Monday, January 23, 2012

A Discipleship Model, Part 2of7

~ Step 2:  Control Your Thinking ~   

NOTE:  This Discipleship Model is a special 7-part series showing a clear path to spiritual victory. One step will be posted each day for a calendar week. After completion of this series Abundant Life Now will “resume regular programming.”

A basic problem is that carrying out good intentions ultimately requires hard work! But misdirected hard work doesn’t accomplish much. In this series of posts we are looking at a Biblical pattern for gaining victory in the Christian life. The second step in our Discipleship Model is to control our thought life. 

I heard a story once about a kamikaze pilot. It seems that it was his 28th mission! Unfortunately that is often the story of well-meaning Christians who desire to live a life pleasing to their Lord. Has that been true for you? Many times they just don’t see a way out of their habitual patterns.

A common contemporary saying is, “The definition of insanity is to keep on doing what you’ve been doing and expecting a different result.” If you are frustrated with the progress of your Christian life, you will gain insights from this series. Let’s move forward.

Have you ever wondered how a Christian leader who seems to have it all together can commit a terrible sin? The answer is that the process was a slow leak—it was not a blow out! The tire in this analogy is the brain and the leaking air is the thought life. 

It is at the thinking level that Satan rages his battle with you! If you are not actively testing your thinking and your attitudes, you are headed for real trouble.

“All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts” (Ephesians 2:3, emphasis added).

Our thoughts eventually produce results. “But the mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace" (Romans 8:6, emphasis added).

The Apostle Paul understood this principle, “Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ … I beg you … For the weapons of our warfare are … mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:1-5, emphasis added). 

The Apostle Peter recognized the role of our thoughts, “Your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity" (Acts 8:21b-23, emphasis added).

The writer of Hebrews understood the importance of our thought life. “For the Word of God is living 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” (Hebrews 4:12, emphasis added). 

Our Lord made it clear that the thought life is absolutely critical. You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’  But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment” (Matthew 5:21-22).  “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-29). Jesus Christ certainly recognized the importance of our thought life!

Our strength or weakness is based partly on our past thinking and attitudes that have been forming for weeks, months, and even years. To strengthen our strengths and weaken our weaknesses we must form new and regular patterns of thinking.

Finally, brothers, 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  (Philippians 4:8, emphasis added).

Fix your thoughts on Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest whom we confess” (Hebrews 3:1, emphasis added).   

Step 1:  Paradox  ~  Understand your partnership with God.
Step 2:  Thinking  ~  Choose to control your thoughts!
The next step will focus on how patterns of thinking gain control over you.

~ Robert Lloyd Russell, ABUNDANT LIFE NOW

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