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Destroying Strongholds: Smashing Thoughts That Bind Pt 8

Once we recognize an ungodly belief and reject it, we must deal with the habits that we picked up with the beliefs.

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This blog post is part 35 of the series Seven Invisible Barriers to Spiritual Growth.
To see all the posts in the series click here
.           To listen to the audio version click here.

Getting Out of the Rut

Let me be clear, sometimes when God reveals the truth everything changes, habits and all. But sometimes we are so programmed in responding a certain way that it takes a conscious effort for us to put off the old and put on the new. The Apostle Paul says:

22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

When we were held by an ungodly belief we learned to operate out of the lies. We patterned our life and responses from those lies. Our responses become instant and automatic. We have responded in a way so many times it takes no conscious thought. We do it automatically.

How many times have you experienced this truth in your own life. A situation takes place and you respond negatively. Instantly there is deep regret because you do not want to act that way. It just happens without any thought.

This is a learned response that has become ingrained in you actions. You have responded from the lie so many times it has become second nature. You just respond.

That was true for me when I first came to the Lord. My problem was with anger. I would instantly respond to certain situations with anger and arguing. I hated it and wanted it to stop.

No matter how many times I told myself, “I will not get angry or argue,” I responded with anger and argued to win. FInally in desperation, I cried out to the Lord.

I told the Lord that anger just flew out of me before I really had a chance to stop it. I felt helpless. I asked the Lord if He would help me and give me an opportunity to respond before I blew up and acted in a way I hated.

To make sure I had a chance to respond I asked the Lord to set off a flashing red light in my mind as a reminder that I had a choice to make.

One day shortly after that, the Operations Officer in my squadron came to me and began to chew me out for something one of my troops did wrong. I sucked in a deep breath and raised my hand ready to argue with him.

I saw the red flashing light in my mind.

I put my hand down, lowered my head, and said, “I’m sorry, sir.”

He said, “That’s okay,” and left.

I was shocked. It worked. I could stop the anger that always rose up in my heart. I could react differently than I always did before. Wahoo!

I always love it when the Lord begins to show me how I can live differently in Him. I don’t have to stay the same, think the same, or react the same. I can make a choice to agree with what God says is true.

Paul shows us a three-step process we can go through to see these changes come to play in our lives. He said:

Paul shows us a three-step process we can go through to see these changes come to play in our lives. He said:

  • Lay aside your old self (corrupted in accordance with the lust of deceit)
  • Be renewed in the spirit of your mind
  • Put on the new self (in the likeness of God)

Putting Off the Old Self

The first stage of the process is laying aside the old self. This means laying aside all of our old beliefs and actions that do not line up with God’s truth. Before we came to Christ we did not have the power to do this. But now we do.

The power of the Holy Spirit in us gives us the ability to put off the old man. Taking off the old man deals with the casting off ungodly beliefs and ungodly actions.

Paul talks about it as a former way of life. Now that you have come to Christ you can put off the way you used to live and put on what God has for you.

The former ways are corrupt. They are worn out, useless, and deceitful. They did not produce life, only death and destruction.

The way to put this off is by accepting and walking in the truth. Paul tells us to be renewed in our minds. We have seen throughout this series of posts that ungodly beliefs hold us in captivity and keep us from experiencing the life of God.

It is the renewing of our minds that allows us to make choices leading to life. Our thoughts and minds must come into agreement with the truth of God’s word. We must allow Him to shape our understanding of life and godliness.

The only way to be free from an ungodly belief is to recognize it as a lie and embrace the truth of God’s word. When we allow God’s word to shape our thoughts, we can renounce the lie and have our thinking change. Changed thinking results in the possibility of a changed life.

Understanding the truth in our mind is not enough. We must put the truth into practice. It is never enough to reject the lie and accept the truth. We must repent and renounce the lies.

True repentance is agreeing with God’s truth and thereby begin to walk in it. True repentance leads to a true change in a person’s thoughts and actions. We are never to just get rid of the old. We must also put on the new.

Getting rid of something is only a partial victory. God calls us to get rid of the old but has something incredible to replace it.

Putting on the New Self

These new clothes are not something we provide for ourselves. They are already provided and they are in the likeness of God and created in righteousness and truth.

The Apostle Peter puts it this way:

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He promised to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 Peter 1:3-5)

God gives us the power and ability to escape the corruption that comes through sinful desires and put on the new man, which is actually partaking in His divine nature. When we reject the old way of life, accept the truth of God’s word, we are able to put on the new man and walk in newness of life by the power of the Holy Spirit.

It is God’s divine power that has made all of these things available. It is much like the weapons of our warfare that are divinely powerful. God has provided what we need to live a fruitful, overcoming life.

The Christian life is not a life of self effort. Too many are trying to live the Christian life in the power of the flesh through rules and regulations rather than by the power of the Holy Spirit. This will always lead to defeat and hopelessness.

God does not want us to struggle in our own strength and abilities. God has provided whatever we need to live a godly life. It is already a finished work and available to us through faith.

Paul tells us to make the choice to reject and put off the things in the past that are corrupt and bring death into our lives. He invites us to have our minds renewed so that we can come into agreement with the truth of God’s word. Once we know the truth we must grab hold of the new self made available through the power of God.

God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. It is when we embrace His truth with faith and walk not in our own strength but His that we live life as God intends it to be.

An important thing to remember is that all that we need is already available and waiting for us to put on. It is not something that God needs to do. He has already done it. It is waiting for us.

Take Responsibility

Often we are asking God to do things that we are supposed to do. We pray, “God take this from me, while God is asking us to take it off. Or we ask God to give us something that He has already given, while He is waiting for us to put it on.

God will not do what He requires us to do in response to Him. It is our responsibility to put off and put on, not God’s. It is our responsibility to walk by faith. No one else can do it for us.

I want to leave you with a challenge. Ask God to begin to reveal ungodly beliefs in your life. Ask Him to show you every time you you think an ungodly thought. When He shows you one write it down on a piece of paper or in your phone. When you have time repent for the ungodly belief and ask God what His truth is. Put a line through the ungodly belief and write down the truth. Begin to meditate on the truth and live it out.

Value Bomb

When you are reading the Bible pay close attention to the tense of the verbs in the sentence.

Does the Bible say something was done in the past? If so, it is done. “His divine power has granted to us . . “ We don’t have to ask God to provide this. It is already available.

Does the Bible tell us to do something in the present? “Lay aside the old self . . . Put on the new self” This is something that we must do. God has made the provision, but we must respond in obedience.

Does the Bible speak of something in the future? This is something that we can put our hope in because God is faithful.

Next week we will start looking at the next invisible barrier of unforgiveness.

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About the Author

Terry Tuinder is the co-founder of Experiencing His Victory. His experience includes thirty-one years of pastoral ministry, an earned Doctor of Ministry degree from The King’s University, and nineteen years involvement in deliverance ministry. He helps people grow in their relationship with God.