The Mind Gate

This entry is part 40 of 60 in the series Holiness Matters
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

We have all kinds of ways to evaluate the mind. We have IQ tests, games that require quick thinking, essays and stories to test our creative thinking, and many more. We are fascinated by the way the mind works.

The Bible is no different. It discusses the mind on many occasions but I want to focus on the New Testament. It’s interesting to see how the writers of the New Testament explain what happens in the mind of an individual as they go from unbeliever to believer in Christ.

We’ve been talking about temptation and all the different ways to look at it from a New Testament point of view. Temptation usually starts in preys upon the desires of our flesh. But if our minds are not prepared to face the onslaught it brings, we will never be able to fend it off.

The mind becomes one of the center internal targets of holiness. As the Spirit works from the inside out, the mind has much to do with his work in making us new creatures and working out our salvation.

Some have said that the battlefield of the mind is the most important frontier for every believer in Jesus. I believe that this is right. Many of our problems stem from a misunderstanding of our identity in Christ given to us at salvation. This may be the reason one of the pieces of the armor of God is the helmet of salvation (Ephesians 6:17).

Before we knew Christ, our minds made us futile in our thinking (Romans 1:21). Every thought we had didn’t gain us an inch when it came to spiritual matters. We focused on worshiping creatures rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25).

We didn’t listen to God so he gave us over to a debased mind that thought of all kinds of new evils and sins to act out (Romans 1:28). The worst part is that we knew what God expected and yet we turned to sin and approved of others who did sin as well (Romans 1:31).

But everything changes when we follow Christ. He is transforming us from the inside out, including our minds. The mind is one of the inner parts of our person and one of the main things God changes as he changes our character.

Those same minds that supplanted any relationship with God are now used to love and glorify him. When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment, he quoted from Deuteronomy 6:4, subtracting “might” and adding “mind” (Matthew 22:37). Originally, the Hebrew concept of the heart included the mind. But the Pharisees lost their way.

Paul talks about having the mind of Christ as people who are ruled by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:16). The Spirit knows the mind of God and he helps us to understand the things God gives us. To know the things of God is one of the results of being controlled by the Spirit.

So how do we love the Lord our God with our minds? It all starts with being continually renewed and transformed in our minds (Romans 12:2). A transformation comes through renewing our minds in Christ regularly.

Renewing our minds begins with focusing on the things that please God, that are good and acceptable to him. Philippians 4:8 expands on this idea even more. But it all starts with replacing anxiety with prayer. That’s when God brings his peace into our lives, which doesn’t make much sense to us but that’s what God brings.

God’s peace guards our hearts and minds. So our minds are free to focus on eight qualities that please God, the right kind of brain fuel. We think on whatever is

  1. True
  2. Honorable
  3. Just
  4. Pure
  5. Lovely
  6. Commendable
  7. Excellent
  8. Worthy of Praise

We must also monitor the way we think. Our minds are involved in spiritual warfare as we destroy every argument and opinion that contends against the knowledge of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Anything that comes from worldly wisdom or worldly thought processes we strike down before it gains a foothold.

Because our minds are so important to understanding own salvation and our identity in Christ we must continue to renew them in the things of God. The second part of that verse tells us to take every thought captive to Christ. We are not only monitoring our thoughts but are actively making them captive and obedient to Christ.

If a thought or a process goes against Christ in any way, we have the ability with the mind of Christ through the power of the Spirit to destroy arguments and opinions and to captivate the thinking that doesn’t honor Christ in ourselves.

How will we know? If it doesn’t agree with Scripture, God’s Word, or if the Holy Spirit convicts us about the things we are thinking or the way we’re using our minds, we can think a different way or have a different thought. When our minds are continually renewed by God’s Word and Spirit, we come under the obedience of the Spirit to think the things and ways that please God.

Twice in his letter James talks about being double-minded (James 1:8; 4:8). The first time James mentions the double-minded person is in the context of praying for God’s wisdom (James 1:5). But the principle of asking without doubt (James 1:6) applies to all of our prayers despite the request.

Every prayer must be a prayer of faith or there’s no point in asking God. This is where James talks about being double-minded. He describes this person as unstable in all his ways. Double-minded means that we are divided in our interests or decisions. It’s like riding the fence.

The second time James uses it is after a discussion on being a friend of the world and a friend of God (James 4:4-6). Then he gives two commands, first to submit to God and then to resist the devil (James 4:7).

Then in James 4:8 he tells us to draw near to God. Every time that we draw near to God he draws near to us. This is the opposite of the worldliness and trying to be friends with the world mentioned earlier. To draw near to God is to cleanse our hands (actions we commit) and to purify our hearts, the opposite of being double-minded.

Double-mindedness is to be divided in our allegiances, thoughts, intentions, and decisions. This mixing in our minds can only be set right through purifying our minds. Purity is the opposite of being mixed or divided.

Peter also talks about thinking and the mind. He always speaks about being sober-minded (1 Peter 1:13; 4:7; 5:8). Here, Peter is using the idea of being temperate, self-controlled, and well-balanced in our thoughts.

He commands us to prepare our minds for action (1 Peter 1:13). To prepare yourself mentally for battle must be well-balanced and self-controlled in your thoughts. It seems similar to Paul telling us to think on the things that please God in Philippians 4:8.

Because the end is near, every Christian must be sober-minded especially in our prayers (1 Peter 4:7). Many things happen in the end times and we must be prepared for the events the Bible has told us will be coming.

The final time Peter talks about being sober minded is in connection with the attacks of the enemy, the devil who prowls around like a roaring lion seeking to devour us (1 Peter 5:8). We must be aware of his attacks and all his tactics. This doesn’t mean that we concentrate our thoughts on the enemy but that we are prepared for his schemes.

These are some of the ways the New Testament focuses on the mind of the Christian and the importance of our thoughts, imagination, ways of thinking, and focus. We must commit ourselves to thinking like Christ and pleasing him with our thoughts. After all, the mind is the center of everything else in the body. It controls everything else from actions to feelings.

It’s amazing to see how important the mind is to our sanctification and to becoming holy. The way we think and the thoughts that we think have incredible power over our walk with God. Leave a comment and tell us ways you renew your mind in Christ.

Series Navigation<< Hurting God’s HeartThree Worldly Temptations >>
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