As mentioned last week: Many of us do not want to admit that there is something lacking in our spiritual lives. Pride, religious upbringing, denominationalism, etc. will keep scores of Christians from experiencing the life changing power of God.If we truly want to experience the power of God, we must surrender pivotal areas of our lives. It is then, and only then, that the “rivers of living water” that Jesus described can flow freely. And, like Jeremiah, we can say that “His word is in my heart like a burning fire, deep within me; I can no longer hold it back.”
We left off last week at the second area to surrender…our mind. I’m not referring to “letting yourself go,” I’m referring to Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 8:5 sheds light as well, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” Are you setting your mind on the things of God (holiness), or on the things of the world (worldliness)?
Holiness is not a strange, outdated word. Its being set apart, or separated from anything that causes us to sin, whether mentally in what we think, or physically in what we do. Holiness begins in the heart. The heart is the center of spiritual activity, and of human life, but our actions actually begin in the mind. What you think provides the framework for who you become. “As a man thinks in his heart so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Guard your mind and it will guard you. We should continually strive for holiness when allowing things into our mind. “The Holy Spirit is first of all a moral flame. It is not an accident of language that He is called the Holy Spirit, for whatever else the word holy may mean it does undoubtedly carry with it the idea of moral purity” (Tozer).
In our day, the media and entertainment play a huge role in this. Ironically, a youth pastor once told me, “I don’t worry about what I watch, or listen to, as long as my heart is right.” This is a very dangerous view, and often, an excuse to cross the line when it comes to entertainment.
Why do so many Christians enjoy movies and programs that glorify illicit sex, witchcraft, the occult, and vampires; what God calls an abomination is enjoyed by many. And they wonder why they are dying spiritually. The battlefield is the mind, and many are losing the battle.
How can this be happening? Many rationalize watching and listening to very questionable material because we enjoy it. We don’t want to take a stand for holiness. We don’t want to guard our minds. This is nothing new. Throughout history, God’s people turned from serving Him to worshipping gods associated with lust, witchcraft, and sexual perversion. This preoccupation inevitably led to the destruction of the nation.
What we watch and listen to affects the heart; it’s impossible to separate the two. Do we really think that Twilight, Harry Potter, and other wizard and occult movies are not going to affect us, or our children? Do we really believe that these are simply fun, entertaining shows with no spiritual ramifications? God’s word says otherwise, “…he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger” (2 Chronicles 33:6). “Idolatry, witchcraft…drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told [you] in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:20-21).
This message is not a small recommendation, it’s a call to a life changing decision–what goes in the mind ultimately comes out in our actions. Of course watching these programs now and then may not lead some astray, but how can a child of God truly enjoy these programs? Why walk willingly into the enemies camp? Why quench and grieve the Spirit of God? It’s impossible to develop a deep respect and desire for God if we repeatedly fill our mind with things that oppose Him.
If we would make it our goal to know Christ more personally, we would preach Christ more powerfully. For example, if Christian leaders fill their minds with the world all week and expect the Spirit of God to speak boldly through them, they will be gravely mistaken. “The gratification of the flesh and the fullness of the Spirit do not go hand in hand” (R.A. Torrey). “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). What goes in ultimately comes out. It’s time to recognize the desperate need for holiness…beginning within our minds.
More next week…
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