We all have heard the saying “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” The saying is based on the fact that when we feed ourselves “garbage” or “junk”, it is only a matter of time before garbage begins to manifest in our lives. The way it manifests is typically through our behaviour and our words, and few people know how to clean their minds again.
We live in a society and age where we are bombarded by information like never before. Our minds are constantly flooded with images by mass-marketing companies in an attempt to change our shopping habits and general behaviour to their advantage. On top of that we are exposed to music, movies, computer games and books with questionable content like never before.
Growing up I hated it when somebody would say that the devil was using the media to brainwash the public. I hated it because I was using the media to satisfy my own flesh.
I grew up in a religious home and certain moral boundaries were clearly defined. Diving head-first into socially acceptable but religiously condemned media-based content was the easiest way to bypass the physical barriers that were set up for me by my parents and the community I grew up in.
With no one teaching me why some content should be avoided, and with no one really caring what I was actually keeping myself busy with, I saturated my mind with music put out by artists who promoted unsolicited sex, drugs, blasphemy and Satanism just to name a few.
I also played computer games filled with witchcraft, lustful or demonic characters and violence. I read novels by bestselling authors, famous for their horror or psychopathically based content.
When it came to movies, my friend and I would sometimes watch the same horror sci-fi movie over and over again, even three or four times during the same night. We would then repeat this weekend after weekend, to the point where we could narrate every gruesome detail of the film.
We thought we were cool. We weren’t.
The”‘Garbage In, Garbage Out” principle does not necessarily pose a problem for the person who is trying to make a success of his life based on worldly values. However, unless dealt with, for the authentic Christian the amount of ungodly content he or she has been exposed to, presented in a pleasurable or excitable form, has a direct and negative impact on his or her life.
This was one of the reasons why I struggled with so many behaviour problems, which I just couldn’t shake without the Lord’s help.
All these things are designed to desensitise us from the real horror of this world, to the point where we lose the ability to empathise with those who are in dire need of the love of Christ.
Some traumatic experiences as a child together with the amount of dark content I had exposed myself to did create a side to my character which I wasn’t very proud of. As someone who struggled with anger, together with a lack of empathy for those in pain, I found it hard to deal with emotional issues in a mature way.
When I finally repented and gave my life to the Lord, I found I still couldn’t shake my anger outbursts. I felt like a rat in a cage, trapped and unable to achieve any significant degree of success. As explained in a previous post the first change only came when I started to seek first the Kingdom of God, above all else.
As I began to lead other people to Christ, the Lord showed me the exact opposite of the “Garbage In, Garbage Out” principle, and how it could change me.
Just like we are affected by all the negative content we feed ourselves, we are also affected by all the positive content we regularly supply our hearts and minds. I was personally responsible for all the bad content I had fed myself for so many years, so I had to take responsibility and do my part by applying the “Good In, Good Out” principle instead.
Good In, Good Out
The “Good In, Good Out” principle is found in Luke 6:45, “The upright (honorable, intrinsically good) man out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart produces what is upright (honorable and intrinsically good), and the evil man out of the evil storehouse brings forth that which is depraved (wicked and intrinsically evil); for out of the abundance (overflow) of the heart his mouth speaks.”
At the time I had a lot of evil stored in my heart, and the devil was able to use it to come against me.
I then decided that I was going to fill my heart with the good of God’s Word, and asked the Lord that He would replace the evil with His Word instead.
Most people will agree that going through the whole Bible in a year is quite a challenge. However, within one year I went through the whole Bible from beginning to end – twice! I was spending between two and three hours per day on the road travelling and I saw it as the perfect opportunity to feed my mind and heart with the Word of God by playing an audio version of the Bible.
Later, I took the book of Romans and listened to it over and over again.
I then took the book of Hebrews and did the same, and then the book of Luke.
I also made a commitment to listen to wholesome music only. When I was growing up, the Christian music industry did not have a lot to offer. Nowadays, I am of the opinion that the quality of music put out by Christian artists competes really well with anything the secular music world has to offer. We really don’t have any excuse to listen to music with questionable content anymore.
As I was continually feeding myself with the Word of God, I slowly but surely noticed that life began to flow out of me instead of all the negativity. It was a gradual change, but the more I fed myself with the life-giving, life-changing Word of God, the more it changed me.
I also enrolled in biblically-sound evangelical courses and started listening to sermons by people who are Kingdom focused.
All this directly affected my ability to witness to strangers and colleagues. Suddenly I found people asking me tough questions about life and God and surprisingly, I seemed to have an answer for every one of those questions.
I progressively started to feel empathy for others, where I previously had not felt much at all. As I continually seek the Kingdom of God and fill my mind with the truth of His Word, I still feel a constant change in my heart, as the good I put in shines a light on the darkness and expels it from my heart.
The “Good In, Good Out” principle is not just a suggestion, it is actually a commandment from the New Testament for all believers. Philippians 4:8 says, “For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].”
God’s Word has the answer to every problem we face.
To obtain biblical success we must pour God’s Word out like a bucket of water over our lives and over every failing situation.
Psalm 119:25 says, “…revive and stimulate me according to Your word!”
Only the Word (which is Jesus Christ) can give life to every dead situation. Keep in mind the words of Jesus in Luke 6:45 (quoted in the beginning of this post) as you read the following passage from Isaiah 55:10-13…
“For as the rain and snow come down from the heavens, and return not there again, but water the earth and make it bring forth and sprout, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. 12For you shall go out [from the spiritual exile caused by sin and evil into the homeland] with joy and be led forth [by your Leader, the Lord Himself, and His word] with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 13Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree; and it shall be to the Lord for a name of renown, for an everlasting sign [of jubilant exaltation] and memorial [to His praise], which shall not be cut off.”
The “Good In, Good Out” principle can be applied to any area where we lack success. If I can’t motivate myself enough to work harder in order for me to qualify for a promotion, then I need to fill my mind with all the genuinely good reasons why a promotion would be of great benefit. To me, a promotion or financial increase means a new sphere of influence, or the ability to give more for the Kingdom of God. The more I meditate on this, the more I feel inspired to be excellent at my job so I can be promoted for all the right reasons.
If I don’t like someone, then I just need to find one good thing about that person that I can shift my focus to. The more I meditate on it, the more I open my mind to the possibility of other good things about that person as well.
If I can’t find even one good thing, I shift my focus to the potential they have in Christ – the way God looks at us in love. I see them based on the four foundational principles of success ( Understand Your Purpose, Know Your Calling, Redefine Your Definition Of Success, Love ). I see them as people created by God for the same purpose, created honourable and praiseworthy. This changes the attitude I have towards them and brings success in a previously untenable situation.
Renewing The Mind
In Ephesians 4:23 we are commanded as follows, “… be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude].”
When we continually focus on that which is good and pure and worthy of praise, and when we fill our minds and hearts constantly with the Word of God, we are setting ourselves up for success, because we are being obedient to the commandment to renew our minds.
The renewing of the mind is accomplished by saturating our minds with the Word of God.
As we fill our hearts and minds with the Word, good begins to flow out of us.
The good that flows also serves as a purifying method for the bad we originally filled ourselves with.
As the good flows out, we might initially still struggle with some bad as well. However, as we continually fill ourselves with God’s Word, the bad becomes less and less until it disappears.
Imagine a barrel filled with black oil. As I pour clean water into it, the barrel immediately overflows. Initially, the oil rejects the water and I see water and some oil spilling over. As I continue to pour water into the barrel, the amount of oil decreases as it is replaced by the water, until I have nothing but clean water left in the barrel.
Like the water in the illustration, the Word of God has the power to purge the evil we stored in our hearts, until only the love of God flows out of us.
As a final note, this process should not be done independently from God. Oil can be sticky, and water alone will not be enough. As we fill our minds with the Word of God, we also need to apply the Word of God. Ask Jesus to erase all images and words from your being that are not honouring to Him. Repent of specific things you allowed, and ask for the blood of Jesus to cleanse you of all unrighteousness.
For example, if you find you struggle with lust because of impure thoughts or pornographic images you allowed, you can read how to Deal With Lust & Sexual Sin Effectively for a deeper and more specific explanation on how to clean your mind.
Also read Changing Bad Behaviour In Adults, which is complimentary to this post.