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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Mind of Christ

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (Rom 12:1-2)

At the point of salvation, we receive the mind of Christ.  Many of us struggle with the thoughts that enter our mind and find a place of entertainment there.  We anticipate that we should not have those thoughts now that we are a Christian, and often find ourselves living under some self-imposed condemnation because we find ourselves entertaining impure thoughts.  Oh, don't get me wrong here - God never wants us to think long on those thoughts of anger, those impressions of bitter gossip, or those lustful enticements.  He wants us to learn to not give them room for "entertainment" in our minds.  How do we get to that point?  It is laid out for us in the scripture we looked at today - it is an a continual renewal of our mind - daily and consistently renewing our thought processes.

Most of the time, we learn the "mind of Christ" in our lives through the process of trial and error.  We come up against a thought or impression, act on it and see where it gets us.  If things turn out well, we say we have found the mind of Christ!  If things don't fair too well, we say we "missed the voice of God"!  Amazing, isn't it?  Let's look a little deeper into knowing the mind of Christ.  God shares not only his will for our lives, but he also shares his mind and his purpose.  I call this the "what", the "how", and the "why" of each and every action.  We can easily discern "what" God wants us to do or "what" response he expects of us.  We see it modeled in the lives of other Christians or read of it on the pages of the Scripture.  When it comes to understanding the "how" or the "why" of our actions, we find that a little more difficult to comprehend.

Understanding the ways (the "how") and purposes of our Lord (the "why") come as we have our mind renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit and the regular intake of the Word of God.  The more that I trust God to regenerate my thoughts by the means of his Word and the Holy Spirit, the more I understand his actions and realize how to allow his actions to supersede my own.  When we are struggling with complete dedication to the will and intentions of the Lord, we will not fully embrace a change of thought life that affects our actions.  When we are fully his, we come to know his will and even understand the "how to" of that will.  When we are fully his, we also understand or appreciate the purpose of his will (the why). 

God never expects blind obedience of us - he asks for us to intelligently appreciate and delight in his will.  That is why he gave each of us a mind - so that we could make choices based on what we interpret to be truth in our lives.  We are given the Holy Spirit and the Word of God to expose truth to us - we are given the ability to incorporate that truth through the grace of God.  The Holy Spirit must be the Lord of our minds - in other words, he must be given the right to direct the thoughts, limiting the influences of certain thoughts, and developing the influence of others.  God is calling us to disciplined thinking - pure thinking will do more than any other activity we engage in since all action is a result of what we think!

It is a dangerous thing to have a passive mind - we are each given the ability to think on our own.  When we allow others to do our thinking - planting ideas and then developing those ideas outside of our testing of those ideas against the Word of God - we are setting ourselves up for being deceived.  It is just as dangerous to get all twitter-pated in self-analysis!  Psalm 139:23 calls for God to search us and know our hearts - God does the searching and exposes the weak areas of heart that need his touch.  When our thinking is truly controlled by the Holy Spirit, we move beyond legalism (just doing things we are told are right to do because we are told they are right).  When we are "legalistic" in our actions, we are just doing things because our conscience accuses us when we do wrong.  When we are "Holy Spirit controlled" in our actions, we are moving to a place where our motives will be uncovered (we get at the "why" of our actions).

Our own conscience can only scratch the surface at keeping us on track with our actions - it is flawed by the sin of our past and the degree of influence it has submitted to through those we consider to be authorities in our lives.  The Holy Spirit can get at the roots of our actions.  In our own perception of our actions, we just see that we have done something wrong.  In the perception of the Holy Spirit, we see the root of the wrong and that can lead us to repentance.  Legal conviction (conscience) brings us to the point of confession, but Holy Spirit conviction brings us to the place of repentance.

God's goal is to develop the best in each of us.  He does that by helping us to know the WHAT, the HOW, and the WHY of every action.  We know these by the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives and the influence of the Word engrafted into our minds.  Let the Holy Spirit be Lord of your mind.  As you do, you will move beyond the WHAT and HOW of your action to the place you understand the WHY.  In so doing, you will be opened to renewal of your mind and transformation of your actions.