October 1, 2016

Guard Your Mind

In today’s world, spiritual mind invasion is prevalent in all age groups around the globe. It even impacts the church as the enemy of our souls seeks to overcome those who serve God. As Christians, we must guard our minds. We are instructed, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). If we are to have the mind of Christ, we must know what the Word of God has to say about this topic and how to protect ourselves against the attempts of Satan to infiltrate our minds.

To begin our study, we will identify what the mind is and does. Next, we will compare the unregenerate mind with the regenerated mind. We will review how the enemy battles for the mind, and finally, we will explore two key strategies to help us win the battle with God’s help.

What the mind is and does

We typically think of our minds as being housed in and controlled by our brains. The brain is a fascinating subject! The average brain weighs about three pounds and contains about twelve billion cells. Each of those twelve billion cells is connected to ten thousand other cells, for a total of approximately one hundred twenty trillion brain connections. In spite of all man’s inventions and technological advancements, the human brain is still the most complex mechanism in the world.

It is also the most influential organ in the body. Your brain elevates you high above the animal kingdom because it accounts for your ability to think, remember, love, hate, feel, reason, imagine, and analyze. Your brain is the seat of your intuition, your conscience, and your sexuality. Everything you see, hear, touch, and smell is recorded in your brain. In fact, your brain literally sustains your life because your brain supervises everything you do, from the involuntary beat of your heart to the conscious decisions of your everyday life.

However, the mind in the spiritual sense is much more than the physical organ called the brain.

The unregenerate versus regenerate mind

There is a vast difference between an unregenerate (ungodly) mind and a regenerated (or spiritual) mind.

The word “regenerate” means to be reborn in a spiritual or moral sense. It refers to the inward and outward change which occurs when a person comes to new life in Christ—a transformation of an individual so complete and definitive that it is referred to as being “born again” or “saved.” When we are saved, there are immediate results; we are delivered from sin, transformed, and made anew. We read in 2 Corinthans 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” An instantaneous work is done in our hearts and, as it pertains to our study today, to our minds. We are changed!

Since the word “regenerate” means to be reborn spiritually, the word “unregenerate” refers to the state of sin with which all are born. Ephesians 2:2-3 describes the behavior of unregenerate individuals—how they are prone to act, talk, and think. We read, “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” This is how we behaved before we came to Christ.

In an unregenerate condition, we have a sinful, worldy mind which naturally goes against God and His law.

In an unregenerate condition, we have a sinful, worldly mind which naturally goes against God and His law. Romans 8:7 alludes to that, asserting, “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Enmity means “hostility.” There is opposition to God and holy living; there is resistance to God’s plan for purifying the soul and mind. This enmity is universal in all unsaved people. Whether the opposition to God is direct or indirect, hidden or apparent, it is there. It cannot be changed except through God’s plan of salvation.

The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:6 that “to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” In Titus 1:15, he further explained the contrast between the spiritual and carnal mind: “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” What a vast difference exists between the two!

How Satan battles for the mind

The mind is the battleground where Satan wages war against the spiritual man. Our opening text was the admonition, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). Satan does not want us to possess the mind of Christ—minds with the thoughts, the focus, and the goals of Jesus. Satan will do his best to invade and control our minds, and he employs a variety of strategies to do so.

  • He attacks us through our senses. Satan will be quick to place images before us that are designed to appeal to our senses. He will parade before us the material “benefits” of this world, tempting us to look at, focus on, or listen to things that would draw us away from God.
  • He attacks us through our God-given desires. God created the human family with certain natural appetites and desires that were put in us to serve a purpose. However, Satan would like to entice us to allow these to run rampant. Even a cursory look at today’s society reveals the results of the fallen nature: appetites and desires have been completely unrestrained in many cases.
  • He attacks us through circumstances in our lives. At times each of us will face events that leave us feeling vulnerable and weak. In those times, Satan is right there to bring thoughts such as, Why would a loving God allow this to happen? Does God really care? Did He really give you that promise of deliverance? Satan’s questions are designed to make us doubt God.

It is up to us to decide who will control our minds. There are really only two choices: either God’s Spirit will be in control, or Satan will be. Which will it be?

Winning the battle for our minds through a right focus

In Philippians 4:8, the Apostle Paul gave an important instruction that will help us win the battle for our minds. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” These six adjectives (true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report) are standards of excellence for the regenerated mind. They are extremely pertinent to us today in our society where moral filth is so prevalent.

The first phrase, “whatsoever things are true” speaks of eternal truth—that which is unchangeable, rooted in reality. It also has reference to the Word of God. Psalm 51:6 says, “Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts.” Only things that are rooted in truth are pleasing to God and in accord with His nature.

The next phrase points us to “whatsoever things are honest.” Honest alludes to that which is honorable, decent, and worthy of respect in the sight of man.

Paul continues with, “...whatsoever things are just.” The word just speaks to personal integrity and righteous relationships with others. Proverbs 20:7 says, “The just man walketh in his integrity.” We could also say that the just man thinks with integrity.

The Apostle goes on, pointing next to “whatsoever things are pure.” We are to dwell upon things that are wholesome, clean, and without guile.

These first four adjectives pertain to moral excellence, but when they are exhibited in our lives, they result in the last two adjectives: “lovely” and “of good report.” The outward evidence of inward moral excellence will be reputable, praiseworthy, or commendable because what is in our minds at some point will be reflected in our words and behavior. The Apostle Paul said, “think on these things.” We are to meditate upon them, to esteem them highly, and above all, to model them in our lives to the glory of God.

Winning the battle for our minds through staying on guard

Along with thinking the right thoughts, another way we can win the battle of the mind is to carefully guard what comes into our minds. The key endeavor of a holy Christian is to love God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. As individuals who have set apart and devoted ourselves to God, we want to carefully guard against anything that would contaminate our thoughts or distract us from our primary purpose of glorifying and serving God.

Proverbs 4:23 instructs, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” A big part of keeping our hearts is monitoring carefully what comes into our minds.

Proverbs 4:23 instructs, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” A big part of keeping our hearts is monitoring carefully what comes into our minds, making sure that what we allow into our minds is consistent with God’s will. We must not let the ungodly ideas, perceptions, and values of the world take root in our minds and influence our actions.

As I considered the importance of guarding our minds, I was reminded of an incident that occurred a few years ago when I was pastoring in Yakima, Washington. We had a church work day one Saturday, and after cleaning out all the flower beds, we threw the old bark dust into the dumpster. A few days later, I received a call from the garbage company. They informed me that they could not pick up our garbage because it contained bark dust, which might scratch the inside of their garbage truck. I was told that I had to remove all the bark dust from the dumpster and put it in plastic bags, and then it would be suitably prepared to go into the garbage truck.

My wife and I were leaving the next day to attend special meetings at another of our churches, so I put the problem on hold. Upon our return, I went out behind the garage and opened the dumpster to remove the bark dust. What I noticed first was the smell; it was awful! I couldn’t even see the bark dust because a pile of garbage had been thrown on top of it—kitchen garbage, soured milk containers, leftover food scraps, cigarette butts, and discarded clothing.

I spread out a big tarp and began to shovel garbage. Before long there was a little crowd of observers as the neighbors tried to figure out what the pastor was doing pulling trash out of the dumpster. As I shoveled a little further, I found something that disturbed me. There were little pieces of Scripture torn from a Bible study mixed in here and there. It kind of hit home. The human mind can become a garbage dump if we do not guard what goes into it. The results will be unpleasant—even if there is a little Scripture mixed in.

Thoughts are real! Though they cannot be seen, weight, or measured, they are powerful—and God sees them all.

The Lord, speaking through the Prophet Ezekiel, told Israel, “I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them” (Ezekiel 11:5). Even if we do not verbalize or act upon our thoughts, God knows what is in our minds. Thoughts are real! Though they cannot be seen, weighed, or measured, they are powerful—and God sees them all. That fact alone should help us understand the importance of guarding our minds.

When an unkind or impure thought comes, we must dismiss it instantly. Cry out, “Lord, help me! I don’t want that thought. Purify my mind with Your Spirit and Your Word.” If we allow the seed of an ungodly thought to remain, it will take root and grow. 

The best defense

One of the best ways to guard against harmful thoughts is to fill our minds with Scripture. Take time to study and memorize the Word of God. Colossians 3:16 encourages, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly [or abundantly]…” Let it inhabit you. Let it live and breathe in you. Fill your mind with the books and themes of Scripture, not just fragments here and there.

Romans 12:2 challenges us: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing [renovation] of your mind.” In other words, let your life be changed by letting God renovate your mind through the Holy Spirit. A similar thought is expressed in Ephesians 4:22-24, “Put off concerning the former conversation [manner of living] the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” When we put on the new man which is created in righteousness and true holiness, our regenerated minds will be aligned with the mind of Christ, and the actions and words that flow from them will be pleasing to Him.

What is the condition of your mind today? Does it need regeneration? Does it need renewing? God offers a solution. Go before Him and ask, “Lord, make me holy. Purify my heart and mind. Cleanse my thoughts. Take out anything ungodly or displeasing to You, and give me peace.” If we pray an honest prayer for pure and holy minds, God will not disappoint us.

apostolic faith magazine