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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

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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 »

Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Luke 13:24

One of our carnal minds’ more subtle deceptions is found in our response to the seemingly impossible requirements of God. For example, consider your response to “Be holy, for I am holy” (1Peter 1:16). When faced with such a command, we tend to identify it as impossible and move on to something else, not considering that our lack of obedience fails to make it less of a command.

In moving on, we miss one of the foundational pillars of our faith: Our sufficiency is not of ourselves, but from the One who requires our holiness (2Corinthians 3:5). Striving to enter is not a matter of self-effort and personal sufficiency; it is an attitude of the new man’s mind.

If we manage to move beyond this initial deception, we have taken an important first step, but even here our carnal mind attempts to play tricks on us. The recognition of God’s sufficiency does not leave us to passively wait on Him to do whatever He will do. We must strive to participate with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the work they would do to make us holy.

So, where do we start? It is really quite simple. Once we are born again – having become a new creation – we turn to the new heart God has given us (Ezekiel 36:26); for it is within the heart that the word of God becomes faith (Romans 10:10) – faith that appropriates God’s sufficient grace for even the most impossible commands.

Furthermore, striving to enter the narrow gate is primarily a matter of pursuing a relationship with God; our heart holds that desire, waiting for Him to give it to us (Psalm 37:4). The time we spend in pursuit of that relationship is a measure of our spiritual maturity (i.e., becoming holy). Some would say it is THE measure.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you… to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19

It is within the will and power of our Father in heaven to grant that we be filled with His fullness. The wonder and mystery of this truth should not distract nor dissuade us from pursuing its fulfillment in our lives.

Both “filled” and “fullness” are absolutes. God desires to fill all of our life – every moment, thought, and activity – with all of Himself. How does that happen when we fill so much of it with something else? Can a cup be filled with water when there is dirt inside?

We Christians have turned to the world for much of our security, wellness, entertainment, and justice. We assume a certain measure of it is provided by God – that it is a part of His grace. On the other hand, we know that much of what the world offers is contrary to God’s purpose and glory.

It is easy to get confused about the things of this world and their place in God’s purposes and plans for His children. After all, the Scripture encourages us that… Read the rest of this entry »

Warning: You will not like this. I don’t like this. If it is false, ignore it. If it convicts, let’s do something about it.

What is wrong with the American church? Are we not an exceptional bunch? After all, in the American church, what the Bible says applies to everyone, except us.

In the American church, it is okay to store up for retirement, worrying about what we will eat and wear tomorrow.

In the American church, it is okay to take care of me and my own and let others – even the brethren – fend for themselves.

In the American church, it is okay to make our plans (e.g. career, standard of living, leisure activity) and expect God to bless them.

In the American church, it is okay to promote our programs more than our God.

In the American church, it is okay to turn a blind eye to the debilitating sin of our brothers and sisters.

In the American church, God is forever for us regardless of our concern for, or obedience to, His desires and expectations.

In the American church, we are not required to be disciples of Jesus Christ to enjoy the benefits of heaven.

In the American church, ministry is the responsibility of the hired hands, and an option for everyone else.

In the American church, it is okay to avoid danger – even when that means ignoring injustice.

In the American church, we are allowed to cover our light with a basket in secular, or otherwise uncomfortable, settings.

In the American church, we turn to our government to protect us, secure us, and empower us.

In the American church, we celebrate a nation that looks more like Babylon than does any other nation on earth; and we believe God will bless it.

In the American church, we blame Satan and the world for our low estate, seemingly ignorant of our responsibilities as disciple makers and agents of transformation.

In the American church, the systems and treasures of this world are preferred over those of God’s kingdom.

In the American church, individual rights are more important than submission to authority.

What is wrong with the American church? Simply put, we are an exceptionally deceived bunch. Our brothers and sisters in less exceptional conditions are concerned for us. From an Indian evangelist (via Open Doors):

“They (western churches) have managed to turned a dangerous God into a safe one…instead of a God that burns with fury against hypocrisy, idolatry and injustice, they have a God that turns a blind eye to all our faults, just keeps on loving us with a disinterested air, and seems not to care whether we stand out for him or not.”

God have mercy on us! Open our eyes to our true condition! Lead us to fear Your fury! Lead us to mourning! Lead us to true repentance!

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

P.S. Most who read this far will likely assume that Satan is the primary source of our deception. That too is a deception. Our #1 enemy – our carnal mind – would have us blame the one who must flee at our resistance. In the meantime, hidden away, it rationalizes and excuses our ungodly behavior. We are our own worst enemy.

The following includes excerpts from a recently released eBook, An Enemy Lies Within, which is available at each of the major distributors (Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, etc.).

The title of this article is the subtitle of The Christian Mind, a fascinating book written by Harry Blamires in 1963. Beginning with the statement, “There is no longer a Christian mind”, this student of C. S. Lewis and contemporary of A. W. Tozer, argues that the church and its members have surrendered to secular thinking (even in regards to Christian subjects). He goes on to describe “the marks of a Christian mind”. I offer them here for your edification and encouragement.

As you consider these foundations of christianly thought, you may want to test yourself and your platoons. How much of your thinking is contextualized and guided by a Christian mindset? Calculate a percentage; give yourself a grade.

According to Blamire, the Christian mind is marked by:

  • Supernatural orientation: The Christian mind sees human life and human history held in the hands of God. It makes decisions in the context of eternity. It considers physical life as the smaller subset of Creation. It recognizes the existence of Heaven and Hell.
  • Awareness of evil: It is conscious of the universe as a battlefield between good and evil. It is aware and sensitive to the power and spread of evil upon the human race, beginning with mankind’s rebellion in the Garden. It recognizes that the world, and the powers of it, are in the grip of evil – an evil that manifests in three enemies: Satan and his hordes, the world and its systems, and the flesh with its carnal mindset.
  • Conception of truth: It recognizes the truth as: Absolute and uncompromisable; supernaturally grounded, not developed in nature; objective, not subjective; revealed, not constructed; discovered by inquiry, not determined by majority vote; and authoritative, not a matter of personal choice.
  • Acceptance of authority: It rejects rebellion – in all its forms – to willingly bow before the Sovereign God. It considers authority as estimable and something to pursue over one’s self, family, and friends. It understands the image and reality of loving authority – our Father in Heaven. It accepts surrender as the door to relationship with God, and giving preference for relationship with the brethren.
  • Concern for the person: It considers the human person as the only being created in the image of God. It appreciates the value God placed on the person – in Him becoming one. It values people above machines, and is wary of the life those machines provide for, and force upon, society. It embraces love for one another – and the same for enemies – as Christian distinctives. It rejects the classification of people based on temporal criteria, while recognizing that the weak are to receive particular attention.
  • Sacramental perspective: It recognizes the omnipresence of God in all of life, and the desire of God to make life joyful and rewarding. It looks for God and His influence in nature – and particularly in the creatures of His image. It appreciates the desires and longings and the hopes and dreams that have been deposited by God in every person.

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