I have some friends who are trying to talk me into climbing giant slabs of rock. The pictures I’ve perused from the latest exploration suggest that I would needlessly place myself in the way of deathly peril. When I raised this very fair point from my perspective. I received a response that it’s about “mind over matter.” I’m not about to research extensively what this actually means. However, it sent me on a bit of a contemplative journey about sanctification. For as I considered that there is likely an element of truth (however miniscule) about this “mind over matter”.
When we think biblically about the necessity of life transformation, we must necessarily conclude that the mind is a major participant in such change. Paul clearly articulates this in Romans 12 where he writes, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
This is but one component of our spiritual growth. An important component to be sure. It is vital that we are able to interpret life’s circumstances theologically. We must be able to discern our God, ourselves, and the appropriate responses to life’s tests. As we grow, we are able to navigate these waters more effectively and accurately.
But often life is not so simple. There are other significant contributors in life. Sanctification does not occur easily. It’s painful at times. The Christian life is not neutral. We must acknowledge that other forces are at work. We are at war with the world, the flesh and the devil. The “world” is that which is opposed to God and his ways. The devil is the ringleader in this circus. The other combatant in this war is our sinful flesh. Though we are now also armed with the Holy Spirit who changes our desires, we continue to wage war against the flesh.
This seems to be the more difficult road to travel at times. This requires heart change. This requires complete dependence on God, His wisdom, His strength. We are completely doomed without these. If it were not for Him and His resources, I would be repeatedly headlong on the path of folly stemming from self-absorption.
Here’s the rub. It’s easier for me to pursue the renewal of the mind. I am a problem solver. I love to search the Scriptures and find solutions to life’s problems. By God’s grace, I can often clearly see through the deceptions of the world and the Adversary. I can hold it up in front of my eyes and see it for what it really is.
The conflict arises because the mind and the heart don’t always play nicely. A former professor of mine very simply stated that though we now have the ability to “not sin”, we still love it too much. Now I won’t go so far to state that we have the ability for sinless perfection. the point is noted that when we give in to sin and its temptations, we are failing to note several things. We have a new identity. Being “in Christ” provides us a wealth of resources – most notably the empowering of his Holy Spirit.
Perhaps the aspect forefront on my mind is that our sinful patterns are rooted in unbelief in God’s provisions. On many different levels in different circumstances, we do not believe that God’s ways are more satisfying. Additionally, we do not believe that He is able to deliver us from sin and its temptations. We act out of disbelief when we are proud, when we envy, when we are anxious, etc.
There are many other components that participate in our growth process that perhaps I will explore at another time. We must consider the part of prayer, grace, wisdom, and godly counsel. For now, this helps me identify what goes on in my heart. I long to grow in godliness and faithfulness and be effective for God’s Kingdom. As painful as this can be…
For His Glory.