Harry Blamires writes in The Christian Mind: How Should a Christian Think?: “The Christian mind is the prerequisite of Christian thinking. And Christian thinking is the prerequisite of Christian action.” We must reconstruct the frame by which we understand daily events and change the criteria by which we evaluate them. The Apostle Paul tells us how in Galatians 5.24-25 (AMP throughout): “And those who belong to Christ Jesus (the Messiah) have crucified the flesh (the godless human nature) with its passions and appetites and desires. If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit we have our life in God, let us go forward walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit.]” (My underline for emphasis.)
A. The Christian Mind
- Paul would write some eight years later, AD 56, that believers must “transform” our minds to think differently; “its new ideals and its new attitude” (Romans 12.2). What new “ideals” and “attitude” have “transformed” your mind? Do you judge the world by the Bible or the Bible by the secular world? In the different contexts of each day?
- This is possible because we are “a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come” (2 Corinthians 5.17)! What is “fresh and new” in your perspective of life? What verses are the sources of this? 1 John 2.15-17? Hebrews 11.6? James 5.16b?
- This is possible because “we have the mind of Christ (the Messiah) and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart” (1 Corinthians 2.16). This is the potential into which we grow (Ephesians 4.11-13). As Jesus said in His Lord’s Prayer: “That they all may be one, [just] as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be one in Us” (John 17.21). Paul clarifies: “For in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17.28). How do you know? Romans 8.16 & 1 Corinthians 2.11! These validate our close walk with the Holy Spirit.
- Therefore, remember Solomon’s imperative: “Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4.23). Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Hebrew Old Testament language defines ‘springs’ as the ‘issues, outgoings’ we think about and which are lived out in our lives.
- We must reconstruct the frame by which we understand daily events and change the criteria by which we evaluate them.
B. The Christian Mind Produces Christian Thinking.
- Paul adjures believers to “crucify the flesh (the godless human nature) with its passions and appetites and desires” (Galatians 5.24).
- He tells us how to crucify the flesh in 1 Corinthians 5.13 (“Drive out that wicked one from among you [expel him from your church”) and Colossians 3.8 (“But now put away and rid yourselves [completely] of all these things: anger, rage, bad feeling toward others, curses and slander, and foulmouthed abuse and shameful utterances from your lips”) and Hebrews 12.1 [“let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us”]. If your friends express “encumbrances”, what should you do? Isaiah 33.14-16.
- Peter reminds, too, in 1 Peter 2.1: “BE done with every trace of wickedness (depravity, malignity) and all deceit and insincerity (pretense, hypocrisy) and grudges (envy, jealousy) and slander and evil speaking of every kind.” Be like David: Psalm 19.14!
- Paul encourages, in Philippians 4.8: “whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].” Psalm 8.3-4, 33.4-5; Proverbs 21.21; Micah 6.8; Jeremiah 9.24-25; 1 Peter 1.2-8!
C. The Christian Mind Produces Christian Thinking Expressed in Christian Action.
- Paul contrasts Galatians 5.19-21 with verses 22-23: “But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].” Nine fruits from one Seed! Seen in you! John 17.21.
- Romans 5.3-5: “Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation. Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.” This is what Paul means in 2 Corinthians 2.14, 12.9-10, and Hebrews 5.14.
- Romans 12.1-2: “I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].” God described this in Isaiah 58.6-14.
- Jesus described this as one of our final test questions in Matthew 25.34-40. How will you measure?
Blamires: “The Christian mind is the prerequisite of Christian thinking. And Christian thinking is the prerequisite of Christian action.” Christian thinking uses the Bible as a lens through which to view the world, as we see in offices, schoolrooms, and homes and on the television and movie screens and in books, magazines, and periodicals. How must we train our children and grandchildren to do this, too? (Deuteronomy 6.7; Proverbs 22.6) When do we simply turn the power off? How must we train them to walk with the Holy Spirit toward the things of God and away from the deceptions of satan? This is our responsibility and opportunity! 1 Thessalonians 2.19-20!
Praise God!!! Copyright by Maurice L. Painter, 2016. www.sozoclass.com
Jesus warned us to expect satan’s nefarious attempts to steal the word of God from us. His purpose is to destroy our faith so he can, then, kill us. How has he done this in your life? Pause and think about this. In Matthew 13.18-22, Jesus said to expect people to demean us and to criticize our faith, as one ploy. Also, to expect satan to tempt us with sex and beverage alcohol allurements to sell his deviance; see 1 John 2.15-17. These are not new tactics, as Galatians 5.16-21 and Revelation 2.1-3.22 discuss. In fact, these are ways that satan used during Israel’s wilderness journey to the Promised Land. The ways continue to become increasingly effective today on people who are challenged by self-control. Proverbs 25.28 NASB: “Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit.” Think about that.
A. Golden Calf
- Exodus 32.1-6.
- Philosophers persuaded the people to turn from God; Exodus 20.4.
- They celebrated with song and dance and “rose up to play”. The Hebrew word for play includes laughter, mocking, and making sport (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance).
- Historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. wrote in “The Disuniting of America”: “History is to the nation … as memory is to the individual. As an individual deprived of memory becomes disoriented and lost, not knowing where he has been or where he is going, so a nation denied a conception of its past will be disabled in dealing with its present and its future.”
B. Baalam and Peor
- Numbers 25.1-18 violated Exodus 20.3, 14, 17.
- Sex in the city because Balak followed Baalam’s advice for tripping up the people. Jesus said the Israelites were engaging in sexual immorality, in Revelation 2.14. Apostle Paul comments on this in 1 Corinthians 10.8.
- How did sex get into the city? How could the city keep it out? Which city?
C. Solomon on Adultery
- Before he became a participant, he advised his sons against this; Proverbs 5.1-23, especially verse 21.
- But, later, he listened to the philosophers (in his bed) and became deceived into their sexual rituals; 1 Kings 11.1-8, especially verse 4. Do you think he remembered Proverbs 5.21? How do you think his Israelite staff and subjects responded to his example?
- How did sex topple the king? How could he have prevented this? You?
D. Galatians, Romans, and Flesh
- Galatians 5.13, 19-21: AD 48. Which of his list relate to sex? What is Paul’s warning about giving into lust? How can we follow this?
- Why did the Jerusalem Council’s Decree include such a warning to Gentile believers? Acts 15.19-22. Notice the broad inclusion of NASB Leviticus 18.6-23 in “fornication”, “sexual immorality” in other translations. So, satan’s deceptions using sex had not changed during the 1,450 years from Moses to Paul. Still the same today!
- Romans 7.14-24, 8.5-8: AD 55. How do these verses describe life as a teeter-totter? What does Paul say controls? What is Paul’s warning about giving into lust? How can we follow this?
- Shouldn’t we be able to see this repetition of satan’s chief weapon by now? Why don’t we? Self-control: as an individual, an institution (church, university), a nation?
- 5. The internet has facilitated “an insatiable appetite for sexually explicit content, and the high percentage of those searching are teenagers…6 out of 10 girls are exposed to pornography before the age of 18…9 out of 10 boys are exposed to pornography before the age of 18” (Baptist and Reflector, 2016, February 10, Vol. 182, No.3, P. 1).
E. From Ephesus to Laodicea, within 60 years! Fulfillment of Jeremiah 13.10.
- Ephesus: Revelation 2.1-7, AD 95: apostolic faith beginning to slip. Who were the “Nicolaitans”. “They were seemingly a class of professing Christians, who sought to introduce…licentiousness…and were probably identical with those who held the doctrine of Baalam” (Easton’s Bible Dictionary). Nicholas was a trusted “brother in the Lord”, according to Acts 6.5, which gave him a following. Ephesian Christians’ faith depended upon holding onto the Scripture (Romans 10.17, Ephesians 4.11-13), which they, apparently, were “abandoning” (NASB; see Jeremiah 13.10). Nicholas’ followers were taking advantage of this opportunity. Jesus warned of this in Matthew 24.12. “Lawlessness” included sexual immorality, the systemic deception of satan; 2 Corinthians 4.3-4.
- Smyrna: Revelation 2.8-11: Jesus contrasts the world’s priorities with His in verse nine. The temptation is always to give in to the pressures of society’s condemnation, as Jesus said in Matthew 13.21. Believers in Smyrna might be considered “poor” in this world but are “rich” with eternal rewards; see 2 Timothy 4.7-8 and Psalm 1.1-6. Sex would follow from philosophers in this “synagogue of satan”; see Solomon and Peor, above.
- Pergamum: Revelation 2.12-17: The world’s priorities have become embraced by many believers here, as verse 13 indicates: “satan sits enthroned”. At least one, Antipas, has died for resisting this. Philosophy has led to “Peor” (feasting with non-Christians has led to sexual immorality), similar to the practices of the Nicholatians; E.1.
- Thyatira: Revelation 2.18-29: The next devolvement was satan’s appointing a “prophetess” in this church to teach his “secret knowledge”. Jesus called her “Jezebel” after King Ahab’s wife, a worshipper of Baal and Asherah (1 Kings 18), who tried to exterminate the prophets of God. Some believers were adopting her “secrets” (“the depths of satan”; verse 24) and corrupting the Scriptures, including sexual immorality. Why would the pastor even allow such aberration of the Gospel in the church of his responsibility?
- Sardis: Revelation 3.1-6: Apparently, satan’s teachings had spread within the churches to the point that only a few tenets of God’s truth remained; verse two. There was little or no evidence of Jesus! Since sexual immorality had been part of Jezebel’s and Nicholas’ teachings and practices, it is assumed that they were practiced in Sardis, also.
- Philadelphia: Revelation 3.7-13: “Little power” in verse eight may indicate that there were just a few believers remaining faithful to God, to whom He reminded about their Heavenly reward, the “door wide open which no one is able to shut.” Therefore, ignore deceivers’ logic; be faithful! The title “loving church” is reference to the love that Jesus displayed for the faithful believers, perhaps His miracles of healing and provision, that witnessed to “those of the synagogue of Satan” in verse nine.
- Laodicea: Revelation 3.14-22: By this last step of devolution, Jesus could only hope that a single believer might be found to “open the door” for Him to come in (verse 20). Implied is that the believer and Jesus would resurrect the church at Laodicea from its death by philosophy and sexual immorality.
- Summarizing the devolution: interest in philosophy beginning to displace the Bible (Ephesus) led to sensing greater external pressures of society walking away from God (Smyrna) led to inviting the external pressures of philosophy within the church (Pergamum) led to accepting satan’s teachings (Thyatira) led to disavowing most biblical truth (Sardis) led to the deception of most people within the church (Philadelphia) led to neither truth nor believers remaining, or apostasy (Laodicea). But, Jesus reminded us that God is merciful for us who “worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4.24; Matthew 24.22).
F. The Problem is Self-Control
- Not like Joseph (Genesis 39.9b) or Job (31.1) who practiced Proverbs 4.25.
- Led by the Spirit; Galatians 5.22-25.
- Why is self-control last of the Fruit of the Spirit?
- How is self-control a function of Proverbs 4.23 and Hebrews 5.14?
G. The Real Question
- Luke 18.8b. This is the lesson of the devolution of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor.
- How does sexual purity reflect faith?
- Likewise, why didn’t Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego) eat the king’s food? How were they better thereafter? See Daniel 1.8-17.
- How can we protect our ‘faith’? Psalm 119.9-16, 105.