I’m starting a new series called Renewing the Mind. This battle with fear, panic attacks and anxiety is waged primarily in the mind. Through years of improper programming, the enemy has been able to influence our way of thinking through bad experiences, negative words and lies. God wants us to renew our minds, to change the way we think.
Our brains are these amazing, complex creations, and it’s only in recent years that scientists have truly begun to understand these biological neural networks. God created our brains to adjust, adapt and learn. Sadly, the enemy knows this and has used it against us since the fall.
I’m reading a great book right now called “Escaping the Matrix: Setting Your Mind Free to Experience Real Life in Christ“. The book is written by pastor, Greg Boyd and neuroscientist, Al Larson. In it, they describe the wonderful complexities of the human mind and brain, but also share how the enemy has used our own mind against us. That’s why we are reminded in scripture to renew our minds:
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
“Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes.” (Ephesians 4:23).
While that may feel impossible for those struggling with crippling fear, anxiety and panic attacks, it is possible to change the way you think and the way you respond. God would not instruct us to do something that we can’t do.
Let’s start with the word “repent”. Take a moment and think about “repent”. What does it mean to you? Use it in a sentence that you hear often. Mentally document your personal definition of “repent”. Does it sound something like this:
- Repent of your sins.
- Repent and turn away from bad decisions.
- When you sin, you need to repent.
- Stop sinning and start doing good.
Any of those sound familiar? Well, honestly, those are a wrong use of the word “repent”.
Repentance, in the original language, is not turning away from our sins; yet, it’s what we’ve been taught for years. In fact, when you look through the New Testament and the 32 verses that mention the word “repent” in some form, nowhere does it say “Repent of your sins”. It does say:
- Repent, and believe (Mark 1:15)
- Repent, and be baptized (Acts 2:38)
- Repent, and be converted (Acts 3:19)
- Repent, and turn to God (Acts 26:20)
The word “repent” in the New Testament is the Greek word metanoeo. It’s a combination of two words:
- meta: to change (like metamorphosis)
- noieo: the mind, our “thinker” (like the word knowledge)
“To repent” literally means “to change the way you think”.
When Jesus said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17), he was saying, “Stop thinking the old way and think a new way, the way God wants you to think.” He was simply saying, “Think differently.”
There is a new way to think about the Kingdom of heaven and God’s plan for us. That will be the focus on our next few messages: how to repent (how to think differently).
Prayer: Father, help me to think differently. Help me to renew my mind and open my heart to the truth of what you want to speak into my life.