for your mind is really a battle for your heart and affection. To understand the heart of God and see things through His eyes requires that we try to minimize the effect of the fleshly world on our hearts and minds.
Keeping the Junk Out
This is not to say we should be ignorant of what's happening in our world and the temptations around us. But that we minimize exposure to knowing what it is and how to reduce exposure to it. Sometimes we don't even know we are being slowly poisoned. We need to be cognicent of what we injest (with our eyes, mouth, ears etc).
- What is the poison?
- What is the source of the poison?
- Are we being slowly poisoned?
- What are the effects? What's the antidote?
What is Junk?
Anything that increases your temptation to sin. Anything that causes you to be further from God.
- Images / video that cause you to lust. This may or may not be p0rn.
- Images / video that desensitizes you to violence, gore, crude/lewd humour etc.
This may seem obvious, but how about the more sneaky ones:
- Food shows that cause you to Glutton.
- Social media feedback that grows your pride and narcism.
- Activities that cause you to spend less time with God. We'll touch on this more later on in this article.
- Social media that causes you to envy.
- What causes you to be more greedy? What makes you more cynical?
What about self-esteem?
- Is America's Next Top Model making you think you're ugly and not worthy of love?
- Is there a interesting documentary you're into that is quietly whispering lies about who God is?
- Do you have a “friend” who puts you down and makes you feel worthless?
- Why does having the big diamond ring make you happy?
From Where does said Junk Come From?
Sadly much of the junk comes from media but it can come from other places as well.
- internet / social media
- movies / tv
- magazines / newspapers
- friends / conversation
Are we being exposed?
How much poison can you drink before it kills you?
Some types of poison kill you slowly by compounding slow doses. Some types of poison can be flushed out of your system as long as you only take small doses like alcohol.
How does it get into your system?
Some types of poison don't need to be injested, they can be absorbed through your skin like mercury poisoning.
You can be poisoned without even knowing. Arsenic poisoning is a medical condition caused by elevated levels of arsenic in the body. The dominant basis of arsenic poisoning is from groundwater that naturally contains high concentrations of arsenic. A 2007 study found that over 137 million people in more than 70 countries are probably affected by arsenic poisoning from drinking water.
How do you know if you're being poisoned?
Blood test? health check?
- Is it affecting our thought processes? Are we dreaming about it?
- How does it affect your views of
- yourself, others, groups, the world, God.
- Has it cause a change in your behavior?
- Does it cause unwarranted emotion? Fear? Anger?
- Does it cause you to be needy, feel insecure or underappreciated
- Does it cause you to neglect your sleep, healthy eating, exercise?
- Does it cause you to want more worldly/fleshly material? Cars, houses, vacations etc.
- Does it cause us to think negatively about others
- Does it cause us to objectify others
- Does it eat up an unhealthy amount of our time.
- Does it cause you to hermit and avoid people?
- Does it cause you to miss church?
- Does it cause us to be apathetic towards social issues
- Does it cause you to fear or despise specific people groups
- Does it cause you to spend less time with God.
- Does it make you feel shame?
Most of the time the poison will show symptoms quickly. If you see multiple symptoms, that should be a red flag. Will you seek The doctor?
Renewing Your Mind
Renewing your mind is one of those things everyone wants but no one knows how to do.
Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Time / Memory
The human brain is mysterious thing. It is able to forget things over time. It is able to remember things incorrectly. You can forget that terrible thing you saw on the internet. It can turn a traumatic childhood memory into a positive force for change in your life. A bad memory can become a cherished one as you get older. I'm not a psychologist or expert in this area. I can only speak from my experience.
As you get older, renewing your mind becomes easier in a way as you can easily forget the crud in a short amount of time. However, it's a catch 22. You can also forget the good stuff like the goodness of God.
For me, renewing of the mind is the process of allowing God/time to extrude all the crap in your brain while you continually fill the freed up space with goodness.
That being said, the more times you repeat something, the harder it is to forget. The neural pathways become more solid. So the more you keep feeding/eating the junk, the harder it is to forget or change your habit.
experimenting → habit → addiction
I am not referring to chemical addiction like drugs. I am referring to mind addiction. Some would argue they are the same. I would not. Maybe related, but not the same.
Likewise, the more you dwell on God's goodness, the harder it is to forget.
So what does this mean? It means renewing your mind takes time and during this time you must have self control to stop feeding the flesh. Instead, 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. Phillipians 4:8 It takes time and is continual. Everytime you trip up, you must make a conscious effort to not repeat that activity for as long as possible.
How do you know if it's working? Renewing your mind will transform your actions. Not that you would be more law abiding but that you would demonstrate the fruit of the spirit more often and easily.
Don't Feed Your Flesh
Now the tricky part is how do you stop feeding your flesh.
So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. Zech 4:6
That's fine and all but let's be practical too. If you are having a problem with gluttony, stop watching the food network. Don't agree to go to the buffet with your friends. If you're envying the photos of what happy lives other people have and not grateful for yours, stop going on facebook. If you're visiting questionable websites, don't put a computer in your room. Leave it in a public space. Stop following your celebrity crush on social media.
Too much free time
Spend more time with loved ones or volunteering and doing ministry. Sometimes I feel like I have nothing better to do with my time than sin or feed my flesh. Have a project on the go so when you have free time, you can do that instead of go on your computer/phone. If you have a specific, alternate plan, it's easier to avoid the temptation.
Pray to God to give you guidance on alternate activities. Maybe he just wants you to spend your free time walking with Him in the neighbourhood park?