December 21, 2014

The battle for my mind

James wrote that a double-minded person is unstably restless in every way. (James 1:8) This is a mind that wants one thing, then the opposite, and is never able to focus. This is worse than me and window shopping. I see the thing in the display case and want it, then go into the store and talk myself out of it, which makes my hubby shake his head trying to figure me out.

Worry is a bit like that too. When people I love are in trouble, I trust the Lord to take care of them, but then start worrying — as if my concerns will make the situation better? This is unreasonable too.

The mind of Christ is not like that. He sets His focus. He trusts His Father. He is calm and stable-minded. Perhaps Paul was thinking about these qualities when he wrote to the church at Philippi with these wonderful words:

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:4–8)

My Bible software allows me to search for all the places this Greek word for “mind” is found in the New Testament. Most are in 2 Corinthians, a letter to a troubled church with instructions on how to be more mature. Notice that the context tends to be negative, especially compared to the last verse in Philippians . . .

“(Forgive) so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” (2 Corinthians 2:11) Satan is a master at mind games. Christians need to pay attention to their thinking habits. I need to be aware of what he is popping into my head lest he take advantage of me.

“But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away.” (2 Corinthians 3:14) The OT people of God were so set in their ways that they could not see that Jesus was their Messiah and that He was the only way to God. They kept trying to earn their salvation. Because their minds were hardened, they kept trying to escape the condemnation of the Law by their own efforts, but could not.

“In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4) Here is another reference to Satan, the one who blinds people to the truth through messing with their minds.

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ . . .”  (2 Corinthians 10:5) This is better, even hopeful, as it points to a way that can bring the deceived and hardened mind into a relationship with God. I’ve studied this verse both in its Bible context and in life and know that this is spiritual warfare. The thoughts raised against the knowledge of God are like strongholds. They resist truth even when the lies make no sense and are even hurting me.

“But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3) Again, the enemy by his deception tries to lead my mind into darkness, even depravity, so that I cannot live by faith. He does not want me to trust the Lord or think with the mind of Christ.

But hope is not gone. Christ wants me to to win this battle for my mind, so He gave me His. The verses from Philippians tell me not to be anxious about anything, even about the enemy’s attempts to invade my mind and mess with my thoughts. Instead, I am to pray about everything, with thanksgiving (vital, don’t miss this) and “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard (my) heart and (my) mind in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

When He is guarding my mind, then true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praise-worthy thoughts are right there too — as well as His ability to focus and to recognize all attacks to my thoughts.

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