Monday, January 16, 2017

Where the Mind Dwells

What is on your mind right this instant. I just looked at Facebook. I read most of the Christian blurbs. I don't always do that. I linger on politics and funny stuff. I try not to read off-color stuff and remove it from my "wall". Some of it is tantalizing; call that temptation. We all are tempted. That's not a sin! It's where we go with it.

From reading Facebook, I'm pleased that most of my friends are cheerleaders for Christ. On the other hand some of the same people share or repost astrology, off-color jokes, bad language and things from ribald sites. They war with themselves and with God! Now let's look at scripture to test ourselves:
Romans 8:5 (ESV) "...those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit."
There are two mindsets, that being the attitude of a person's mind, and that set way determines the inclinations of ones thought patterns and the resultant behaviors. Thoughts and behaviors are twins, the former the picture and the latter its projection. We are what we think about, and what we think about is what our mind takes in.

Living "according to the flesh" is basically enjoying what the world has to offer. It's immediately gratifying to the person thinking on pleasurable things provided by the world, mostly three categories of thought: beauty, wealth, or wisdom. First off, these three things when prioritized, compared to God's will are good; it's the dwelling on these things before God and cherishing pleasure over worship.

Wisdom is of God. It's misuse and over-valuation is of the world. Wisdom is used for reasoning. If our reasoning is in opposition to God's desires, then reasoning becomes rationalizing.  Hence, the love of wisdom conflicts with the love of God and is sinful. It is of the flesh. The pursuit of worldly wisdom takes precedence over ultimate wisdom from God, and God is minimized.

God made all things that are beautiful. It was for our enjoyment. If we over indulge ourselves with beauty, then the beauty or glory of God is trivialized. Much of man's enjoyment of beauty is the of the other sex. Indeed enjoying human beauty leads to sinful actions. For instance, the beauty of a woman is tempting, but wrong thoughts which may lead to wrong behaviors is mental fornication, and is sinful.

Wealth is from God. All that we enjoy belongs to him. Wealth is here to meet our needs and even for pleasurable things! However, if we place mammon (wealth)  above God, then it's sinful. Christmas has turned into that. Rather than our giving being to God, or even in remembrance of Jesus, the occasion now is for each little god, the self, getting things.

The love of money (avarice) is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Avarice is the insatiable desire for wealth. Insatiable means that a persons appetite for gain can never be quenched.  Therefore, pursuing gain to the extent that God's gifts become of little importance is sinful! The desire for prestige also falls into this category as people seek to become as gods!

These three desires are examples of things of the flesh. If people live for wealth, beauty or worldly wisdom, then they live in the flesh. Anything in which too much emphasis is placed interferes with giving God his rightfully due attention. Even sporting events can, if taken too seriously or enthusiastically, circumvent the appropriate worship of God. Sporting events were historically for those wealthy enough to be in the arena. Now the arena is in the world... anyplace, and the wealth that God gives us for sustenance, is used for pleasure!

That's "living for the flesh" and is opposed to "living according to the Spirit" and having our minds on things of the spirit.

Try right now to identify "things of the Spirit". I bet it was much easier to identify "the things of the flesh" because that's what we enjoy doing! If it's a pain to pray, read scripture, sing hymns or to go to church, then you are living in the flesh, and the things of the Spirit are not in your mind. What are things of the Spirit? It's the righteous things your mind is on. It's what people meditate on.

Meditation is not the emptying of the mind for forces to balance themselves or for self-awareness. Meditating is thinking on the things of the Spirit! It's reading scripture and reflecting on what's been read. It's praying to God and magnifying him for his grace. It's singing praises to edify him. It's going to church to obey and honor him as well as to go to a sanctuary to be still with him. That "being still" is removing the thoughts of the flesh from the mind.

All week long I'm entertained. In God's house it's time for him to be entertained. God loves the aroma of reverence as he breaths,  I worship with the things of the Spirit! In his house he hates the merchants who peddle the things of the flesh. Serious Christians can devote that one hour each week to entertain God by demonstrating love for him. Throughout the week, we can love him by obedience, not dwelling in the things of the flesh!

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