Putting on the Mind of Christ
As Christians, we often hear about the significance of “putting on the mind of Christ.” Romans 8:6 teaches us that “… letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” For anyone struggling with ongoing sin, destructive behavior, brokenness, and pain, Romans 8:6 might seem trite and impossible.
I have heard many ask: Where is the power? Where is the peace? Many have doubted and stopped believing because nothing seemed to work. Some who want an escape from their afflictions and sin give God a timeline to answer and then turn away from Him because He didn’t respond by their prescribed deadline. They believe God has failed them.
I get it. I understand some verses read out of context could imply that we should just stop what we are doing and turn away from it, but turning away from wrongdoing is not that easy. Paul writes in Romans 7: 22-24, “I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me, oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? “
Paul illustrates in Ephesians 6:12 the reality of the war raging in each of us as we battle against our sinful nature. “For we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” He goes on to exhort us to arm ourselves with the truth of the cross.
Putting on the mind of Christ requires a surrender over and over again. It requires being anxious for nothing, praying about everything, and thanking God during the hardest times. It requires each one of us to turn our attention away from the self-gratifying ways of this world by rewiring our minds to align with the selfless mind of Christ.
Galatians 5:19-21 states, “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outburst of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.” The fascinating thing we now know (due to science catching up with the Bible) is that these things can get us stuck in a self-pleasing, anxious neurological state. This neurological state activates our survival mechanism, causing us to be more reactive and less likely to emotionally regulate, reason, and evaluate our choices. It becomes a vicious neurological loop. We will find ourselves stuck here if we choose not to heed the warning in 1 Peter 5:8-9, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him and be strong in your faith.”
Satan tries to take us out of our calling and destroy our witness by exploiting our weaknesses. He will use doubt, discouragement, and division to keep us in a destructive cycle of sin, causing us to doubt what our Heavenly Father has already provided for us, a Savior and the Holy Spirit, to address the very sin nature we find ourselves caught in. Jesus said in John 14:27, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”
We would have to set our minds on all things good, lovely, true, and honorable to have the neurological flexibility to be in an emotionally regulated state that can acknowledge a God like ours — a God who would choose to send His only Son to take our sins upon His back and to the grave so that we may have life. Putting on the mind of Christ requires us to focus on Christ, who He is, and what He did so that we may have freedom from what we do.
For additional audio and visual resources to encourage your listeners, please visit Liberty.edu/CMB and scroll to the “Radio Resources” section.
Dr. Jeanne Brooks
Liberty University Professor