We’re finishing the last couple videos from Craig Groeschel’s Soul Detox in our Sunday morning adult Bible study. Today we were learning about septic thoughts. This is an area I spend considerable time talking to people about, because how you think is how you act.
Craig started by explaining there are four types of septic thoughts:
- Negative Thoughts or Negative Self-Talk
- Fearful Thoughts
- Discontented Thoughts
- Critical or Judgmental Thoughts
Of these, I find that the first – negative self-talk – is the most problematic for people with self-esteem issues. It’s one thing to get mad at yourself when you mess up or don’t meet an expectation. But negative self-talk goes beyond that. It is habitually dogging yourself about everything. You’re not good enough. You should be smarter. You’re never going to get it. I never do anything right. It’s just constantly being self-deprecating.
People do it differently, too. Some people actually are pretty funny! They are always putting themselves down in a joking way. The problem is they’re always doing it and it’s not really a joke to them. Others never say a word, but they constantly think it. Still others are just really negative about themselves, verbalizing their self-loathing. No matter how it’s done, negative self-talk keeps a person from achieving their potential and keeps them from a full relationship with God.
Fearful thoughts are again habitual. You see your world as if bad things are going to happen. You’re going to get fired from work. Your spouse is going to leave you. You’re going to get cancer and die. The problem with fearful thoughts is they cause us to make fear-based decisions not faith-based decisions. Fearful thoughts are self focused not God focused. So instead of being bold and relying on God fearful people will make their decisions based on protecting themselves first. The problem with fearful thinking is it can become a self-fulfilled prophecy – you start acting like your thinking and how your thinking will come true!
There are a lot of discontented people in the world. They’re not happy with their job, their spouse, the amount of money they make, their station in life, and more. Most discontented people are too busy looking at what others have and wishing they had that instead of looking at the blessings God gave them and being satisfied. When someone has discontented thoughts they tend to be really gloomy – they don’t enjoy where they are so they let everyone know they’re unhappy where they are. The problem is they don’t usually put much effort into improving their lot, they just complain, which makes their world even worse.
I think we’re all familiar with the last category – critical or judgmental thoughts. Simply put, we tend to be critical of people – the way they act, the way they dress, the things they say, and pretty much everything about them. We’re probably most critical of the people closest to us, such as our spouse or family. The reason is simple: we have higher expectations for those closest to us and when they don’t meet those expectations we are critical. It’s ironic because those are the people for whom we’re supposed to be the most loving and supporting.
In our lives, I think we all run into these four areas in our thought life. For many of us these types of thoughts have become habitual – we think like this because we have trained our mind to respond to our world in negative, fearful, discontented, and critical ways. But like any bad habit, we can change that with a little work.
Romans 12:2 tells us not to conform to the pattern of this world, which would be septic thoughts, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. So what exactly is the renewing of your mind? It is replacing the crap you’re thinking with Godly thoughts. So what are Godly thoughts? Glad you asked!
Scripture tells us, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8) In other words, focus your thought life on the positive not the negative. Yes, it’s easier said than done. But it is also what God tells you to do.
In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul tells us to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. What that means is you first have to recognize when you’re having a septic thought and then capture it – stop in your tracks and don’t let it go any further. Then make it obedient to Christ by changing that thought right there and then to something Godly. For example, I may have an employee who makes a mistake at work. My first thought might be rather critical like, “What a bonehead! A trained monkey could do that!” When I start to think that I have to stop and take that thought captive to Christ! I have to ask Christ to forgive me for my negative thinking and replace that first thought with a new positive one, such as “We all make mistakes. Perhaps we need to do a little more training here.” Even writing this makes me cringe so apparently I have a lot of work to do in this area!!
Don’t be fooled, Satan wants you to stay in your pattern of negative thinking. God cannot bless you to the full when you have this negativeness in your life, and God cannot use you to the full for His purposes when you are like that either. If you call yourself a Christian you do not have the luxury of staying put in your bad habit. You must learn to replace your septic thoughts with Godly thoughts and make these new Godly thoughts the habit.
This will not happen overnight and will not happen in your own power. You must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to help you. When you’re having those septic thoughts, here are some things to keep in mind. Always remember to ask yourself if what you are thinking is God’s truth!
- Negative Self-Talk: God Loves You! He knew you before the beginning of the world and knew every single thing you would do in your life and made you anyway! There is no condemnation by God for those who believe in Christ (Romans 8:1). Jesus already died on the cross for your sins. YOU’RE OKAY!
- Fearful Thoughts: God is your provision, your rock, and your protector. If God is for you, who can be against you? Yes, you will suffer the consequences of your actions. And yes, you may suffer the consequences of someone else’s actions. But God will bring good from every situation if you let Him! There is nothing to fear for those who love the Lord.
- Discontented Thoughts: Count your blessings. God has blessed you above and beyond anything you deserve. Focus on what God has provided not on what you think you lack. Believing you lack something is Satan’s trick to make you discontented with God. Don’t take the bait.
- Critical/Judgmental Thoughts: Judge not lest ye be judged. This one is a simple one. You don’t know anyone’s story so don’t even think about judging their actions. God forgave you when you were unforgiveable. Show that same mercy to others when you are tempted to judge.