The Struggle to Be a Spiritually Minded Man or Woman

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To be spiritually minded is life and peace (Rom. 8:6 NKJV) but to set the mind on the flesh is death. (Rom. 8:6 ESV) How does one retain spiritual mindedness while living in a body of the flesh? It is a struggle but one that can be won.
  The Struggle to be a Spiritually Minded Man or Woman Every person that has ever contemplated the subject of life and death, the meaning of life, and eternaldestiny and has chosen faith in Christ as the route he/she desires to walk has found him/herself in aconstant struggle. On the one hand there is the deep desire to do what is right according to the will of God as we read it in the Bible and on the other hand there is that desire within us that wants to do whatwe want to do which often means violating God's will. We have two states of mind it seems living withinus. The one is the mind of the flesh, we might say of the natural man as he exists without God in his life,while the other is that of the spiritually minded individual to whom God deeply matters.Which mind set shall prevail? Does it matter? The Bible teaches it is a matter of life and death. Hear Paul, For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those wholive according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh isdeath, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile toGod, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone whodoes not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (Rom. 8:5-9 ESV)To set the mind on the flesh (the things of this life and of the fleshly body) we are told is death. Now whyis that so? Because, Paul says, such a minded person does not submit to God's law. But, we might ask dowe not live in a fleshly body? Yes, we do, but God our creator put us here for a purpose and that purposewas not to live like the rest of the dumb animals of creation who live by instinct. We were created with anobler purpose in mind and with the idea of living eternally with God and not just for living a brief spanof years on earth like a dog. We are better than that.When God created man he said, Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness. (Gen. 1:26 NKJV) Only man was created in the image of God. Jesus said of man in John 10:34, Is it not written inyour law, 'I said, 'You are gods.' ' (NKJV) I am not going to try and tell you what Jesus meant by thatstatement other than to say it indicates we are not to live like animals. We are to be better than that. ThenPaul says, speaking to Christians, we shall judge angels. (1 Cor. 6:3 NKJV) That is a pretty highstanding.We were put here to glorify God. Everyone who is called by my name, whom I have created for myglory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him. (Isa. 43:7 NKJV) The sin of the world after God mademan could be summed up by saying, although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God, nor werethankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Rom. 1:21 NKJV)This led to all types of specific sins a result of the state of their minds and hearts.Jesus said in his prayer to the Father, I have glorified you on the earth. (John 17:4 NKJV) That is our  job as well. The only way God can be given glory by man is by obedience. That would includethanksgiving, worship, praise, teaching, giving to the needy, etc. but it can all be summed up in one word – obedience. Disobedience to God does not bring God glory but dishonors him as God and as the ruler of humanity. Disobedience is sin.We might ask why God gave us fleshly bodies that desire the things of the flesh rather than spiritualthings. That seems to me to be a fairly easy question to answer. Our bodies give us free will. Created as  say a robot versus as a man how could God receive glory from an object that had no free will, no feelings,and no ability to think, reason, or choose? I don't think you are going to go trade your wife or husbandoff on a robot and say you can find the same kind of love and happiness with it as you do with your spouse. We love our spouse in part because they had free will in choosing us as a life partner. They didnot have to do that. So, I think, it is with God. When we choose God it means something to him and hedoes care about us.Where does the mind of the flesh lead a man if a man is fleshly minded? Paul gives a list of things thatflow from such a state of mind in Gal. 5:19-21, Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexualimmorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries,dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (ESV) Another list is givenin 1 Cor. 6:9-10, Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practicehomosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit thekingdom of God. (ESV) Actually, any and every sin would fit into the category of being a work of theflesh for what would the alternative be as far as giving it a classification? We could not say it is aspiritually minded work.But, the point I want to make is that every one of us is tempted by sin. But each one is tempted when heis drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; andsin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. (James 1:14-15 NKJV) Paul says, For the flesh sets itsdesire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so thatyou may not do the things that you please. (Gal. 5:17 NAS) Again he writes, No temptation hasovertaken you except such as is common to man. (1 Cor. 10:13 NKJV) So, that is the fix we findourselves in even after becoming Christians. We begin the Christian life spiritually minded enough or else we could not have become a Christian but unless we die almost immediately thereafter here comestemptation for that is the nature of this world. How do we remain spiritually minded in order that wemight have life and peace as taught in Rom. 8:6?Before answering that I think we need to realize that we will never succeed 100 percent. John says,speaking to Christians, If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from allunrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9 NKJV) Remember when Peter and Barnabas refused to eat with theGentiles in Gal. 2:11-13 thus sinning? Always remember why much of the New Testament was written – to straighten out sin in the lives of Christians (1 Corinthians being the best example).I have brought these things up for one reason – to warn us all not to despair and be overcome bydiscouragement in our life when we sin or fall. A Christian, by the grace of God, may have to get up anddust himself off more than once or twice in his/her life. One Christian writer I admire a great deal fromthe late 1800's through the early 1900's made the comment that he doubted any Christian ever lived asingle day without committing a sin. Whether that is true or not I cannot know (for me I pretty muchthink the brother got it right but for you I cannot say) but it is certainly closer to the truth than is the ideawe seldom or never sin. I remind the reader Jesus taught that even evil thoughts are sin – Matt. 15:19-20.Have you had any of those lately?   Nevertheless, always remember what Jesus told Peter when Peter asked how many times he shouldforgive his brother if his brother sinned against him. Peter I suspect thought he was being generous bysaying 7 times but what did Jesus say in response? I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up toseventy times seven. (Matt. 18:22 NKJV) Jesus was thus saying there is really no end to forgiving andwas certainly implying God would likewise forgive us no matter how many times we need forgiveness just as long as we repent, confess our sins to him, and are willing to give it another full faith effort. So,never ever give up in despair. Never!How does one maintain as state of spiritual mindedness? One Old Testament character that stands out as being deeply spiritual minded was Daniel. One of the first statements you will read about Daniel withrespect to his godly character as you start the book of Daniel is found in chapter 1 verse 8 where it says, But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king'sdelicacies. (Dan. 1:8 NKJV) The only aspect of this verse that concerns us is the phrase that Daniel purposed in his heart. If one is going to pursue any course in life with success he/she has to first purposein his/her heart that that is the way it is going to be. Purposing in your heart gives you direction andmotivation. There is no point in starting a diet or exercise program, enrolling in college or a training program, or doing anything else unless you have first firmly purposed in heart to see the thing through.As this relates to becoming spiritually minded on a daily basis this means you have to determine in your heart that that is the way it is going to be. Things do not happen by accident. If you want to be aspiritually minded person you must prepare to be one and work toward that end. Unfortunately, manyChristians never develop spiritually beyond what they were on the day of their conversion. They were asspiritually minded as they would ever become on that day. They gradually grow lukewarm andindifferent. What happened?One likely thing was that they died or became stunted due to spiritual starvation. Peter says of a new bornChristian, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby. (1 Peter 2:2 NKJV) It isimpossible to maintain spiritual mindedness in the absence of spiritual food. Tuck your Bible away for 6months (an arbitrary number to make a point) and do not use it and I promise you spiritual mindednesswill be fleeing away from you. You can forget spiritual growth. Jesus said, It is the Spirit who giveslife; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63 NKJV) The words of God are spirit. Paul said, These things we also speak, not in words which man'swisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches. (1 Cor. 2:13 NKJV)Spiritual mindedness does not come in the work place, the fitness club, the golf course, in attendance atschool activities, on family outings, etc. It comes with reading and studying and contemplating on thewords of the Spirit – the words of the Bible with the thoughts developed therein.This takes us back to the first point made – you have to purpose in your heart you are going to be faithfulin reading the word of God and not just do it in the spare moments you have. Just as in exercise or fitnesstraining there is no such thing as reaching your goal without a commitment to do it so it is with becominga regular reader and student of God's word. A growing knowledge and understanding of God's word isessential to a growing spiritual mindedness in our lives.But, back to Daniel a spiritually minded man. The Bible teaches that Daniel was a praying man. And inhis upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that  day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. (Dan. 6:10 NKJV)It is impossible to be a spiritually minded person if one does not have a prayer life. Quit praying or onlygive it a few seconds to a very few minutes a day and again you are destroying spiritual mindednessrather than building it. One cannot pray to God without thinking about God (spiritual mindedness).Daniel kept good company. The apostle Paul said, Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins goodmorals. (1 Cor. 15:33 ESV) The Good New Bible puts it this way, Do not be fooled. Bad companionsruin good character. (GNB) Daniel had 3 good friends – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego – who likeDaniel were godly men. These men refused to worship the golden image set up by Nebuchadnezzar andas a consequence were cast into the furnace of fire from which God miraculously rescued them (Dan. 3).If one desires to be a godly person and develop spiritual mindedness in his/her life he or she needs thecompanionship of like minded people. Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and goodworks, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together. (Heb. 10:24-25 NKJV)There is an old saying to the affect that we ought to choose our friends wisely and there is much truth inthat adage. Become close friends with the wrong kind of people and you will destroy spiritualmindedness. Parents are always concerned about their children's friends – having the right kind of friends. We ought to be as concerned as adults about who we choose as close friends.These are just some of the things that have come to mind as I have thought on this subject for some time.I am sure you could probably add to this short list I have given in the last few paragraphs. But I want tomake a very important point in closing – actually the reason for writing the article itself. It scares me todeath to see so many Christians just taking spiritual growth and spiritual mindedness for granted.Many it seems take spiritual growth and the development of spiritual mindedness like they do physicalgrowth and development. Physical growth and development will occur whether you do anything or not but it is not that way in the spiritual realm of life. You have to make a commitment and an ongoing effortor else you will do nothing more than grow old and die like the rest of mankind who live for the flesh, for the things of this life and this physical body. How will you differ from the mass of humanity unless youcommit to the development of the spiritual side of your life? Paul says, Do not be conformed to thisworld, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Rom. 12:2 NKJV)It is certain the development of spiritual mindedness is not like turning on a light. You cannot just flip aswitch. So many think they can turn everything around in their life in a moment of time, just as soon asthey will to do so. The trouble is finding the will to do so. That will is no light switch and is far harder to turn on. Live with a fleshly mind long enough and you may find it personally impossible to turn your life around lacking the will to do it. To be spiritually minded is life and peace. (Rom. 8:6 NKJV) To set the mind on the flesh is death. (Rom. 8:6 ESV) I think we all know whether or not we are spiritually minded. It is not a hard thing toknow. Do thoughts of God and his word enter your mind frequently or not? Do you have a strong desireto know and do God's will? Spiritual mindedness is a pretty easy thing for the individual to measurewithin himself. The free will God has given us means we can become the kind of man or woman wedesire to be. I hope we will all strive for spiritual mindedness. It really is a matter of pure choice.
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