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The Mind Of The Spirit: Part Two

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

(Romans 8:26-27)


For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:6 ESV)

In order to know the mind of the Spirit we must immerse ourselves in the Word of God. As we offer up ourselves as “living sacrifices” we are better able to discern what the Holy Spirit is saying. In the school of the Spirit we learn to follow Jesus down the narrow path of life. When I’m living contrary to my new nature in Christ, I often find that I have no sense of direction, and the Spirit of God is grieved. I lose my sense of peace, when I veer off the path of holy living. That’s when I realize my utter dependence on God the most.

We are like God, in that we were made in his image, and he created us as eternal spirit beings. We must learn conformity to God’s will and his words, and it’s not something we can do without supernatural assistance. Denying the flesh dominated life, is the only path to true peace. When we practice submitting to God and resisting the devil, we become fruitful, and more easily led by the Spirit. To have the mind of the Spirit is to surrender our will to the will of the Father, just like Jesus did.

To have a Spirit dominated mind we must engage in deep meditation on the Scripture, and be a person of prayer, and worship. To effectively posture ourselves before God, we must learn the art of  solitude. The place of silence and solitude before God is the most contested place we seek to inhabit. This is where the world, the flesh, and the devil seek to distract us. Solitude is where we allow God to examine us as we embrace his nearness. It’s a scary place for most of us, because we feel vulnerable before this great God, that knows us through and through.

The Father desires to make his presence known, and to reveal things to us in that place  of silence. He may not speak at that moment, or in the way we might think. His communication to us is always in his timing,  and in the way that he determines. The point is that being alone with God changes us over time, and makes us more sensitive to the Spirit. And it puts us in a place where we can as Jim Hylton says, “think with God.”

The Mind Of The Spirit: Part One

“To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
(Colossians 1:27 ESV)

To feel at home in heaven we will need to have the mind of Christ now. Many of us allow our bodily appetites, and bad thinking to dominate our inner person. We are spiritual beings with physical bodies. And until we allow the Holy Spirit (who is in all believers) to dominate our thinking, we will live a life ruled by carnal and negative thoughts, which produces less than desirable behavior in our lives.

Our outward behavior is a reflection of our true spiritual condition. If we are true believers, then we have been justified by our faith in Jesus Christ, which means we have been made right with God. But God wants more than reconciliation, (which is just the beginning) he wants a living, active relationship with us. So, we must allow Him to correct our thinking. Repentance is giving up our thoughts, and opinions, and replacing them with God’s thoughts, and his truth.

True repentance results in a change of behavior. But this is an ongoing process, so we have to live a life of repentance, which is life lived according to the Kingdom of God (the rule of God). I’m not talking about the repentance that leads to our initial salvation experience, but to that which leads us to greater intimacy with God, on a daily basis.

Many in the Evangelical Church seem to neglect the reality of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Without a good theology of the work of the Spirit, and our ongoing communion, and fellowship with God, we tend to become legalistic, and spiritually dry. It’s vital to the life of the believer, and the life of the Church as a whole, to rediscover the third Person of the Trinity.

“Christ in you, the hope of glory” does not make us little “gods” in the way that new agers perceive themselves. We must acknowledge that we are not divine, but are in desperate need of the life of God inside of us. And God has given us access to that life, through the Holy Spirit.

The two excllent books that I’m presently reading on having the mind of Christ are:“Being At Ease: Thinking At Ease-Lessening Disease” by Jim Hylton, which is deeply thought provoking, and an academic, but readable book, “The Mind Of The Spirit”by Craig S. Keener.

Judge Not ?

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.(Matthew 7:1-5, ESV)

Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” (John 7:24, ESV)

So which is it? Is it OK to judge someone or not? The answer is yes and no! A careful study of the New Testament gives many examples of Jesus and his Apostles making judgments on ungodly behavior. We are called to discern between good and evil. And the Bible is certainly full of moral absolutes. But Jesus clearly warns us against hypocritical behavior. We must avoid the kind of judgement that comes from a critical self-righteous attitude that looks down on others. 

If I warn someone that I care about not to drive 75 miles an hour in a 55 mph zone, that would be a good kind of judgement. I would be looking out for their best interest, even if they didn’t agree with my advice. The bottom line is that no one is sinless. So, our goal as followers of Jesus is to lovingly and humbly share the teachings of Scripture and to address un-biblical  behavior. If you are a disciple of Jesus you have a responsibility to share the biblical view on moral issues even if it sounds offensive. We now live in a post-Christian society so we must accept the fact that we will probably be misunderstood.

Ultimately it’s all about the motives of our heart.

Recovering Our Faith

“I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” ( Job 42:2 ESV)

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions” ( 2 Tim. 4:3 ESV)

Post-modernism has so permeated our society and the church, that many are not willing to teach or stand for absolute truth anymore.  I have great confidence that none of the purposes of God will be thwarted – His truth will prevail. We have been so inundated with teachings that are contrary to sound Biblical truth, that many are being indoctrinated by a powerless gospel that cast doubt on the validity of Scripture. This man-centered gospel does not have the power to transform the human heart.

As a “recovering sinner” as Dallas Willard puts it, I do not trust my own logic to interpret who God is or to understand His attributes with my mind alone. It is important to look outside ourselves to God’s word to get the right perspective of who He is and how we are to relate to Him. Forming our own spirituality has become quite popular in recent decades, which has resulted in creating ‘gods’ in our own image. Many have rejected the faith because of  the weak version of Christianity that has been presented to them. Some reject the faith because they refuse to live by God’s standards that are outside our control. We buy the lie of Satan that we can be lords over our own lives.

The lack of genuine discipleship in our rational and materialistic culture has been a legitimate problem. The American version of Christianity has produced many Church members but few disciples. I am encouraged that we are in a season where some in the Church are returning to  Biblical teachings on character, prayer and mediation, sound doctrine, and  Holy Spirit power.

The Beast

And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. (Revelation 13:1 ESV)

And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. If anyone has an ear, let him hear: If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints. (Revelation 13:5-10 ESV)

Some say the Beast of Revelation is a diabolical individual who will rule the world for a short time, others say it is a political system. I believe it may be a combination of both. But of this one thing I am sure, we live in world system that is opposed to Jesus Christ, and his eternal Kingdom.

Those that are most vulnerable to the Beast are individuals that desire radical social change apart from the Kingdom of God. This worldview invites a totalitarian form of government, that has no concept of how Christ Kingdom works. The Kingdom of God is “righteousness peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” and is based on servant-hood, and sacrificial love, not bullying.

This present anti-Christ environment in the western world has used a distorted view of Jesus, as merely a social activist, or as in the case of the EU (European Union) they don’t use him at all, because they are atheistic to the core. This worldview rejects Christ teaching on sexual ethics, and his authority over their personal lives. And it attacks those that oppose their evil plans.

Globalization, “free trade” and the internet have been used to advance the Beasts’ agenda. The minds of individuals are literally being re-wired by digital addiction. Our children are spending much of their days being brainwashed through gaming.  Facebook and other on-line activities are gradually causing us to lose touch with reality. These networks can be used for God’s glory, and for good purposes, but overall its’ users, are being programmed by an anti-Christ system, that is negatively effecting the way we think and reason.

The Beast has always had his minions in every segment of  our society, opposing Christ, and his people throughout the history of America. But in recent years ‘it’ has become more brazen. So, a false narrative has been created that intolerant Christians are the reason for our societies lack of social advancement. Ultimately through digital addiction, economics, false religion, and the desensitized masses, the Beast and his dark forces, at some future time, will temporarily enslave the world.

Our call as Christians is to make disciples of all Nations, and to resist this darkness until the Prince of Peace returns. He will return and give his followers, real peace, and prosperity, and a new age called, the Kingdom of God. The Beast will be defeated at Christ appearing. We must align ourselves with King Jesus, doing his work until he comes.  Until then, be careful of all those voices that preach world peace, and are not following the Prince of Peace.

Operation Liberation

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1 ESV)

 

Many Christians don’t understand the message of free grace. Some take the view that now that they believe in Jesus and his claims of divinity that they may live anyway they please. But even demons believe in the divinity of Jesus (James 2:19). Others take the view that they must work hard for God to  be accepted and earn his favor by good works. Both of these views are wrong.

God has set us free to walk in freedom. Standing firm in the faith requires divine help. Tim Keller says the the text literally reads, “For freedom Christ freed you.” He goes on to say that, “freedom is both the means and the end of the Christian life. Everything about the Christian gospel is freedom. Jesus’ whole mission was an operation of liberation.” – Galatians For You, page 131.

God’s grace is unearned power and favor to live a life that is pleasing to him. Absolute trust in Him is were freedom starts. If the Holy Spirit is in us, we should desire to be free from every form of behavior that is displeasing to God. This is a grace empowered process in which God actually changes our desire to be in control of everything. If we belong to him we need to give up on all our moral self-improvement projects.(legalism) And immoral living must be abandoned also.(lawlessness)

Only Jesus has the power to change a human heart. Mental assent to the facts about Jesus will not deliver us from sin. Only when we put our absolute trust in him as Lord will we start on our journey to freedom.

The Mind Is The Target: The Christian At War

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
(2 Corinthians 10:3-5 ESV)

All Christians, whether we know it or not are engaged in an ongoing conflict with an unseen enemy, in the spiritual realm. Our enemies’ main target is our thought life. And it is reassuring to know that as followers of Jesus, we are uniquely equipped to withstand, and overcome the relentless assault against our minds. We  can confidently stand on the promises of Scripture, as we  receive guidance from the indwelling Holy Spirit.

In contrast, the non-believer is spiritually dead, and unable to access the Spirit of truth, or to discern the origins of the battle that rages within them. Without spiritual transformation, and the knowledge of God, we cannot comprehend the source of  our emotional and spiritual conflict.

When we enter into the Kingdom of God by trusting Jesus as absolute Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit enables us to discern the source of the conflict going on, in and around us.  Those who are outside the rule of God’s Kingdom are living in spiritual darkness. They may be good people, with positive motives, but they live in a state of perpetual deception.

A society that seeks social reform apart from God’s Kingdom rule, will be lead progressively into social, and moral chaos, which leads to spiritual totalitarianism. Satan makes mental suggestions to those that seek to reform society apart from God, but he is a deceiver, and a cruel task master. What those outside the Kingdom perceive as freedom, actually leads to spiritual slavery. Good people doing good works outside of the rule of Christ, can actually be deceived into thinking that they really don’t need a Savior,

King Jesus sets us free to live within the boundaries that he has designed for our good, and his glory.  The mind must continually be renewed with Scripture, and we must cast down all vain imaginations.  Satan’s tactic is to control and gain access to the believers imagination. While we rest in the finished work of Christ on the cross through his death and resurrection, we must actively embrace the benefits of being a child of God.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

(Colossians 3:1-4 ESV)

We wage war with darkness form a place of victory, and intimacy with God, through prayer. For we have died with Christ to the old way of life, and have now been given  the power to live an overcoming life. – Bobby

Spiritual Detoxifacation

“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

(John 7:37-39 ESV)

Most of us desire to rid ourselves of negative feelings and emotions. There is a sense in which even followers of Jesus need to be spiritually detoxed, from time to time. This detoxification involves the removal of the things that poison our souls.

The western world is being enslaved through the use of mass media of all sorts. Many spiritual lives are being destroyed by our exposure to sensual images that can lead to pornographic addiction. We also need to allow our minds to rest from an unhealthy and obsessive desire for information, and entertainment.

While social media can be used for good purposes by many, it can also create a false sense of reality. Without people really knowing us, we can easily portray ourselves as something we are not. Twenty-four hour news cycles are now being viewed as a form of entertainment, and they are being used to indoctrinate the masses.

It’s past time, for slumbering Christians to wake up and to spiritually discern the situation we find ourselves in. We, in the United States, and most of the western world have been a part of  various social experiments for decades. These experiments are actually backed by very real, but unseen evil forces. Everything from the internet, daily news, and seemingly harmless sitcoms, influence how we think.

Those with a dark agenda use the media to condition the minds of people to accept a new social order, that despises the Christian values, that our nation was originally founded upon. The political, social, and moral atmosphere in this country has been filled like a toxic waste dump, with dark ideas.

I stretch out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah  (Psalm 143:6 ESV)

For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:17 ESV)

The way to begin our spiritual detox program is deepen our roots in the Gospel, turn our attention back to the Lamb of God, and to  earnestly seek the fullness of the Holy Spirit.  We must counter the toxic information we are exposed to by seeking the presence of God, and by meditating on words of truth, and life.

Once we begin to drink from the stream of living water that originates from the throne of God, the healing process will begin.  Natural water sustains life in the body and causes us to flourish, and so likewise spiritual water causes spiritual flourishing.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah (Psalm 46:4-7 ESV)

We are  to be washed by the water of the Word,  and we  must drink of the Holy Spirit, so that we might taste and see that the Lord is good. (Psalm 34:8)

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  (Ephesians 5:25-27 ESV)

How To Become A Spiritual Survivalist

“And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:1-8 ESV)

Only those that know the living God will be able to deal with the onslaught of spiritual darkness, and chaos in the days to come. Our spiritual survival will be dependent upon our relationship with Jesus, and his people, the Church. As believers (God’s elect) we are  His spiritual temple, both individually, and corporately. God’s presence abides by his Spirit, in and with his people. Having extra food and access to pure drinking water may be a good idea, but without the presence of God in our lives, we will not prosper spiritually.

Jesus said,  And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28 ESV)

Jesus also tells us, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? (Matthew 6:25 ESV)

But he also expects us to be wise, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16 ESV)

The book of Proverbs is good place to look for wisdom and how to prepare for calamities in life.  There is no doubt that social unrest may increase in the United States, in the near future. And those that are not yet spiritually prepared for the social, and moral chaos, that seems to be upon us, will lose heart.

Jesus’ question “will he find faith on the earth” when he comes is worth a considerable amount of our time to ponder. The question we must ask ourselves is;  are we prepared for suffering for the sake of Christ, if real persecution comes to America? While it is OK to prepare materially for possible natural, and man-made disasters, or social unrest – the question is, are we prepared spiritually?

The way of preparation is simple but costly. We must choose Christ as the top priority in our lives and discover the way of the cross. It requires persistent prayer, and time with God. Abiding in his Word through deep reflective meditation, is essential. We are spiritually transformed by our intimacy with God.

This prepares our hearts for the rhythm of night and day prayer. We also must learn from the persistent widow to ask our heavenly Father for justice, not only for ourselves, but for justice in the earth as well.

The privilege of having an audience with the righteous Judge, is for his elect (God’s spiritual children.)

The faith we need will come as we saturate our minds with the Word of God, and the intent to obey what we’ve learned. We can trust God for our spiritual survival as we seek his presence and guidance daily.

Suffering And The Sovereignty Of God

” that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;” – Philippians 3:10 NASB

“I have never had in all my life so great an inlet into the Word of God as now[in prison]. The Scriptures that I saw nothing in before are made in the this place to shine upon me. Jesus Christ also was never more real and apparent than now. Here I have seen him and felt him indeed. …  I have seen [such things] here that I am persuaded I shall never while in this world be able to express. … Being very tender of me, [God] hath not suffered me to be molested, but would with one scripture and another strengthen me against all; insomuch that I have often said, were it lawful I could pray for greater trouble for the greater comfort’s sake.” – John Bunyan

My experience as a Christian, and I believe the teaching of both scripture, and Church history, show that suffering produces a deeper faith in believers. I have found the most difficult situations I have experienced in life have motivated me to pursue God’s presence and wisdom. In the darkest moments of my life I have cried out to God and have experienced his supernatural comfort.

I firmly believe that when difficult situations arise, God is testing (not tempting) us to help us to grow stronger in our faith and to deepen our experience with him. The Father calls us into the fellowship of the sufferings of Jesus. None of us will ever fully comprehend  the sufferings of Christ but some of us will enter into that sacred fellowship more than others.

Some believers experience prison, torture even death. Some have family difficulties and struggle in a variety of ways because of their faith. All I know is that God is ultimately in control of all life’s circumstances. Whatever the Devil is doing to bring destruction to God’s children, God is simultaneously working in the situation to Glorify his name.

During times of suffering we rarely see even a fraction of what God is doing. But as in the life of Joseph, Ruth, and so many other biblical saints, God is working for the good of his elect.

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