A few years ago, I taught a college success course that introduced freshmen to the demands of college life and how to best succeed at time management and setting goals. We spent a good amount of time in that course studying the brain and how the brain works. Why learn about the brain in a success course? Because our behavior and the choices we make, whether good or bad, begin in the mind. I believe there are some powerful truths in the way God has wired our brain that will help us in the battle of our minds. The author of Hebrews is adamant about holding onto our confidence (10:35), not shrinking back, and living by faith (10:38). He knows that by faith we are saved and faith begins with what we are choosing to believe in our minds.

How our Brain Works

Our brains are wired to move towards what we think on most. What is the difference between an arrow and a programmed missile? When an arrow is shot, once it’s in the air, anything can change its course. The goal for the arrow is to hit the target, but once it is shot, it’s on its own. A programmed missile, on the other hand, is programmed to reach its specific target. It “locks onto” its target. No matter what might get in its way, it has a clear path to its target and will reach it.

A person’s brain is like the programmed missile. It “locks” onto what we choose to believe as true and important. What we choose to think on, believe as true, and put in our minds, will be the direction our actions will follow. What your mind believes as true will guide your actions. Your actions, choices, and words all reflect what your brain has already “locked” onto as truth. What we believe to be true will manifest itself in all areas of our lives.

The important part of understanding the way our brain works is realizing that our brain can also believe things to be true that are not true. If we are believing lies, this will affect our choices and behavior as well. Our brain can “lock onto” a lie, but believe it as truth. Once it has “locked onto” the lie, it doesn’t matter that it is a lie, your brain will believe it as truth if you have accepted it as truth.  These places in our brain where we have locked onto and believe lies as truth are called “blind spots.” The technical term is “Scotoma.” We all have scotomas in our brain where we have accepted a lie as truth.

For example, truth from God’s Word says that when I accept Jesus as my Savior, I have been forgiven and redeemed because of God’s deep love for me.  But, if somewhere along my journey I have allowed my brain to lock onto the lie that I am too flawed by sin to be loved or redeemed, then my behavior and choices will reflect this belief, even though it is a lie. There was a season in my life when I battled crippling fear. Now looking back, I see some of the behavior and choices I made that came from fear based on a lie I believed to be true. Our behavior will ALWAYS match what we believe. Have you ever thought, “Why did I do that?” Or, “Why did I say that?” Or, have you looked at someone else’s life and wondered why they seem to always make the same poor choices and decisions? It’s because our brain will always seek balance to match our behavior with what we believe. It was a process for me to learn to bring my every thought captive to the Word of God and ask the Holy Spirit to show me what lie I was believing that was causing so much fear in my life, and causing me to behave and react the way I was in certain situations.

Dr. Caroline Leaf is a neurologist, and she teaches that our thoughts take up real estate in our brains! They actually form tree-like structures from the neurons in our brains as we continually dwell on and repeat certain thoughts! (drleaf.com). If you have believed and reinforced lies over time through repetition, these thoughts become actual structures within your brain. So, how do I know where I have accepted a lie for truth? A blind spot is just that, a blind spot. How do I see it? This is where the Holy Spirit comes in. We can ask the Holy Spirit to show us the places where we have believed a lie of the enemy and then replace it for truth. Once it is exposed, the good news is, we can train our brains to replace thoughts. We can replace the lie for truth. All of this is part of the ongoing spiritual transformation that takes place in the life of a child of God as we surrender to His working and pruning in our lives.

Many times, trials and difficulties will expose blind spots. It’s like the analogy of gold being refined in the fire. When gold is placed in the fire, it melts and all of the impurities come to the surface. Those impurities can then be skimmed off the surface and pure gold remains. When I walk through the fire of life’s sufferings and hardships, the blind spots, or false beliefs come to the surface. I’m forced to ask myself, what do I really believe based on how I am responding or behaving in this moment?

To get a bit more scientific, Dr. Leaf says that recent studies have shown the brain to be more “moldable” than they realized. This is called “neuroplasticity.” This means that those false beliefs that have taken up real estate in our brains can be changed and re-shaped into trees of truth! Here’s a pretty nerdy definition of neuroplasticity if you’d like:

 “The brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. Neuroplasticity allows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment” (medicinenet.com).

Take Every Thought Captive

I love how God has made our body, including our brain, with the ability to heal, grow and change. This is why Bible study is CRUCIAL. This is why God tells us to “TAKE EVERY THOUGHT CAPTIVE” (2 Cor. 10:5). When we continually read Scripture and place the truth of God’s Word in our brains, we are reprogramming the missile to move in the direction of truth.

Psalm 139:17 says, “How precious to me, O God, are your thoughts. How vast the sum of them, they outnumber the grains of sand.” You may not feel that God’s thoughts are towards you in that moment, but your feelings don’t dictate truth. You can choose to believe it, and allow your brain to “lock onto” it by repeating it to yourself every day, putting it in front of your eyes where you will see it, and memorizing it. By doing this, you are replacing the lie that God does not think about you, or care about you, with the truth that His thoughts towards you outnumber the grains of sand. When your brain locks onto, and believes, this truth, it cannot believe something contradictory. Your brain cannot believe two opposing things at the same time. That’s why keeping God’s Word always before you is so important!

Let the Word of God paint pictures in your mind! Build it up, train it like a muscle. Do not leave your mind to wander. You can direct your thoughts on purpose! Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep him in perfect peace WHOSE MIND IS STAYED on you.” We can’t afford to let our minds wander or lock onto any lie the enemy would tell us. It is important now that we know how our brain is wired to not leave it by itself. God has given us the ability to choose what we will believe. This is why Jesus was so clear throughout the Gospels in his charge to believe! Have faith! He said to the woman with the issue of blood, “Your faith has made you whole…” Mark 5:34.

Replace False Beliefs

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Taking false beliefs captive is the first step, the next step is replacing false beliefs with truth. What is truth? Faith is not creating my own truth; faith is believing what the Word of God has already said as truth. For example, gravity is a scientific truth that God built into the laws of nature. Man did not create gravity, man discovered it. We cannot see gravity, but we see the effects of gravity. Faith is believing the spiritual truths that God has given us in His Word even though we cannot see them. Just because we cannot see them, does not mean they are not there. When God says I am forgiven and redeemed through Jesus, I have faith and believe it, even though I do not see it right now. I can be certain of it because God’s Word says it.

Everything in our lives is guided by what we choose to believe. This is why the author of Hebrews spent the entire chapter 11 encouraging us with the faith of those who have gone before us. Belief is where Satan attacked Eve in the Garden of Eden. He caused her to disbelieve what God had said as truth, and her actions followed! It all begins with what we choose to believe. Do we believe what God has said is absolute truth? What I believe comes first. My actions, emotions and choices will follow.

We all have faith in something, whether we realize it or not. It’s what you choose to place your faith in that matters. Hebrews 10:38 says, “The righteous one will live by faith.” I pray every day that the Holy Spirit will show me where I have locked onto false beliefs and help me to replace those false beliefs with truth from His Word. The Holy Spirit comes alongside of us in this work. This is His sanctifying work in us. As we keep truth in our minds and close to our hearts, Jesus will turn bondage into victory. He will have the victory in every place we have believed the lies of the enemy. Feed yourself truth, this is how you build yourself up in the faith, for when we know the truth, the truth will set us free! (John 8:31-32).