OceanSide church of Christ
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THE KEY: THE CONTROL OF THE MIND
Victor M. Eskew
The Christian life is not always easy to live. Difficulties can come from without. Most often, however, they come from within. Children of God struggle with negative emotions, bad attitudes, loose tongues, and immoral behaviors from time to time. The key to winning this inward battle is to control the mind.
All behaviors and feelings originate in the mind of man. Two verses from Proverbs confirm this. In Proverbs 4:23, Solomon writes: “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” The heart is that element of man that thinks, reasons, wills, and feels. It is the mind. The wise king tells us that the issues of life spring forth from the heart. This concept is also expressed in Proverbs 23:7. “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…” Jesus also knew that behaviors originate within the heart. In a conversation with Peter, Jesus said: “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart, and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matt. 15:18-19).
Yes, the key is to control the heart, the mind. Numerous passages of Scripture exhort us to do this. Peter exhorts us to tie up tightly the loins of our minds. “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Pet. 1:13). The apostle Paul encourages us to think on good and wholesome things. “Finally, 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” (Phil. 4:8). And don’t forget Solomon’s words, which instruct, saying: “Keep thy heart with all diligence…” (Prov. 4:23).
Taking control of our minds begins by bringing our thinking processes into harmony with the mind of God. This is done through an understanding and application of the Word of God. Paul knew the world could influence the saints in Rome. Thus, he commanded them: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:2). The church at Corinth was also instructed about how to train their minds. “Casting down imaginations, and very high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Cor. 10:5).
Those individuals who struggle with sin are often those who do not have a very deep knowledge of God’s Word. The weak, the lukewarm, and the lethargic are also individuals who have not drunk deeply from the fountain of truth. Members of the church who are easily led astray by false doctrine will usually possess a shallow understanding of God’s eternal truths. The words of the prophet of old ring true in such cases: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…” (Hos. 4:6).
There are really only two paths that the mind can travel. Our mind can either be spiritual or carnal. “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:5-7). In Galatians 5:16-18, Paul set forth the conflict in this manner: “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.”
What each one of us faces is a serious choice: “How will I think?” Will I think spiritual, godly thoughts? Or, will I think thoughts that are centered in Satan, sensuality, and self? Remember, the latter thoughts bring death. The former bring life and peace. Dear reader, we exhort you to bring every thought to the obedience of Christ. Seek to control your mind. When you do, you will take control of your life.