“For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Romans 8:6
The mind is an important subject in the New Testament. There are at least 79 references to the mind in our English translations of the Bible. Jesus Himself said that the first and greatest commandment was to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength.
Because of the fall of Adam, the human mind has been darkened to fully understanding and knowing God. (Romans 1:21, Ephesians 4:18).Only the Holy Spirit of God can illuminate the darkened heart and mind of a human being. Today we hear a lot about “following our hearts,” but before the intervention of Christ our hearts cannot be fully trusted. The hardened heart is a stronghold that stands between us and God, as well as the darkened mind. The Holy Spirit must first deal with our hearts. It is with the heart that a person believes even before the mind can fully comprehend the Truth of the Gospel. (Romans 10:10).
Paul described the situation in 1 Corinthians 3:13-18 where the writings of Moses were being read by people whose understanding was darkened, as if behind a veil. The only solution was for their hearts to turn toward the Lord. Then the veil over their understanding would be taken away, so they could discover the full glory of the Lord Jesus as revealed in those very Old Testament pages!That was my experience. I was taught about Jesus from childhood, and knew something about the man from Galilee. But after my heart was more fully surrendered unto Him, I could see Him in a new way. Before he appeared as a babe in Bethlehem, He was known by Adam, Enoch, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Isaiah and a host of others. Many wrote of Him and their glimpses of Him were recorded for future generations. After my mind was opened by His grace I too could read the same scriptures and behold “as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, to be changed from glory to glory by the Spirit of God!”
There were times that the change in me seemed so complete, and other times when old thoughts would return. A spiritual warfare was raging. My heart was permanently and completely in His hands, but my mind could waiver at times. Maybe you have not experienced this. Maybe you have had continuous total and perfect peace since your conversion. We do know that the testimony of the early church was their ultimate victory in Christ, but also that it was not always without a struggle against the world, the flesh and the devil.
That is why Peter continued to “stir up” their “pure minds by way of remembrance,” and Paul urged them to “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.” (2 Peter 3:1-2, Ephesians 6:10).
“(For the 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..” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).
This in no way resembles a shouting match with the devil. It is a continual dependence upon the power of Christ at work within us. As we submit our way to God, we can resist the devil and he will flee from us! (James 4:7). Through Christ these minds of ours can be delivered from long standing habits and attitudes, with spiritual thoughts, words and actions flowing forth from them instead!
All because of the glorious provision by Christ on the Cross! God intends to sanctify us entirely, spirit, soul and body! (1 Thessalonians 5:23). He created these bodies and brains with our minds, wills, emotions for His glory! The carnal, fleshly, earthly thinking must go, and be replaced by thoughts concerning that which is just, pure, lovely, of good report, and virtuous. (Philippians 4:8). Sin has clouded our ability to understand the truth with clarity. Now by His grace, God wants to increase our capacity to understand Him, His creation, and His plan for all of humanity!
Almighty God has taken the uneducated, the unprofitable, the underprivileged, the young and old, unacknowledged in this world and filled them with His wisdom, knowledge and amazing gifts. These otherwise useless beings have led millions to Christ. They have led great movements in society, in business, and in the arts. They have inspired and organized hospitals, rescued countless orphans, educated and trained those would have had no future otherwise. I have personally known men who never learned to read, and yet knew and understood more of the Bible than some college professors. A lack of formal education is not the handicap we would expect when the Spirit of God ignites the brain cells of His redeemed ones! He is the Master Teacher!
While Peter, James and John were considered unlettered and ignorant men, Paul of Tarsus was otherwise. He considered the pride of his achievements as rubbish, but make no mistake — The King of Kings added His supernatural illumination to Paul’s great intellect to the great benefit of all believers since! Because of his marvelously gifted oral and written teachings, multitudes of losers like you and me have had our minds lifted into dizzying heights of wisdom, knowledge and understanding. His training in rhetorical skills prepared him to effectively stand before kings and other important figures of his day.
In Acts 17:1-3, 17, and 18:4 we see Paul using his God-given reasoning powers to convince both Jews and Gentiles that Jesus was the Messiah who came to fulfill the Scriptures by His death and resurrection. The fruit of his life and ministry is well-known throughout the world!
“I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
The renewing of the Christian’s mind begins with true worship, the offering up of our very lives to God. The renewed mind results in the transformed life, which in turn demonstrates the Kingdom of God in the earth. Those who abide in Jesus and His Word have their very thinking altered and lifted into the heavenly spheres. From this higher vantage point they can see the schemes of Satan, who would weaken the unity of the Body of Christ with deceptive teachings. The humble, worshiping heart and the mind that has been informed by the Scriptures can readily sense his appeal to fleshly pride. Our perfect example was Jesus, who defeated the devil’s temptations and lies by His insightful knowledge of the Scriptures.
These are truly dangerous times for the individual with an undisciplined thought life. The believer who neglects the Scriptures and the wisdom they bring can become an easy target for deception. We are to be like children regarding malice, but adults in our understanding. No longer children, tossed about by every wind of teaching, we are to be mature adults in the truth, growing up together in Christ. (1 Corinthians 14:20, Ephesians 4:14-15).
Our enemy would dumb down the believing population and discourage actions like that of the believers in Berea, who were more noble, in that they received the word preached by Paul with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily to see if the things Paul preached were true. (Acts 17:11). The lazy Christian perhaps has a false sense of security. God’s love for us never fails, but neither is He to be mocked. Rejecting His will for us to become diligent in His Word will have serious consequences in this life.
On the other hand, great are the rewards of taking up the challenge to allow Christ to increase our capacity to understand not only the Bible but every field of endeavor unto which He would lead us. The sons and daughters of God have advanced and are advancing in the fields of science, higher math, medicine, communications, arts, education, literature and music to His greater glory.
Pure-hearted leaders and teachers in the church do not have to fear Berean-like students of the Scripture whose minds have been stretched and expanded in the wisdom and knowledge of God. They in fact welcome questions and even correction from others who love God. They will not intimidate with their credentials, titles, or “superior” revelations. They are in earnest to see each one fully persuaded in his or her own mind of the truth of the Gospel of the Kingdom, unto a genuine experience of the Life of God.
There is absolutely no conflict between the mind that has surrendered to God’s instruction and the supernatural power with which He fills us. There is no disagreement between the Word of God and the Spirit of God. Some of us are more inclined towards knowledge, while others towards emotional experience. But striving together we can express more totally His Kingdom Life. Each of us should pursue all aspects by which we can give more glory to our Lord!
The Spiritual Mind
The mind after the Spirit is not concerned with strange and weird ideas that breed sensationalism. The mind after the Spirit is Life and Peace! The Holy Spirit is concerned with holiness. He is concerned with our producing the fruit of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. (Gal 5:22-23). He opens our understanding concerning the person of Christ, His transcendent glory, His all-powerful majesty, His marvelous work in our behalf, and His resurrection power that abides in us! (Ephesians 1:16-23). The wonderful and beautiful things that God has prepared for those who love Him are hidden from the sight, the hearing and the heart of unregenerate humans, but are revealed to us by His Holy Spirit! (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Some assume that knowledge concerning the created universe, including science, philosophy and the arts is for the earthly minded. Certainly the earthly minded can only appreciate the material world. But we know that the original creation of God was good, and that He intends to restore that goodness through Christ and His Body. From heaven’s perspective, we can see the Hand of our Creator in everything He made. Both heaven and earth bring praises unto Him! All things were created by Him, for Him, and unto Him! (Romans 11:36, 1 Corinthians 8:6).
The Bible, however clearly reveals that which is carnal or earthly, things like sexual immorality, uncleanness, vile passions, evil desires, greed, malice, slander, lying and abusive speech. But God calls us heavenward toward compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; forbearance, forgiveness, love, peace and unity.(Colossians 3:1-15) Here is true spirituality. Here is the heavenly life.
But does not knowledge cause us to become arrogant and as Paul put it “puffed up?” Yes, there is the danger that head knowledge without love can be a problem. So is it better then to be ignorant? That seems to be the attitude in many today, to glory in their ignorance. Nowhere will you find ignorance to be a prize in the Bible. There is no need to choose knowledge over love, faith over love, power over love, spirituality over intelligence. God is quite capable of bringing forth all of the attributes and abilities of Christ in His people. After all, this was His idea, His plan from the beginning, that we would bear His image, taking dominion over the earth in His stead and for His glory!
If anyone lacks wisdom, he or she should simply ask God for it in the confidence that He will give it. It is His will that we know His will for us and for His creation. (James 1:5-6, Ephesians 5:17). Great and momentous days are yet ahead for the children of God. His plan for us is to come to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a complete corporate man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ! (Ephesians 4:13).
For what purpose? Paul unfolded this mystery in Ephesians 3:8-11:
“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”