Bruce Yocum is President of Christ the King Association and a member of the International Executive Council of The Sword of the Spirit. This article was originally published in New Covenant Magazine, March 1977. Bruce states that he would write this article somewhat differently today, but he is happy enough to let us reproduce it in its original form. [See the June ’07 Issue for Part I.]FORMING THE CHRISTIAN MIND
Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind (Romans 12:2)The Christian mind doesn’t just happen to people. It doesn’t arrive at baptism, and it doesn’t come simply because we want it to. In fact, it won’t develop without a great deal of effort on our part. Where do we begin? What can we do to transform our mind from a secular stronghold to a place inhabited by the Spirit of God?
Discipline plays a key role in developing a truly Christian mind. In The Wisdom of the Desert, a collection of sayings from the hermits of the early church, a young hermit approaches an older one and asks for advice on how to handle the many distracting thoughts that fill is mind. The elder tells the younger to go outside, hold open the garments around his chest and catch the wind in them. When the younger says that this is impossible, the elder hermit tells him that, likewise, it is impossible to keep distracting thoughts from en-tering the mind. but, he adds, “Your job is to say no to them.”
Over the centuries the task has remained the same. Our job, too, is to learn to say no to distracting thoughts, and to discipline our mind by turning it to the subject at hand. If we’re at a prayer meeting, it’s time to direct our attention to the Lord. If we’re talking with a friend, our thoughts belong with our friend in that conversation. In every situation, our mind should operate solely on the concerns that belong to it. If anxiety or fear arises, if wayward thoughts assail it, the mind should cast those cares upon the Lord in surrender to him.
Our minds should be like good soldiers, ready to obey our commands and, when necessary, ready to engage in battle to rout the enemy. Mental discipline isn’t an arbitrary element of the Christian life, it’s a strategic weapon in enabling us to free our minds for the Lord. Like any weapon, the more we use it the more skilled we’ll become in handling it.
An Active, Open
Not only should we actively use our minds, but we should enjoy using them. At the same time, we should discipline our minds to think within the limits set both by our mental ability and by God’s call for our life. We shouldn’t strain to think grander, more complicated thoughts than come naturally to us. On the other hand, we must resist the temptation to become discouraged or feel inferior if our mental faculties fall short of our intellectual ideal. It boils down to a question of stewardship. God has entrusted our minds to us and we should be using them with vigor and enthusiasm, knowing that if we are sub-mitted to him, he will guide us in using them as he intended.
Further, it is imperative that we share our thoughts and concerns with the Christians around us. A reluctance to open our minds to others can leave us at the mercy of confusing, anxious, fearful thoughts that could be quickly dispelled by a word of truth from a brother or sister. If we’re married, we should share our thoughts willingly and freely with our spouse. Our minds should be open to those who are in authority over us, and to ma-ture Christian men and women in our prayer group or community. We can trust that they will be able to tell us when our thinking is out of line and help us to discipline our mind so that it is truly our servant.
A Mind Formed
by God’s Word
Formed by God’s word and relying on his promises, the mind is quiet, receptive, and open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. It reaches out to God and welcomes his truth in Scripture, prophecy, and teaching. The mind that is immersed in Scripture will easily apprehend the mind of God and is well on its way to becoming a truly Christian mind.
Finally, we can train our minds for
the Lord by limiting our exposure to worldly influences. Do we rigorously
monitor the information that we allow to enter our minds and the minds
of our children? What magazines and books do we read? Why do we read them?
If they claim to be Christian publications, are we reading them critically,
with an eye to whether or not they adhere to the truth? Do we exercise
discernment when deciding what movie we’ll see or what TV program we’ll
watch? How do we spend our free time? It is vital to our spiritual health
that we honestly confront these and similar issues, seriously examine the
role various influences play in our lives, and then take action against
those influences that militate against the formation of a Christian mind.
THE MIND IN PERSPECTIVE
by the Renewal of Your Mind”
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