Keeping Yourself Pure (Part 4. Making A Covenant With Your Mind/Heart)
Although this article is part of a series, it is a Complete study on its own. (4 of 4 in series)
* all [bracketed] words in Scripture verses are mine *
This series is about a much misunderstood, much disregarded concept, that of purity. The concept of purity is reckoned obsolete by most in the world because purity in any form is not in our experience. In terms of the natural world, the notion that anything could be of 100% pure content is immediately dismissed out of hand because of what we know about the makeup of our perceived universe. Everything is a blend with something else. Everything is a mixture and no matter how we try to refine something, we realize it will never be 100% pure. Yet God says the street of gold in heaven is "pure gold." We find the same thing in the area of purity of our souls. In eras past, people spoke of a woman of "pure virtue" or a knight that stood for "purity in heart." Those were only ideals everyone realized and the woman that would fit such a category was still flawed, mixed with sin, as was the man that sat tall on the steed standing for a pure heart. The difference between those eras and ours is that in ours we do not stand for anything. We have forsaken the concept of purity and embraced the flawed reality of our sin. We call the sin "human nature" and excuse it, even applaud it as adventurous, brave, pioneering. With each succeeding generation more of the principle of purity slips away and the world embraces its loss as "social evolution." But God says for us to be "holy as He is holy" and to keep our minds on "things that are pure."
"Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. And you shall keep My statutes, and perform them: I am the Lord that sanctifies you." (Leviticus 20:7-8)
"Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, 'Be holy, for I am holy.'" (1 Peter 1:13-16)
"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy- meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you." (Philippians 4:8)
Now we know that sin is in every human being whether they know Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior or not. All have sin that makes them "fall short of the glory of God." But God says it is possible for His saved children to live holy, pure lives. The concept is not impossible in very small increments of time. Moment by moment we can defeat the flesh and live that kind of life. Moments add up to minutes, that add up to hours, while the world and the flesh, and yes, the devil beat at you. But the Bible promises that purity is possible, that we don't have to sin, if you walk moment-by-moment with the Lord.
"I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish." (Galatians 5:16-17)
This verse does not promise perfection in all that you do or that you will not sin at all. No one was ever sinless on Earth except Jesus. This is speaking of those times when you war with your flesh to do a sin (the sin that so easily besets you, perhaps). You don't have to lose the battle against that sin. You can win the battle by walking with the Spirit.
In part one of this series on purity, we considered the man of God, Job. We explored some of the things that made him favored of God. We were given a little of his mindset as he worked with his own sinful life, as he strove for purity, in an early time of everyone doing what was "right in their own eyes." (Pro. 16:2) We spoke of the definition of covenants and how Job made one with his eyes.
In part two, we used the premise of covenanting and spoke of using the same principle with one's mouth. We spoke of the power of speech and what good or damage the tongue can do.
Part three covered the hands and what one does with them. We mentioned the Bible's use of the term "hands" and how it summed up one's life and energy, to do good or evil. We correlated this to Paul's identifying with Jesus' nail-pierced hands and his talking about "bearing the marks of Christ" and being "crucified" with Him.
This is the last of this series on purity and we will now consider the mind and heart.
On a personal note: In planning this series, I envisioned the mind as needing to be covered first and it was in my heart to write it that way, but God would not let me for some reason. I don't know why just yet but may learn later. I think that is so awesome that God wouldn't let me ruin His work!
"I'm The Brain. I Need The 'Heart' To Give Me Motivation And the 'Bowels' (Emotions)To Show Me How To Care!"
Everyone hopes that they are well-informed when it comes to making decisions that affect their lives. People feel they have a pretty good, albeit basic, idea of how the mind works and how we process information to come to the conclusions we do. Anyone would tell you that one receives input into the mind through the senses; sight, sound, hearing, touch, taste. That information is taken into the brain and translated into electrical impulses and by some miracle of creation transformed into thoughts, dreams, plans and schemes. Besides this, there is more basic physical information that is translated via chemical markers which we do not need to "run through" the mental process but seem to have this information already implanted by God, something akin to instinct with volition (not mindlessly driven instinct as an animal - but retaining the ability to choose action).
So far the information has been pretty basic and commonly accepted but the Bible also details for us a process in decision making that explains something men have been trying to explain for centuries in psychological terms, but have found none of the explanations totally sufficient. The bone of contention lies in the part of the process of thinking that contains the motivation behind what we think and the why we find ourselves acting on it. This is the reasoning that involves the mind and thought, and its innerworkings with the heart and motivation. This goes beyond the reasoning of the natural man because it involves spiritual matters that can only be spiritually discerned. Here in this mysterious realm of the mind is where human psychology begins to bog down and spin its wheels. Differing schools of thought argue their methods of dissecting the why of human behavior when it comes to our wrestling with thoughts, and our holding to a motivation. Exactly why do humans think in the ways we do? Why do we cling so desperately to certain patterns of thought? What motivates good and bad thoughts and behaviors? (Of course the world also struggles with what defines a "good" and a "bad" thought or behavior, but the Bible is clear on that).
"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." (1 Corithians 2:13-14)
As we touched on in part two of this series, the source of emotions, motivations and logical thinking were termed differently in the Bible than is commonly used today. The thought was that emotions and subsequent motivations came from deep within an individual. The idea was that emotions come from below the center of a person, in the area of the body that contain the bowels. It made sense if you thought about it, because of what happens when a young man or woman falls in love, the stomach becomes all knotted up sometimes to the point of getting sick. They termed this the "bowels of compassion."
Along with the source of emotions, was the concept that thinking was formed in two levels of the mind. One level was the place of logical, linear thought.In this arena of thinking, a person could logically admit there was a God. "Come now, let us reason together sayeth the Lord." Paul said to "gird up the loins of your mind." The word mind here is the word dianoia (dee-an'-oy-ah). It means "the place of deep thinking resulting in understanding." It was a given that God would be a part of this deep thought process that produced understanding, unlike today, in that as soon as God is mentioned it is assumed that the logic and understanding has stopped and has been replaced by blind faith based on nothing. They knew that the true source for wisdom was, and is, God.
So the mind was a place of linear logical reasoning. The bowels were the origin of emotional input. That left the last level of thinking- the heart, kardia.(kar-dee'-ah). Think of the literal placement for this expression. The logical head was farthest from the emotions (the bowels) but the heart was at the center of the body, closer to the bowels (emotions) so as to be effected by them. To be "centered" was to be balanced in thinking. The heart was where motivation happened, where passion mixed with reason. Why would you kill? or why steal? Why are you getting jealous or envious? The intensity of those actions mean the emotions are entwined in that answer; the depth of the reasoning in them is not even able to be put into logical words by the brain.
A psychiatrist or psychologist will look at why someone becomes a serial killer, for example, and try to determine what programming went into a person that would make them grab and hold onto the obsessive thoughts that lead to that patterned behavior. They may find some common ground in experiences but not always. They may find common patterns of concurrent thoughts but not always. It is emotional but not always. It is delusional but not always. They are left with a perplexing mess which causes all the differing approaches to explaining and treating such people. The Bible is clear, no one can fully know the human heart except God; and he will reveal certain aspects of it by the Spirit's illumination.
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings." (Jeremiah 17:9-10)
"And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive 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...But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God, For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God." (1 Corinthians 2:4-5, 10-11)
Illustration Of The Battle Between What Our Heart Desires And What Our Mind Thinks
To understand the spiritual nature of the mind/heart connection we have to understand what happens to the spirit and soul at salvation. Remember the Scripture says that no one knows "the things of man" but the "spirit of man" which is in him. The Holy Spirit communicates to our human spirit the things of God and deep knowledge of ourselves. He will inform us of how we need to change our thinking and actions. But all of this involves the human spirit, the Holy Spirit and the "new creature" we become when we are saved.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Let's begin this by saying that we humans are all born sinners. This sin divides us from the God that loves us. Our spirit was dead in trespasses and sin and so in crying out to Jesus to save us we became born-again.
"Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that is cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear." (Isaiah 59:1-2)
"And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sin." (Ephesians 2:1)
Now we are in a redeemed condition, but still dwell in a difficult place as saved Christians. We dwell in a "tent" of flesh (our body), according to the apostle Paul. In this temporary residence we are imperfect sinners that lust and crave and think evil. Our natural inclination is to sin all the time. We have read the Bible and therefore realize that a wonderful miracle happened when we acknowledged our sin and called on Jesus to save us. God heard and paid for our sin by the shed blood of Christ. And then He sent His Spirit to live with us inside our tent of flesh. Our spirit inside this body that was dead was "made alive." It was not actually dead as we think of death, but the word means that our human spirit was not connected to God in any way. That non-connection would have continued to the time when our tent became weak and fell away in death. Then our spirit and soul which did not have Jesus as Savior would have been separated from Him for all time in a place designed for the evil angels that rebelled against God at the beginning of time. When each of us, as sinners, call on Jesus to save us that connection is made to God and our spirit is "hid with God" in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Our human spirit that is declared clean is now connected to God in heaven.
"For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, [our earthly body] is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality be swallowed up in life." (2 Corinthians 5:1-4)
"Do you not know that you are the temple [house, dwelling] of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are." (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)
"But he who is joined to the Lord [indwelt by Spirit] is one spirit with Him...Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit , which are God's." (1 Corinthians 6:17, 19)
"Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'" (Matthew 25:41)
"Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." (Colossians 3:2-3)
So we were bought with a price, our bodies were purchased by the blood of Jesus. He owns our bodies, our minds. We no longer have the right to say, "It is my body. I can do with it as I please. It is my mind, the thoughts my own, the dreams my own, the ambition my own." God, however, does not claim ownership over the will. We retain a right to choose to do the wrong thing and deny God His right to our bodies, our thoughts and dreams and desires. We can choose to sin, to keep sin in our members, to dwell on sin in our minds, to lust in our hearts.
Just how do we give up such a personal thing as our thoughts, our dreams, our ambitions to God? Well let me say up front that God will force nothing on you. You can choose to be used mightily of God, or live in the flesh and have little or no joy as a result of being out of the will of God. In a moment we will look at how to surrender the throne of our life to God and then how to yield more and more of ourselves to Him so that we may have a "joy unspeakable and full of glory."
I. "Capture Every Thought To The Obedience Of Christ"
Capturing and examining every thought you think may seem radical, but I assure you, it is not. I understand this will start out for some to be anathema. In some, their minds will say, "My thoughts are my own! I can think what I please!" And they would be right. The problem is we think things that are sinful and harmful to ourselves and others, and we know it. We dismiss each piece of mental garbage into the vastness of the universe as if it evaporates and will affect no one. That is a lie. It harms you. You are accountable for every idle word that springs from every idle thought. These things are dangerous to the Christian not because they damn him, but because it becomes a playground for the evil one and for the flesh. It will hurt you.
"The LORD knows the thoughts of man, that they are futile." (Psalm 94:11)
"The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD, but the words of the pure are pleasant." (Proverbs 15:26)
"This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the gentiles walk [as the unsaved], in the futility of their mind." (Ephesians 4:17)
"But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give an account of it in the day of judgment." (Matthew 12:36)
"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:4-6)
Here is an exercise I do to teach myself to pay attention when my mind becomes lazily accepting of every thought I think at any particular time. It needs to be noted that Satan also interjects thoughts known as "fiery darts" into ones mind. It really doesn't matter, for whether we are thinking evil out of our own sinful resources or Satan tempts us with the thought, this exercise works to help one stay alert and pure in the mind.
When I think a thought and I hear that small still voice of the Lord telling me that was not a good thing to think- I:
1. "Recall the thought." I agree with the Lord and say, "Lord that was wrong. or "that was a lie" or "that was sinful" or whatever the Spirit has shown me about that thought.
This is based on the principle that if we are pricked in the heart that something we have thought or said is wrong, that means God has convicted us of it. We then are obliged to confess it as sin.
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)
2. "Replace the thought." For example if I tell myself the lie: "God can't use me. I am too evil." ... I think or say the opposite using Scripture to undo the lie. I say, The [Bible says] that "God uses the foolish and the simple" and that includes me." Now thinking the reverse does not take back the fact that you spoke a lie. It merely sensitizes you to be more careful to always let your thoughts glorify the Lord. (Sometimes we believe the lie we tell ourselves and speaking the truth with the Word gets our heads straight).
This is based on the principle that Satan and evil cannot stand before Scripture. Jesus used this tactic in the wilderness when tempted. He said, "It is written" to every lie presented to Him... and the devil left Him.
"Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded." (James 4:7)
3. "Re-issue the thought."I go back to what I was thinking before I made that error and check to see if there is a pattern of thought that needs to be corrected. This part of the exercise causes one to see patterns of whining, complaining, rebellion or lustfulness. It aids in our meditation and in our relationship to God. It shows God our sincerity to be holy as He is holy.
II. Feed Your Spiritual Heart
The second thing you must do to help the mind and heart to stay pure before God is feed the heart with good input and right information. When the mind focuses on God and learns of HIm the heart bends toward God and softens toward Him. When the mind focuses on self, listens to the world, goes with the flesh's wants and desires, then the heart hardens toward God. This is what happened to God's people Israel at times in the Old Testament. This is what happened to Pharaoh when he hardened his heart against God. When the mind focuses on God by reading of Him in the word, by meditating on Him as the Bible says, by praising Him for His wondrous works, the heart is softened toward God and begins to "beat" for Him. The mind cultivates a heart of worship and the Lord makes it grow in grace. When continuous negativity is fed the heart, the heart hardens into something like a stone.
"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them." (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
Praying without ceasing and meditation along with reading God's word, feeds the heart and helps make it strong against the constant attacks of evil and sin.
"Pray without ceasing." (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
"I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against thee." (Psalm 119:11)
"This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success." (Joshua 1:8)
The opposite is also true. If you do not read the Word and rely on your own mind to think your way through life; if you do not meditate on the Bible and its words, then you will find your heart falls prey to the fleshly side of you and to the devil's schemes to harden it.
III. Loving God From Your Heart and What It Does.
We have considered the mind and how we are to pay close attention to our thoughts as we walk with the Lord our God. Now we need to take a moment and talk about the deeper level of thought that dwells in the heart. The heart (kardia, "deeper" mind) is like a depository of memory, experience, and the emotions that relate to those memories and experiences. In the heart, conclusions are made about choices of action and no matter what the mind tells itself so as to justify and explain an act committed, it is what is in the heart that is the real reason for doing it.
"For as he thinks in his heart, so is he, "Eat, drink!" he says to you, but his heart is not with you." (Proverbs 23:7)
"A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." (Luke 6:45)
The enemy loves to remind individuals of bad experiences and trauma, hoping these memories will begin to harden the emotions and keep someone away from the God that loves them. Faulty reasoning, stress, and tragedy all will be used to motivate people to cling to fleshly, sinful ways of thought, and damaging behaviors. Only God can change the hearts of individuals to make them into the image of His Son.
The Bible uses the illustration of the wearing of armor to guard against just such attacks on the mind and heart.
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with TRUTH [tell yourself the truth and do not let your mind and heart lie], having put on the breastplate of righteousness [which guards the heart], and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace [thinking of others helps get out of the self pity cycle which is a mind trap, reliving tragedy etc.]; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation [to battle this spiritual mind battle is only possible if you know Jesus as Savior] and the sword of the spirit [remember, "It is written"] which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints." (Galatians 6:10-18)
These things all Christians need to be aware of and be doing to keep themselves in a right state before God, but this series is about the possibility that you may see a need to commit to God in the way that Job committed to the Lord regarding his eyes. Are you a person whose thoughts run amok and you feel you need a special stance of readiness before the Lord? Do you know that you have a tendency to be angry with God from time to time and you feel your heart hardening toward Him? Then you may need to make a covenant agreement with God concerning the thoughts of your heart and mind.
Pray this Christian: Dear Lord Jesus, You know I have had bad experiences and life has been hard for me. I have unresolved issues and I don't understand You and the decisions You have made for me over the years. But Lord, I want to understand all that I am able, and to trust You for all I may not understand in this life. I want to grow in Your grace. Please help me cleanse my thoughts and guard my heart. Guide me to all truth. Do not let me dwell on lies or entertain the fiery darts of the evil one. I covenant my mind to you to dwell only on You and Your word. I promise to dismiss all untruths as soon as I know they are false. I promise to not continue to revisit them in my mind. I promise to call out to You for guidance, wisdom and grace to grow. I pray this in Your powerful name, Jesus. Amen.
To everyone that has not received Jesus as personal Lord and Savior, the decision is easy. Only the devil and your flesh resists asking Christ into your heart. If you have read this whole article you know all the reasons why it is important to call on the Lord. He will not force you to do this. If you don't call on Him someone other than Jesus will pay for every evil thought and deed that you have done. That someone is you and you will pay with an eternity in hell, from which there is no escape. That's why Jesus died, because He knows you can't save yourself. Only God's blood can save you, not your own suffering. Use your brain and listen to your heart because as hard as your heart may be, God is right now letting you know that you need to do this.
So Pray this: Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner. I know that I cannot save myself and if I die in my sins I will go to a place that was not designed with me in mind. I believe You came to earth as a man, bled and died on Calvary's cross for me. I believe You were buried and in three days You rose up again. I call on You now to forgive me of my sins and save me by Your precious blood. I turn from my sin to You, Jesus, as the only Way of salvation. Thank you for doing this for me and loving me like this. I pray this in Jesus holy and pure name. Amen.
Others in this series of independent articles: