Solomon once made this observation about man: “for as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Centuries later Jesus would echo and add to that understanding, saying, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?" (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And He said, "What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:18-23). Essentially mankind has two ways of thinking— as the world has influenced him to think or as God has instructed him. If we claim the name of Christ how do we learn to think as God would have us to think as opposed to the world?
Addressing this Paul once made this observation about both Jesus and the mind of man: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8). To be like Christ, to think like Him, we must do as He did. As a man Jesus learned to let go of or overcome the prejudices, self-will, and base desires of the world in order to become obedient to God the Father— in word and deed; as He once said, “For I have not spoken on My own authority, but the Father who sent Me has Himself given Me a commandment—what to say and what to speak” (John 12:49).
Who is the Lord of your mind? Perhaps you have heard the old Cherokee legend passed on by a grandfather to his grandson— that every man has two wolves at war within himself, one that is evil and another that is good. Ultimately only one can win. Having heard his grandfather describe the two wolves the grandson asked, “Which one will win?” The grandfathers answer? “The one you feed the most.” In Romans 7:15-25 Paul recognized this same internal battle as that between the law of the flesh (evil) and the law of God (good). His answer for those who want to do good: Turn to Christ and follow the law of the Spirit of Life (Romans 8:1-2). We either feed the good wolf with the word of God, or we feed the evil wolf with what the world teaches in opposition. When it comes to good and evil every man has a master, however, each one of us gets to choose the master we will serve. Whichever one you choose to feed will become your Lord and master.
Solomon’s advice was to follow our Father’s teachings: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil” (Proverbs 4:24-27). When we find the truth in God’s word we should ponder (study; meditate upon) it and refuse to deviate from it. Moreover, in seeking and following the truth we should look not only to our own interests, but to the interests of others as well (Philippians 2:4). The Christian’s concern for others should be as great as their concern for themselves. The height of understanding in the mind of a Christian encompasses the eternal fate of both those who follow Christ and those who don’t. No true follower of Jesus wants to see another human consigned to hell when they could have been redeemed. Our desire for salvation should be one we share with our fellow man, in accordance to the understanding we gain in these matters from studying the Bible and incorporating its teachings into our lives.
As Paul explained to the Hebrews, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of His power. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3). The accounts of what the prophets, up to and including Jesus, proclaimed were recorded for us so that we can learn of God’s history with man and His plans for our salvation. It is in the Holy Scriptures that we learn of God’s will and how we are to abide by it.
By God’s direction Abraham left his home behind in order to seek the land of promise. In the same way we are to leave the world behind to seek the kingdom of God by following Jesus (Luke 9:57-62). We are to set our course with Him, without looking back. Jesus came to earth to do the will of His Father and to accomplish all that He was given to do (I Timothy 2:5-6; John 4:34; 6:38). With His resurrection Jesus was established as the one mediator between God and man and the great high priest in the true tabernacle in the heavenly places. It is to Him that we must look for salvation, and as He humbled Himself in obedience (Philippians 2:8), so must we. As Peter wrote in his first letter, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (I Peter 5:6-8).
When we learn true humility, it keeps us from thinking too highly of ourselves (Romans 12:3), creating a humility that helps us see more clearly the dangers the world presents to us and helping us to avoid those mistakes of over-confidence and pride the we might otherwise be prone to. It also places us on the same level with our fellow man enabling us to bear with one another, finding common cause is the singular pursuit of God (Ephesians 4:29-32). When we look through the lens of God’s word and see ourselves as we truly are it can (and does) lead us to many profound insights into ourselves and the condition of mankind.
Many a man has sought to come to God on his own terms, without having considered the example Christ left for us. Not only did Jesus humble Himself when He came to earth, but He suffered, learning true obedience as a man through the experience. Being made perfect in His obedience and suffering He became both the pattern and source of our salvation (Hebrews (5:8-9; 2:6-11). Even in His darkest hour Jesus put the will of God (and the welfare of humanity) above His own pain and desires. Compare that to the loss of authority and the unwillingness of people to respect it so prevalent in the world today. As Christian parents and children we should take Christ’s example to heart (Ephesians 6:1-4). At the root of the first commandment with a promise is the command to honor our father and mother. Can we honestly look at ourselves and say that we are honoring our Heavenly Father by our actions? When we honor those in authority over us, as bond-servants of Christ, thereby doing the will of God we will be rewarded by our Father (Ephesians 6:5-9). Are we seeking to earn the Lord’s praise, or are we man-pleasers, or even self-pleasers instead? Which wolf are we feeding by our decisions in life? Another question to ask ourselves is this: “what kind of example are we setting for our children, and what kind of goals are we teaching them to set?” According to Luke, as a young man “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” Luke 2:52). What are our youth learning from us? To curry the favor of man, or to increase “in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man?” Are we teaching them the proper priorities in life, or just how to get ahead? Certainly, we are to “be subject to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1-2; Matthew 22:17-21), but what if the will of man is in opposition to God’s will? What do we do then? And, what are we teaching the next generation to do? To stand with God, or acquiesce to the will of our fellow man? One last question on authority in our lives: “Are we imitating those in authority over us in the church (our elders), and acting in obedience to them, or are we a grievance to them? (Hebrews 13:7; 13:17-18).
Who is the Lord of your mind? In Romans 12:1-2 Paul wrote: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” When we look at ourselves in the mirror of our souls what do we see reflected there? Do we see the world and all our successes and failures in the natural realm, or do we see Christ crucified and what He has done for us, and what we have done in return? Peter once wrote, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (I Peter 3:15). Is our life itself a defense of God’s work in our lives or would our peers at work be surprised to learn that we are a Christian? If Christ is the Lord of our minds there should be no doubt.
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.