Last month I began a journey. A journey to the cross where I intentionally chose to look at the sin in my heart. It’s not that I desired perfection or sinless-ness. I desired to be more like Him, Jesus. I desired to become one step closer to the woman I know God wants me to be. There were areas of my life I had not surrendered. There was sin that I continued to be enslaved to. I wanted to be free of my negative, selfish thinking.
My prayer during this time was simply, “Father, reveal the sin in my heart that keeps me from being the woman you desire me to be.” You see I have struggled most of my life with negative, critical, and even murderous thoughts. Mostly they are directed at my own life, my own heart. I truly am my own worst enemy. I speak words to myself that wound.
They are words that pour salt onto my past wounds and cause pain. Words that pick at scars that have healed or are trying to heal. The words that I play over and over in my head wound.
How does one stop doing something they have done most of their life? How does one actually change the thoughts in their mind? I’ve gotten a lot of advice a long the way. Words that were meant to help I am sure but often left me feeling powerless and like a failure. Advice that often relied on my own strength to change.
How does one stop beating themselves up with their words?
God began revealing the answer prior to this intentionally choosing to lay this at the feet of Jesus. I knew I needed to renew my mind. I even knew that it required me to replace those negative thoughts with God honoring, truthful thoughts. I had tried before, but always failed. ALWAYS. Oh I would do well for awhile but failure would come once again.,
This time though God brought me to a deep place in my heart. He showed me where the thoughts came from. He allowed me to dig deep into the roots of my thoughts. It was hard, painful and at times I just didn’t want to dig any further. Why must God take me so deep? Why did it have to be so painful? Oh, right, it’s what I prayed for. I wanted to see the ugliness of my heart. The sin that kept me in a place of self condemnation.
The amazing thing in all this was that as God showed me my sin He also showed me His grace. He reminded me of the cross and His Son. God NEVER shows us our sin in order to condemn us. He shows us sin in order to redeem us and to wash us clean with the blood of Jesus.
Now I stand ready for battle against my thoughts. I have seen my sin. I have gained understanding of where the thoughts come from and why they are there. Now I can fight. I can fight because I fight in the power of the finished work of the cross. I can fight because I do not fight alone. He fights with me and for me. Actually the battle is already won for sin no longer has power over me!
As each selfish, negative, critical, prideful or murderous thought threatens to enter my mind I can stand on the promises of God that I do not have to give in to temptation. He has provided a way of escape. (1 Cor 10:13) I understand that sin is crouching outside and desires to overcome me, but I must overcome it. (Gen 4:7)
So this is my plan. I will pray before I even try to handle any of it on my own. I will pray that God helps put off any thoughts that do not bring Him glory. I will pray for the overcoming power of His Spirit in this area.
I will replace those thoughts with truth. I will memorize scripture. I will remember to think of others before and more often than I think of myself. I will not let any unwholesome word come out of my mouth (or my mind). I will only think words that encourage and lift up. I will think upon words that offer grace. (Eph 2:3-4)
I will not do any of this in my own power but in the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 6:12 –14 says “Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to its lustful desires. Do not let any part of your body become a tool of wickedness, to be used for sinning. Instead, give yourselves completely to God since you have been given new life. And use your whole body as a tool to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you are no longer subject to the law, which enslaves you to sin. Instead, you are free by God's grace.”
I do not have to give into sin. I do not have to let my thoughts control me. God has given me a new life, and a new mind and I need to use it to bring God glory. I do not have to live any longer as if I am enslaved to my mind. I have been set free from sin and it’s power no longer controls me.
So now I must intentionally walk in this freedom. I must walk, regardless of my feelings, as one whose mind is free from shame and condemnation.
I do not want it to sound as if it’s easy. It’s not. It is and will be a daily, moment by moment choice to live in the power and control of the Spirit and not the power of self. When I live in the power of self I will fail. I will revert back to my hurtful thinking.
I must continually choose to speak words of grace, love and mercy.
I must choose to speak (think) words that heal the wounds of my heart and mind, not words that continue to open up wounds. I must choose to allow the Spirit to continue the work in my mind that He has started so that one day down the road I will suddenly realize that it’s no longer such a battle, for my Jesus has completely healed my mind of my condemning thoughts.
What do you still need to completely surrender at the cross of Jesus?
Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, @freedigitalphotos.net