In doing some writing and editing for a biologist in the last two weeks, I’ve seen serious parallels between toxins in our bodies and toxins in our heart/mind/spirit/attitudes. Toxins in the body destroy tissue and organs and compromise our physical health, especially as they build up over time. Our blood deposits excess wastes and toxins in organs like the lungs, kidneys, heart, pancreas, liver, colon, or other locations. There the toxins “hide” and do their damage.
“Whole-body inflammation refers to chronic, imperceptible, low-level inflammation. Mounting evidence suggests that over time this kind of inflammation sets the foundation for many serious, age-related diseases including heart disease, cancer and neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Recent evidence indicates that whole-body inflammation may also contribute to psychological disorders, especially depression.” drweil.com/reducing-whole-body-inflammation
Like waste sites that must be cleaned up before safe building can begin, we need to clean up our bodies before we begin building and rebuilding good physical and even mental health. I strongly suspect the same is true in our spirits, emotions and attitudes/thoughts: toxic thinking and believing can accumulate in our spirits and emotions over time, with results just as deadly and degenerative as inflammation and toxicity in the body. I imagine we all are aware these days that what and how we think influences how we feel.
“If you have a tendency to over-react to stress, it could be due to changes in your brain brought on by negative thinking. Negative experiences are stored in the brain by the amygdala. The thalamus is responsible to sending sensory and motor signals to the rest of the body but it does not understand that negative thoughts aren’t the same as real danger. As a result, our bodies experience real stress symptoms of rapid heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, and a state of heightened arousal. Stress from negative thinking creates changes in the brain that may affect your likelihood of mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, schizophrenia and mood disorders. The problem is that our brains are good at learning from bad experiences but bad at learning from good experiences.” drweil.com
Rapidly triggered release of chemicals like cortisol can affect your mood for an entire day, and your memory of those moods can linger and accumulate for years.
Okay, so we know industrial wastes and – yikes – even prescription medicines in our waterways, pesticides and herbicides on crops and in runoff, recreational drugs, smoking, and alcohol put physical toxins into our bodies. What are, and what puts, spiritual toxins into us? God’s Word is pretty clear about what “toxins” we need to KEEP OUT of our hearts/minds/spirits, and with what we need to PUT IN to cleanse and protect ourselves from the deterioration, blinding, bondage and poisoning of “toxic thinking/feeling/acting”:
Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing. Psalm 37:8
In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold…Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4: 26-27, 31-32 NIV
Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips and spreads slander is a fool. Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues. Proverbs 10: 18-19 NIV
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6: 14-15
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister (see Ephesians 4: 26-27) will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ (let’s call it name calling/reputation destroying with any words) will be in danger of the fire of hell.Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift….You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. Matthew 5: 21-24, 27-10 NIV
Then Jesus called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand! It is not what goes into your mouth that makes you ritually unclean; rather, what comes out of it makes you unclean.” Then the disciples came to him and said, “Do you know that the Pharisees had their feelings hurt by what you said?” “Every plant which my Father in heaven did not plant will be pulled up,” answered Jesus. “Don’t worry about them! They are blind leaders of the blind; and when one blind man leads another, both fall into a ditch.” Peter spoke up, “Explain this saying to us.” Jesus said to them, “You are still no more intelligent than the others. Don’t you understand? Anything that goes into your mouth goes into your stomach and then on out of your body. But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these are the things that make you ritually unclean. For from your heart come the evil ideas which lead you to kill, commit adultery, and do other immoral things; to rob, lie, and slander others. These are the things that make you unclean. But to eat without washing your hands as they say you should—this doesn’t make you unclean.” Matthew 15: 10-20 NIV
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5: 43-48 NIV
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5: 19-21 ESV
If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. James 4: 17 NIV
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. James 3: 14 ESV
In our physical bodies, toxins can come from within our body, too. Stress, infections, changes in the body’s population of good bacteria and even rupturing of cells also can raise toxin levels in our bodies. Fortunately, the body CAN cleanse itself of toxins. Our bodies have biochemical “cleanup workers” that know how to detoxify each of our cells . To help our body cleanse, we can also take supplements and cleansing herbs, colonics, saunas, steam baths, foot baths, exercise, deep breathing, and prayer/meditation and other stress relievers. Here are more spiritual “toxic take outs”, coupled with what we should put into ourselves to “detox” emotionally, mentally, attitudinally, spiritually:
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Ephesians 4: 25
You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Colossians 3: 7-10
Yes, none of us hasn’t stumbled or sinned in some of these ways. Not one of us can, on our own, truly “be perfect even as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” THAT’S WHY I/WE NEED THE ATONING BLOOD AND FORGIVENESS AND POWER INSIDE US OF JESUS! That’s why I need a Savior, why I can only trust in Christ’s Righteousness to cover me, and why I try to be quick to confess my sins/wrongs/stupidity and make amends when, yes it happens, I hurt someone, even unintentionally (as it is with me, because I never set out to hurt anyone)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
Yes, yes, yes, let’s all take out the toxins that “inflame” our heart, mind, spirit and will, starting with recognition, humble honest confession, and repentance, and put in the “anti-inflammatories” that quench that destructive fire! And here are the anti-inflammatories Doctor Jesus prescribed for us in the “BE attitudes.” Talk about a cleansing detox!
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn (my insertion,I do mourn when I recognize I’ve sinned, or when I see someone stumble in Satan-induced spiritual blindness), for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek (humble) for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5: 3-16 NIV
Boy I needed to be reminded of this today, and I just found a note I wrote years ago quoting some of Brennan Manning’s book “Ruthless Trust, “ which I read on a trip to Asia, as I recall, going to do childcare at a missions conference . Wish I still had a copy!
“Trust, the winsome wedding of faith and hope…. Christianity is not a message which has to be believed, but an experience of faith that becomes our message.” (p.88) He cites 2 Corinthians 3: 2-3 that God’s message is written on the tablets of our hearts. “We must deduce everything we know about God from what we know about Jesus… For me and many others, Jesus IS the revelation of the only God worthy of trust,” (p. 89) “The promise of His presence and the presence of His promise.” (p. 94) “What does lie within my power is paying attention to the faithfulness of Jesus. That’s what I am asked to do: pay attention to Jesus throughout my journey, remembering his kindness.”(p. 97)
May God cover all of us His children with His powerful Hands and Love today and give us courage to honestly confess, genuinely repent and let Him take out the toxins in us., put in His cleansing, and help us say that we are HIS and live like we mean it!
A “…BUT…” to pray: LORD God, I freely admit I can’t live up to all the things I know I should put into my life and make my BE attitudes, and yes, I need YOU to help me see and cast out the toxic ideas, attitudes, feelings, assumptions, and flat-out dumb actions in me. I can’t do it on my own, BUT HOLY SPIRIT, YOU CAN do it in me as I yield mtyself to You, so I ask You now to tell me _______________________ and show me _________________________ and take it all OUT of me, and show me _______________________ and tell me ____________________ that YOU WANT TO put into me out of Your self, Your love, Your purposes, and Your powerful grace. In Jesus’ name, Loving Father God, amen, and Holy Spirit, please amp up the volume so I can hear you as I’m listening __________________________________________.