“We are overturning reasonings and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God.”—2 COR. 10:5.
SONG 124 Ever Loyal
1. What warning did the apostle Paul write to anointed Christians?
“STOP,” warned the apostle Paul. Stop what? “Stop being molded by this system of things.” (Rom. 12:2) Paul addressed those words to the first-century Christians. Why did he give such strong admonition to men and women who were dedicated to God and anointed with holy spirit?—Rom. 1:7.
2-3. How does Satan try to turn us against Jehovah, but how can we root out things that are “strongly entrenched” in our minds?
2 Paul was concerned because some Christians were apparently being influenced by the unwholesome reasonings and philosophies promoted by Satan’s world. (Eph. 4:17-19) That can happen to any one of us. In a desperate attempt to turn us away from Jehovah, Satan, the god of this system of things, uses various tactics. One of them is that of exploiting any tendency we may have toward selfish ambition or self-promotion. He may even use certain aspects of our background, our culture, or our education to bring us over to his way of thinking.
3 Is it possible for us to root out things that are “strongly entrenched” in our minds? (2 Cor. 10:4) Notice how Paul answers: “We are overturning reasonings and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are bringing every thought into captivity to make it obedient to the Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5) Yes, with Jehovah’s help we can actually gain control over wrong reasonings. Just as medicine can counteract the effects of poison, God’s Word can help us to counteract the poisonous effects of Satan’s world.
“MAKING YOUR MIND OVER”
4. What changes did many of us have to make when we first accepted the truth?
4 Think back to the changes you needed to make when you first accepted the truth of God’s Word and decided to serve Jehovah. For many of us, this involved giving up some form of wrong conduct. (1 Cor. 6:9-11) How grateful we are for Jehovah’s help in overcoming such sinful practices!
5. What twofold action is described at Romans 12:2?
5 However, we must never become complacent. Even though we stopped committing serious sins that we engaged in before baptism, we still need to be diligent about avoiding anything that would tempt us to return to those former deeds. How can we do that? Paul answers: “Stop being molded by this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over.” (Rom. 12:2) So a twofold action is required. First, we need to “stop being molded,” or shaped, by this world. Second, we need to “be transformed” by making our mind over.
6. What do we learn from the idea behind Jesus’ words recorded at Matthew 12:43-45?
6 The transformation Paul had in mind involves more than a superficial change in appearance. It touches every fiber of our being. (See the box “Transformed or Disguised?”) We need to make over our mind—our innermost attitudes, feelings, and inclinations. So all of us need to ask ourselves, ‘Are the changes I am making to become a Christian only skin-deep, or am I truly becoming a Christian deep within?’ The difference is important. In his words recorded at Matthew 12:43-45, Jesus indicated what needs to be done. (Read.) The idea behind those words highlights this important truth: It is not enough to get rid of wrong thoughts; we need to fill the void with godly thinking.
“BE MADE NEW IN YOUR DOMINANT MENTAL ATTITUDE”
7. How can we change what we are inside?
7 Is it possible to change our basic inclinations or who we really are inside? God’s Word answers: “You should continue to be made new in your dominant mental attitude, and should put on the new personality that was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.” (Eph. 4:23, 24) Yes, it is possible to change what we are inside, but it is not easy to do. We need to do more than just suppress wrong desires and actions. We need to change our “dominant mental attitude.” That involves changing our desires, our tendencies, and our motivations. This requires continuous action.
8-9. How does the experience of one brother highlight the need to change what we are inside?
8 Let us consider the example of a brother who had a violent background. After he stopped drinking and fighting, he qualified for baptism, giving a wonderful witness in the small community where he lived. But one evening, shortly after his baptism, he faced an unexpected test. A drunk man came to his home and challenged him to a fight. Initially our brother resisted his urge to fight. But when the man eventually blasphemed Jehovah’s name, it was too much for our new brother. He went out and beat up the man. What was the problem? Although his study of the Bible had helped him to suppress his violent tendencies, he had not yet been able to change his dominant mental attitude. In other words, he had not changed who he really was inside.
9 However, this brother did not give up. (Prov. 24:16) With the help of the elders, he continued to make good progress. He eventually qualified to be an elder. Then one evening, right outside of the Kingdom Hall, he came face-to-face with a challenge similar to the one he had confronted years earlier. A drunk man was about to beat up one of the other elders. What did our brother do? In a calm, humble manner, he reasoned with the drunk man, eased the tension, and helped the staggering man to get home. What had happened? Our brother had changed his dominant mental attitude. Deep within, he had been transformed into a peaceable, humble person—all to Jehovah’s praise!
10. What is involved in making these changes?
10 These changes do not take place overnight; nor do they occur automatically. We may need to exert “earnest effort” over a period of years. (2 Pet. 1:5) It is not as if being “in the truth” for a certain length of time were enough. We need to do our utmost to change our inner self. A number of basic steps will help us to make this change. Let us examine some of these.
HOW TO CHANGE OUR DOMINANT MENTAL ATTITUDE
11. How does prayer help us to change our dominant mental attitude?
11 Prayer is the important first step. We need to pray as did the psalmist: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and put within me a new spirit, a steadfast one.” (Ps. 51:10) We must acknowledge the need to change our dominant mental attitude and ask Jehovah for help. How can we be sure that Jehovah will help us to make the change? We can be encouraged by Jehovah’s promise regarding the hard-hearted Israelites in Ezekiel’s day: “I will give them a unified heart, and I will put a new spirit in them . . . and give them a heart of flesh, [that is, one sensitive to God’s guidance].” (Ezek. 11:19; ftn.) Jehovah was willing to help those Israelites to change, and he is willing to help us too.
12-13. (a) According to Psalm 119:59, on what do we need to meditate? (b) What questions should you ask yourself?
12 Meditation is the second vital step. As we peer into God’s Word each day, we need to take the time to meditate, or to think deeply, on what thoughts and feelings we need to change. (Read Psalm 119:59; Heb. 4:12; Jas. 1:25) We must identify any tendencies we may have to be attracted to human philosophies. We need to admit honestly what our weaknesses are and then work hard to get rid of those weaknesses.
13 For instance, ask yourself: ‘Is there a trace of envy or jealousy in my heart?’ (1 Pet. 2:1) ‘Do I feel a measure of pride because of my background, education, or financial status?’ (Prov. 16:5) ‘Do I look down on others who do not have the same things I have or who are from a different racial background?’ (Jas. 2:2-4) ‘Do I feel attracted to what Satan’s world offers?’ (1 John 2:15-17) ‘Do I feel drawn to immoral and violent entertainment?’ (Ps. 97:10; 101:3; Amos 5:15) The answers to these personal questions may highlight areas that you need to work on. By conquering what might be “strongly entrenched” reasonings in our hearts, we will please our heavenly Father.—Ps. 19:14.
14. Why is choosing good association so vital?
14 Choosing good association is the third necessary step. Whether we realize it or not, we are strongly influenced by those with whom we associate. (Prov. 13:20) At work or in school, we are likely surrounded by those who will not help us to develop godly thinking. However, we can find the best type of association at our Christian meetings. There is where we can be motivated, or stirred up, to “love and fine works.”—Heb. 10:24, 25, ftn.
BE “STABILIZED IN THE FAITH”
15-16. How does Satan try to change our thinking?
15 Remember, though, Satan is determined to change our thinking. He uses every type of reasoning to counteract the influence of the truth of God’s Word.
16 Satan continues to ask the same question he asked Eve in the garden of Eden: “Did God really say that . . . ?” (Gen. 3:1) In the world under Satan’s control, we often hear challenging questions, such as these: ‘Does God really not approve of same-sex marriage? Does God really not want you to celebrate Christmas and birthdays? Does your God really expect you to refuse a blood transfusion? Does a loving God really expect you to avoid association with disfellowshipped loved ones?’
17. What should we do when we are faced with questions that challenge our beliefs, and what does Colossians 2:6, 7 show can be the result?
17 We need to be convinced of our beliefs. If we leave challenging questions unanswered in our minds, they can become serious doubts. Those doubts could eventually distort our thinking and destroy our faith. What, then, do we need to do? God’s Word tells us to transform our minds, so that we may prove to ourselves “the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Rom. 12:2) By regular study, we can prove to ourselves the truths we have learned from the Bible. We can be fully convinced that Jehovah’s standards are right. Then, like a tree with solid roots, we will be firmly rooted, “stabilized in the faith.”—Read Colossians 2:6, 7.
18. What will help us to counteract the poisonous effects of Satan’s world?
18 No one else can stabilize your faith for you, so continue to be made new in your dominant mental attitude. Pray constantly; plead for the help of Jehovah’s spirit. Meditate deeply; continue to examine your thinking and motives. Seek good associates; surround yourself with individuals who will help you to transform your thinking. By doing so, you will counteract the poisonous effects of Satan’s world and successfully overturn “reasonings and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God.”—2 Cor. 10:5.
SONG 50 My Prayer of Dedication
^ par. 5 For better or worse, our thinking is influenced by our background, our culture, and our education. We may find that certain wrong attitudes have become firmly entrenched in our personality. This article will show us how we can gain control over any wrong tendencies we may have developed.
THE WATCHTOWER—STUDY EDITION