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The OODA Loop and the Christian

How to be Victorious Over Sin


Thinking about Thinking
Luke 14:31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and
consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with
twenty thousand?
One of the things that distinguishes Christianity from all other religions is that it calls upon you
to use your God-given brain, your mind, to think about what you are doing. It isnt merely a set
of beliefs and rituals. It turns out that youve been using the OODA loop without even knowing
it!
There was an US Air Force Colonel by the name of John Richard Boyd who came up with the
idea called OODA loop. From the Wiki on him:
Boyd hypothesized that all intelligent organisms and organizations undergo a
continuous cycle of interaction with their environment. Boyd breaks this cycle
down to four interrelated and overlapping processes through which one cycles
continuously: [the short version here is: Observe, Orient, Decide, Act]
[skip this detail; present within]
Observation is the collection of data by means of the senses
Orientation is the analysis and synthesis of data to form one's current mental
perspective
Decision is the determination of a course of action based on one's current
mental perspective
Action is the physical playing-out of decisions that have been made.1
Why is the OODA loop relevant to us? That is a good question. In writing about it, Robert
Greene remarked:
In reading about the OODA loop for the first time, I was struck by its brilliance,
but I was not quite sure what to make of it. How exactly does this apply to my
own battles, my own life, or to those whom I advise in their affairs?2
In the Bible you can find Jesus using war as a metaphor as we noted in our opening text. Paul
uses war and boxing as metaphors:
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the
1

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Boyd_(military_strategist)

Power, Seduction and war (web page: http://powerseductionandwar.com/ooda-and-you/)


OODA and You, blog posted on February 24, 2007.

weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong
holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the
knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
1 Corinthians 9:26-27 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth
the air: 27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I
have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
Peter does it too:
1 Peter 2:11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts,
which war against the soul;
Once we realize that we are at war, we can use certain tools and methods (like OODA loop) to
help us win the daily battles that we face. Every time you make a decision and act on it, youve
gone through the OODA loop, whether you recognize it or not. Your thinking prior to the
decision may not have been very clear, or thorough, and it may have been quite muddled. But if
you put some thought into what you were thinking this should help you recognize when and
how Satan is tempting you. Along this line of thinking about thinking Ellen G. White had a good
line: Everyone is to have sufficient light to make his decision intelligently.3
Harry Hillaker (chief designer of the F-16) said of the OODA theory, "Time is the dominant
parameter. The pilot who goes through the OODA cycle in the shortest time prevails because his
opponent is caught responding to situations that have already changed."4
For the Christian, time isnt the real issue. What is of vital importance for the Christian is the
decision you make. Looking at our daily struggle with sin and using the OODA loop allows us to
change the orientation we take towards the battle(s). The advantage the Christian has is twofold: first and foremost the victory over sin and death has already been won and we can ask Jesus
for all the power we need to successfully overcome our sins. Second, we can look back over our
life and see where we have sinned and re-think what were we thinking about before we actually
committed an act of sin the only thing the military people can do is look at history books.
Those are dead, dry, sterile, filtered down by the mind of the writer (who might be flawed or
biased).
So, assuming you know how to observe when you have committed a sin if you dont, you have
bigger problems we can move onto the second step of the OODA loop: Orientation: the
analysis and synthesis of data to form one's current mental perspective. If you are like a rat in a
trap and you keep doing the same thing over and over and over again, will you ever be victorious
over sin? Of course not. So, the first thing you have to do is to change your thinking. How do we
do that? One step at a time.
3

http://www.greatcontroversy.org/books/gc/gc38, page 605

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Boyd_(military_strategist)

First, recognize when you have sinned. Now think about what you were thinking just before you
committed the act of sin. Keep working backwards till you find when the temptation to sin first
hit you. This is actually the first step in the OODA loop. Observe what was going on. What were
you thinking? Note the pattern of thought and the stimulus to sin.
Even secular minded people realize this and do it without knowing that they are actually using
OODA loop. One example is the actor Tim Robbins who got rid of his TV:
Academy Award-winning actor Tim Robbins says his experience directing a play
based on George Orwell's "1984" has prompted a life choice as personal as it is
political: He's living without a TV.
"I have done an experiment for the past three years: I got rid of my television. One
of the things Orwell talks about in the book '1984' is this thing called 'the
two-minute hate,'" Robbins told reporters in Bogota on Monday.
"People go in front of their television screens and they yell at the person they
object to politically. I realized I had been doing that for two hours every day
during [a particular politicians time in office]. I said, 'I've got to stop hating.'"5
In at least some way he recognized that hate (anger) was wrong. He identified what the stimulus
that produced the hate and he dealt with it. Too many Christians dont even get the first part
right. They make excuses, just like a worldling would do; anything but man up and take
responsibility. Where Robbins got it wrong was in eliminating the stimulus and thinking that this
means that he has solved the problem. The stimulus will simply re-occur in some other way and
hell find that he STILL has an anger management problem. We should all hate sin and when
people are being hurt by others, but its how you deal with it that counts.
Now you can re-orient your thinking in response to the temptation. Ask yourself this question: Is
it easier to resist temptation when it first hits you or, say, an hour down the road?
The second problem with our habitual thought patterns that has led to failure is you may assume
that resisting sin is perfectionism, or perfectionistic. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Jesus said Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect. Was He a perfectionist (in the
negative sense of the term)? [Id love to argue with God about this one: you know that theres a
reason why we call each other meatheads, right? Dead from the neck up.6] The critics always ask:
5

http://www.startribune.com/entertainment/movies/145830185.html

Other terms are frequently used: dimwits, nitwits, half-wits, bird brains, knuckleheads,
airhead, etc., or phrases like the lights on, but no one is at home, the elevator doesnt go all
the way to the top, not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, or, the old favorite: A few
fries short of a Happy Meal. One wit noted that Sometimes were Sherlock, other days were
Watson. Or, for most of us, most of the time, were Larry the Cable Guy.

are you perfect yet? What the problems with this thinking? They are looking to us, rather than to
Jesus. The answer to this question is, of course, that when you are in Christ, you ARE perfect.
Once youve observed what pushes your buttons towards sin, and youve changed your
orientation towards it, you can now decide how you are going to respond. The reason many of us
fail to gain the victory over sin is because we dilly-dally, we parley with temptation, we wonder
what would it be like? When we do that we practically guarantee that well fail in the fight and
then the guilt and shame come back to haunt us.
Assuming youve made the only real choice, the decision, to live a victorious life, now you can
act: when we are faced with temptation to sin the best response and the only way to overcome sin
is to immediately say No and to instantly ask Jesus for help.
So, how do you overcome sin and live the victorious life? You go through the OODA loop and
make the right choices. After awhile Satan wont be able to tempt you on that point because it
has become a habit in your mind to resist temptation.

See http://dan.hersam.com/lists/not_bright.html which has a list of 171 one-liners.


I realized one time that in terms of IQ, my cat (IQ of about one) is closer to us, than we
are to God.