How to Set Your Mind on Things Above: 6 Ways to Let Go of Earthly Things

Debbie McDaniel

iBelieve Contributing Writer
Updated Jan 24, 2022
How to Set Your Mind on Things Above: 6 Ways to Let Go of Earthly Things

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. – Colossians 3:2-3

Some days can feel like a struggle. We get weary in the battles, stuck in tough places, or feel pressure in the heat of hard times. And though it’s true, we can never fully escape all the mess this world may bring our way because we live in a fallen place, we can choose to rise above. And right in the midst of whatever we face, we can remain steadfast, strong, and faithful. Not because we are strong in ourselves, but because He is strong, and as believers, God’s Spirit lives powerfully within us.

Being able to rise above the fear, temptations, and hard places of this life is wrapped around the truth of who we are in Christ. We are redeemed. We are set free. We are being renewed day by day. We are His workmanship in Christ Jesus. We are a new creation.

There are many verses in the Bible that remind us we are made new in Christ when we accept Him into our lives as Lord and Savior. We’re made new as believers in Him and are continually being “made new,” for it’s a constant process until we are in Heaven. This means we must choose to put off the old self, letting go of all the old habits, patterns, or sins, and take up the new, focusing our thoughts and heart on Christ’s truths. It requires action on our part, to continue to seek Him daily. We won’t just naturally be drawn to always thinking “God thoughts.” Unfortunately, our sinful nature is strong, and the enemy wants nothing more than to make us fall. It’s a daily battle and a choice we must make to walk in God’s ways.

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"...we have everything we need when we have Christ."

"...we have everything we need when we have Christ."

In the book of Colossians, Paul reminds us that we have everything we need when we have Christ. He is all-sufficient, He is the head over all, He is supreme, He is greater than any other power or authority. Because of this, as Christ followers, we have His Spirit within us to equip and empower us to walk in freedom and light.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:1-3

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What does the Bible mean when it says to set your mind on things above?

What does the Bible mean when it says to set your mind on things above?

The Greek word used for “set” in this verse, means “to seek after, strive for, be intent on.” It tells us this must be a way we choose to live, it’s not something that just occurs one time and we can forget about it. It’s a way of living that allows us to be set free from the things of this world that would seek to hold us back and keep us down.

To “set your minds on things above” is to:

  1. Look at life from God’s perspective
  2. And to seek after what He desires.

This is the best cure for materialism and temptation in this life because we can’t truly live this out without also learning to let go of our worldly desires. It recognizes the need for us to place our full affection, thinking, focus, and attention on heavenly things above, rather than the lust, greed, and sin that encompasses this world.

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ” reminds us that our desires for the things of the world should be about as much as a person who has already died. None. Our lives are hidden, kept safe, concealed under the authority and covering of Gods’ sheltering care. This is another great reason to let go of the burdens and attitudes of this present life, for they should hold no power over us.

But sometimes, as we all know, that’s all easier said than done. So just how do we go about this plan of action, learning to “set your minds on things above, not on earthly things,” here are a few truths from God’s word that will help us.

6 Ways to Set Your Minds on Things Above and Learn to Let Go of Earthly Things:

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1. Make the choice daily.

1. Make the choice daily.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Pray. Confess your need for him. Confess any sin you know you’ve been holding onto that’s difficult to let go of. Ask him for the help of his Holy Spirit. He may show you things you weren’t even aware of that have caused your downward spiral into sin or despair. He may lead you to make better decisions, to let go of toxic attitudes or relationships, and will guide you into healthy new places.

The truth is if we’re not:

  • Coming to Him daily,
  • Asking for His help,
  • Seeking to hear His voice,
  • Opening up His word,
  • Praying
  • and Thanking Him for the work that He’s doing in our lives,

Then we will never be able to fully “set our minds on things above.” We just can’t operate in our flesh, trying to live out His Word. It doesn’t work. The number one way to begin to see things from God’s perspective is to come before Him daily, or many times through each day, learning to walk with Him and recognize His power and presence in our lives.

God loves us more than we could ever fully know. He longs to help us and is always there. His words of life remind us that He is our strong tower. He promises to draw near to those who are seeking Him and is faithful to see us through the struggles of this world.

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2. Recognize this is bigger than you.

2. Recognize this is bigger than you.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

Sometimes, we can know the right things to do, yet struggle to do it. We fail, we fall short, we don’t follow through. Other times, it's a battle to trust that God’s ways are better. We might think He missed it or forgot us, or that He doesn't really care, or understand how difficult this world might be. Or we start to think that we know better somehow. Like God needs our help to know what to do. We get in a hurry. It's hard to wait for answers, or we feel like we're wasting time. And often, it might just be that we're in such a pattern of "go" all the time, that we rarely stop long enough to see if we're even heading in the right direction, doing what He’s asked us to do.

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"...God never asks us to figure it all out on our own..."

"...God never asks us to figure it all out on our own..."

But the truth is, God never asks us to figure it all out on our own or to live in our own strength. He just asks us to trust Him, to recognize His leadership and sovereignty in our lives, and to set our minds and attention on Him. And He promises to fill our lives with the power of His Spirit, to go before us, and to make our footsteps firm.

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3. Choose to listen to God’s voice and not the lies of the enemy.

3. Choose to listen to God’s voice and not the lies of the enemy.

"And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

God has a plan for our lives. The enemy has a plan for us too. We just have to decide which voice we’re going to listen to, and who we're going to choose to follow each day. And chances are, if we don't make a determined choice to follow God, we may eventually fall into a trap of the enemy.

The Bible has much to say about Satan's devious schemes and how he operates:

  • He is a twister of truth
  • He is deceptive,
  • And the father of lies.

He becomes very in tune with what our weaknesses are and will use anything he can to bring us down. Though God never tells us to walk in fear, He does tell us to be on guard and to live aware. As we keep pressing in to know God, who is real, who is Truth, and we set our minds on His Word, spending time there, meditating on it, eventually we become very trained in detecting the fake.

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4. Put on the armor of God.

4. Put on the armor of God.

“Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:13-18

God gives specific instructions in his Word; he gives us all we need to stand strong in this life and to keep our eyes on Him. Yet all too often we race through busy days, ill-equipped, unprepared, or simply not aware of what we’re up against or who the real enemy even is. The forces of darkness don’t wait for us to be ready for their attack. If you’re a believer living like salt and light in this dark world, you won’t go for long without encountering obstacles and attacks the enemy will hurl straight your direction. This battle is real, it’s intense.

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"When we resist the enemy, God’s Word tells us he has to flee."

"When we resist the enemy, God’s Word tells us he has to flee."

Yet God’s given us His Word and Spirit, so we’ll have the wisdom to rise above and the protection to stand against the enemy. Paul wrote these verses while in chains, in prison. But truth says – this enemy we face can never chain our spirits that have been set free by Christ. Paul was not silenced by the attacks from dark forces. Neither should we be. The battles we face may be more about what is unseen than what we see before us. And when we resist the enemy, God’s Word tells us he has to flee.

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5. Guard your heart, lay aside the old nature, and let go of fear, worry, and sin.

5. Guard your heart, lay aside the old nature, and let go of fear, worry, and sin.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23

Our inner thoughts, our words, even what's spoken to us, really matters. For it can hold the power to run our lives and dictate our choices. All the more reason to make sure our thinking is based on truth – on what God says.

Guard – protect, to keep safe; your heart – innermost being, which represents the very core of your thoughts, your mind, your actions, and decisions; for everything you do flows from it.

It's that vital. All of our lives depend on that choice to guard our hearts and set our minds on the things above. And when we fill our minds, our thoughts, our hearts with the right things, the wrong things won't have any room to enter in. His Word, His Truth offers protection, a guard over our hearts and lives, for our decisions and thoughts. Casting our cares to Him, releasing our problems and burdens, seeking forgiveness over sin, doesn't give room for us to just sit numbly with anxious thoughts spinning. Choosing not to stress or walk out old patterns is an active choice we must make. It's not about pretending like we don't have worries, ignoring our problems, or living a life of passivity.

  • It requires effort on our part – choosing to give God our struggles.
  • It requires trust on our part – letting go and remembering that He is in control.

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6. Believe that He is with you.

6. Believe that He is with you.

“So do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Doubt is one thing that many of us have probably struggled with at some point along the way.

Dwelling in Doubt:

Maybe we can't see what God is doing. Maybe the difficult times cause us to wonder if He really cares or even hears us. Or maybe we've been left wondering if we're hearing Him right. Often the future looks uncertain, the path gets blurred, and we're not sure if we're heading in the right direction. Other times life just gets hard. It seems an uphill climb; we're drained and weary. Or we wonder if we've just been left on our own.

Abounding in Belief:

His Truth reminds us that He's with us, always. Our "with us" God will never leave us or turn away. He holds us through the fiercest struggles and brings peace to uncertain times. There's no greater way to build stronger faith than to walk straight through the toughest of battles. For it's the very ground where we must decide what we really believe and who we believe. And as we set our minds on Christ, it becomes the place where doubts get crushed and confidence in Him can grow deeper and fuller.

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"We were not set free to fit in; we've been changed to make a difference."

"We were not set free to fit in; we've been changed to make a difference."

The world will never tell us to live this way because it goes against the very mindset of current popular opinion. But we were not set free to fit in; we've been changed to make a difference.

This verse from the Message sums it up well, "Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you." Romans 12:2

May God help us to walk wisely and live free. May He remind us daily to set our minds on Him. May He give us the power we need to extend love and light to a world that desperately needs His hope.

Debbie McDaniel is a writer, pastor's wife, mom to three amazing kids (and a lot of pets). Join her each morning on Fresh Day Ahead's Facebook page, for daily encouragement in living strong, free, hope-filled lives. Find her also on Twitter and at her blog

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Originally published Monday, 24 January 2022.