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.
I particularly like the last paragraph because it reminds us that the process of becoming in Christ is not a one time event. Instead it is a constant renewal we must constantly undergo for the rest of our lives. This means that as Christians we must constantly engage with God and his word and failure to do so will allow the ruler of this world to have a hold on our minds and actions once more.
This has refined my knowledge on the prominence of “the renewing of the mind”. I feel that this post has provided me with in-depth explanations as to why we as born again believers should continually surround ourselves with things that promote our spiritual development. This post was surely a wakeup call for me, as at times, I may dismiss the principle fact that the devil is always prowling to capture our hearts, our minds and our desires but this post reinforced that we serve a God that not only fills us with his grace to stay strong, which is something that touched me deeply, but I also came to the realisation that this only happens with “our pro-active approach” for the renewal and revitalisation our minds through his precious word. I also realised from this post that exercising our minds with holy things is the secret to loading up on spiritual artillery for the trials and tribulations we face. Another thing that touched me deeply is how important divine wisdom is, to actually comprehend how important it is to break out of habits that allow the darkness of this world to consume our minds. This is a great post!
This post has really helped me on how I should go about within the world and carefully assessing my worldly activities. Also knowing the god of this world is still at work as the post quoted 1 Peter 5:8 where the devil is roaring like a lion which its something we shouldn’t take lightly. As a young adult is better to know about the evil one rather then not because it allows me to know how to approach this world while am young. The key thing to understand about the devil is that he know am not going to do bad things and he will always present good things that are not right for me and knowing Christ helps me understand the right things and to make the right choices. The devil is smart and the sooner the younger generation understand the better and this post shows plainly how smart he is but we have got a SMARTER God, who is always ready to takes us in and make us new. (2 Corinthians 5:17). I know am not perfect and I know to get to that stage I got a long way to go but Ephesians 4:23-24 talks about being renewed in spirit, putting on the new self and being holy and righteous and this is my prayer to God to be able to be holy and righteous so I can grow spiritually. I really thank God am in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30) and this post has helped me understand the ways of the devil and most importantly the ways of God so I can’t be distracted by the god of this world. This is a great post!
It is intriguing to realise that fortifying our minds is a key factor in our battle with our flesh. The mind is where our conscience lies and if that is taken over by something, then our flesh will only follow. It has also hit me that accepting Christ as your personal saviour is not just accomplished by the words of your mouth, but the actions that follow. I say this because as the scripture says (and you pointed out), it’s about being “in Christ”! Putting on Christ, being born again, being transformed into a new creation; these are the things that mean we have accepted Christ. For example, a child may have a step dad and after a long time of arguments and hatred, they agree to welcome and ACCEPT the step dad into the family. Now the words can be said but if they do not act upon it and continue the arguments and anger towards the man, then the change has not been made. To cut a long story short, our decision to live as followers of Jesus Christ means we submit all to him. Not one thing of the flesh should attract us. We must not WANT to commit any sin (even if it’s the small fib) and until this happens then we cannot say we are a new creation. I’ve learnt a valuable lesson for myself. God bless you brother Ephrem, and other readers.
What I particularly felt hit home through this post is the reminder that we are constantly in a battle with the enemy who ‘prowls around us seeking someone to devour’. However through constant renewal we develop a resistance to the attack of the devil. Which I feel is the perfect way to end this post!
What an amazing post!
I’ve come to the realisation that being a Christian does not exempt us from the ruler of this world attempting to gain control of our mind. As correctly stated in the post the key battle and the one worth taking is the mind. Sometimes as Christians we can be naive in seeing the renewal of our mind through Christ as a one time event rather than a lifelong process. We are part a constant spiritual battle each and every day, the key to being victorious lies within intimacy with our creator and the continual renewal of our minds. I believe intimacy with God is found through daily fellowship with God and encountering Gods presence. This intimacy is what will help us understand Gods’ nature, his love. Without understanding God’s nature, how are we to have a heart willing to be sober minded and hungry to serve our living God?
This was revitalizing to say the least. I feel it was important to reassure us of the distance we need to keep ourselves from the outside world and reinstating the fact that: we are in Christ and should therefore reap the rewards and experience the benefits that God has for us via this exclusivity by knowing him on a more personal level as we are in relationship with him. This is not saying that God is only exclusive to us, but that we should take advantage of the fact that we have direct access to him and therefore we can use what we receive from this to propel our life and strive towards having deeper understanding of God’s word and being able to interpret and teach others about God. In terms of our standpoint that we should take over the activities present in the world that so many unbelievers are idle to, if we are oblivious to what God thinks of this and simply join in with the secular deeds that capture so many souls, then we can not educate and have a positive effect on those we are trying to deliver from evil. In essence it will also distance ourselves from God, which hypothetically is another negative and the exact opposite of what we wanted. For our minds to be restored and for us to place good focus on God and the values which we should attain by being in Christ and having detached ourselves from sinful nature, we have to completely pursue God and seek him for his love and grace. The reason why many Christians I believe stall with their progression and spiritual development is primarily because of this point- the fact that they are not 100% fixated on God’s wonder and the divine truth. This opens up the opportunity of sin and our past beliefs to creep back into our life and return with it the bad habits and thoughts that would make us acceptable in society. This is ultimately where the devil is succeeding because yes, we may be in Christ, but that may be because of say, if we were baptized or surrendered our life to God, but did not act upon the momentum accumulated through this life-changing decision. Confusion and lack of knowledge may be the cause behind it but in saying this, it is vital that we remain attached and constantly have fellowship with God to prevent this separation occurring as it allows the opportunity for one to turn back to their past and doubt God and his existence within their life.
What I wholeheartedly encourage is for us to ACTUALLY PRAY that God can prevent us feeling distant from him because of the doubt we have from unanswered prayers or difficulty in life that we don’t understand his decision on. This will also help us inform unbelievers about why God is the way he is and how we should approach the struggles we face. We can then advise them to turn to him and build strong faith as the foundation and building blocks to blessings that will flood into their life and experience the abundant grace that will maintain the hope and faith that will make them strong believers.
I appreciate how much emphasis you place on the mind and it’s vulnerability as well as it’s power. By power I mean it’s ability to alter sense experience. ‘They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God’ – It’s nice to know that I can align scripture with reality, this verse is so evident within the world today.
Touching back on the feebleness of our minds, I agree that it does require a constant exercise of scripture. I can totally relate Ephrem, it’s all too easy to drift off into the philosophies of this world. My mind sometimes reminds me of a small child entering Toys’r’us, wanting every single toy. In the same way my mind just craves newness and innovation. Which, built with a solid foundation of Christ is harmless. But see this is where the daily exercise comes in, my foundation will never be solid if I do not ‘develop resistance through renewal leading to impregnability’. I will never achieve that ‘freedom’ with a permeable foundation. It’s not even the money or the fancy cars lol that drives me, but rather knowledge, meaning and truth. And Truth by definition excludes is what Ravi Zacharias would say, there is only one way- Jesus Christ. One thing I’ve realised recently is the actual battle between flesh and spirit, I mean I always saw it as a cool metaphor, but this is literal. We have to actually ‘work on the renewal of our minds’, literally work, and fight for it. It does not come naturally. In the same way we have to subdue the passions and desires of the the flesh, it’s a process through which we have to actually make difficult decisions through the discerning of the Holy Spirit and through the constant engagement with His Word. I need to crush this whole idea that once we make that decision to follow Christ, Bam! we are under divine guidance, I am invincible and nothing can touch me. In fact it sets the pedestal on a higher threshold. I’m just so lackadaisical when it comes to forcing things, but leaving things just to be entails such a serious regression and diversion from our faith. But as you mentioned its all about our minds and what we allow to shape it. Thanks Ephrem for helping me rekindle this truth.
God Bless you for this article I hope this will be the first of many like this. It opened my eyes to what God requires of me when you quoted the Bible ‘you MUST no longer walk as Gentiles do’. This is not something that we can do when we feel like it but it is instead a necessity if we wish to come closer to God. It has reminded me of the important to stay well clear from anything impure but show commitment to my God in my walk of life and how much of it reflects his love.
You have also revealed to me through the help of the Holy Spirit that our human desires that attract us away from God is our biggest weakness as young believers and therefore we should be alert and watchful of the enemy who works in deceiving ways. There are many ways that the god of this age tries to influence us away from our God Almighty- ways that we wouldn’t be able to recognise without the help of the holy spirit so I have learnt to never try to face or defeat the evil one on our own accord but ask the most wise and strong God who will fight our battles with and for us.