Keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always.

Philippians 4:8 TPT

For as he thinks within himself, so he is. 

Proverbs 23:7 NASB

“Your mind is very powerful,” writes psychotherapist and bestselling author Amy Morin in Forbes Magazine, “Yet, if you’re like most people, you probably spend very little time reflecting on the way you think. After all, who thinks about thinking? But,” she continues—and this is crucial— “the way you think about yourself turns into your reality.”

We can’t underestimate the importance of our thought life. This is why the Bible tells us to fasten our thoughts onto good, true, and faithful things. Negative thoughts about ourselves, others, and God will become our reality if we don’t challenge them with the truth.

But that’s easier said than done. As humans, our minds are bombarded by negativity. Scientists estimate that we have about 6200 thoughts per day, and 80% of them are negative. Much of this negativity comes from ourselves; it’s well-documented that humans have a “negativity bias” and dwell on negative events more than positive ones. 

Negativity also abounds in the world around us. A recent study found that negative words in news headlines increased engagement—which means people share negative articles more than positive ones. Negativity will naturally find its way into our social media feeds and inboxes, and it will become the greatest influence on our thinking if we don’t actively fight against it. 

Unchecked negative thinking is harmful to our health and well-being. It leads to increased depression, anxiety, stress, and relationship problems. It also prevents us from stepping out and doing the things God wants us to do:

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 2:10 NLT

God doesn’t see us the negative way we often see ourselves. When he looks at us, he sees a masterpiece. He gave us unique talents, gifts, and experiences that he wants us to bring to the world. But if we believe our negative thoughts like “I am not good enough,” it’s unlikely we will take action on the good things God plans for us to do. 

Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete.

Romans 12:2 Voice

This world can be full of negativity and lead us to believe negative things—like “There is no point in trying,” or “I am not good enough to make a difference.” But we don’t have to allow the world’s negativity to shape us. We can let God transform the way we think. 

Blessed is the person who does not follow the advice of wicked people, take the path of sinners, or join the company of mockers. [2] Rather, he delights in the teachings of the LORD and reflects on his teachings day and night. [3] He is like a tree planted beside streams- a tree that produces fruit in season and whose leaves do not wither. He succeeds in everything he does. 

Psalm 1:1-3 GWT

This passage paints a vivid picture of a spiritual person who can avoid being misled by unspiritual or negative influences by choosing to reflect on God’s teachings “day and night” and “delighting” in applying them.  

The Bible provides hope, truth, and faith to overcome the dark, distressing, or discouraging influences of the world that obstruct our pursuit of God and his purpose for our lives. At times when my negative thoughts have been overpowering and deeply convincing, the promises of God in the Bible have been an anchor (Hebrews 6:18-19), giving me something to hope in that is greater than my own emotions or perspective. 

You light a lamp for me. The LORD, my God, lights up my darkness.

Psalm 18:28 NLT

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.

Psalm 119:105 NLT

God’s Word brings light to the darkness. A spiritual mindset is one that shares the convictions and truths God provides us in the Bible, leading to change and hope that is humanly impossible. It is a mindset grounded in faith, wisdom, and a deep understanding of God’s Word. 

In this study, we delve into the art of developing a spiritual mindset through the practice of deep reflection on the Scriptures. It is not easy to slow our minds down and actively change the way we think, but it is worth it and it is absolutely necessary to live a faithful life. 

Our mindset determines our lives 

Carefully guard your thoughts because they are the source of true life.

Proverbs 4:23 CEV

We learn from this passage that our thoughts, both spiritual and unspiritual, have a great effect on the condition of our lives. What we think will determine what we believe, how we act, and ultimately the outcome of our lives.

Many types of unspiritual and untrue thoughts affect our relationship with God in negative ways:

  1. Unbelieving thoughts like It won’t make a difference if I pray. 
  2. Self-critical thoughts like I’m really bad at this and I will fail if I try. 
  3. Fearful thoughts like I could mess this up and my worst nightmare will happen.
  4. Mistrustful thoughts like I’m not sure God will provide for me, so I need to take things into my own hands. 
  5. Unhealthy thoughts like I will never be good enough; I can never please God.

Many of these thoughts become so deeply ingrained in us that we believe them without a second thought. That’s why it is so important to slow down and reflect on the way we think—we could be completely missing out on the powerful, spiritual life God has planned for us because we are letting our negative thoughts have free rein. 

I praise you, LORD, for being my guide. Even in the darkest night, your teachings fill my mind.

Psalm 16:7 CEV

A mind that is full of God’s teachings is a mind that can navigate the darkest night. This is the power God makes available to us all; we are not enslaved to the negative forces of the world but we can rise above them with the power of God’s Word. 

Pause and reflect

  • What types of negative thoughts do I have?
  • How does negative thinking affect my relationship with God?

Our mindset affects our happiness

I find joy in the way shown by your written instructions more than I find joy in all kinds of riches. I want to reflect on your guiding principles and study your ways. Your laws make me happy. I never forget your word.

Psalm 119:14-16 GW

In these verses, we see the intimate connection between joy and spiritual growth. The psalmist’s desire for God’s teachings leads to joy. He discovers something far more satisfying than “all kinds of riches” – a relationship with God and a way of living that brings happiness.

Reading the Bible is more than a mere intellectual exercise; it is a pathway to deep joy and spiritual change. When we immerse ourselves in the Scriptures, we encounter treasures of truth, love, and untiring hope that resonate in the deepest parts of our hearts. 

The joy we find by living God’s way is greater than the joy that the world promises. The values of the world revolve around looking good, feeling good, and getting everything we want, which bring temporary pleasure at best: 

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. [16] For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. [17] And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

1 John 2:15-17 NLT

The world tells us to chase things that fade. If our mindset is guided by the world, we will live under the illusion that we cannot be happy until we have a certain thing that we want. The trouble is that these temporary pleasures do not satisfy; they will leave us craving more. 

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. [20] Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. [21] Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

Matthew 6:19-21 NLT

Rather than valuing superficial and short-sighted things, God teaches us to value depth of character and spiritual growth. When our worth comes from something that cannot be taken away—like our friendship with God—we will find more joy than any amount of riches can bring.  

Pause and reflect

  • How would I describe my level of joy? 
  • How has my mindset been affecting my level of joy?

Our mindset becomes spiritual by engaging with the Bible

“If you work the words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who dug deep and laid the foundation of his house on bedrock. When the river burst its banks and crashed against the house, nothing could shake it; it was built to last. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a dumb carpenter who built a house but skipped the foundation. When the swollen river came crashing in, it collapsed like a house of cards. It was a total loss.”

Luke 6:48-49 MSG

This passage gives us a cautionary tale: we can know the Scriptures and even use them in Bible studies without actually applying them to our own lives. As a result, the Bible will have little impact on the way we think. We may read it regularly and even share it with others, but our minds will still be negative and unbelieving. We will still be shaken when storms come because our lives are built on the shifting sands of unbelief, fear, and mistrust rather than the unchanging truths of God’s Word. 

To let the Bible change the way we think, we need to be willing to do some mental and emotional work. This work isn’t always easy in the moment, which is why we are often tempted to skip it. But remember Jesus’s story in the passage above—hard work and digging deep pays off in the long run. 

We can let the Bible change our mindset by not only reading it but also asking ourselves engaging questions that help us understand God and ourselves. Below are some examples:

  1. How does this passage apply to my life, relationships, and mindset? 
  2. What truth does God want me to embrace?
  3. What change do I need to make to build the life and relationships God destined for me?
  4. What sins or obstacles stand in the way of applying these truths God is showing me in the Scriptures?
  5. How will this passage change my relationships with God and others and help me make a spiritual impact with my life?

Asking ourselves reflective questions like these when reading the Bible is what it means to “dig deeper” and “work God’s Word into our lives.” Engaging our hearts in this way helps us become more spiritual and connected with God through our Bible reading rather than more self- or behavior-focused. The Bible is a book about God, and reflective questions help us build a deeper friendship with him by helping us understand his heart and desires for our lives. 

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. 
[11] And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

Romans 8:5-8, 11 NIV

This passage explains the contrast between living with a humanistic mindset (the “flesh”) and living in step with the Spirit. A fleshly or worldly mind makes us negative or hostile toward not only ourselves, but also God. It makes us think that God is someone who stands in the way of our desires or makes us feel bad rather than someone who loves us and wants to give us life and peace. 

Here are some examples of unhealthy thoughts we can have about God when we have a fleshly mindset:

  • He doesn’t care about the pain in my life. Because a fleshly mindset is primarily focused on feeling good, it gets angry at God when the inevitable challenges of life hit. God cares about us, but he doesn’t exempt us from time and chance (Ecclesiastes 9:11-12). He helps us grow through the pain of life and orchestrates it into something good and beautiful on our behalf (Romans 8:28). When we trust this, we can find hope in the midst of pain. 
  • He limits me. When our minds are set on the pleasures and cravings of the world, we will see God as someone who puts a lot of limits into our lives. The truth is that God has a purpose for our lives far greater than any temporary pleasure, and he teaches us to say ‘no’ to things that will lead us farther away from that destiny (2 Timothy 2:20-21).
  • His expectations are too high. A worldly mindset is focused on performance and achievement, and it will make us think that God expects perfection from us too. We can never perform our way into God’s love (Galatians 3:2-3, Ephesians 2:8-9). If we try, we will constantly feel like we are falling short. 

We go into much more detail about unhealthy thoughts about God in our book He’s Not Who You Think He Is, and we highly recommend reading it if any of these thoughts strike a chord. 

When we have a spiritual mindset, we can see God strengthening our faith through the trials of life (1 Peter 1:6-7). We see God as someone who leads us to our destiny, not as someone who limits us (Psalm 73:24). We see that God loves and forgives us (Romans 5:6-11), and we serve him out of gratitude rather than a desire to earn his approval. 

The purpose of asking ourselves reflection questions as we read the Scriptures is to help us be honest about and shift our mindset. The goal is not to be self-critical but to align our thoughts with God’s so that we can be close to him. 

Pause and reflect

  • How willing am I to engage deeply when I read Scripture? Why?
  • How would I describe my mindset toward God? Is it more fleshly or spiritual right now? 

Practical keys for developing a spiritual mindset through reading the Bible

We can combat negativity in our minds and fix our thoughts on what is good by taking a few practical steps. The first is setting aside regular time each day to read the Bible. 

Once we have quality time with God established in our day, we can practice these steps of deep reflection every time we read God’s Word. The results will be powerful! 

Start with prayer.

Pray for an open mind and receptive heart inclined to believe, enjoy, and obey the Scriptures. Ask God for the strength to live out his teachings.

Calm your atmosphere.

Even with the best intentions, it will be difficult to practice deep reflection in a distracting environment. Taking the time to plan and create a calm, undistracted atmosphere for Bible reading will go a long way in deepening our relationship with God.

Note your responses.

Reflect on your reactions to Scripture by examining the thoughts they elicit and your heart’s response. Did a passage make you angry? Defensive? Uncomfortable? Ask yourself why. Note positive thoughts and emotions too, like reassured, happy, and inspired. Then pray about these in a genuine conversation with God, sharing your honest and unfiltered thoughts.

Pick one focus.

Identify a particular passage or verse of Scripture that helps you define how you want to grow in your understanding and application of Scripture for your day and week ahead.

Bring in a friend.

Share your insights with friends, seeking their support and accountability in your spiritual journey to change and grow.

Memorize and practice.

Commit to key verses to memorize so your belief in and obedience to the Scriptures deepens. Memorizing Scripture helps us use those verses as we go about our day, working God’s Word into our lives. 

Act and impact

Put your faith into action by creating opportunities to share God’s Word. Encourage others by sharing with them the Scriptures that are building your their faith and helping you think more spiritually.

By reflecting on and immersing ourselves in Scripture, we can develop a spiritual mindset that goes beyond intellectual comprehension. In every passage, parable, and proverb, God unveils his love, character, and truth. As we learn to reflect deeply on his Word, our minds will change. We will see the world through spiritual eyes and rise above the negative and worldly influences that try to pull us down. Because our thoughts are powerful, the impact we can make on people around us by thinking spiritually will be more than we can imagine!

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This article was developed by the Deep Spirituality Editorial Staff.

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This article was developed by the Deep Spirituality Editorial Staff.

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How to Think Spiritually When We Are Bombarded by Negativity  6