October 10, 2009

On my mind

The Jewish people ate at their Passover celebration wearing a loose outer robe girded up about the waist with a belt, as prepared for a journey. The belt gathered the garment close to the body, reducing any impediment to their movements. In the New Testament, this image is used to describe how Christians must also be girded and ready for action.

This readiness is for the return of Christ as implied when He said, “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately” (Luke 12:35-36).

However, Paul uses this image in Ephesians when he describes spiritual warfare and the ‘garments’ Christians must wear to be ready for battle and victorious over spiritual enemies.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. (Ephesians 6:14-16)
Another passage expressly points out that believers must have their minds (mental powers) collected and always ready for holiness. It says, 
Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-16)
I’ve read this passage many times and still wonder if this is talking about readiness for the return of Christ? Or is this about those many times that Christ reveals Himself to me throughout life here. Or does it mean both?

In the context, holy living is definitely the goal. To live a holy life, God asks me to guard my mind. I cannot be obedient to Him if my head is full of stuff other than the grace of God and my own need to pay attention to what He says. I know this is important. Jonathan Edwards says that “God is most glorified when His people are most delighted in Him.” I know that when I am totally delighted in God, not only is my mind work at its optimum, it is impossible to sin.

How can I guard my mind? The passage in Ephesians is one clue. It says that the belt that girds is the belt of truth. My mind needs to think truth, think things that are true and honest. If that sounds easy, nearly forty years of experience in this battle say that it is far from it.

The easier part is the robe that is held by the belt. It is not my robe, but that robe or covering of righteousness given to me by Jesus Christ and held in place by truth. The symbolism is a reality for all who believe in Him because He makes it real. The book of Revelation talks about those who believe clothed in robes made white because they have been dipped in His cleansing blood, vivid images that remind me that any goodness that I have is from Him.

Thoughts like these are what God gives so that I might delight in Him. When my mind is occupied with the realities of what Jesus has done, then my heart is filled with joy.

Some have called this a form of brainwashing. That’s funny, because the Bible says we have brains that need a good bath. Romans 1:21 says that even those who know God exists (by seeing Him in creation) will not glorify Him as God, nor are they thankful, but they “became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

In a discussion about ritual washing, Jesus said, “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.” (Matthew 15:19-20)

Romans 12:2 says it clearly, “Do not be 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 Bible says that our minds can be sewers, but they can also be transformed. It is possible to think godly thoughts. Paul says this:

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)
Right thinking is a well-spring. While Jesus said that out of the human heart proceeds evil thoughts, when that heart is renewed then godly thinking can flow.

I am to be occupied with truth, girding up my mind with noble and pure thinking. It really isn’t important whether this is for a revelation of Christ during the course of my days here, or the revelation of Christ at His second coming, or the revelation I see when I go from this life to the next. What is important is that I am ready to go and ready to do whatever He asks of me because He is already on my mind.

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