Proverbs 23:7a says: “As (a man) thinks in his heart, so is he.” What does it mean to think from your heart? We have a lot of different thoughts. Thoughts from our mind might be about things like what’s for dinner. However, deeper thoughts come from our heart or our inner man – our spirit. It’s these deeper thoughts that affect our bodies and our physical and spiritual well-being. We can appreciate that this Scripture challenges us that we can think from our heart. Your spirit is the eternal part of who you are.
For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he… Proverbs 23:7a
A million years from now, you’re not going to be thinking about dinner. But there are other thoughts that are eternal in value that you can meditate on right now that become a part of who you are for the rest of eternity. These are godly things that you should be thinking about. You can find these precious thoughts throughout Scripture.
Why do we need to discern the source of our thoughts?
Thoughts that are mental or strictly intellectually oriented are grounded in the wisdom of the world, which will pass away. Some of these thoughts may be beneficial to our temporal life on earth yet fall short when addressing the understanding and function of our spirit. It’s imperative to learn to discern the good and evil of what is going on inside you and what is going on around you at the spiritual dimension. The Scriptures are forever superior to the world’s feeble attempts of survival.
Let’s look at an interesting example of this in Matthew 9. Jesus heals a person but first tells everyone that this individual’s sins are forgiven. The scribes and Pharisees were not happy with Him.
And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. 3 And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. 4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? 5 For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? 6 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. 7 And he arose, and departed to his house. Matthew 9:2-7
We need to pay attention to what we’re thinking about
The scribes were accusing Jesus of blasphemy, yet they didn’t say it out loud. Jesus knew their real thoughts, the thoughts of their spirit. He was not a mind reader; He heard their thoughts in His spirit by the gift of discernment of the Holy Spirit. We can also make judgments in our hearts; sometimes they’re right, and sometimes they’re wrong. Today, we are talking about the thoughts we reflect on that are inside our hearts and impact our physical health.
Proverbs said, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” What are we thinking about ourselves? What are we thinking about our relationships with other people? What are we thinking about God? Are we anxious about the future?
Our thoughts become our actions
We need to slow down and think about what we are thinking about. Here’s an example: A person may say, “I’m such an idiot!”
Here’s where we get to the second part of Proverbs 23:7. It’s a trickledown effect from something we agree with in our heart that becomes what we think about in our minds. Then our physical body responds because it’s a temple. Our physical body is just a spiritual holding place for what God really wants to recover – our spirit and soul. So we can’t just throw words out and expect our physical body to take that kind of verbal abuse. That’s like giving ourselves an invisible beating!
A lot of believers may be well trained to know not to say those things, but they may still be meditating on those things in their inner man. These things are contrary to God’s Word about themselves, about God, and about others. And what we meditate on and think about eventually becomes what we speak and act out. So when we do things that may not honor God, we need to rewind and ask ourselves, “What have I been thinking about? What was within my heart that caused me to speak or act this way?” That is looking to the root of the issue, not just trying to put a Band-Aid on your heart.
Do you ever struggle to control yourself?
Sometimes we have an ongoing battle within ourselves. Maybe we know how to behave and act like everything is great on the outside, but there’s a wreck inside. Be encouraged that over time, God can help you undo those inner things that make you feel like a wreck. Then you can truly be at peace on the inside and the outside.
Here’s another example of something that we can meditate on that would have a negative physical response: “I’m never going to get this.” That is a projection of failure. This conclusion that we make in our heart becomes self-fulfilling. There is no faith in that statement; in fact there’s a lot of fear there. Then the guilt comes in along with it because you want to do it right, but you feel like a failure. By agreeing with this thought that came to your spirit from the enemy’s kingdom, the enemy has ‘legal’ permission to utilize those words and create another failure in the future. That legal permission is called the law of sin in Romans 7.
Responsibility comes with forgiveness
I want to tell you: there is forgiveness, folks! However, at some point, the necessary changes have to convert to maturing you from glory to glory. Allow God to change you from the inside out. Tell Him you give Him permission, even before you fully understand the details.
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18
Your body responds to your thoughts
How does your body respond to thoughts like, “I’m never going to get this”? Spiritually, heaviness comes. Physiologically, your body suppresses hormones like serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine that regulate your sense of well-being and your ability to rest and be at peace.
A Christian study shows that when a person activates faith in their hearts towards something, for instance, when you believe that God can really help you, it releases serotonin in your brain. Guess what that does? It helps open the pathway to learning! However, if we get really negative and believe that we will never get it right, for instance, it decreases some neurotransmitters and shuts down the learning process. That’s why it’s called a self-fulfilling statement.
Replace negativity with faith
Recognizing a pattern of thought that is unhealthy is an important first step, but then what? Be honest with God. Swap out the fatalism with faith with something like, “Without you, God, I’m never going to get this.” That is a true statement, isn’t it? It is an honest statement.
I love the Scripture that says that godly sorrow leads to repentance:
For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. 2 Corinthians 7:10
As you’re learning to take your thoughts captive and recognize them, there’s a transition where godly sorrow is very appropriate. But godly sorrow means that it is directed toward someone who can do something about the concern. That ‘someone’ is your Heavenly Father in Jesus’ name. Take what isn’t working to Him and allow Him to be part of the solution.
According to this verse, godly sorrow works repentance – remember repentance should be verbal. And repentance leads to salvation, not to be repented of. That means that you don’t have to keep repenting for the same thing over and over. The solution has been embedded in your heart by a revelation from the Holy Spirit through the process of godly sorrow.
The sorrow of the world
The remainder of the verse says, “…but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” What is the sorrow of the world? That is heaviness, guilt, fear of failure, and shame. These things are the devil’s tools to form the law of sin in your heart.
This goes beyond salvation; this topic is about sanctification. Let godly sorrow operate in your heart because it’s part of finding out who you are and removing that other kingdom. Compare worldly and godly sorrow side by side. Without that godly sorrow, you disengage from productive repentance; it may just become works-based without the turning of your heart. Godly sorrow is relational. It’s saying, “Father, I’m really missing it. I need your help to overcome this.” That allows the Holy Spirit to come and work with you for change.
If we follow the thoughts behind worldly sorrow, we will always be left with the same problem we started with. We are told through the temptation of guilt and fear to try harder. But according to who’s strength and who’s standards? Definitely not the Holy Spirit’s. These ungodly spirits mimic and mock God’s true nature but never fully release you to be like Him. They reflect an ungodly type of self-control and behavior modification because they want to stay in control and make you behave like them. Scripture unpacks how all this works in Romans 7.
Fear, guilt, and shame are not from God!
Then these three dogs from the enemy come after us – fear, guilt, and shame – to cast us down and make us shut down. When we listen to that lie that we’re not going to make it, we get focused on ourselves. It’s all about our failure, our shortcomings, our shame. They make us look to the nearest ‘fig leaf’ to cover ourselves temporarily until we reveal our ‘nakedness’ in the same sin again.
Whether you participate with worldly sorrow or godly sorrow, both take energy. Ungodly sorrow saps your energy and makes you strive and perform to be good enough. With godly sorrow, it takes engagement and work to humble yourself. Yet it brings the good fruit back into your heart and reforms you into peace, joy, and righteousness.
And surprise, surprise, those are attributes of the Holy Spirit that you received with His mercy.
For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. Isaiah 57:15
The benefits of following God’s ways
As a benefit, the physiological and spiritual benefits of participating with God’s grace and mercy end up in your body with the release of proper amounts of hormones like dopamine and serotonin. Your immune system strengthens because as our spirit remains at peace, so does your body.
Isn’t it wonderful to know that we can repent in a way that brings cleansing? It doesn’t have to be heavy and wearisome. Why do we repent anyway? Because we hope that something is going to change. That hope propels us into faith, and not only is God pleased, but you become a happier person too.
The Kingdom of God moves by faith.
If we shut down faith, we’ll have a long, difficult road to travel. But if we can open our hearts and say, “This is what I’m thinking, and I don’t feel like I can get it, but I know God can help me.” That is how we start turning around the thoughts that are negatively impacting our bodies.
Taking care of our thoughts right now isn’t just about making sure we have a better day, a good life, or even about our mental health. It is about prioritizing our love and honor for God while we are in our earthly bodies. We are His temple.
Take your thoughts captive and bring them before God
If you find yourself in a rut, don’t feel condemned. Ruts happen. But when you recognize one, take that thought and squeeze them with your spiritual fist. Slow down enough to say, “This is what I’m thinking, Lord… I don’t know how to handle this rut-wreck, but I’m going to trust you to lead me away from it.” Say things that are filled with hope and faith. It may just be a sentence or two to start with. Little steps of hope and faith will start you on a big journey with God! Ask God how your heart operates on the inside. Ask Him what’s going on in there! Don’t rely solely on your mind, but learn how to let your heart think through things with the help of the Spirit of God.
The Father already knows all things. He’s already searched everything out, but not everyone allows Him access. If you find a weed inside, grab it, practice godly sorrow before God, and allow Him to help you root it all the way out. That could take a process of time, or it may be an instantaneous deliverance. He is good to you no matter what path it takes. The more you think in your heart like Him, the more everything about you looks like Him.
Pastors John Shales
There’s more to this conversation! Watch it here:
Would you like to read more articles related to this topic?
What is Complaining- How to Overcome Complaining – Complaining is an example of negative thoughts that we reflect on and speak out. Pastor Adrienne exposes the effect that complaining can have on your body and your mind.
The Possible Spiritual Root of Migraines – Migraines are a very good example of a physical problem that is directly related to what we are thinking about. Discover the possible spiritual roots to migraines in this insightful article.
How to Develop Patience – Patience is a way of thinking and acting that can have a positive effect on our health and our spirit. David Levitt explains how God can help you grow patience in your life. The fruit of it will bring peace and stability.
Pin this article to save it for later and help us spread the Word!