Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Christian's thought-life

Romans 8:5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

What do you think about your thought-life?
As the Christian begins to be led by the Holy Spirit, the thought-life becomes a defining area for evaluating whether you and I are led by self interests or the Spirit's leading.  The key question to ask when evaluating your thought-life is: am I governing my thought-life, or is it governing me? 

The soul, the spirit and their relationship to the mind
In Romans 8 we see a contrast between what is called "the flesh" and "The Spirit".  The "Spirit" is the person of the Holy Spirit operating inside of my human spirit (or what is sometimes called the heart).  The "flesh" has to do with the remnants of sin operating in my soul which is composed of my mind, emotions and will. 

As a person you have three parts: body, soul and spirit. (1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 4:12)  The mind is the "thinker" of your human soul.  Your human spirit is the part of you clothed by the soul that becomes the dwelling place of God's Holy Spirit at salvation. (John 14:23; 1 Corinthians 6:17) The mind is that part of your soul that interracts with the Holy Spirit in your human spirit.  For example 1 Corinthians 14:15 states:  "What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also."  Therefore in the Christian, the Holy Spirit in your human spirit should be able to communicate to your mind as you regularly devote yourself to daily study and thought over scripture. 

Two sources for the thought-life - the self or the Spirit
In Romans 8 we discover two sources for the thought-life - self or the Spirit.  The self is that principle that is at work in my soul that opposes the Holy Spirit at work in my human spirit.  "Self" inclines towards the left-over sin remnants in my soul.  Romans 8 calls the combined activity of the soul following the self as being "in the flesh".  The other resource is of course the Holy Spirit working in my human spirit. 

When I follow the leading of self in the intrest of the "flesh", I am being "selfish" or "fleshly.  Romans 8:5 describes taking what I conclude in my mind to be the greatest good as determining how I will act.  If I conclude it is more advantageous for me to follow the flesh (i.e set my mind on the flesh), that will characterize my life.  However if I conclude that the Spirit and the things of God are of greater benefit, then my life will be characterized with an abundance of "life and peace". (Romans 8:6)

The key to governing your thought-life - setting your mind
To "set my mind" in these verses refers to an intentional decision of the mind.  Everyday I must  choose whether I am going to take the scriptures into my mind or heed the voices and opinions of people (and my own feelings) more than the scriptures.  The Holy Spirit in my human spirit never contradicts the scripture.  If I am regularly giving myself to Bible reading or taking in scripture, I will have a mindset ready to hear God.  1 Corinthians 2:12-13 most effectively communicates this truth - "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words."

Just as I can set my T.V. to certain channels, choosing what I will watch or let into my home, I likewise can do that with my thought-life.  God's Word function's like a T.V remote.  It helps me to discern which thoughts floating through my mind are "fleshly" versus which thoughts are "spiritual".  Know this - through Jesus Christ and the Spirit's work through the scriptures, you can govern your thought-life. 

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