Our greatest battle is always been our spiritual and and natural mind. Both contain unlimited potential, but only a spiritual mind believes in and releases Jesus and His work.
Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” (John 6:28-29)
The more I meditate on the Word of God, the more convinced I am that our greatest human weakness is the mind. I know this is the exact antithesis of what the world teaches – which may well be the only proof we need, because God’s ways are not our ways. As I consider the mind, I see it rather like a box of coloured pencils – there simply is no limit to the potential beauty that can be created. This is inarguably true, and it’s just as true that the mind was created by God. As such, it’s perfect and was created for perfect purposes. But there is an enormous difference between a natural mind and a spiritual mind. The unlimited power of potential is why our greatest strength has become our greatest weakness. Our minds have become the seat or throne of self.
God intends that we have a spiritual mind.
Back on the farm, we had an old tree trunk in the back yard. For us children, this was a veritable wonderland – a train, aeroplane, space rocket, submarine, luxury liner… There was no end to the various roles this old dead tree trunk played in our games. It stretched our imaginations to encompass the impossible and released a world of healthy, good, clean fun. It’s a wonderful illustration of God’s original purpose – a spiritual mind uncluttered by worldly expectations, fleshly demands, and so many of the destructive habits that keep us bound and make our minds our enemies. Another example is the tower of Babel, that infamous symbol of the overreaching arrogance of the human mind. Together, these reveal the opposing extremes of ‘nothing is impossible’ – unlimited potential. The first is what it is to come as a child. The second leaves out the ‘with God’ that defines this truth.
There can be no doubt that our minds play an important role in the purposes of God. If they didn’t, He’d have simply left them out. To understand that His purpose is for us to have a spiritual mind, we can look back to the creation of man. It was not the inclusion of a mind that defined us living beings. This is the crucial point on which God and the world will never agree. It was the breath – the inbreathed Spirit – of God which gave life. The seat and centre and source of life is and must be the spirit. Everything else must be dependent on and subject to the spirit. Rebellion against God happened when His ordained spiritual order was reversed. When the natural mind usurps control, the spiritual mind God intended for us no longer operates and we are left to the inevitable struggle that follows.
What is a spiritual mind?
Today’s verse presents a beautifully simple illustration of what a spiritual mind is. The mind, of course, would like to disagree, but we’ll get into that next. A spiritual mind is one which believes in Christ – absolutely, completely, and without doubt, argument, or question. To do the work of God – to serve His purposes – this is the only criteria. What our particular work may be is irrelevant. Whether we’re called to preach, evangelize, pray, or encourage, or simply to live as a daily witness wherever we are, we must believe in Jesus. Faith is, of course, of the spirit. The moment we even suggest terms like ‘mind faith,’ we find ourselves in rocky territory of esoteric principles like positive thinking and the power of the mind. At the same time, however, we must believe with our minds if we are to fulfil God’s purpose for our minds.
It is not for nothing that God includes ‘all your mind’ in the ways in which we must love Him. Faith is rooted and empowered in the spirit and by the Spirit. But it’s imperative that it extends to our minds if we are to experience unshakeable faith. We gain faith by hearing and through and intellectual process of internalising what we hear of the Word of God. But faith must then be applied to the mind to complete it. A spiritual mind, therefore, is one which is renewed by what the spirit accepts, lives by, and believes. By applying our faith to the mind, we bring our mind back under the control of the spirit and to God’s original purpose. We cannot underestimate the importance of having a spiritual mind. Unless we do, we will find ourselves constantly fighting against ourselves and being defeated.
The war between our natural and spiritual mind.
Satan’s purpose has always been rebellion against God, and the mind is his perfect tool. Sin is first conceived in the mind – made a real option by our thought processes. Its appeal is reinforced by logic and reasoning. It doesn’t take much for the mind to come up with all kinds of ‘infallible’ justifications to pursue a particular desire. The devil used this approach in the garden and it still works, mainly because the natural mind is a willing participant if the end result is self-gratification. The focus on the power of the human mind in the world today is more than enough proof. After all, the devil is the Prince of this world. The purpose of self, the world, and Satan is to reinstate the natural mind to rule over the spiritual mind. If this is achieved, we will always struggle to believe in Jesus.
Our war is, fundamentally, one for control. If the mind regains and retains control, we will never fully do the works of God because we will never fully believe in Christ. Faith – the spirit – says one thing, and the mind says ‘yes, but…’ and our belief is immediately diluted. Watered-down belief brings watered-down service. Instead of unleashing the ‘all things are possible’ that God has wired into the mind for His purposes, our faith is tempered with logic, reasoning, and all the ways in which they aren’t possible. It’s not the will of God. Signs and wonders confirm the Gospel for unbelievers. The full power of Pentecost was for the early church. Our faith is insufficient. We’re still in sin so God won’t act. The mind will summon all kinds of fears and habitual responses to explain away why things don’t happen, even before we’ve given God the chance.
A spiritual mind releases Jesus.
We should never write the mind off, because it is created by God for His purposes. He has wired it with fundamental notion of limitless potential and possibility. A spiritual mind is directed and controlled by the Spirit to conceive of and act on the ‘all things are possible’ that defines His work and His kingdom. It’s a truly remarkable process. We see and believe Jesus in the spirit. This faith renews the mind and brings it in line. The mind then prompts the body to act according to what is believed. God wants to harness all of us in His perfect work. He has given us spirit and soul for that reason – to work together according to His divine spiritual order. We cannot even begin to imagine the magnitude of what God can work through a believer surrendered in spirit, mind, and body.
Taking a good look at Jesus helps, though. Remember, He said ‘these works and greater works,’ and He meant exactly that. Christ came to do God’s work, and we are to live that legacy of service and worship. He is our perfect example of a spiritual mind. He did and spoke only what He saw and heard from the Father. This is the relevance of taking every thought captive to the obedience of the mind of Christ. His mind was fully engaged in God’s work. His wisdom, articulation, actions, and discernment released the power of God physically through a mind wholly surrendered to the leading and direction of the Spirit. Salvation doesn’t demand a lobotomy. It demands renewal so that the things God created in us for His purposes can release Jesus, the one in whom we believe with all we are.
The fruits of a spiritual mind.
Any work we do must bear fruit. This is the evidence of the work of God in and through us. While God and the world will always disagree on role of the mind, both will always agree on the unlimited potential of the mind. While the natural mind will always abuse this for its own purposes, the spiritual mind will always manifest Jesus. Everything He is, did, and accomplished is included in that potential, because a renewed mind means having the mind of Christ. If we’re not seeking the same kind of fruit He manifested, it’s because our minds retain a measure of control. God simply will not work with a mind that is not wholly surrendered. Remember, our minds are the seat and throne of rebellion. We are still fully capable of conceiving and creating outside the will of God.
Only in Jesus is the renewal of our minds complete. It’s a daily surrender, not a one-off thing. To display the fruits of a spiritual mind, we must daily take our thoughts captive to the obedience of the mind of Christ. We must daily surrender our minds and all the potential God has placed there to absolute faith in Jesus in whom every work of God is released. Part of our surrender, then, is to extend our faith to include our mind. We do this through the Word, empowered in us by the Spirit. Through Him, we learn to recognise the weaknesses, doubts, thought patterns, and desires that undermine our absolute faith in Christ. To do the work of God, we must surrender ourselves completely, and our mind is top of the list. It’s our greatest hindrance to the purposes of God in our lives because it’s so powerful.
A spiritual mind is God’s power in us to work.
The simplicity of this remains. A spiritual mind cannot help but do the work of God because it is the mind of Christ. Jesus showed no hesitation or fumbling around, hoping He got it right. He simply said and did as He was commanded, with absolute faith that it was and would be so. Like the disciples, we so often put the cart before the horse. We focus on the work not the power behind the work. We want to do – and be seen to do, which is self again – but miss the vital truth. What is surrendered to God for His purposes is harnessed by God for His purposes. We have to do no more than to believe with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
Our critical battlefield is always the mind. When we willingly allow Him to work in us to bring this back to His natural order and simply believe, all things are possible with God.
Father, forgive us for allowing our minds to do their own thing when we should be doing battle to bring them captive to the obedience of the mind of Christ. Help us to believe with all that we are, including our mind, instead of focusing on the work we think we should or would like to do. Prompt us daily through the work of Your Spirit in us and empower us to align our mind to Your perfect order. Above all, grant us the humility to turn away from the deceptions of the world and to yield to You what You have created for Your purposes alone.