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Approximately twelve years ago I attended a lecture at a workplace leaders’ conference on the physiology of the brain. It was really quite unusual. What was I doing at such a lecture? What was such a lecture doing at a workplace leaders’ conference? Looking back, I now understand that God orchestrated that lecture, at that conference, for my edification and encouragement.

The presenter showed us how scientists observe physical changes in the brains of patients recovering from alcoholism; that new electronic pathways are created over time. It occurred to me that this research scientist was talking about the renewal of the mind. I came to understand that the renewal of the mind is as much a supernatural miracle at the physical level, as the healing of terminal cancer through prayer (something I have also witnessed). The notion captivated me.

This discovery connected well with my prior vocation: working with a team of enterprise architects to change the way banking executives thought about the use of technology. Our ultimate purpose was to transform their business with technology. We called this “changing their paradigm.” The equivalent Biblical term for “paradigm” is “mindset.” Others prefer “worldview.”

I spent more than a decade in the technology field proving that changing someone’s paradigm is much easier said than done. As promising as technology was to their bottom line, the executives I worked with resisted us religiously. Why? Because the implementation of technology required them to transform their thinking about work and to change the way they did business.

The ensuing twelve years of workplace ministry have proven that the mind’s resilience to change exists in every sphere, and no less with my brothers and sisters in Christ. This is lamentable, for our transformation into the image of the glory of the Lord requires the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18). We must change the way we think!

Over the years, this matter of the mind has become increasingly important to me. I have tried to make it important to others. And so, we have come to the writing of An Enemy Lies Within to encourage and help Christians think about the way they think, and to empower them to think in line with God’s prescription for the renewing of our mind.

Ultimately, our hopes and prayers are for the transformation and reformation of the Western church.

Our Thesis

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The Western church is in decline.

It is hard to imagine anyone disagreeing with that statement. The evidence of our failing condition is overwhelming. Here are two (of many) examples:

  • Based on a 2019 Pew Research study, only 69% of Americans identify as Christian – down from 77% ten years earlier.
  • In a 2018 Barna Research survey, when asked “Have you heard of the Great Commission?”, only 17% of churchgoers said they had heard of it and could explain its meaning. 51% said they had not heard of the Great Commission at all!!

More than a few well-meaning and conscientious individuals and organizations have offered their opinions on how we might reverse our trending decline. Most of these prescriptions address symptoms, not the source of our unhealthy state (i.e., start teaching the Great Commission). Consequently, much of the Western church seems to have checked into hospice care, rather than pursue the cure for our disease.

To state the obvious, the cure we have been offered is God’s grace. The simplicity of that assertion does not make it any less true – particularly when we understand the meaning of grace. From Blue Letter Bible’s Outline of Biblical Usage, grace (charis) is:

[T]he merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.

Grace is the cure for all that ails us. So, how do we, as leaders, acquire the grace of God for the restoration and transformation of the Western church? How do we participate with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the good work they have committed to accomplish in our midst (Matthew 4:19, Philippians 2:13-14, 2Corinthians 3:18)? Read the rest of this entry »

Grace is appropriated through faith for the renewing of our minds – that we might be obedient to the faith and experience the perfecting of our faith through the work of grace.

This is not a play on words; it is the way we mature as children of God.

The grace I am thinking of:

  • The Father working in us (Philippians 2:13);
  • Jesus making us (Matthew 4:19); and,
  • The Holy Spirit transforming us (2Corinthians 3:18).

Isn’t it amazing and incredibly encouraging that each person of the Godhead has taken responsibility for our spiritual development and progress!!

So, how do we appropriate this inward grace? We do so by choosing to join the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the work they are doing (note: “choosing” is the operative word).

How does that happen? What can one do to engage in the sanctifying, transforming, and faith-increasing work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? How does one respond to their invitation of a good work, done in us?

We do so by practicing the grace-empowered disciplines God has provided!

For example, we are encouraged by Paul to set our minds on things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:2). This is a process and a challenge. We are not sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God (2Corinthians 3:5). To join in His process for the (re)setting of our mind:

  1. We must choose to hear Colossians 3:2 as God’s word for each of His children (Romans 10:17). That requires the disciplines of Bible study and prayer.
  2. We must choose obedience to the faith that now resides in our heart (Romans 1:5).
  3. We must choose to meditate on His word (another discipline), that faith and desire would increase.
  4. We must choose to commit our way to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, trusting them to bring our transformation to pass (Psalm 37:5).
  5. We must choose to respond to the Holy Spirit’s prompting when opportunities present themselves for the work of faith (James 2:22).

We must choose! Choosing is a big part of spiritual discipline! Read the rest of this entry »

Is anything in life accomplished in an instant? From learning to speak, to winning a girl’s heart, to career advancement, all development is a progression of incremental steps – each one building on the previous.

One might ask, “What if the last step was wrong or injurious?” In that case the next step is toward restoration; and stepping all the more needful.

The point here is that life is not a collection of events, but of processes. Even our birth begins with two cells becoming one, then two, then four, and so on. All physically animate things move in a direction – birth, growing and dying.

Recognizing this, the wise man does his best to organize his steps in the most profitable manner (meaning, he puts more than a little thought into his choices). The laisse faire approach to life rarely ends well.

Knowing that the natural life operates in process, why then would Christians live as though the spiritual life is any different? Why wouldn’t we readily recognize our spiritual life as more than a disconnected collection of events?

I will tell you why; because our carnal mind is at enmity with the Spirit, and opposed to our spiritual development. It is active in distracting and deceiving us.

We are being moved in a spiritual direction – toward evil or good, death or life. We must fight against our carnal mind for the spiritual processes that have been given to us by God for our maturation. These include sanctification, transformation, and salvation.

Furthermore, obedience to every command of the Father and Son is a process (hear, obey, act). Walking in the Spirit is a process. Faith is the process of God whereby His word to us becomes His work – over and over again, faith to faith.

This brings to mind another spiritual truth: These processes are iterative; they repeat in God-prescribed patterns. This is one of the reasons why spiritual disciplines work. Again, this is not unlike our life in the physical realm – the workday being a good example. Repetition and patterns are common to both physical and spiritual development. Read the rest of this entry »

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 1John 5:3

No command of God is burdensome. If it seems so, then something is wrong with our thinking. We can dismiss or avoid considering this reality – to our spiritual harm. If you are sensing that inclination rising up in your mind, beware; for that is exactly what our carnal mind would encourage us to do.

Beware, indeed; for our love of the LORD is at stake here – the first and greatest commandment. Like His Father, the Son encourages, “If you love Me, keep My commandments (John 15:14).” Our obedience should be motivated by love.

Loving the LORD with all our heart, mind, soul and strength is not a burdensome exercise. Quite the opposite, it should be accompanied by joy and thanksgiving.

Out of enmity with God, our carnal mind would have us disobey; or, failing that, obey grudgingly. If we are not careful, our love will turn to burdensome obligation.

Resistance is warranted. We must overcome our carnal mind!

What does it say about our Christian walk if our lives are burdensome? If we are living under His reign – only doing what He commands – should we be so burdened?

  • Perhaps we are doing more than He commands – introducing unnecessary burdens.
  • Perhaps our love for God is inhibited in some way – the burden we feel is due to disobedience.
  • Perhaps we are allowing our carnal mind, in vulnerable moments, to convince us that His commands are burdensome.
  • Perhaps we have not come to believe the reality of 1John 5:3.

Read the rest of this entry »

In previous articles, we have:

  1. Made the case for attaching enemy status to our carnal minds;
  2. Provided five ways for exposing the carnal mind’s deceptive practices;
  3. Recognized our responsibility in taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ;
  4. Introduced the process of faith as God’s design for overcoming our carnal mind’s influence; and,
  5. Promised to introduce the disciplines God has provided to initiate and maximize His grace in the process of faith.

Begging your forgiveness, we have decided on a brief segue to share a relatively simple explanation of the relationship between our mind (or minds, should it come to that) and our faith. We will introduce the disciplines next time.

For those of you that require a summary statement:

Faith appropriates the grace of God that overcomes the influences of our carnal mind. This is accomplished throughout our lives as an iterative process – the process of faith – which is also an integral part of our ongoing salvation, transformation, sanctification, etc.

Now, for those interested in a layman’s humble explanation:

The Process of Faith and the Renewal of Our Minds

To begin, let me recognize that others may find exception to the following explanation. I think I would be surprised if someone did not. Much smarter theologians have explained it differently – and they don’t agree with each other. We are, it would seem, one of God’s most mysterious creations.

If you find yourself disagreeing, by all means, let me know what you think. In the meantime, don’t let disagreement get in the way of whatever blessing God may have for you here.

Before we are born again (as Jesus explains to Nicodemus in John 3), the physical organ we call “the brain” functions on behalf of our carnal mind and, to the extent that they influence that mind, on behalf of Satan and the world.

The mind and brain are not the same. The brain is the most incredible physical organ designed and created by God. Much has been written about the brain’s capabilities; we will not discuss those here.

In the most basic case, the brain processes sensory input, interacts with the mind concerning a response, and then directs the body in that response. Additionally, the brain is being programmed – beginning before birth – to respond automatically to external stimuli (e.g., smiling at a mother’s voice, shutting eyelids when something gets too close). These auto-responses can be self-protective, destructive, or neutral.

The mind functions at a higher level, in response to input from the brain and information that it retrieves from its storage cells. The mind gives direction to the brain both – and this is important – consciously and subconsciously. Our mind is where we think and reason; where we imagine and create. This too occurs consciously and subconsciously. Read the rest of this entry »

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