(Photo: Saddleback Church video screen grab)
People have the ultimate power to change their own thoughts, but in order to so do, one must "feed, focus, and free their minds on a moment by moment basis," preached Rick Warren, founding pastor at Saddleback Church based in Lake Forest, Calif., during last weekend's worship services.
"Satan can't control your thoughts, only you can, and God can't control your thoughts," said Warren during Sunday's sermon. "If you're having bad, scary, guiltily, lonely, depressed and discouraged thoughts, it doesn't help to say, 'God change my thoughts.' God is going to say, 'it's your mind, you do it.'"
Warren's message, "Change Your Life by Changing Your Mind" was part of the megachurch's 50 Days of Transformation series.
During this last weekend's sermon, Warren outlined what individuals need to understand about changing their "thought life." He first noted that God is far more interested in changing a person's mind than their circumstances.
"Your feelings don't shape your life, your beliefs do. It doesn't even have to be true, if you believe it, it's going to shape your life," he said.
To illustrate his point, Warren said people carry beliefs about themselves their entire lives that they were probably told during their childhood. If a person is labeled with negative affirmations during their formative years, they may carry those thoughts into adulthood and see themselves as such, even though they know it to be false, he explained.
He also emphasized that the mind constantly "debates" whether to sin or not.
"Sometimes you're conscious of that battle and other times you are not...The reason why most people are ineffective in life and actually fail at life is because they've never learned how to fight the battle of the mind," said Warren.
While speaking about sin, he also delved into the topic of temptation. Usually, temptation occurs in stages, beginning with desire and once a person analyzes whether to give into their temptation, they also begin to doubt if God finds their temptation sinful, Warren explained. Eventually, an individual can give in as soon as they are deceived by their mind.
That is where spiritual warfare kicks in, he said, referring to the breaking down of strongholds, or lies the enemy wants an individual to believe.
"If you're going to be mentally healthy, you have to learn how to demolish strongholds in your life…how do you do that? Bring [your mind] into submission, take it captive and bring it into obedience," said Warren.
He preached about three daily choices for a healthy mind, outlined in the sermon notes. The choices:
1. I must feed my mind with truth
"People need more than bread for life; they must feed on every word of God." Matthew 4:4 (NLT)
2. I must free my mind from destructive thoughts
"Those who are dominated by their sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit." Romans 8:5 (NLT)
3. I must focus my mind on the right things
"Keep you mind of Jesus Christ..." 2 Timothy 2:8 (CEV)
"Think about Jesus' example. He held on while wicked people were doing evil things to him. So do not get tired and story trying." Hebrews 12:3 (NCV)
One of his message outline points focused on believing more than 7,000 promises found in the bible. "You need the best information to live the best life God wants you to live and that's the word of God's truth. When should I feed my mind with the truth? Morning, afternoon and night because if you're constantly thinking about truth, it's going to renew your mind," said Warren.
The mind is a person's greatest asset and it is the key to peace and happiness, Warren emphasized throughout his message. However, there are three enemies that attempt to take hold of a person's thoughts including a person's past, Satan, and the world's value system.
"The first battle in your mind is with your old self nature, it's the source of all bad habits…Satan cannot force you to do anything if you're a Christian and have the Holy Spirit in you, but he can make powerful suggestions…You don't have to accept each thought," said Warren.