What’s On Your Mind?

The mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace.” –Romans 8:6

            After a long season of rain finally abated, I had the chance to spend time out of the house in God’s creation.  My mind was set free from the chains of schedule and deadlines.  My mind has been a ragtag operation of fleeting and floating thoughts:  some serious, some silly, some worshipful, some deeply selfish and worldly, some prideful and some very humble and concerned. It made me wonder.  

            Of all the things my mind can flit to in a single moment, how does one “park” the mind?  Does it matter what passes through one’s mind?  Certainly, thoughts are not sinful if my actions are decent.  Right? How can I maintain any consistency in the thoughts that race through my mind in nanoseconds? 

            Basically, where should our mind be, generally, all the time? And when it is not, how do we corral it so that it is?   

            While some people think mostly in images and moods, others, including myself, think mostly in words.  Words tell us things, often conflicting things.  It is as if life is a limitless, everchanging buffet of thoughts strung together into messages that speak to us and direct our way.  If I restrict myself to a specific “diet” of thoughts, something within me (that is healthy as well as unhealthy) rages against the restriction.  

            And yet, there needs to be a common focus so that my thoughts remain moored in safe harbors, and are practicable, not just theoretical.  Because whether we believe it or not, our thoughts determine the integrity of who we truly are. Our thoughts, regulated or unregulated or smattering of both, reveals our purpose and trajectory in life. 

            Psalm 119 teaches me that God’s Word is where I must begin in order to understand  (See Aleph, Ps 119:1-8). What does God’s Word say? There are at least 10 integrated precepts that we can divine from scripture concerning our minds.  These are not exhaustive, but they form a good foundation.  I am calling this exploration our “What’s On Your Mind?” series.

#1

The mind of the flesh is death

         Romans 8:6 tells us “The mind of the flesh is death,…”.  What is the “flesh”?  It is the part of the mind that is attuned to the lusts and desires of the material world; it is “whatever makes me feel good.”  If I am angry, I want justification for my anger.  I want an outlet for it.  If I am sad, I want pity, and I want the sadness to go away by any means possible.  If I am hungry or my eyes fall upon something that has pleased my body before, I want it. This way of pleasing myself not only leads to death (some far day) but it IS death.  It kills the body (eventually) but it kills the soul immediately.  The mind of the flesh is “hostile to God” and is at war, not with itself but with God, our Creator.  We can’t submit to God in this state (v. 7-8), therefore, we cannot please God (v9). We’re dead before we even begin. 

            It is with the mind that we talk ourselves into depression, despair, anger, jealousy and envy, hatred, prejudice, pleasure-seeking, pride and arrogance, self-interest, laziness and neglect, anxiety, justification, victimization, violence, oppression, compulsion, obsessions and bingeing.  It is with our mind that we allow feelings to run uncontrolled.  It is with our mind that we entrench our motives for behavior.  It is with our mind that we choose to speak or remain silent, to act or to remain passively uninvolved, to obey or to not obey. 

            But hold on!  The promise comes next:

“…but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace...”.  

            That’s a wholly different picture!  I may not fully comprehend what “life” is at any given point, but I certainly understand the desire for peace!  I want that. 

            Options.Where there are two conflicting options, one good and one bad, there is inherent choice.  There are two ways we can go at this point:  toward God by His Power where there is life and peace, or to remain stuck in our own mind, lulled by our own mental desires and justifications that leads to death and despair.  

            The remaining points will discuss what it means to be delivered from our sin nature by Christ Jesus.[1]But for now, I’m just hanging onto this truth: I can choose which direction my thoughts will take.  I can allow or disallow thoughts according to a standard. At this first point, I must choose that standard.  Who or what will it be?  Will I accept that my own control is faulty, and look for a faultless Guide and Guardian of my mind?  Or will I reject that my own control is faulty and refuse any other standard, insisting that my way is best, and risking great wrong and even spiritual death?  

            My thoughts race a mile a second.  Every thought counts, or none of them count. What will I choose? 

            Dear Heavenly Father, precious Jesus, My Redeemer, and Holy Spirit of God, help me! I see that the flow of my thoughts wander, often aimlessly.  I see that the way of my natural self leads to sin, suffering and grief, and ultimately death. My mind has been corrupted by sin, and I am not always rational, not always truthful or correct. Sometimes I am too rational, omitting from my reason your great power over the things of this world and sin. I need You to come into my mind and renovate my thought-life.  Separate from me any dalliance of thoughts that dishonor You, and help me to feed my mind upon Your Word and to listen to Your still, perfect and holy voice.  I choose You, Lord Jesus, in my mind today.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Footnote:

[1] If you are looking to be released from this bondage to sin now, and you would like to know about more about this deliverance through Christ Jesus for your life, please visit PeacewithGod.net at http://www.peacewithgod.net and begin your journey to new life in Christ Jesus. Please drop me a line and let me know how things are going with you!

© March 2019 by ReadPsalm119.com.


FURTHER RESOURCES

“Thou Wilt Keep Him in Perfect Peace – Wesley”, sung by Consortium. Uploaded by morphthing1, May 22, 2009, [YouTube; 4:18 min.]. Score (displayed) by Samuel Sebastian Wesley. This is a choral performance of the text of Isaiah 26:3, 1 John 1:5, and Psalm 119:175. I grew up singing the 1973 SATB version by Gordon Young (Hope Publishing Co.; Carol Stream, IL) and it’s strains have never failed to keep this word in my memory. I couldn’t find this version to give to you, but this Wesley version is also very beautiful and peaceful.

“Compare Translations for Romans 8:6”, at http://www.biblestudytools.com.

“Setting One’s Mind on the Spirit”, http://www.ligonier.org, Ligonier Ministries (the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul). Brief analysis with scripture of the truths of this verse. Key: estrangement = “to be made a stranger to, separated from”; imputed, imputation = to assign value or an attribute that belongs to one, to another by some means (in this case, the means is the grace of God to “impute” Christ’s righteousness to us who are sinful). “Coram Deo” is Latin for “the Heart of God” and is used as a sub-heading to distill the “heart of God” in the passage just discussed.

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