And you [He made alive], when you were dead (slain) by [your] trespasses and sins in which at one time you walked [habitually]. You were following the course and fashion of this world [were under the sway of the tendency of this present age], following the prince of the power of the air. [You were obedient to and under the control of] the [demon] spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience [the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving, who go against the purposes of God].
I find a great deal of comfort in thinking about who I used to be and who I have become. It helps me not to be discouraged when I make mistakes or find that I still struggle over some issues. I’m greatly encouraged when I consider where I started and where I am now.
In Ephesians 2, Paul described those outside of Christ. He wrote that unbelievers follow the prince of the power of the air, who is Satan, and they follow the way their master leads. In verse 1, he pointed out that all were once dead through their sins, but believers are now alive in Jesus Christ. He tells us we’re not governed or led by our lower nature—the impulses of the flesh.
Many Christians have trouble in this area because they haven’t learned to control their thoughts. A lady once told me, “It simply didn’t occur to me that I needed to direct my mind and keep it healthy and positive. If ministers preached or taught about the control of our thoughts, I never heard it. One day, however, I read an article about the power of thoughts, and God convicted me. That’s when I knew I needed to change my thinking.”
This lady said she drove down the street of a busy city and she spotted a sign, a cartoon of a car with big eyes for the front lights and tears flowing, and the words, “Please help me! I need an oil change.”
As she passed by, she thought, I need a mind change. I don’t like being the way I am, letting my mind go wherever it wants. Part of my responsibility as a child of God is to keep my thoughts healthy and strong.
“I want to make it clear that I went to church,” she said, “and I had been active for years. I knew a lot of Scripture, and I even did some volunteer work at the church. But I didn’t control my thoughts. Even when I sang in church, my mind jumped from subject to subject. We’d be singing about joy and grace, and I’d think about the dishes still in the sink, the unfinished laundry, or what I wanted to eat for lunch.
“I attended church and I was faithful, but I was not faithful in attending to the Word. I listened when the preachers quoted Scripture. I usually followed along with my own Bible, but I didn’t really think about what I was hearing or what my eyes were reading. I was doing the right things outwardly, but I wasn’t thinking the right things. My mind was a mess, and I didn’t know what to do about it.”
“I need a mind change,” she suddenly said aloud to herself. Just then, she actually pondered the words she had spoken. She was like the car on the sign—she needed a change—a mind change. She needed to let the Holy Spirit direct her thoughts instead of the devil. As she prayed, she felt confident there would be a positive change.
She thought to herself, Is there anything I am supposed to do? She realized that if she didn’t make lifestyle changes, the devil would soon make the new thinking as muddy and gunky as the old thinking was.
For the next several days, she looked up all the scriptures she could find that used the word study or meditate. She also looked up scriptures that talked about the mind or thoughts. She read those verses, wrote them on slips of paper, and pondered them.
Here are three of them.
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he… (Proverbs 23:7 NKJV).
And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude] (Ephesians 4:23).
My hands also will I lift up [in fervent supplication] to Your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on Your statutes (Psalm 119:48).
The more she meditated on the right things, the less trouble she had with Satan trying to control her thoughts. That’s how it works with all of us: The more we focus on God, the less often the devil can defeat us.
Thank You, great God, for giving me a mind change. Help me always to be free to serve You with my heart, my soul, and my mind. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.