You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Carnal Mind’ tag.

It is frustrating to discover something at sixty that you really needed to know when you were thirty. Of course, I might not have listened, or the information may have had little application in my life at the time, but I still wish someone had made the attempt. Maybe they did and just I don’t remember.

Those of us that place an importance on obeying the Great Commission would do well to ask God, “What does this person I am discipling need to hear right now that will dramatically change their life?” God will answer that question, over and over again. I hope and pray you will consider the following as one installment in that process.

Enemy #1

Perhaps the most important thing every disciple of Jesus Christ needs to know is the identity of their number one enemy.

Most would suggest that Satan is the number one enemy of God and His children. “The devil made me do it,” popularized by Flip Wilson in the 1970s, has found its way into the Western church. It is the way we like to think. The devil is our most popular enemy. In our confusion, we have ignored one of the most astounding claims in all of Scripture:

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. James 4:7

Satan has no power over the resisting Christian! Perhaps something else is inhibiting our resistance.

Other well-meaning Christians point to the world as our number one enemy. The government and big business are particularly favorite targets. Turning to Scripture, we again find a flaw in our thinking. Read the rest of this entry »

I am afraid we are going to step on some toes with this article. Please don’t let a little toe pain put you off. Your carnal mind will try to distract you with offense and excuse. As an ally of the world, it will do what it can to prevent or limit your consideration of what follows.

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3

The first thing we have to ask ourselves about this passage is whether or not it contains commands or electives. This decision is important, so engage your mind. Reckon it to yourself. If you agree that every imperative statement in the Bible is a command, then say to yourself, “Self, God commands us to seek those things which are above, and to set our mind on them. Furthermore, He commands us to not set our mind on things on the earth.”

Next, we must decide: What is the difference between setting our mind on things above and on the things on this earth? Is it a gulf, a gully, or a hard line? In other words, is there some gray area between the two, where we can let our minds play? As you make this decision, be careful to differentiate between what your carnal mind is trying to tell you and what you believe from your heart to be true. I suspect the answer here may be different for different people, but be careful; gray areas often equate to compromise.

Next question: How and when do we set our minds? Does this automatically happen, or is some discipline required? Minds are set at the very beginning of our day. First thing.

So, what are you watching? What are you reading?

Ouch? Sorry, sometimes the truth hurts. I write from experience. Read the rest of this entry »

Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” Luke 16:14-15

Is there anything worse than “an abomination in the sight of God”? In the immediate context, Jesus is addressing the love of money. But is that all that qualifies? Can you think of anything highly esteemed among men which is not an abomination in the sight of God?

Seriously, this is not a rhetorical question. Make a list; force yourself to think.

In defense of our culture, honesty and integrity may come to mind, even sacrificial love. But really, are these highly esteemed among men? Or is that what we would like to believe? If the Christian virtues are so highly esteemed, why are they so much the exception, rarely celebrated, like exotic animals trapped in a zoo?

Come on, think!

Now, let’s take something of a different course. We can safely assume Jesus is not including the things of God’s kingdom as abominations in His sight. That narrows things down a bit, but still leaves us with much more than money to consider. Here’s an example from A. W. Tozer, just to make the point: Read the rest of this entry »

My apologies. After posting and distributing last week’s article, I realized that I had broken one of my cardinal rules: Information and encouragement is incomplete when it is not accompanied by application. It is not good discipleship to leave the reader wondering what to do next. So, here is an addendum to The Discipline of Solitude.

I must also confess that the “discipline of solitude” I am encouraging is somewhat different from the traditional practice, where one separates themselves from all human contact for hours or days. Dallas Willard’s book, The Spirit of the Disciplines provides a great overview of the traditional practice (pp. 160-162). As with all spiritual disciplines, one must be careful when seeking instruction on the subject. A good place to start would be two authors Willard references: Thomas Merton and Thomas a Kempis.

Recognizing the importance of the traditional discipline of solitude, I am suggesting here that finding solitude on a daily basis is also profitable and possible. Essentially, solitude is getting alone with and resting our minds in God. Like all disciplines, solitude involves commitment and practice; but once developed, it requires little effort, eventually becoming a continual mental attitude. The peace of mind that transcends all understanding, once developed in our prayer closet, goes with us into the world.

Most Christians (myself included) struggle with solitude simply because they cannot quiet their minds long enough to communicate, much less commune, with God. Graciously, God has given us the method by which we may quiet our minds; we do so by taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). While this is perhaps easier said (or written) than done, it is not a complicated practice. I can personally testify to God’s blessing in its exercise.

Here is how it works: Read the rest of this entry »

How do we justify distractions which steal away time that we could be investing in our relationship with God and the advancement of His kingdom? Not that He needs us, or our help. He simply wants us to spend time with Him, for our good and the good of those we love. We are the ones suffering from missed opportunities to know Him more deeply through the practice of His presence. Sadly and tragically, we are allowing ourselves to be victimized by the very things from which Jesus Christ died to save us (Galatians 6:14).

Victory in this area requires that we become more aware of our excuse-making, blame-shifting, and compromising carnal mind. We must force ourselves to consciously consider whether we would rather spend time with God or watch a baseball game, movie, vlog, etc. Could we make a better investment of our time and attention outside our favorite radio station, social media platform, or YouTube channel?

Granted, there are times when we just need to rest our minds, and God has given us a spiritual discipline for that; it is called solitude. Essentially, solitude is resting our minds in God. Yes, like all disciplines, solitude involves commitment and practice; but once developed, it requires little effort, eventually becoming a continual mental attitude. The peace of mind that transcends all understanding, once developed in our prayer closet, goes with us into the world.

It is important to recognize that the world offers several drugs to simulate the effect of God’s rest and peace. The most prominent ones are TV and the Internet. One might argue that these are two of the most highly addictive drugs known to man. Don’t believe me? Try stopping them cold turkey, and see how your mind protests. Go ahead, I double-dog dare you.

Lastly, we must be aware of our carnal mind’s deception regarding our deliverance from these addictions. It will say, “That’s just too difficult for you.” Like Satan, our carnal mind uses a little truth to hide the whole truth. Hopefully, we are now smarter than that. We know that all things are possible with God (Mark 10:27), and He will meet us in our desire to find Him (Matthew 7:8). The first step is committing to the process. From there, He will draw us away from the things of this world, just to be with Him.

God bless you with desire and grace for solitude with Him.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

We are settling for far less than we have been offered. We are either very stupid, or we are deceived. I do not think most Christian leaders are generally stupid. We are a well-educated people, and we tend to address our stupidity when we discover it.

On the other hand, a deceived person does not know they are deceived – at least not until someone reveals the deception that has held them captive. Fortunately, the truth will make us free. Here is some, just in case.

God’s Promises

…to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:19

His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2Peter 1:3-4

The Danger

Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation… Hebrews 2:1-3

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work… according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 2Thessalonians 2:7-10

Our Response

Read the rest of this entry »

I am going to resist the temptation to restate the thesis of this three-part article and direct you back to Part One. There you will find a useful introduction and the individual application of what we are calling the anchor (think house, not ship) of Paul’s letter to the church at Rome.

Part Two explores the bridge between the individual application of Part One and the community application we are exploring in this last part. The order is important – individual application working its way into the corporate body. So, once you have read Parts One and Two, you should be ready to dig in here.

Community Application

As we begin, it is important to note that, as it is with individuals, fellowships small, large, and in between, are also instructed and encouraged to offer themselves to God – to be used as corporate instruments of His sacrificial love. Furthermore, resisting conformity with the world and being transformed are best accomplished in community. In fact, it is impossible for individuals who are “members of one another” to be transformed separate from one another.

Now on to Romans 12:4-8.

For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:4-8

The “for” found at the beginning of this passage connects our humble and sober thinking to our functioning as God intends in the community of faith. Some members may have more visibility or a seemingly more important function; others, less. In humility, we recognize that this is an unimportant consideration. Indeed, as we learn from 1Corinthians 12:23, greater honor is bestowed on those we think to be less honorable. This is sober thinking.

There are three considerations here that warrant our attention. First, there is our unity. We are not only members of “one body in Christ”, but “individually members of one another”. Spiritually, regardless of function, there are no boundaries between us. Our unity is a mystery beyond reason; only by faith and practice do we know it to be true.

Through faith, we function together in the unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God (Ephesians 4:13). This is the desire, vision, and attitude of Jesus Christ. As we lay hold of the mind of Christ, we are anchored to the theological foundation, in Romans one through eleven, that He has established for our life in community. Read the rest of this entry »

Reading through Part One of this article, I discovered an oversight. Having referenced Romans 12:1-3 as the personal perspective of the Romans “anchor”, I failed to comment on verse three. As it turns out, verse three can be viewed as a bridge. So, rather than go back and update Part One, we will cover it here before exploring the church-in-fellowship perspective of Romans 12:4-8 in Part Three.

Those of you that have not already read Part One will find it a useful introduction. The order is important – individual application working its way into the corporate body. Furthermore, there is a connection between the renewal of our mind (Romans 12:2) and the way we are to think in the community of faith.

Humble and Sober Thinking

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. Romans 12:3

As we endeavor to transition from theology to its practice, we must consider our mind and how it thinks. We have already learned from verse two that our mind requires renewal; it is not prepared for the life our theology requires. For many, this is a bitter pill to swallow. We have been encouraged since our formative years to trust our minds and our innate ability to reason. Our carnal mind has convinced us that it deserves the control most of mankind has given it.

We think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. We desperately need to sober up and recognize that much of our thinking is humanistic. Even in the church, we have come to rely on the doctrines of man. We attempt to live out of our reason, rather than our faith. It is high time we become suspicious of the way we think, because much of our thinking is outside the faith.

Consequently, the introduction of faith at the end of the verse above would seem strange to many in the church. What does a measure of faith have to do with the way we think? Our perplexity demonstrates how far we have drifted from the truth concerning our heart and mind. We have allowed our blame-shifting carnal mind to convince us that our heart is corrupt.

But, how can this be? What do the Scriptures tell us? Read the rest of this entry »

I met a young man the other day who runs a successful executive coaching business. This is not unusual; there are many men and women running successful executive coaching businesses. What intrigues me about this young man is the uniqueness of his approach. He operates fundamentally and foundationally from the exercise of discernment and the application of truth – discerning what is false and apply the truth to close unhealthy gaps.

As best as I can tell, this young man does not dilute, wrap, or compromise his operating model with secular and humanistic schemes. It is the purest kingdom approach to business coaching I have ever encountered. It is inspiring…

And challenging.

God used this young man and our conversation to challenge me on two fronts. First, He reminded me that the fear of conflict is unhealthy, and particularly so when it inhibits our sharing the truth with someone. We are encouraged to commit our way to the LORD, trusting Him to accomplish what He intends (Psalm 37:5). I must stop avoiding conflicts that sharing the truth might create.

I prefer to believe that my resistance in this area comes from genuine concern that I might injure someone with my version and presentation of the truth. This is a poor excuse for conflict avoidance. Am I willing to deprive someone of the truth and its freedom in order to maintain a sense of peace between us? That is not Christian love; it is cowardice.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear (timidity, fearfulness, cowardice), but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2Timothy 1:7

I must allow the Holy Spirit to transform me into a surrendered instrument of the Father’s grace – dying to myself for my brother’s sake.

God also used this young man and our conversation to challenge me regarding gaps in my own life – to vigorously seek and destroy the deceptions I have allowed. This conviction contains two applications:

  1. Leaders are responsible to God for helping others discover and overcome the deceptions of their carnal mind. We cannot effectively call or lead someone out of deception when we are willing to accommodate it in our own lives.
  2. Transformation requires the stripping away of our conditional responses to God’s offers of grace.

This second application requires some explanation. One of my heart’s strongest desires is to experience the “greater than life” with others. Jesus promised such a life to all who would believe in Him (John 14:12). The result of that life is the glory of our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16), through the good works we were created to walk in (Ephesians 2:10).

The “greater than life” is what we were created for!

The Holy Spirit will transform us for this life, through the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2, 2Corinthians 3:18), but only as we submit to His work. With God, “conditional submission” is an oxymoron; our conditions clog up the flow of God’s grace.

To be transformed into agents of transformation, we must join the Holy Spirit in searching out our conditional responses to God’s grace, and take those thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ (2Corinthians 10:5). This prayer should help:

Search me, oh God, and know my mind;

Try me and know my self-deceptions;

Expose the wicked thoughts that are hidden in my subconscious;

Lead me to freedom by the truth of your word.

God bless you with grace for the exercise of discernment and the application of truth – for yourself and those in your spheres of influence. Please pray the same for me.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray… Matthew 6:7-9a

The denomination in which I grew up recited what we called “the Lord’s Prayer” (aka, the Model Prayer) during every church service. It was probably the first passage I memorized as a young Christian. Regrettably, it became “vain repetition”; I really didn’t think about what I was praying.

In a previous article, we proposed that the Model Prayer is something more than a prayer to recite once a week; it is a prayer of positioning. The Model Prayer is not the prayer to end all prayers, but the prayer to begin all prayers. It is through this model that we come into the Father’s presence – in humility, meekness and total dependency on Him. Without this positioning, all that we have to say are the vain repetitions of man.

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Matthew 6:9b-13

In this article, with this notion of positioning in mind, we would like to explore three foundational truths that have been lost to the modern church. All three are found in the prayer’s last acknowledgement: For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. We will look at them one at a time. Read the rest of this entry »

Archives

My Twitter Feed

Pages

%d bloggers like this: