Dangerous Thinking

Is it ever dangerous to think? It all depends how you think. Ideas always have consequences. Our thoughts drive our actions. How we think determines what we do. Jesus pointed out that actions find their source in the heart (Mark 7:21). Proverbs 23:7 says that a person is defined by how he thinks in his heart.
The area of thought then, is very important. Worldly thinking is extremely dangerous. Christians must realize that the world has an agenda. The ideas routinely propounded in the news media, in the entertainment industry, and in the realm of secular education have a definite flavor to them— a flavor that is decidedly anti-Christian in nature.

Since Christians are in no way immune from the influence of worldly thinking, the Bible commands us to “gird up the loins of our minds” (1 Peter 1:13), “be renewed in the spirit of our minds” (Ephesians 4:23), “be transformed by the renewing of our mind” (Romans 12:2), and think on things that are “true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report” (Philippians 4:8). Listed below are four dangerous shifts in thinking that Christians are prone to make.

A Shift from God-Centered to Man-Centered Thinking
The Bible says that the fool (an unsaved person) denies God’s existence in his life (Psalm 14:1). Although he knows that God exists (Romans 1:18–20), he suppresses that knowledge and will not submit himself to God (Romans 8:7). Because he refuses to acknowledge God’s supremacy, his thinking becomes man-centered and in God’s estimation, worthless (Romans 1:21–22).

Christians are constantly engaged in a spiritual battle with the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Naive Christian young people, their parents, and even senior saints are becoming casualties of this battle every day without even realizing they are engaged in mortal combat. The mind is a key target of the enemy, because once a Christian is defeated by ungodly thinking, the battle is over. For this reason, God commands Christians to bring every thought into captivity so that it obeys Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4–5).

Every sin we commit with our bodies is the result of ungodly thinking. Eve ate the forbidden fruit because she believed Satan’s lie in the Garden of Eden: “Has God really said that?” “You won’t really die, will you?” (Genesis 3:1, 4). The original construction of these two questions clearly indicates the devil was casting doubt on God’s truthfulness and his genuine concern.

When Christians disobey God, we indicate a lack of trust in God’s goodness. If we believe that God has our best interest at heart (that is, God is completely loving and good), we would not doubt his commands. Whenever we sin, it is because we believe the lie that we know more than God. When we discard God’s Word for our own thinking, we are in rebellion against the Creator God who made us and rightfully demands our obedience.

The entertainment industry is rife with examples of this type of shift: usually young people disobey their parents and do things “their own way.” However, by the end of the show, the parents realize their children really do know best. Of course, the program does not flash this message across the screen in big letters, but the message is clearly and effectively taught using comedy, animated characters, or cute animals.

An interesting exercise is to watch a television program, play, or film and see what individual is ridiculed and made to look foolish and who is exalted and honored. More often than not, parents (especially fathers) appear foolish and inflexible. Pastors and religious figures also routinely come up for ridicule. Homosexuals are almost always cast in a favorable light and children, however disobedient or insolent, come out ahead in the end. Christians are often disarmed when the characters are animated animals, but the message is the same: “Children, do not obey your parents or any authority— you know best.”
When we remove God and His Word from the center of our thinking, we must replace the standard of God’s Word with something else. This replacement begins a second dangerous step away from biblical, God-honoring thinking.

A Shift from Objectivity to Relativity
When the absolute truth of God and his Eternal Word is removed from the center of man’s thinking, the result is a shifting, groundless, futile mess. Imagine a boat anchored in a harbor. That anchor is probably something heavy and solid, grounded in the bottom of the harbor. It is fixed; it does not move. Now imagine a ship tying up to a beach ball! Instead of being tied to the fixed “anchor” of God’s unchanging character and Word, the world “anchors” its thinking in the shifting “beach ball” of scientific discovery, humanist psychology, popular opinion, or hedonistic pleasure.

In the world’s thinking, nothing is absolute or constant. There are no absolutes— they are absolutely sure of that fact. All “truth” is in a continual state of change or flux. Something may be true for one generation, but not for the next generation. Something may have been right for your parents, but it may or may not be right for you. There is no one right way to do anything.

Even religion is relative; no religion can claim to be the only religion or the “right” religion, because all truths are equally valid. The only thing that our society cannot tolerate is intolerance. Everybody must have the “right to think,” which when the world uses the phrase does not usually mean simply the freedom to express and evaluate an idea. What they really mean is that if someone puts forth an idea, it cannot be wrong. Therefore, the “right to think” is really a way of saying that “all thinking is right.” They demand that everyone’s ideas are right— unless you try to deny this claim!

This relativism flies in the face of the Bible’s teaching. The Word of God is clear that God never changes— he is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Not only is God absolute and constant, his Word is always true (1 Peter 1:24–25). If the Bible says something is so, it is always so, because the Bible is the unchanging Word of the unchanging God (Isaiah 40:8). Because of who God is, we can trust his Word.

Any idea, religious or otherwise, is only valid if it agrees with what God has revealed. Jesus himself said that the only way to God was through him (John 14:6). Any religion that denies the only way to God is through Jesus Christ is a false gospel (Galatians 1:6–9).
We should not be surprised that society does not accept God’s absolute truth. Paul warned that people in these times would not accept the truth of God (2 Timothy 3:3–5), but would have “itching ears” and want to hear things that sound good to them (2 Timothy 4:3–4).

A Shift from Principle to Pragmatism
Once a person removes God from the center of their thinking and enthrones their own ideas and thoughts in God’s place, it is not long before God’s thinking (the absolutes of his Word) is discarded for a more flexible basis for life. Everything is now relative and each person gets to decide what is best for him or her. Now instead of living a life based on absolute principles (whether biblical or not), a person does whatever works.

Lying is not wrong if it gets you out of a jam. Stealing and cheating are okay if they get you ahead. Pornography and sexual sins are permissible as long as you do not hurt anybody else. Killing an unborn baby is not wrong because a woman can do whatever she wants with her body. Many Christians even fall into this trap, thinking that the Bible is a revered book, but it contains only suggestions and ideas that may or may not work for them.

In this mindset, the important question is not “Is it right or wrong?” but “Does it work for me?” Something may not work for me, but if it works for you, then it is okay. This thinking is summed up in one of our world’s favorite words, “Whatever!” If we look around our society, we see this kind of thinking everywhere. It often follows this line of argumentation: “If homosexuality works for someone, then it must be right. Who are you to say that what they are doing is wrong? After all, it works for them!”

In Christian circles, we often hear the same kind of ungodly thinking. Churches adopt the world’s music and mate it with Christian words because “unsaved people are comfortable with that kind of music.” Guess what? It works! Since unregenerate people thoroughly enjoy hearing sensual, worldly music, they flock to contemporary churches in droves.
Unfortunately, God is not glorified by any “success” that fails to obey his Word. It is very important to God that we obey his Word, and not just do what works for us. The Bible tells us that there is a way that seems right to man, but its result is death (Proverbs 14:12). King Saul incurred the judgment of God because he did things that “worked” and “seemed right” instead of what God commanded him to do. Samuel, rebuking Saul, said that it was more important to obey even than to sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22). Clearly, God is not pleased by anything we offer him when we refuse to obey him.

A Shift from Reason to Feeling
When man is at the center of his own thinking, and God’s reality has been superseded by man’s whims and ideas, it is one more short step downward to complete domination by and slavery to feelings and desires. This is what happened in the Garden of Eden when Eve looked at the fruit which God had forbidden and saw that it was “good for food and pleasant to the eyes” (Genesis 3:6). Peter and Jude denounced the false teachers of their day, characterizing them as “walking after their own lusts” (Jude 16, 18; 2 Pet 2:10). The driving force behind what the world does is how it feels. Paul warned Timothy that in the last days men would be “lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:4).

Sadly, many Christians are no different than the world. They decide what to buy, what to watch on TV, what to wear, and how to entertain themselves based wholly on what will make them feel good. They no longer think; they just “feel.” They desire nothing more than to be entertained, to be pampered, or to be thrilled. Their flesh and its desires run their lives.

This should scare a Christian, because we know from God’s Word that nothing good dwells in our flesh (Romans 7:18) and that our hearts are “desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). While Christians are to be controlled by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), the Bible tells us that our fleshly desires are in complete opposition to the Holy Spirit and those two sets of desires are in constant conflict (Galatians 5:17). For this reason, Christians must dominate and subjugate their bodies and the sinful desires of their flesh (1 Corinthians 9:27).

In Conclusion
A Christian is not to be conformed to the world, but to be transformed by renewing his mind (Romans 12:2). This is a clarion call for us to think biblically, ordering our lives on the absolute principles of God’s unchanging Word. The world is passing away, and only by obeying God can we do things that will last for eternity (1 John 2:17).

Peter challenges every Christian, “Gird up the loins of your mind” (1 Peter 1:13). This is not common parlance today, but the idea is clear: prepare your minds for action! Get ready! The Devil, the world, and your own fleshly desires are locked in a grueling war against you. The battle is raging for your mind. The Devil wants to destroy you (1 Peter 5:8), the world wants to squeeze you into its anti-God mold (Romans 12:2), and your flesh is a traitorous enemy within you (Romans 7:14–20). How can we as Christians discipline ourselves to cultivate biblical thinking in our lives and in the next generation?

  1. Read and study the Bible. If we want to have biblical thinking, the first step is to know what the Bible says. A Christian who does not regularly read and study the Bible will never think biblically. Just as thinking in a worldly way will produce a worldly life, so meditating on God’s Word will produce a life that obeys God. Paul exhorted the Colossians to “let the Word of Christ dwell richly” in them and described in the following verses what a “Word-soaked” life would look like (Colossians 3:16–4:1). David said that God’s Word gives guidance to daily life (Psalm 119:105). The Bible is not a dusty book that is thousands of years old; it is the Word of the Living God that speaks to our problems today.
  2. Read, listen, and watch with discernment. Prepare your mind for action (1 Peter 1:13). Peter also warned, “Be sober, be vigilant, for your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). The world and the Devil will not always attack us in blatantly obvious ways; we must be on our guard in order to avoid the craftiness and sneaky attacks that come our way. We must not be “ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11). Never watch, listen, or read simply to be entertained. Compare what is said with what God has said and filter out what is evil (Romans 12:9). Ask questions of what you read, listen to, and watch: Who or what is glorified? Who or what is vilified? What is the underlying message? How do the producers want to affect my thinking?
  3. Make biblical thinking a pattern in your life. Do not be afraid to point out to your children or other Christians the unbiblical thought of the world around them. Do not become entrapped in its sinful thinking; instead, expose the philosophy and anti-God thinking behind what the world says and does (Ephesians 5:11). Discernment is better caught than taught. Attend a church that aids you in biblical thinking. Find like-minded believers who can sharpen and encourage you.
  4. Confront the inconsistency of the world. A letter-writing campaign will never bring revival, but you may be able to stimulate the thinking of another Christian or open up an opportunity to witness to an unsaved person when you confront and unmask the hypocrisy of the world’s thinking. Write a letter to the editor pointing out the inconsistency of the world’s “tolerance” policy or the humanistic educational aversion to teaching creation. Be prepared to provide a defense for what you believe (1 Peter 3:15).
  5. Allow God’s Spirit to work through God’s Word to change your life. Notice the results of living a life where the Holy Spirit is in control (Ephesians 5:18–33). God’s Word will affect every area of your life. True faith will produce actions that please God (James 2:14–26). “Be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22). Glorify God by thinking in a way that pleases him!

 August 2004


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