Have you ever thought about your thoughts? Where they come from? How they work? If so, you’re not alone. Miriam-Webster defines it like this – “An idea, plan, opinion, picture, etc., that is formed in your mind : something that you think of.” MIT School of Engineering says that thoughts are “really just electro-chemical reactions.” Crystal clear right?
The topic of thoughts can be dissected different ways. Physically, they are nerve cells that transmit impulses using electrochemical reactions. Psychologically, thoughts can affect how you feel. If you want to change how you feel, you need to change how you think. The famous Philosopher Socrates said, “I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think.”
These approaches are helpful, but in order to get a more complete image of thoughts, you must also include the spiritual dimension. Humans are spiritual beings with minds that are impacted by the spirit world.
Image of the Mind
It helps me to draw pictures of complex ideas to better understand them. The image above is a bit crude artistically, but conceptually rich. I’ve used it numerous times to teach about the human state and how people interact with the spiritual world.
There are several main Christian teachings on the nature of humans. Some individuals hold to a duality of the physical and non-physical parts of the human being. I believe the case can be made for a triality of human nature. You are body, soul, and spirit. Hebrews 4:12 spells out that the human soul and spirit can be divided, which implies they are different in some way. I’ve heard it said that people are spirits living in physical bodies, but you must be careful not to undermine what it means to be human. Humans are different from plants. Weeds, shrubs, trees, grass, flowers and all other members of the plantae kingdom only exist in physical form. Humans are different from animals. All the non-human physical creatures lack an eternal spirit. Humans are different from angels. These non-corporeal beings do not have physical bodies.
The book of Genesis says that God created man in His image. This is reflected in the fact that He is also three—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The bible also says that Jesus is the mediator between God and humans. This is because He understands what it means to live with a physical body. Angels don’t understand this. They are not tempted by flesh as men are. Only Christ can relate to human sufferings, temptations, joys, and victories. To be human means to be all three. Even in the resurrection people will keep their triality. You will be like Jesus and have a new incorruptible body.
If you turn back to the image above, you can see that thoughts originate from different sources. The image uses three different colors. The white colored thoughts are the ones implanted by God. He speaks to people through the Holy Spirit. I’ve never actually heard the audible voice of God, but I can say I’ve heard Him speak in my mind through thoughts. The dark colored thoughts are implanted by Satan or demons. I do not believe Satan can read peoples thoughts, but I do think he can insert them. You can see this is true from the story of Ananias in the book of Acts. Peter asks, “why has Satan filled your heart?” Heart in this passage refers to thoughts.
The blue thoughts in the image are human. Thoughts will originate from different processes in the mind and body. They can come directly from the five senses. You look at a cloud and the shape makes you think of a car. You eat something and remember a favorite dish your grandmother used to make. You hear a song on the radio and think about an event in your past. The circumstances of your life will drive thoughts, and you experience these circumstances through your senses.
You will also generate thoughts from memories. You wake up on auto-pilot and go directly to the bathroom. It’s habit. Your memory leads you straight to it. Over the next several minutes your mind loads up your mental check list. Your attitude is often set by your memories. Again, you wake up in a bad mood because something negative happened to you yesterday or the day before. Your memories can become a negative feedback loop. The bible refers to these as strongholds. This is why it is critical to look at each day in a new light. The Bible says the mercies of God are new every morning. Try to find something that is good in your life to focus on when you go to bed. This will set the stage for tomorrow.
You can also generate thoughts from your will. Your will is your ability to control thoughts, emotions, and actions. You have the ability to sit and think about anything you want. The bible is clear that you need to take control over your thoughts. 2 Corinthians says to take every thought captive. You have the ability to grab them and place them where they belong. The greatest gift God gave humanity is the ability to choose. You have free will. The bible has a lot to say about thoughts
Meditate on His Word
Joshua 1:8 – This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
Psalms 119:15 – I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.
Isaiah 26:3 – Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Meditate on what is positive
Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
Faith Comes through Meditating on the Word
Romans 10:17 – So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
2 Cor. 10:3-5 – For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.
Rom. 12:2 – And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
You Control your Thoughts
Prov. 4:23 – Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.
1 Pet. 1:13 – Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Psalms 101:3 – I will set no worthless thing before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not fasten its grip on me.
Prov. 4:25 – Let your eyes look directly ahead And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.
Col. 3:2 – Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth
The Enemy will try to Blind us
2 Cor. 4:4 – in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.