The ruler of this world, the god of this age effectively implements his rule and authority in it primarily through the unregenerate mind of unbelievers and the unbridled passions and desires of the fallen, sinful nature. And the one and the other are not disconnected but it is precisely because people’s understanding is clouded, darkened and distorted that they easily and without any inhibition give in to the desires of the flesh. Ephesians 4:17 – 19 clearly demonstrates this truth …you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.
Herein also lies the weakness of many regenerate, born-again folk because unless we understand the nature of what God has done in and through the new birth and dedicate ourselves to recapturing our minds, we too become easy and frequent prey to an all too eager and ready enemy who prowls around us seeking someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
There are innumerable ways the god of this age effects his rule in terms of
affecting one’s thinking and influence one’s actions. But just like “all roads lead to Rome” so too all these so called innumerable ways are basically an appeal to the mind. In everything that he does, it is there that the enemy is always striving to win the battle – in our minds. Once the battle is lost in the mind, the rest is, as they say, history. So whichever of the numerous avenues available to him the god of this age employs, the key battleground and the one worth taking is the mind. All roads lead to its subjugation for where the mind, the nerve centre has been conquered, the rest, unquestionably follows suit. Hence the need and call of the scriptures to fortify the mind, not to allow the mind to be easy prey by undoing the pattern of this world that has been woven into it and rewiring it in the image of its creator.
Ephesians 4:23-24 …and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
All these numerous (or so called secondary) channels are designed to appeal to the two basic and primary one’s – the sinful nature with its passions and desires and the mind with its strong and natural tendency of independence from God. The sinful nature (which is natural to all the human race) and those who live according to its passions and desires cannot, quite simply, ever please God. Romans 8:8 stands witness to that – Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. This old nature is beyond reformation and every and any attempt at that will only fail miserably and spectacularly. It follows then that God had to take the sinful nature, the flesh, out, if the kingdom He is building was to remain incorruptible and his authority and rule undisputed.
John 3:3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
A new birth is required. This kingdom would not have the seed of the corrupted nature. Only those who underwent the new birth, who are born again in Christ and in the Spirit by their own will and the will of God would populate this new kingdom – nothing of the old.
(John 1:12-13, John 3:5, Ephesians 2:9-10)
A new creation in Christ is a mandatory requirement of this everlasting kingdom God is building, no other creation or nature can even get anywhere near it let alone inherit it. Both the desires of our sinful nature and our minds must be submitted to God by way of the new creation we have become in Christ. The new creation is critical to our succes in overcoming the battle of the mind and in subduing the passions and desires of our own fallen nature. Hence the requirement for a new creation in Christ which we have become – 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
The former has passed away in spectacular fashion. Here is what the apostle Paul has to say on this subject – And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24. The very nature that is vying to bring our downfall and destroy us has in fact been crucified, put to death on the cross with the Lord Jesus Christ. What a victory! The secret is being “in Christ”, the secret is in the privileged position that God has put us in as we put our faith in His Son, “in Christ”. 1 Corinthians 1:30 But it is from Him (God) that you are in Christ Jesus…
In Him then, our fallen nature, our old self along with its evil passions and desires, has quite literally undergone crucifixion. It was taken out on the cross along with Christ Himself. If we are indeed “in Christ”, this is vital and undeniable truth we would do well to accept and regularly remind ourselves of.
We are called to feed and nourish the new creation and the new person who we have become in Christ in order to live and conduct our lives in line with the character of the new creation and the order of God’s kingdom. Both of these call for a renewed mind, a new frame of mind or thinking that is starkly opposed and different from that of the old nature and the world we live in. Hence the clear warning not to conform to the pattern of the world but on the other hand to work on the renewal of our minds in order to effect transformation in our lives and arrive at a discovery of God’s purposes in our lives. The twin objectives of transformation and discovery of God’s true and perfect will in our lives is found in the rejection of the world and embracing the new order of things through a life dedicated to the renewal of one’s mind. That renewal is achieved in abiding in the words of Christ. That renewal is the catalyst for the transformation which the Lord Jesus identified as “freedom” in John 8:33 and its fruits those he mentions in John 15:8.
The mind is the major operating ground of the devil. It is there that he attempts to veil people’s sight and understanding – even believers. What you allow to shape your thought life will be that which effectively rules your life and has authority over you.
An unfortified mind, a mind that is not regularly exercised in the mind of its creator as expressed in Scriptures, a mind that is not developing resistance through renewal leading to impregnability, is a mind that frequently and all too easily capitulates in the face of the enemy’s attacks.