THE BATTLE WITH THE MIND
By Rodney W. Francis
One of the greatest conflict areas in Christianity is the function of our natural mind that seeks to interpret the things of God in a natural, logical way. Christianity is not something that operates through the natural mind; that is why we need to be born-again to see and enter the Kingdom of God (John 3 ). Jesus told these words to a learned theologian of the day (Nicodemus) ~ and he did not comprehend or understand what Jesus was talking to him about. The same principles apply today, for the Kingdom of God has not changed and the way into it is still the same ~ through Jesus Christ alone and being born-again of the Holy Spirit of God. When that happens to us we see and know Jesus in an entirely different light. We know Jesus by revelation (“unveiling, uncovering; of facts and truths, disclosure, revelation, manifestation” – Bullinger’s) of the Holy Spirit, not by natural learning or study.
- That is why the Prophetic Ministry is so vital for Christians today.
- Prophetic Ministry is all about hearing the voice of God and obeying what He tells us.
It is as simple as that ~ yet most Christians struggle with knowing whether it is God speaking to them or not! The natural mind gets in the way and tries to interpret things naturally (“swayed by the animal or natural mind and affections, i.e. not under the influences of the Holy Spirit” – Bullinger’s).
- We will never be convinced of revelation knowledge (which is God speaking to us) as long as we have our natural thinking and thoughts dictating to us.
In comparison to the New Covenant born-again of the Holy Spirit way, religion is mankind’s natural way of thinking in trying to understand God; and we can never know God that way. “God is Spirit” (John 4:24 ) and we need His Holy Spirit alive inside of us to reveal the Living Christ to us. It is revelation knowledge by the Holy Spirit ~ a totally different way to that which most of Christendom operates by these days. Then we wonder why Christianity is so powerless for many. We are trying to please God in a way that it is impossible to please Him.
- Christianity has to be on God’s terms, not ours.
- And He has given us the keys whereby we can know Him, know His will for our lives personally, and walk in that will and see God provide for us in wonderful ways.
In 1 Corinthians 2 it is spelt out very clearly for us: “no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God” (v.11). Speaking to born-again, Holy Spirit-filled believers, Paul goes on to say: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit Who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (v.12-15). In verses 4 and 5 Paul states: “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive (“enticing”) words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” We need to seriously consider what is being said here, for it explains why so many struggle in their understanding of God and His ways. As long as we rely on our natural mind’s understanding of Him, we are always going to be falling short of knowing Him personally.
In Ephesians 4 we are clearly told to be “renewed in the spirit of our mind, and that we put on the new man (the born-again of the Holy Spirit man) which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (v.23-24). We are exhorted in this chapter to no longer “walk in the futility (“vanity, uselessness” – Young’s) of the mind” (v.17). It seems the disciples of Jesus all battled with their natural mind and reasoning. When Jesus tried to involve them in miraculous events, their natural thinking always came up with a different answer to Jesus (for example, the feeding of the five thousand - see John 6:1-13 ). They displayed a dominance of natural, logical thinking. None of their thoughts produced the right answer to the need at hand. Are we any different today? The mind dominates the old natural way of living ~ but in Jesus we have a whole new revelation of God through the revelation of the Holy Spirit.
- We cannot know God by any other way.
The “old man” has to be crucified ~ put to death ~ because it is a hindrance to the new way of the resurrected living Christ Who now lives within the Christian believer (see Mark 8:34-38 ; John 12:24-25 ; Romans 6 & Romans 12:1-2 ). Let’s look closer at Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV): “I beseech (“urge”) you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed (“1. to alter or be altered radically in form, function, etc. 2. To convert to another form” – Collins Dictionary) by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
The New Living Translation puts it this way:
“And so, dear brothers and sisters,I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don't copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect”.
The sooner we learn that the way of the Holy Spirit is totally different to that of the natural mind and way of thinking ~ and learn to know the difference ~ the sooner we will see God working more miraculous things in and through our lives.
- We have to change the way we think!
- Radical transformation happens by changing the way we think!
So many times when the Holy Spirit has asked me to do something, it is quite illogical and the natural mind wants to interfere and tell me that it won’t work out if I obey, etc. But I have learned that every time I listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit more than my own reasoning ~ and obey what God is asking of me ~ there is always a good and positive testimony to the glory of Jesus on the other side of my obedience. Usually if I listen to my natural mind I finish up doing nothing, and it adds up to a lost opportunity for God.
- Remember, the natural mind does not receive or know the things that are of the Spirit of God.
The disciples of Jesus could not comprehend that five loaves and two fishes could provide the answer to feed 5,000 plus people! But in the hands of Jesus they did! You and I are called to be placed into the hands of Jesus so He can do what He wills with us, in us and through us. The main hindrance to that happening is our natural reasoning ~ the carnal mind!
Consider this Scripture: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments (“reasonings”) and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ . . .” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 ). What are the strongholds that are working against the Holy Spirit-filled Christian? Reasonings and thoughts that are contrary to the truth of Jesus Christ! The battle is right within our own mind! This is a battle that we all have to fight if we are going to know the victory which is truly ours in Jesus Christ! You have to fight it in you, and I have to fight it in me. It is a war! That is why we have to be “renewed in the spirit of our mind” because the old mind and way of thinking is contrary to the New Covenant revelation of Jesus Christ. Know for sure that God has given us the weapons to conquer the battle of the mind! It is our responsibility to use them wisely.
THE NATURAL MIND DOES NOT HAVE FAITH
Another major reason why we must be “renewed in the spirit of our mind” is because the natural mind does not have faith. The Bible is clear in telling us that “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6 ). You might ask, “How do we get faith then?” It comes by revelation, by the voice of God speaking to us: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word (“the present tense ‘rhema’ now word”) of God” (Romans 10:17 ). The Amplified Bible puts it this way: “So faith comes by hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the preaching [of the message that came from the lips] of Christ (the Messiah Himself)”.
- Faith comes to us as a result of our hearing God speak to us as individuals!
Yes, God still speaks today, and we are privileged to be able to hear Him, especially when our hearts and ears are open to Him. When we hear God’s voice, then with that voice comes the faith to obey whatever it is He is asking of us. Faith is not automatic. Did you notice in the Faith Chapter of the Bible ~ Hebrews 11 ~ that it is all about individuals who had faith in God? Their faith enabled them to achieve things that others could not. It was not about the whole nation of Israel having faith in God. Each of us has to develop faith in our own lives through listening to God and also our co-operating with Him in the renewing of our minds. Anything that stands between us and God will be a hindrance to our faith ~ and the natural reasoning mind does come between us and God!
This will help you to understand why it is that true Christianity is spoken against in society today. It is because the natural mind cannot grasp it; and what it cannot grasp it rejects. Did you notice that our societies are not anti-religion; they are anti-Christian; anti-Christ! True Christians are called to associate and identify themselves with Jesus Christ, to be His representatives here on earth, and to demonstrate to a lost world that Jesus is alive today to meet their needs. It is very different to what the religious mind-set tries to tell us! So don’t be surprised when people criticize and persecute you for Jesus’ sake!
For the Christian, we all have to learn to discipline our minds so that they are subject to the truth and teachings of Jesus Christ above every other thought. It means that Jesus becomes Lord of our lives! What He says goes! May we all be more aware of the differences between the natural and spiritual mind, so we will know what to say “No” to and what to say “Yes” to. The fact is we are what our believing is. Let us make sure that our believing lines-up with the words of Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.