The Battle of the Mind

The Battle of the Mind

Home Church Service 2/13/2021

These sermons began as devotionals for my family as we met during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. We have now begun to include our friends and the devotional has now become a full sermon. We are also recording our service and will begin posting those videos in the near future.

“For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”  Romans 8:5-8 (NASB)

Before we dig into our passage this morning, let me introduce the two main players in our passage, they are the Carnal’s and the Spiritual’s.

Let’s begin with the Carnal’s. They arrive at the church service each week at approximately the same time, this way everyone knows when to expect them; they enjoy at least one cup of coffee and sample a variety of the baked goods provided by the Hospitality Committee; they enter the sanctuary at the same time every week, sitting in the same pew or chairs they have occupied for 20+ years now; they are careful not to make eye contact with the pastor before they are ready for him to greet them; they expect the church service to go as planned with everything in its appointed place, the proper number of hymns and of course a 20 minute sermon that is easy to listen to and will not make them uncomfortable or give them unnecessary concerns about things around them. And heaven forbid if the church service goes long and ruins lunch! The Battle of the Mind has begun!

Now let’s meet the Spiritual’s. They start their day with prayer, praying for the worship service, they pray with and for the pastor; they seek out visitors to welcome and make them feel comfortable. As worship approaches, they begin looking for a seat, perhaps with an anxious visitor or someone who looks downcast; they are not concerned with making certain all the elements are in place or even how long worship lasts, they are there to praise, glorify and give thanks to the One who has sustained them throughout the week; they will be found helping clean up after the worship service; once again they pray with and for the pastor; they offer rides to those who need them and on occasion, they even buy someone a late lunch – and the guest gets to pick where they eat! The Battle of the Mind has begun!

In The Battle of the Mind we choose flesh or Spirit, death or life and whether we will submit to God or forever remain His enemy. In The Battle of the Mind we choose to be carnal or spiritual, the world or God’s kingdom and whether we spend eternity separated from God or in His eternal security.

As we examine our passage this morning let us keep this one question in mind, “What is the purpose of The Battle of the Mind?

The purpose of The Battle of the Mind is to determine who we are, what we will do and how we spend eternity.

1). The Battle of the Mind is carnal versus spiritual.

The focus of the mind is either self-focused or God-focused.

The focus of our minds and the thoughts we entertain in our minds will determine who we are and what we do. If our thoughts are always impure or filled with debased ideas. If we fixate on the physical and material things of the world, we will become worldly, chasing after material things to fill the void in our souls. If, on the other hand, our thoughts are pure and filled with God and the things of His kingdom, we become spiritual – godly and righteous! We become how we think.

The mind of the flesh, or carnal mind, is the mind set on the flesh, our body or self. This is the mind we are born with. The mind of the flesh is given over to the flesh, meaning that its only focus is flesh or self and the worldly desires and urges of self; the full attention and pursuit of the carnal mind is only for self, its only desire is to taste and take part in the actions of self. The carnal mind focuses upon the immoral, violent, material and physical things of this world. Sex, money, power, position, possessions and fame are the focus of the carnal mind.

The carnal mind will also focus on the commendable things of a refined society. Things like education, moral, upright and cultured purposes deemed acceptable and “good causes” become the pursuit of the carnal mind – this, however, is all done independently of God, using these “good causes” as their “good works” and service to find good standing before God. These are the things the carnal mind may focus on, but they are done without God and thus, there basis is in the world and, once again, finds its focus on the physical and material.

The carnal mind can be found in the church – there is little, if any, stress upon the relationship with God; there is little, if any, stress put on knowing God, that is, believing and understanding; there is little, if any, stress on walking and living with God – the focus of the carnal mind in church is church tradition, rituals and ceremonies, and the welfare of the church – saving money for a rainy day – and the projects of the church, such as supporting a food pantry with donations of food or money but not being a physical presence or supporting a building project through money donations.

The mind of the Spirit or spiritually minded, is the mind that has been renewed by the Spirit of God. This means the mind is possessed, controlled and/or dominated by the Spirit. The spiritually minded focus on developing spiritual character and fruit; the spiritually minded focus upon carrying out the ministry and mission of Christ Jesus; the spiritually minded focus upon knowing, believing and understanding God; the spiritually minded focus upon being increasingly conformed to the image of Christ; the spiritually minded focus upon taking every thought and imagination captive in obedience to Christ.

The spiritually minded go out of their way to serve others. They seek the best for others first while knowing they are secure in the love and care of the Father. The spiritually minded rise early to spend quiet time alone with God before the world becomes a distraction; the spiritually minded read and study the Scriptures daily; the spiritually minded have their minds focused on God and the coming return of His Son; the spiritually minded are focused on loving, serving, praising and glorifying the One who has called them into fellowship.

The spiritually minded are also found in the church. They may not be as visible, for they are the ones serving in the background, or doing what they do for the sheer love of how they are serving. They seek the welfare of others through their service, perhaps it is someone on the hospitality committee making coffee and preparing snack each morning before worship; perhaps it is the tech guy that is never seen; perhaps it is the members of the worship team as they lead others into the presence of God; they are found in the prayer warriors of the church – they pray with and for the pastor and those in need throughout the week – these are the spiritually minded.

The purpose of The Battle of the Mind is to determine who we are, what we will do and how we spend eternity.

2). The Battle of the Mind is death versus life and peace.

The mind focused on self leads to death while the mind focused on the spiritual leads to life and peace.

The carnal mind is opposed to God and all He does and all He is. It is not pure or lasting, it is filled with corruption and thinks only of self. The carnal mind dwells in death as it opposes God. And so, it will dwell in death for eternity. The carnal mind is warned its fate is death – spiritual death throughout eternity, fully separated and cut off from God. The carnal mind is warned it cannot ignore God now and expect to hear from Him in eternity. The carnal mind is warned, it cannot focus on self now and God in eternity.

The carnal mind is warned, it cannot have its will now and God’s will in eternity. The carnal mind is warned, it cannot have a worldly mind now and a spiritual mind in eternity. The carnal mind is warned, it cannot choose self now and be saved in eternity. The carnal mind is warned, it cannot reject God now and be accepted by God in eternity. What the mind chooses now, the choice has been made.

By contrast, the spiritual mind is with God and for God, working to complete the ministry and mission of Christ Jesus. It is pure and will last an eternity with its Creator. The spiritual mind dwells in life and peace and stand with God. And so, it will be for eternity. The spiritual mind is comforted and assured its fate is life and peace for it is a mind filled with life and peace. The spiritual mind is full of meaning, purpose and significance; the spiritual mind is filled with assurance and confidence; the spiritual mind is filled with joy and rejoicing; the spiritual mind is filled with knowing, believing and understanding God; the spiritual mind is filled with spiritual fruit – love, joy, peace, kindness, etc.

The spiritually minded are at peace with God, knowing beyond doubt their sin has been forgiven; the spiritually minded are at peace because they know they are acceptable to God; the spiritually minded are at peace because they experience the day-to-day care of God and His guidance in life; the spiritually minded are at peace because their eternity is secure in Christ. What the mind chooses now, the choice has been made.

The point is this – whatever the mind chooses will continue in eternity. If your mind chooses self/flesh over God, then the choice is made. If your mind chooses to focus on self and reject God, then the choice is made. If your mind chooses to focus on the physical and material and ignore God, then the choice is made. If your mind chooses its will over the will of God, then the choice is made. The choice is yours, you can choose to focus on self and death or you can choose to focus on God and life.

The purpose of The Battle of the Mind is to determine who we are, what we will do and how we spend eternity.

We met our friends the Carnal’s. They arrive at the church service each week at approximately the same time, they enjoy the coffee and the baked goods provided by the Hospitality Committee; they enter the sanctuary at the same time every week; they sit in the same pew or chairs every week; they are careful not to make eye contact with the pastor too early; they expect the church service to go as planned with everything in its appointed place; , and of course a 20 minute sermon that is easy to listen to and will not make them uncomfortable or give them unnecessary concerns about things around them. And heaven forbid if the church service goes long and ruins lunch! The Battle of the Mind begins!

Then we met our friends the Spiritual’s. They start their day with prayer; they pray with and for the pastor; they seek out visitors to welcome and make them feel comfortable;  as worship approaches they begin looking for a seat, perhaps with an anxious visitor or someone who looks downcast; they are not concerned with making certain all the elements are in place or even how long worship lasts; they will be found helping clean up after the worship service; once again they pray with and for the pastor; they offer rides to those who need them and on occasion, they even buy someone a late lunch – and the guest gets to pick where they eat! The Battle of the Mind begins!

The truth is, the Spirit of God can transform the human mind. The Spirit of God can refocus the mind to the things of God and His kingdom; the Spirit can refocus the mind to life and peace; the Spirit can refocus the mind to the assurance and comfort of knowing you are secure in God’s care and guidance in life; the Spirit can refocus the mind to a secure eternity spent living in the will of God. The Spirit of God can fill the mind with meaning, significance and purpose.

So, how do we move from a carnal mind to a spiritual mind or safeguard our minds, so we do not fall into a carnal mind? Everything begins with prayer. Paul encourages us to “pray without ceasing,” and that is and should be the long-term goal of every Christian. But let’s not bite off more than we can chew. Begin with a set time and place to meet with God. Choose a time and place that fits best with your schedule and that will give you the fewest interruptions and excuses not to pray. You might choose to find someone to help you through the tough times when you just don’t feel like praying. This is a good thing to have because the tough times will come.

Next, choose a good devotional book. This can be something as simple as a fifteen-minute reading or something that goes a little deeper into the text, but once again, choose something that fits for you. Now you must choose to be consistent in your effort. Things happen and you are going to miss a day here and there, but guard against going a week without spending time with God. Once again if you choose to have someone to help you get through the tough times, this is when it will pay off!

Next, you might choose to join a small group for Bible study or find a directed Bible study from one of the many sources online. Studying God’s word is the best way to get to know and understand Him. As your study becomes deeper and the Spirit begins to transform your mind, you might choose to journal your thoughts on passages and books for future study. These are but a few tips to help you move from the carnal mind or safeguard your spiritual mind from falling into the carnal mind trap. Choose what works best for you, choose the place and time to meet God, choose to be consistent, and choose to allow the Spirit to refocus and transform your mind. But the choice is yours and whatever you choose, choose wisely, for once the choice is made, it is made for eternity.

My prayer for you is that you choose to allow God to be your focus, to be at peace and in life with God the Father, now and in eternity.

Amen and Amen.

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