What does it truly mean to be free? Many people only view freedom in the context of physical bondage. While physical bondage is a form of slavery, there are people who aren’t incarcerated physically, but are enslaved mentally. Are these individuals free? Absolutely not! After being sentenced to 18 years in prison, I realized that I was incarcerated prior to being arrested. Because of this, I desired to change my lifestyle. I started by accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. As I began to read the Word of God and apply it to my life, God revealed a profound principle. He taught me that since in fact I was in prison before I was arrested, I could be free before I was released. Yes! Where you are does not determine who you are. True freedom comes from the inside out. From that day forward, I made it my responsibility and priority
to renew my mind with the Word of God. It’s important that Christians everywhere realize that their outward actions are only manifestations of their inward thoughts. For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he. (Proverbs 23:7) The word heart in this scripture refers to the mind of man. The way we think about ourselves and our situation will be made known through our words and actions. Before we do anything we think about it first and act second. Every physical thing we see originated from a thought. Although I was in a physical prison for 5 years, I walked around as a free man. I was able to do this because I was free in my spirit and in my mind. Because of this, my physical body soon followed.
Our God is a God of order. 1 Thess. 5: 23 states, “And the God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Apostle Paul taught that God is concerned about our entire being, spirit, soul, and body. As believers we can no longer attempt to solve physical problems with physical solutions, knowing that physical manifestations are the results of internal thoughts. To change who we are we must change what we believe about ourselves. We are who Jesus says we are. To change what we see, we must change what we say. “For out of the abundance of the heart (mind) the mouth speaks.” (Matt. 12:34) Therefore, in order to change what comes out of our mouths, we must change what enter into our minds. Whatever we place in us will come out of us. “Garbage in, Garbage out!” We cannot expect to deposit worldly seeds and expect a heavenly harvest. Be not deceived God is not mocked whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (Gal. 6:7) There are two things that influence the way people think. These two things consist of what people both see and hear. The eyes and ears are the doors to the mind. It is very important that we protect our minds on a daily basis. Proverbs 4:20-23 states: My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart (mind); for they are life to those who find them and health to a man's whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Remember our actions are manifestations of our thoughts. If we want to change our behavior, whether criminal or sinful, we first must change our thinking.
In the above the scripture Solomon informs us that out of the heart flows the wellspring or issues of life. In this particular scripture the word heart means mind. Our mind is the center of our being. We must renew our mind to our new identity in Christ. This is why we must keep the Word of God before our eyes and ears. By doing so we are depositing it into our minds, and the harvest will manifest in our actions. We must do this on a daily basis. Habits eventually become lifestyles.
As we purposely read the Word with our eyes and hear the Word with our ears, our faith is increased and our thoughts are transformed. This alone changes our behavior. Before we do anything we think about it first. Since this is true, our actions or ways will follow our thoughts. The Apostle Paul admonished us in Philippians 2:5, Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. This is very important, because in order for us to have the ways of Christ we must first have the mind of Christ. Our mind controls our actions. This truth is seen throughout the bible. In Isaiah 55:7 – 8 it states: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Notice that the Lord associated our thoughts to our ways. We cannot separate the two. Our ways are a direct result of our thoughts.
The only way to eliminate criminal behavior is to transform the criminal mind. We must continue to pray for those that are incarcerated that God will reveal unto them their true identity. The first thing the devil steals from man is his identity. Because of this very thing, our first task is to restore his identity. For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he. (Proverbs 23:7) Whatever a person think about himself is the very way he will behave.