Step 2 of the Take Back Your Temple program is ‘Renew your Mind’ because what determines your daily choices are the thoughts that you nurture throughout the day.
Many people engage in negative habits because they believe that these habits are necessary to get them through the day (or evening).
They can’t imagine living without them.
The enemy often sows lying thoughts into a person’s mind to get them to engage in destructive behavior. Because the person fails to take lying thoughts captive, their imagination gives birth to desire (emotion), then desire to decision and finally, the decision to action.
It all begins with the thought life.
Let’s go through ‘Temptation Anatomy’ from an example I received several years ago. A TBYT reader wrote me the following message:
Yesterday I had the desire to eat some pretzels. I said to myself NO, you had some tortilla chips. So I didn’t need to eat the pretzels. At this point it was like a back and forth discussion in my mind about having the pretzels. So I wind up going to the convenience store and got the pretzels. At that point I would describe the feeling I had as peace mentally. Because before I bought them and I experience this same feeling when I try to say NO to sweets, I have no rest in my brain. Like my thoughts becoming consumed with it until I eat it, then afterwards I feel like a release. I am not sure what to tell myself during this time. Usually I say I don’t need this or not right now.
Here was my response to her:
I am so glad you asked me about this. There is hope because just like you wired the habit into your brain, you can wire it back out. Let’s look at what happened, step by step:
- You had the thought to eat pretzels. No problem. People have thoughts all the time, don’t they? You are at home. The pretzels are at the store. There is distance between you and the temptation.
- You told yourself, “No, I had some tortilla chips. You don’t need to eat the pretzels.” Still no problem. You are at home and the pretzels are at the store. There is distance between you and the temptation.
- A back-and-forth discussion starts up in your mind. Oh-no! There’s the problem. A crack in the door. You’ve just opened up the possibility of closing the distance between you and the temptation, introducing indecision and uncertainty.
The new question you’ve introduced for debate is, “Should I go get the pretzels?” That is the wrong question. Wrong questions have the ability to lead you in the wrong direction!
This is the point where the battle is won or lost. This is where you engage your imagination, which creates the desire, which leads to the decision, which leads to action.
Have you really made up your mind that you will make no more trips to the convenience store? Or are you leaving the door open for that to be an option for you?
You said that there is no rest in your brain if you don’t go. Watch out. I’ve discovered that when you have restlessness in your brain, that can be a sign of the enemy attempting to influence you. Wicked spirits are restless by nature (see Luke 11:24).
So the enemy’s fingerprints are all over thoughts like, “I can’t stand it if I don’t go.”
Also certain foods can “hijack” your brain. These types of foods use the Dopamine Reward Pathway (DRP) to activate the pleasure centers in your brain. The pretzels do this to you apparently, which is why you have obsessive thoughts about them.
The lying part of your thinking is that pretzels are the only way that you can get rest, peace, and pleasure at this moment.
One way you know a lying thought is that it makes you believe that you have no other options except to do what the thought is driving you to do.
Instead of a discussion with yourself about whether you are going to the convenience store to get pretzels or not, the discussion that really needs to happen is between you and the Lord.
Father, I need rest. I want to feel pleasure. I am used to turning to pretzels and food to meet this need in my life. But I want to do things differently. Send me your rest, Father. Show me your joy.”
You can ask Him this on the basis of 3 scriptures:
- Matthew 11:28 – “‘Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
- Isaiah 26:3 – “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.”
- Psalm 16:11 – “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
Take the Lord at His word. Walk around the house, put on some praise music, raise your hands, and praise the Lord for 10 minutes, waiting on His rest and His joy to come to you.
Praise, gratitude, and worship are some the things for which the DRP is designed. So use it to your advantage!
4. When you went to the convenience store, you said, “I wind up going to the convenience store and got the pretzels.” No. You did not wind up there. That implies you didn’t have a choice, like you were magically transported.
You made a conscious decision to go, so please be honest about that. This is important to acknowledge.
Here is what had to happen for you to close the distance between yourself and the pretzels (if you drove to the pretzels and didn’t walk):
- You got up off the sofa.
- You walked over to the car keys.
- You picked up the car keys.
- You walked out of your house door.
- You walked over to the car.
- You opened the car door.
- You got into the car.
- You started up the car.
- You drove to the store.
- You got out of the car.
- You closed the car door.
- You opened the door to the store.
- You went into the store.
- You went to the shelf where the pretzels are.
- You reached and got the pretzels.
- You went to the counter to pay.
- You paid for the pretzels.
- You opened the car door.
- You got into the car.
- You opened the pretzels.
- You ate the pretzels.
- You felt peace.
I’m just speculating on ’20’ and ’21’ because if you were driven like that to go get pretzels, then I’m thinking you ate them in the car. That’s what I would have done when I struggled with emotional eating.
With the steps laid out like this, I hope you see that you always have the ability to choose a different path.
In Summary, it is important that you consider what thoughts are supporting the actions that you are taking every day. Eventually, those actions will become your habits and your core habits write your destiny.
Don’t let the enemy’s lying thoughts write your destiny. Renew your mind to God’s word in every situation so that you can obtain the abundant life Jesus died to give you!
Be blessed in health, healing and wholeness,
Creator of the Take Back Your Temple program
P.S. Have you ever fallen into the trap of thinking that your past equals your future? Nothing could be further from the truth.