Your own mind is a sacred enclosure into which nothing harmful can enter except by your own permission (Arnold Bennett)
Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored. (Romans 8:5-8)
Our minds can be like steal traps - holding onto stuff best let go of and resisting the entry of the stuff that really needs to be given place in our memory and forethought. If our minds are a 'sacred enclosure', then why do we let stuff into them that is less than 'sacred'? I think it could be we are so 'bent' on doing things in our own strength or power that we see little need to let in the pure and undefiled things God has prepared for us. We rely upon our own strength - denying God access to us through quiet times of prayer and contemplative thought. We rely upon our own wisdom - denying God access repeatedly to malformed thought processes and patterns. We rely upon our own ability - denying god access to use those talents and abilities for his glory and not our own. Indeed, if our minds are 'enclosures', then how limiting it is to only consider what 'self' can focus upon - for self focuses on many things opposed to the wisdom and truth of God.
Self measures by a faulty measurement - usually comparing ourselves to another we feel superior to in the first place and then stating confidently that we aren't all that bad. As we have already discussed this past week, there is no degree to sin or failure. A fail is a fail - a fall is a fall - a compromise is a compromise. The sooner we recognize that truth, the sooner we can begin to see how 'self' gets us all jumbled up. 'Self' attempts to exclude God from the equation - probably not consciously, but it does. It limits his access to the thought patterns proven to be capable of misleading us time and time again. Instead, self works hard to exercise some 'moral muscle' - that thing we often refer to as willpower - to overcome that misleading thought pattern. Alas, it seldom works, does it? The mind was made to function best when God is placed first - in the foremost of our thoughts and focus.
We might actually need to recognize the 'self-directed' thoughts we have been allowing into this sacred enclosure we refer to as our minds are exactly what has been causing the misdirected steps we have been taking all along. The 'sacred enclosure' has been compromised! If a walled city doesn't have strong gates, all the strength of their walls is useless. If the city has strong gates and crumbling walls, you might as well just open the gates wide. The enclosure that has been compromised by any enemy is harder to take back than it is to defend in the first place. Why is that? I think it may be that the enemy begins to build the walls stronger and firm up those gates so they are sturdier than ever - you have given him access to a privileged property! He isn't going to just turn it back over - he will fight you for it.
This 'sacred enclosure' doesn't always have 'external' enemies that do as much damage as the one we call 'self' - our internal enemy. The old man called self has set up shop and has no intentions of leaving. The only way to reclaim what has been given over to the enemy is to expel the enemy! To have a mind open to the things of God, one has to 'dethrone' self from that sacred enclosure. As hard as that may seem, God doesn't ask us to just put a 'buffer zone' between self and his grace. He asks us to allow grace to enter in, helping us to dethrone 'self' each and every time we think the way to victory is to just exercise more of our own moral muscle. Here is the truth we need to embrace - there is no room for self where the sacred is meant to dwell. Just sayin!