The Battle of the Mind
We often don’t realize how significant the battle of the mind is. In our largely materialistic western communities we have fostered the idea that thoughts are contained in the brain and that’s it. To the contrary, the Biblical worldview shows us that thinking is hard core spiritual activity. Our thoughts are deeply rooted in our spirit. We cannot compartmentalize a human being no more than we can separate all the body parts and expect them to continue according to their purpose. Happy people think happy thoughts. Sad people think sad thoughts and angry people think angry thoughts.
Though the Hebraic worldview includes thinking in the understanding of how our love for God and people is expressed, the message that came with Jesus placed a new emphasis on the redemption of our capacity to think. “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matt. 22:37 ESV)
Romans 12:2 underlines this further: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Alongside this renewal in order to know the good will of God, the Bible also underlines the importance of having a good conscience as a way to assess a life well lived. “In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men.” (Acts 24:16 NASB)
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul exhorts them to live actively: “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, …” (2 Cor. 10:5 NASB)
Our mind is central to God’s purpose for His creation. We should therefore expect that there will be significant attacks in this area.
As we start investigating we find that they come from every angle. Within the body of Christ they come through various teaching that discourages this effort. Grace alone has come to be something less than God intended. We say love is important, but reject the wisdom by which love ought to be expressed. This lack of emphasis on the mind leaves many Christians largely ignorant and therefore very prone to embrace popular culture.
On the spiritual level there is significant pressure in a society that has made entertainment and hedonism idols of worship. We give our lives to these self-centered pursuits and don’t understand that by doing so we also lose our lives! Entertainment has all to do with external stimulation where the consumer is only receiving and not engaging in any essential meaning of the word. Entertainment as a mechanism is passifying us, as is often also the message passed on through entertainment. We have cultivated a backwards-functioning society where emotions and senses now are primary definers of purpose. The Biblical worldview also teaches us that spirits are a significant influence behind much of this development. (Eph 6:12, Matt 16:11,12)
The observant person will be able to identify far reaching spirit-agendas that are manifesting through communities that celebrate certain ideas and teachings. We also see this in places of power. When a human being has lost the ability to govern themselves, the human spirit will come under spiritual principalities and their teaching. Living according to the flesh is subordinate to the power of fallen spirits. Sin will rule those who are not redeemed!
On the soulish level we find a multitude of expressions that come against our ability to think clearly. Among these is the absolute overwhelming and rapidly changing flow of information. Technology MUST be a servant to God’s purposes and therefore we must rule over it, not the other way around. No human being has even the slightest capacity to handle the exponentially increasing amounts of information coming at us today. This is one of the largest threats to our capacity to be truly human. We are made to be creators, not consumers first. This creative capacity has become corrupted, where we create more disconnection rather than quality of relationship. Society at large is bursting with information of all kinds. It is marvellous to see the creativity expressed in all the innovation, and at the same time heartbreaking to know that so much serves to deconstruct society rather than build community. Information overload leads to inability to digest and reflect, leading to a superficiality and battle to discern what is important from what is insignificant. It is often children and youth that face this challenge, and with lack of maturity and value foundation they can quickly disconnect with the real purpose of life and simply start going with the flow, becoming a consumer only. This is contrary to the original command that God gave when He created humanity.
On the physical level we find a whole range of bombardments as well. From nutrition, to toxins and electromagnetic radiation the exposure for the average person is tremendous. We have abandoned the ancient ways and think the only way forward is through the evolutionary perspective, which would only serve to do away with all things living, again contrary to the very purpose of our existence. Stress factors on the physical level that come from malnutrition, eating food that is not food, being exposed to harmful chemicals, toxins and disrupting substances are damaging to our ability to function as human beings. Light and radio frequency emission also have a strong influence on the human body.
Alongside the drift into what we call the information age we have lost our alignment. We don’t know up from down or north from south. People are confused in so many areas of their lives, down to core identity issues.
Many of the major trends today show an increase in mind related disabilities. Autism appears to significantly rise. Alzheimers and Dementia also appear to be explosive in parts of the world. We also have what we call Digital Dementia, which is a decline in cognitive abilities due to overuse of digital technology. Overstimulation causes loss of memory and thinking skills. We weren’t designed to be consumers only! We are creative relational beings that function best in concrete communities together with real people in the context of actual creation.
Much then is actually working against God’s purposes – to no surprise of course. If we abandon the Bible as our guide and plumbline we will also fall into the trap and go the same direction. Is there a connection between the abandonment of the mind and the absence of heroes in our world? Bravery isn’t what is used to be.
On the bright side we find the entire solution exposed in the Bible. Jesus came to walk the earth to prove God’s design. It is indeed very good and works perfectly when properly connected with our heavenly Father. When Jesus died for our sins He also made a way to be restored to a place of liberty far above the powers of fallen spirits. In Jesus we are again made whole. This journey creates a substance within our being that is often called provenness, character or even precious stones. Our spirit is being restored and as we engage with the Wisdom of God, our minds will also be restored. We are not to be dumb terminals tied up in a global information network with only a few setting the agenda. No, we are the very Image of God walking this earth, made to create together with God and made to live in the most loving relationships both with God, fellow human beings and creation.
As we walk by faith and embrace this renewal we find that “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1. John 4:4 NASB) The leap from the Information society into the Intimacy society implies an altering of reality. Reconnecting with God as a Father through Jesus Christ is like coming home and finding peace afresh. The Holy Spirit teaches us and helps us to grow into maturity as children of God. This is entirely different from living backwards with a self-centered pursuit that is far too often based on fear and the need to control.
When we come to the Father through salvation in Jesus Christ we enter the Kingdom of God. As we do, the seed of the Kingdom is placed within us and starts growing. Like any seed it must be watered, nurtured and cultivated. This seed is the restoration of every purpose we were made for, both individually, relationally and corporately.
The change also implies starting to use God-given attributes that we may not ever have used. If we have never tried taking responsibility for our thinking, we may find it hard to do. It means that we start giving direction to our mind instead of letting outside stimulus lead us in a flow of consciousness. It means some thoughts are welcome and others are not. As we discover more of God’s world it becomes easier to think His thoughts, even though the battle may continue. Governed thinking comes out of purpose. Likewise we may find that the healing of our conscience also takes time and where we need to guidance of Scripture and the Holy Spirit until we become straight.
As we continue growing in our relationship with God we find that our lives change. Our greatest weaknesses will become our greatest strengths because they are filled with God’s grace and our dependence on Him has grown strong. What He longs for is that we become mature and have strength in our own being. This doesn’t mean independence, but maturity. The end of maturity is being able to judge good from evil. Jesus said to His disciples that they would sit with Him and judge the tribes of Israel. This calls for maturity and maturity comes from deep understanding of the ways of God and their implications. Revelation doesn’t always imply maturity. This is why God grows us through process rather than overwhelm us with flashes of revelation that may bypass growth.
The Kingdom of God is the eternal future. Let us engage fully in the Kingdom and call as many as we can to join! God is a being so good, so close, so intimate, so capable and so worthy, that nothing ought to be apart from His presence. There is hope!