Battlefields of the Christian Life: The Mind

One of my favorite games to play is chess. I am certainly no expert, but I love to play the game. It is a game of strategy. It is a game that challenges my mind. The Christian life is similar to a game of chess. You must maneuver through various strategies in order to protect yourself. You must formulate ways to go on the offensive and attack the opposing forces of Satan. There are many battlefields of the Christian life. One such battlefield is the mind.

There are two types of minds described in the scriptures. Notice what Romans 8:6-8 says, “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” The two types of minds revealed in this text is the fleshly mind and the spiritual mind. The fleshly mind brings death or separation from God, but the spiritual mind brings life and peace with God. Philippians 2:5 says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” As Christians, we are to have the mind of Christ. What is like to have the mind of Christ? What are the characteristics of the Christian mind?

A sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  The phrase ‘sound mind’ comes from the Greek word ‘sophronismos’. It basically means to have self-discipline or sensible judgment. The mind of a Christian should be disciplined. It should be a mature mind. The Holman New Testament Commentary says, “Self-discipline (sound mind) denotes careful, sensible thinking. It is the ability to think clearly with the wisdom and understanding that God imparts.”[1] Such a mind is given only by God. It is not something that we can develop on our own. Therefore, having a sound mind is only possible when we fully submit to Christ on a daily basis. We must surrender our lives to Him daily so that He may impart to us a sound mind that will enable us to have wisdom and to think sensibly.

A convicted mind. Romans 14:5 says, “One man esteemeth one day above another: another man esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” To be fully persuaded is to be fully convinced or convicted. We all have certain convictions that we hold to. There are certain things that we are convinced that is right and true. A Christian should not be fickle. A Christian should be one who knows what they believe and why they believe it. We may not always agree on everything. We may not always be convicted of the same things. However, we should respect each other’s convictions. We should be confident in what we believe. It is a far worse thing to be easily swayed by the ever changing tides than it is to stubbornly hold to what you are convicted of in your own heart.

A pure mind. 2 Peter 3:1 says, “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by ways of remembrance.” To have a pure mind is to have a mind that is clear. It is a mind that is clean of all evil. It is morally pure. As Christians, there should be no evil or immoral thoughts in our minds. Such a mind is difficult to maintain, living in such a depraved world. However, purity of mind is possible if we are putting into our minds the right things. What you feed on is what you become. What you put into your mind is what you will dwell on and act upon. Therefore, the key to a pure mind is to have a proper diet of spiritual things. We must feed on the Word of God. The more God’s Word is on our minds, the less we will desire the things of this world. Having a pure mind can also be translated as a sincere mind. The Bible Knowledge Commentary says, “The English “sincere” is from the Latin words sine cera, “without wax.” Some pottery salesmen would use wax to cover cracks and weak places in pottery. Such a cover-up could be detected only by holding the jug up to the sun to see if any weaknesses were visible. Such a vase was “sun-judged” (the lit. meaning of the Gr. eilikrinēs). God wants His people to have sun-judged minds, not those in which their sin spots have been covered over.”[2] May God help us to have pure minds that are unspotted from the world.

A humble mind. Philippians 2:3 says, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” A Christian mind should be that which is focused on others rather than on itself. The New International Greek Testament Commentary says, “‘do nothing from selfish ambition or empty conceit’ is binding on all Christian lives at all times.”[3] This is certainly true. It is not becoming of a Christian to seek after selfish gain. Having a humble mind has to do with our motives. We should constantly question our own motives and ask ourselves why we do what we do. As a pastor, I must examine my motives every day. I try to be very careful to make sure that the things that I do are out of a true heart for God and a heart for people and not out of a desire to promote my own name or to have other people approve of me. The Christian mind is one that is humble.

A willing mind. 2 Corinthians 8:12 says, “For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.” The phrase ‘willing mind’ comes from the Greek word ‘prothymia.’ It means to be eager, to be willing, or to be ready. A willing mind is acceptable to God. Matthew Henry’s Commentary says, “This willing mind is accepted (v. 12), when accompanied with sincere endeavors. When men purpose that which is good, and endeavour, according to their ability, to perform also, God will accept of what they have, or can do, and not reject them for what they have not, and what is not in their power to do: and this is true as to other things besides the work of charity.”[4] As Christians, God will honor our willingness to serve Him. He will honor our good intentions and our sincere efforts even with all of our weaknesses and inabilities. There are many Christians that never do anything because they are afraid of failure. God will never honor such a person. Those who God honors and is pleased with; are those who are not afraid to fail and will launch out and do the work with all their heart and soul leaving the results up to God.

A ready mind. 1 Peter 1:13 says, “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” To ‘gird up the loins of your mind’ is to prepare your mind for action. As a Christian, we should have a mind that is prepared and ready at all times to engage in giving answers to those who question our faith and to make right choices that will assure the furtherance of the Gospel. Having such a mind requires preparation. It requires Biblical understanding and knowledge. Having a ready mind involves work. We must be willing to do the work necessary in preparing ourselves in giving truth to those who need to hear. I am a firm believer in continual Bible education. Every believer should engage in such education in some form or another. With all the tools and resources at our disposal today, there is no excuse for we as believers to not have a ready mind.

A focused mind. Isaiah 26:3 says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.” As Christians, we are to have a mind that is focused on Jesus. This is the key to having a spiritual mind versus having a carnal or fleshly mind. It is only in Christ that we can have a mind that is pleasing to God and becoming of a believer in Christ. We must train our minds, ‘bringing every though into captivity’, to be focused on Christ.

Having a spiritual mind will bring life and peace. The fleshly mind will only lead to death. What kind of a mind do you have? Does your mind have the characteristics of a Christian mind? Do you have a spiritual mind?

[1] Larson, K. (2000). I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon (Vol. 9, p. 267). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[2] Gangel, K. O. (1985). 2 Peter. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 875). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[3] O’Brien, P. T. (1991). The Epistle to the Philippians: a commentary on the Greek text (p. 179). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

[4] Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 2287). Peabody: Hendrickson.

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