- Rick LoPresti
Renew your mind for the kingdom and truth
There is a lot of teaching about the makeup of man. People often quote 1Thessalonians 5:23 which says, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”, although they usually quote it backwards and say body, soul, and spirit. They call this the tripartied make up of man. It is said that the spirit is how we relate to God, the soul is the emotions, and the body is obviously just that. Then people say that the mind is the seat of our intellect or thinking, and the soul is the seat of emotions. There are some problems with this teaching. First of all, there are many different words in both the Hebrew of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New Testament that are translated mind, heart, soul, and spirit, and they are interchanged throughout the Bible. Therefore, there is no clear Biblical distinction or specific definition of each of these. For example, the Bible has a phrase like “thoughts of his heart” 15 times, but never the exact phrase “thoughts of his mind”. The phrase in Daniel 2:29 is in italics and was added by the translators for clarity in English. Ezekiel 38:10 and Mark 14:72 connect the mind with thoughts. The word heart and mind only appear together in the same verse 7 times, thus indicating some distinction without specifying what that might be (Deut 28:65, 1Sam 2:35, 1Chr 28:9, Dan 5:20, Mt 22:37 w. Mk 12:30 & Lk 10:27, Phil 4:7, Heb 10:16). The words feelings and emotions do not appear at all, but the word feeling appears 2 times. Ephesians 4:19 speaks of those who are past feeling, which indicates their conscience is no longer making them feel guilty when they sin. Hebrews 4:15 says the Lord can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. This means He has compassion on our human weaknesses because He walked in the flesh and faced temptation too.
Some people believe that for Christians the heart is superior to the mind in having relationship with God. This is not scriptural. The heart and mind of unregenerate man are both flawed and tainted by sin. The born again believer is to use both (Mk 12:29-30). Although men tend use their mind more than their heart, and women tend to use their heart more than their mind (1Tim 2:8-9), both genders are to use both. Men tend to hinder their faith when they overanalyze, and women tend to do so with their emotions. We need the help of God to find balance, and we need to learn to govern our emotions with our thoughts, not the other way. The problem with the mind is the influence of the sinful nature (Rom 8, 1Cor 1-2), not the use of it in general. Faith is not the opposite of logic. Faith is the only basis for true logic, and faith itself is the true logic. For example, a materialistic atheist tries to use logic but has no basis for it based on his worldview of lawless, random causality. Only someone who believes the Bible has a firm foundation for logical reasoning. Faith is not in opposition to logic; only to carnal, unbelieving thinking. 1Peter 3:15 says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear”. The Greek word translated answer here is apologia, which is where we get the word apologetics. Apologetic is not apologizing for believing the Bible. It means to give a reasoned statement. God called Israel to come and reason with Him (Is 1:18). It is sin and unbelief that are illogical.
What we need is not to learn to bypass our minds, but to renew them spiritually. Romans 12:2 says, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Transformed here is the Greek word metamorpho, which is where we get the word metamorphosis. It means renovation or complete change for the better. This is the same word used to describe how Jesus was transfigured on the mountain in Matthew 17:2, and also how we are “changed in the same image (of the Lord) from glory to glory (2Cor 3:18)”. We are to be “renewed in the spirit of your mind (Eph 4:23)”. The mind we need to have is the mind of Christ (1Cor 2:16). The mind of the Spirit is the will of God (Rom 8:27). “- Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus (Phil 2:5). The context of that is to be selfless, not selfish. The renewed mind of a Christian is oriented to the kingdom of God (Mt 6:33), not self. Its thoughts are formed by the truth of the Bible, not feelings. Prayer helps accomplish this (Lk 22:42, Rom 8:26-27). Reading, studying, and applying the Bible and hearing it preached is another tool. Worship is for the pleasure of the Lord, but we get benefits when we do it, not the least of which is a renewed mind.