The apostle Paul told us to set our minds on “things above,” that is, heavenly things, not on “things on the earth,” that is, earthly things (Colossians 3:2 NKJV). He and other biblical authors make it clear that we need to be intentional about what is on our minds.
Here are the 25 best ways to follow Paul’s instructions and set our minds on the things above.
1. Adopt a Heavenly Mindset
In Romans 12:2, we find another excellent piece of advice from the apostle Paul. He wrote that we should be “transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2 KJV). How do we do that? The same Bible verse tells us not to be “conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2 KJV).
We should not allow our minds to be shaped by the present world but by God’s Word. Our mindset needs to be changed. We need to let go of values and habits that don’t agree with God’s will and adopt a new mindset built upon the truth from Scripture.
2. Focus Your Thoughts on the Right Things
Paul’s exhortation in Philippians 4:8 teaches us to be very selective with what should occupy our thoughts. This Bible verse tells us to think about things that are:
- Worthy of praise
If something doesn’t fit any of these categories, we should not allow it into our thought life.
3. Acknowledge Your Dependency upon God
If we want to produce real change in our minds and hearts, we need God’s help. He is the One that can help us desire and pursue change (Philippians 2:13). No matter how hard we try on our own, we won’t be able to overcome our sinful human nature without God working in us through His Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16-17).
4. Let the Holy Spirit Be Your Helper
The Holy Spirit dwells in every child of God (John 14:17). He will help us keep our minds on heavenly things in many ways, such as:
- Teaching us and reminding us of the words of Christ Jesus (John 14:26).
- Leading us (Romans 8:14).
- Assuring us that we are children of God (Romans 8:16).
- Interceding for us (Romans 8:26).
- Guiding us into all truth (John 16:13).
- Empowering us (Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 12:11).
And much more! Ask the Holy Spirit to be your helper, to help you discern and seek the important things (John 14:16).
5. Resist the Devil
This is what the apostle James told us to do. By resisting the devil, he will flee from us (James 4:7). To resist means to oppose, to withstand against him. We resist the devil as Jesus did: through prayer, fasting, and God’s Word (Luke 4:1-13).
We need to be aware of the enemy’s strategies so we don’t fall into his traps (2 Corinthians 2:11; 1 Peter 5:8). Since this battle occurs mostly in our minds, we need to resist the devil so that we can focus our minds on the things of God.
6. Put on the Full Armor of God
That is a known illustration Paul used to advise us in our fight against the evil one and its army (Ephesians 6:10-17). The components of the armor of God are:
- Belt of truth: to fight the devil’s lies.
- Breastplate of righteousness: Jesus’s righteousness (not ours!) protects our hearts from the devil’s attacks.
- Shoes of the gospel of peace: to stand firm and advance into the enemy’s territory to proclaim the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Shield of faith: to extinguish the attacks by the enemy.
- Helmet of salvation: to protect our minds.
- Sword of the Spirit: this is the Word of God, which is our weapon of defense and attack (Matthew 4:3-11).
Keep in mind that prayer is a key element in the battle (Ephesians 6:18).
7. Guard Your Heart
What does that expression from Proverbs 4:23 mean? In biblical terms, the “heart” is the center of the will, thoughts, feelings, and desires. Nowadays, we say those things are in our minds. So, that expression means that we need to protect our minds from worldly things. Exposing ourselves to ungodly things that ignite our temptations can cause us to sin (Matthew 26:41; James 1:14-16; 1 John 2:15-17).
8. Let Go of Your Old Self
In Ephesians 4:20-23, Paul tells us to put off our old self (our sinful nature) and put on our new self (the new creation Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 5:17). This illustration reminds us of a person changing clothes. Paul urges us to let go of our fallen nature, with its evil desires and worldly lusts, and embrace our new holy nature. It all begins in our minds by letting go of worldly thoughts and actions that lead us to sin and pursuing holiness (1 Peter 1:14-16).
9. Learn to Discern What Is Temporary from What Is Eternal
Everything in this world is temporary; it all belongs to a creation that will be renewed in the end (Revelation 21:1). We need to keep that in mind and understand that what really matters are the eternal things (2 Corinthians 4:18). We should set our minds and energy into making an eternal impact with our lives, not living for the things of the world. Our lives must be dedicated to God and the things that please Him.
10. See the World from God’s Perspective
That helps us deconstruct the lies the world taught us our entire lives. Start by observing how Jesus and the apostles lived. Read the New Testament and pay attention to these questions:
- What occupied their time?
- What were their priorities?
- What mattered to them?
- How did they relate to the things of this world?
For example, in the episode of Jesus’s temptation, we see the Lord refusing things of this earth, like food, riches, and power, in order to obey God’s Word (Luke 4:1-13). The Kingdom of God was His priority over whatever the devil could offer Him from the things of earth. His was a heavenly perspective.
11. Let Love Be Your Motivation
Paul begins the well-known chapter about love in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 by saying that everything we say, do, and give must be out of love; otherwise, it all comes down to nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). God’s love must dwell in us, through the Holy Spirit, so our love for Him and others will be the driving force for what we think and do (1 Corinthians 16:14).
12. Acknowledge the Presence of God in Your Life
You cannot do it alone. But the good news is that God is with you (Isaiah 41:10). This assurance helps us focus on what matters, on the things of heaven. We don’t depend upon our own strength; we depend upon God! So, when you feel weak, when your mind slips into negative thoughts, remember that God is there with you, even if it doesn’t seem so.
13. Seek God’s Wisdom
We need God’s wisdom to help us focus our minds and hearts on the things of the Kingdom of God. Here are some suggestions to help you seek wisdom from God:
- Be humble and acknowledge you need it (Proverbs 3:7, 18:15).
- Know that all wisdom comes from God (Proverbs 2:6).
- Study the Bible. Start by meditating on Jesus’s life in the New Testament and the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament.
- Pray and ask God to give you wisdom (James 1:5).
- Welcome advice from more experienced followers of Jesus and learn from those who belong to the body of Christ (Proverbs 19:20; Colossians 3:16).
14. Make Prayer and Bible Reading a Daily Habit
Scripture teaches us everything we need to know about God and His will so we can live a new life. It shows us the good things that should occupy our minds to pursue holiness. That’s why we must have quality time on a daily basis meditating in the Bible and praying to the Lord, asking Him to help us put what we are learning into practice (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2; Matthew 6:6).
15. Memorize Bible Verses
Committing excerpts from the Word of God to your memory is a great way to keep your mind on heavenly things. The first step is to select verses from Scripture that will help you remember what God has done for you, who He is, and the promises He gave to all of us. Use memorization techniques that best suit you, and make sure to practice every day. Keep bringing verses you’ve already memorized to your mind throughout the day, so you don’t forget them (Psalm 119:11).
16. Ask God to Search Your Heart
It takes courage to do that. We know that there are many things even in a believer’s mind that displease the Lord. Our sins come from them. But sin itself blinds us to our wrong ways. That’s why we need to ask the Lord to:
- Search our heart, our inner being (Psalm 139:23).
- Show us the things we do that grieves Him (Psalm 139:24).
- Help us sanctify our minds and change our ways (Psalm 51:10).
17. Confess Your Sins and Ask for God’s Forgiveness Daily
This is a critical habit that will bring major changes to your life and your relationship with the Lord. So, here are a few things that will help you pursue a heavenly mindset and a holy life:
- Think about your day.
- Ask God to help you remember the sins you committed and the things that you shouldn’t have done.
- Confess them to God.
- Ask Him for forgiveness, believing that Jesus has already paid the price at the cross.
- Ask Him to help you fight temptation and not fall into those sins again.
- Thank God and believe you’re forgiven (Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:9).
Make it a daily routine in your life.
18. Flee from Temptation
During trials, we must persevere. But, when it comes to temptation, we can never overestimate our strength to resist it (Matthew 26:41). We must flee from the situation right away (Genesis 39:11-12; 1 Corinthians 6:18). The more we allow our eyes, ears, and thoughts to be exposed to such things that tempt us, the highest the risk that we may fall. We must protect our minds and not give opportunities for the devil to tempt us (Ephesians 4:26-27).
19. Create Strategies to Bring Your Mind to God Throughout the Day
You need to be intentional to bring God’s Word into your mind during your daily life. Here are some suggestions:
- Thank God for every good thing that happens (a good meal, a beautiful sunset, a fast commute, a pleasant conversation, a problem solved, a good idea you had, etc.).
- Pray quietly for people you meet.
- Use your breaks or waiting time to read a portion of Scripture or talk to God.
Use your imagination and think of other good ways to keep connecting to God at all times.
20. Avoid Indulging in Earthly Pleasures
Most sins don’t happen unexpectedly. They begin with little temptations that we give in, thinking that it’s no big deal. But it is. Every sin is a huge deal (Romans 6:23). So, we must learn to resist every temptation that draws us to do something that will feed our earthly urges and bring us self-centered gratification. We need to pursue the will of God and resist any impulse that can lead us to sin (James 1:14-15).
21. Practice Fasting
When we fast, we give up something we need (usually food) to dedicate time and energy exclusively for the Lord (Matthew 4:4). Whenever you can, take some time to fast, pray, and seek the presence of the Lord. The discipline you learn through fasting will help you control other urges of your body and mind that may lead you to sin (1 Corinthians 9:27).
22. Be Thankful to God
Even during difficult times, we have a lot of reasons to be thankful to God. The Lord has done so much for us; He has shown His great love for us in many ways:
- He gave His son to pay for our sins (Romans 5:8).
- He forgave us (1 John 1:9).
- He adopted us as His own children (John 1:12).
- He gave us eternal life with Him (John 3:16).
And much more. We don’t even notice most of the blessings that He gives us every day. So, make sure to take a moment to thank the Lord for all He does for you daily (Psalm 145:9; James 1:17). Be specific and let each reason you mention sink in your mind and lead you to worship the Lord for His kindness.
23. Learn to Think Intentionally
All humans have a sinful nature. It means that it is natural for us to sin. So, thinking about heavenly things is not natural for us. We need to practice it intentionally. If we let our minds wander freely, most of the thoughts that come to us are usually not heavenly thoughts. So, avoid letting your mind wander without purpose. Feed it with good content. For example, if you’re tired and need to relax, instead of letting your thoughts run freely, put on some good music that helps you think about godly things while you rest.
24. Beware of Your Pride
Pride is a threat that lives inside every one of us. It tempts us to think that our good works are somehow making us better than other people or that we are worthy of the kindness of God. Don’t let worldly thoughts like that creep into your mind. Do this instead:
- Remain humble (James 4:6).
- Consider others better than yourself (Philippians 2:3).
- Keep in mind that you don’t deserve any favor from the Lord (Ephesians 2:8-9).
- Remember that the good things you do also come from the Lord (James 1:17).
25. Put Your Hope in God
When we decide to live our lives for God, we face all sorts of resistance, including from our own earthly nature. We need to do our best to fight temptation and focus our minds on heavenly things. And we need to trust God that He will take care of what’s beyond our reach (Philippians 4:13). Trust Him with your needs, your circumstances, your future (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Put your hope in Him and Him alone (Romans 15:13).
The apostle Paul gave us a bold challenge. Discipline and intentional actions will help you keep your mind connected to the word of Christ Jesus, who is seated at the right hand of God in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). Set your mind on the things above, and the peace of God will guard your hearts and your minds in the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:6-9).
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.