Thursday, January 5, 2017

Choice Begins in the Mind.

"The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace" (Romans 8:6, NIV).

Whatever you choose to follow has influence over your outcome. This was the message the Apostle Paul was highlighting to the Roman church. He wanted them to understand that they could not follow one thing, in this context the worldly way of thinking, and get the benefit of of another, that would be a Godly way of thinking. It was a simple matter of considering the realities of choices and consequences. 

The "mind" is many times used synonymously with the heart. It is the core center of the emotions, the will, desires, dreams, and inclinations. It is the place where thoughts are conceived before they are given birth into action. The mind has been many times called both a battlefield and a playground. It is where the enemy has waged battle after battle in the mind with the tactics of fears, anxieties, wild imaginations, doubt, confusion, and the like, all for the purpose of distracting someone from their focus on God to lead them in His purpose for their lives. The playground idea reflects the mind-games that are played at the hand of the enemy. He takes bits here and pieces of truth there, combines them into something that becomes so convincingly real, that future decisions are made on this newfound truth that is still as much of a lie as it ever was. 

The mind is "governed..." The mind cannot be left to its own device. It was created and therefore must have a master. There will always be SOMETHING that governs, rules, leads, or serves as the standard of influence by which it exists. This is where Paul emphasized the importance of choice and consequence. The mind is either ruled and reigned by the flesh nature or by the Spirit nature. The "flesh" is the natural part of who you are. It's that animal instinct, raw emotion, uninhibited, undisciplined human nature with which you were born. It is the same nature that has been the very ground in which every battle has been lost. When human nature is allowed to lead without the discipline and direction from the One who dreamed it and created it, disappointment and destruction is always nearby. Giving into the flesh is allowing the emotions and inclinations, the feelings, have the final say in who you are and what you are doing to do next. What you give into is, in fact, the God in whom you worship. That is a choice. The consequences of that choice are death. Eliminating the Giver of life from having total influence in your life is to eliminate life. 

"...but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace." When Paul wrote the letter to the Roman church, he was keenly aware of both the possibility and the probable reality that he would die before ever reaching the city, at least not as a prisoner. And even though this man had been beaten, stoned, left for dead, prisoned are several occasions, and KNEW that his life would be required of him, challenged this church with the truth that surrendering their minds to the Spirit of God was LIFE and PEACE. Imprisonment and pending execution are two words that did not seem synonymous with the words life and peace in that time, nor do they now in the present. Yet, Paul lived and showed that by surrendering his mind to the Spirit of God, regardless of what he might face, could live the victorious life and with peace for all of the days he would remain on this earth. Just because everything seems to fall a part around you does NOT mean that it all must fall a part with inside of you. There is a peace that is bigger than any prison that tries to hold you captive. There is a life that is greater than the death that tries to suffocate you. The consequence is all contingent on the choice. 

Choose to filter every thought through the Spirit of God. Ask, "does this thought bring honor to God?" "Is THIS how Jesus thought?" "Does this attitude or emotion contradict the truth and example of the Bible?" "What does the Bible say about how to respond to THIS situation?" You have emotions. Fact. You're emotions were never created with the intention of having mastery over you. Don't allow how you FEEL to determine how you live your life. Surrender each feeling to He who both created them and gifted them to you. Choose to submit your mind to be governed by the Spirit, and you will live, and you will have peace.

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