A State of Mind

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  The mind of the sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the Sinful mind is hostile to God.  It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.  Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.  Romans 8:5-8.

No matter how we slice it, we have to watch out for the sinful desires or they trip us up.  Selfishness is scary in its sneaky control over our hearts.  Selflessness takes more concentration and discipline.

Christian rhetoric can sound so stilted and wierd by the rest of the world’s standards of communication, right?  Yet if we consider it carefully, we can also see pretty quickly humans in general don’t communicate very well at the best of times.  Just look at how many wars and problems exist outside of the Christian influence in the world right now then try to conclude the rest of the world’s methods of talking things out is better.  This fact doesn’t mean, however, that Christian language should be stilted and archaic, rather it tells us the problems of communication with the world isn’t entirely our fault.

Paul makes it clear above and elsewhere the sinful mind cannot grasp the things of God, so it naturally follows those caught in a sinful state of mind won’t understand the language of salvation any better.  Christ gave us the command to communicate to the world the good news of the cross, but this doesn’t mean it will sit well with the them.  The cross is a stumbling block to the legalists and foolishness to those who love intellectual pursuits for their own sake.  When being righteous of our own accord becomes paramount in any form, the cross does us no good; when knowledge or earthly wisdom becomes paramount, we make a god out of our own informative state.

Someone once said,  “Knowledge is power.”  I agree, though I see it as a limited form of power.  From what I’ve observed, we cannot change the world through education, the modern world is more educated than at any time in history yet we don’t see a decrease in violence, prejudice or ideological differences.  If anything, our disagreements have become more intense because our education, biased by preconceptions or theoretical conclusions, have influenced our ability to remain at peace.  Education doesn’t eradicate selfishness, pride or a host of other urges and issues humans carry around in their makeup.  The crime at the top levels of society merely grow more sophisticated rather than lessened by their education or status.

In fact, look at history and we see the greatest atrocities were perpetrated by the elite of the world, the informed and the socially advantaged.  So this theory that somehow education will bring about paradise or at the very least a better world is based on very shaky evidence at best.  Yet humans continue to push for their pet causes as if their efforts will really change the world at large.

Herein lies the problem, in my view:  We keep changing policies and methods without ever going after the heart of the person.  Change a person’s heart from selfish to giving and you’ve just changed their politics.  But changing the heart is a lot more hard work than changing policies and proceedures.  The current fiasco in the banking system should tell us our policies and proceedures won’t do any good because already there were commonsense rules in place to prevent what we now see as a bad lending practices.  Yet the outcry to make more stringent laws goes out loud and clear as if this will solve the problem.

In my short life I’ve witnessed something very profound and disturbing:  The stricter the law, the more clever and devious the thief.  The more sophisticated the thief, the harder it is to either catch them or, once caught, to convict them.

Why?

For the simple reason those making the laws many times are in cahoots with the thieves themselves, which means they create loopholes and addendums to sidestep the force of the law being proposed.

Bring this concept down to the reality of the daily Christian life and we see why the Law couldn’t keep anyone on the straight and narrow.  Jesus condemned the Pharisees for their additions to the law as well as their inability to help anyone keep them.  Yet He also called them down for their hypocrisy which mouthed the right manmade formulas, though they strictly lived and enforced the rituals these did nothing to change the heart.  Without a complete and utter change of how we think, no one can live up to righteousness at all.

My conclusion?

There is no discovered balance between selfishness and selflessness it’s all an illusion.  The fight is between righteousness and sin, nothing more or less.  If we look at ourselves in the light of Jesus and imitate His attitude and actions, our confusion begins to drain away.  Only when we grasp the significance of the Scriptures will we gain insight into how to conduct ourselves.  For instance:  Realizing the Bible doesn’t forbid marriage and condemns those who do condemn it should set us straight about sex, children and the will of God in the matter of relationships here on earth.  Paul condemns those false apostles who forbid people to marry and restrict certain foods.  This fact should warn us to be on the look out for these midguided guides for they are what Jesus called “the blind leading the blind” who will fall into a pit.

Grasping the truth of Scripture, however, only comes through dedicated study while opening our hearts and minds to understand what is being taught.  When we bring our preconceptions to the table as a means of interpreting what is already there, we probably insert error into the mix.  True righteousness, selflessness and godliness are not found in the absence of relationships, nor will we find true tranquility in monastic living or true wisdom on a lonely mountaintop.  Everything in Scripture points us to communal living and harmonic relationships with God and other people.  The message of the Gospel brings hope and reconciliation between God and man, first, then between the people who submit themselves to it.

Correct understanding of the Scriptures is a growth thing, one which will take us to places we haven’t thought of as yet.  Every step we take in the understanding God’s Word, gets us that much closer to the whole truth.  Yet each step is only a part of the puzzle, so we need to be aware of our incomplete grasp on truth so as not to get conceited or set on our current views.  To be completely transparent about this I know there are passages I understood a certain way years ago that I now have grown to see in a different light because my spiritual outlook has broadened and been shaped by continuous stretching in the Word.  I’m not saying I have a complete grasp on the subject rather it’s a clearer understanding of it now than ever before.  Years from now, however, I will look back and see gaps in my knowledge and blind spots in my understanding.

I don’t mind this truth at all.

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One Response to “A State of Mind”

  1. tlc4women Says:

    I’m on this path of understanding as well. After the fracture in the garden when Eve determined that God was holding out on her, and Adam followed, it not only became the moment where we took our eyes off the relationship with the Lord and with each other but we focused on “me”. It’s when we think ‘we got this’ that we fail.

    The cross set back in order but until we have a revelation of the kingdom principle we live beneath our own ability. Pushing past average seems a hard concept. When we discover that our life is part of a bigger picture and that we are a mere piece of the puzzle we can’t move past the sinful nature.

    I am trying to figure out how people sit in church for years and have no revelation of the transformation that is supposed to happen. I too look back to where I started and now and see growth so I know years from now, I’ll read some of these comments and posts and realize I knew nothing. That’s the beauty of it and the passion that drives us forward.

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