You’ve heard the phrase, “He has a mind of his own.” That can be a good thing if the person being referred to has made up his mind rightly about God and truth. It can be a bad thing if the person being referred to has come to wrong and false and convictions and is completely stubborn and un-open to rethinking things. Another phrase comes to mind, “As a person thinks, so he is.” It’s not just a popular phrase, but it comes straight from Proverbs 3:27. This morning, God wants to help us understand is that holiness involves a mindset. We can’t do the work of Christ if we don’t possess the mind of Christ.
I Peter 1:13:13-16
13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
We see from this morning’s passage that first:
- The mind of holiness is a disciplined mind. “Therefore, prepare your minds for action.”
Just like an athlete who has trained his body is ready at any moment to compete, we must train our minds and prepare our thoughts with all things holy because we come face to face daily, almost minute by minute with temptations that are unholy. You have to make up your mind that your mind will be a tool that God can use to direct and steer you according to His ways and give your mind to Him to let Him fill it with the thoughts He wants you to possess. Why do you think Jesus says in Matthew 22:37 that we should “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind?” I believe it’s because He knows that the battlefield of the mind is the place where life is won or lost.
The truth is, we don’t know what will happen in the next moment, the next hour or the next day, and we have to be filled with truth and righteousness if we are going to respond in a holy way to the temptation or challenge or bad news that is thrown our way. The way an athlete trains for a competition involves a systematic approach and lots of repetition. Over and over and over and over. An athlete may already know how to stretch properly in order to prepare to run. He may already know what kind of shoes are best and how to develop a stride or gait or pace that is best for him, but if he doesn’t continue running and training, all of his knowledge won’t enable him to succeed on the day of the race. He has to be in shape, in condition, prepared to prove that what he knows, he can also apply.
To stay in shape. An athlete stays in training. To stay in spiritual shape, to have the mind of holiness, a person has to stay in training. The more vigorous the training, the more success the athlete has. The more vigorous the spiritual training, the more success the Christian has. An athlete that only practices one day a week will have the results in the moment of truth that reflect a one day a week attempt. The Christian who only trains on Sunday from 10:15-11:30 will have the results in the moment of truth that reflect a one day a week attempt.
When an athlete is disciplining himself, there are some things he does and some things he doesn’t do. Focusing on the right stretches, the right drills, the right dietary regimen, is so important. He passes up the temptation to skip a day of training. He passes up the desire to indulge in the triple chocolate meltdown at Dairy Queen J because his focus is on winning the race.
I’m telling you the spiritual life is like a race. If you are going to be in it for the long haul and be at your best and eventually cross that finish line, you are going to have to discipline your mind to be filled with holy things.
If you want to prepare your mind for giving in to temptation and a life of sin, fill your mind with pornography, dark video games, filthy cartoons, songs filled with sexual innuendo, bad language and more.
If you want to prepare your mind for submitting to Christ, fill your mind with the Word of God as many times a week as possible. Converse with other Christians about holy things. Read and watch things and listen to things that will stimulate your mind to grab onto Truth. We’re told in Philippians 4:8 to think on things that are pure and honest and of a good report. Watching pornography is not a pure activity. Besides that, it captures your mind, steals your focus and gets you thinking thoughts about other people that are not pure as well. Setting your thoughts on dishonest schemes, plans, and dreams will cause you to act in ways that will lead to negative consequence, a loss of integrity, and great personal devastation. You see it is only a matter of time before you will eventually act on what you think about.
I have proof from God’s Word. Romans 8:5-8 5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
If you are going to live in accordance with the Spirit, you are going to have to set your mind on what the Spirit desires and it’s not a once in a while job. It’s an every day, minute by minute attempt to discipline your mind, to get it in tune with God’s holiness.
- The mind of holiness is a sober/self controlled mind. I Peter 1:13b “Be self controlled (sober).”
The King James version uses the word “sober,” while the NIV uses the word “self controlled.” This word is defined in Greek language dictionaries as: “to be sober, circumspect; to abstain from wine (keep sober), to be discreet, to be sober-minded, to watch, and to stay un-intoxicated”. We all know that in a drunken state our ability to think correctly about any situation is impaired. But let’s move away from just the idea of sobriety as it pertains to drunkenness and let’s say that practically that sobriety or being self controlled means:
We live with such a mindset so as never to be “controlled by” or addicted to anything but Christ. Let me unpack it. A self controlled person isn’t addicted to any comfort, any convenience, any security, to their work, sports, amusements, or wealth. That means a surrendered person with a godly, sober self-controlled mind, maintains a balanced life in an obsessive-compulsive world. You’d better look at all you possess and make sure it doesn’t possess you.
Yes, self control is listed in the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, but if you think for one minute you can just become a Christian and disengage your mind and think that you can go on auto pilot while the Spirit of God takes over and automatically produces self control in your life, you’re crazy. You can’t turn off your mind and think your behavior won’t suffer. Self control is a choice we make to be under the Spirit’s control. It absolutely involves your mind.
In his book, When God Whispers Your Name, Max Lucado writes:
“I choose self-control …I am a spiritual being. After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ. I choose self-control.”
Choosing self control begins with a self examination. My friend and colleague, Jim Kane, says three questions must be answered.
- What am I a slave to? Food? Lust? Power? Money? The Past? Drugs? Alcohol?
Bitterness? Jealousy? Anger? Fill in the blank?
- What do I have to say “no” to right now?
- What do I have to say “yes” to right now?
A self controlled mind will keep you from impulsive, foolish, hasty behavior. As tough as self-control is, we know without it, we create many troubles for ourselves. Ask Admiral Phipps, commander of the British fleet in 1750. When the British and French were fighting in Canada, Admiral Phipps was commanded to anchor outside of Quebec. He was given orders to wait for the British land forces to arrive. Then he was to support them when they attacked the city. Phipps’ navy arrived early. As the admiral waited, he became annoyed by the statues of the saints that adorned the towers of a nearby cathedral. So, he commanded his men to shoot at them with the ships’ cannons. No one knows how many rounds were fired or how many statues were knocked out, but when the land forces arrived and the signal was given to attack, the admiral was of no help. He had used up all his ammunition shooting at the “saints.”
People without a self controlled mind create a wake of destruction. They blurt out whatever comes to mind, jump at the next golden opportunity, and knee jerk react to please people or spew in anger all over them. Instead of delaying gratification and learning to wait on God and His timing, they take matters into their own hands, manipulate people, get ahead of themselves and God and then have to find “creative” ways to clean up the messes they’ve made.
There is no one designated to be in control of you but yourself. You’re it. If you aren’t controlling yourself, there is someone who would like to do it for you.
I Peter 5:8 “8 Be self-controlled (sober-King James) and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” The devil’s easiest targets are people whose lives are out of control. It is easy to knock someone off balance who is drunk. It is easy to get someone to cross the line who is out of control. Self control isn’t just self restraint, it is the ability to be in command of ourselves so we can recognize the attack of the enemy.
Satan isn’t too swift or smart. That’s why he has to look for easy targets. People who lack self control open the door, making it easy for Satan to devour them. He won’t mess with the person who is exercising the mind of holiness through self control because it would take too much effort and would never work anyway.
We’re told in James 4:7 to resist the devil and he will flee from us, but if we aren’t operating with a sober mind, we won’t have the mental faculties to make the decision to resist him.
3.The mind of holiness is an obedient mind. I Peter 1:14 “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.”
Romans 7:25 says “Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”
What the writer is saying is that he has made up his mind who he is going to serve. Listen, it has to be your daily choice to surrender to the will of God. Before anything is asked of you or presented to you during the day, you have had to choose that you will be obedient to God’s plan.
In Ephesians 2:1-3, Peter reminded his readers of what they were before they trusted Christ. They had been children of disobedience, but now they were to be obedient children.
Romans 12:1-2 is one of the key passages in our Christian discipleship to understand and adhere to. It reveals how our mind is connected to our ability to live a life pleasing to God. It says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
One way your mind is renewed is through practicing obedience. You daily offer yourself to do whatever pleases God. However, if you are conforming to the pattern of this world, you are not renewing your mind, but you are reinforcing exactly the opposite of what Christ wants for you. Obedient children conform to the pattern their parent establishes for them. Just as certain things become “second nature” after repetition, the more we obey Christ, the greater the pattern of obedience becomes set in our lives.
Philippians 2 says Jesus took obedience very seriously. He became obedient, “even unto death.” How could He go to the cross? I believe in part, His ability to go to Calvary was tied to the fact that He had always been obedient. He had established a pattern of obedience by always doing what the Father asked.
Obedience to a point isn’t obedience. Obedience means “all the way” and “all the time.” When you make up your mind that you’re going to obey Christ ahead of time, many other choices are made for you and life is easier. You don’t have to come to a crossroads and sit and fret and wonder, should I choose A or B? If B doesn’t please God, you truck on down “A.”
One choice I made for my life was the choice to be sexually pure before marriage because I knew that’s what God’s Word called for. It made a lot of other choices very easy. I had already settled that issue. Anyone who pressured me to go down “B” shall we say, well, I automatically knew they weren’t for me. The choice was made and I avoided sin and a lifetime of heartache. Having an obedient mind can spare a person a lot of pain!
Another positive about having an obedient mind is it keeps us from being double minded. James talks about the double minded man, the person who tries to play both sides of the fence with one foot in the world and one foot in the kingdom. It just doesn’t work.
Think about the pull and drain on your life, trying to please two masters. Jesus said it couldn’t be done. The tug of war literally pulls you apart. Having an obedient mind is so freeing because you only have one path to follow, one Master to please and you won’t feel like you’re being pulled in two different directions. Not to mention, you won’t deal with the shame that comes from being a hypocrite. Double-minded people are hypocrites because they say they love God, but their disobedience denies their confession. Two heads are not better than one when they’re in the same head! J
- The mind of holiness is an optimistic mind. I Peter I:13 “Set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
We are to live in the present tense for a future hope. Jesus IS coming back and because of that, I can get endure anything!
It is this facet of the mind of holiness that will keep us going and going strong. It is an anchor for our Christian discipleship. It’s an anchor, not to weigh us down or keep us where we are. Our hope is anchored in Jesus Christ who is in heaven, so as we are anchored in heaven with Him, we are constantly pulling ourselves upward toward that anchor. We persevere because of the hope we have.
I Thessalonians 1:3 says, “We continually remember . . . your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
You see, we have a living hope. I Peter 1:3 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. In the Greek the word “living” implies it has life in itself, gives life, and looks for life as its object. We always have something to hope for and look forward to when we walk with Jesus. For the Christian, HOPE NEVER DIES! You may choose to give up on hope, but hope will not disappoint us, Romans 5:5.
The Scripture says, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Cor. 2:9 NKJV) That means I have every reason to hope and keep on hoping because God always has something up His sleeve. He never runs out of options. Even when it looked like hope was gone when Jesus was in that tomb, it never went anywhere. God does some of His best work when it looks like nothing can possibly be done. For even in the face of death, the greatest enemy of Hope, Jesus showed Himself triumphant!
That means I could be just one prayer away from a miracle. That means that maybe around the next corner is the answer to my need. Something new is always being done by Jesus in my life, so I have every reason to hope for the best.
I watched most of the documentary on the life of Michael Jackson Friday night. Talk about a hopeless man. Arguably the greatest talent of all-time, still having sold more CD’s than anyone, including Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson was a man without hope. He lived in fear and often seclusion because he feared the worst every time he left his house. He had no anchor for his soul. He was restless, unable to sleep, trapped by himself, a prisoner of his own mind. He sought ways to create what he thought Utopia or perfection might look like and he remained a tortured soul until the day he died.
Without hope, there is no real purpose for living. Perhaps C. Neil Strait expressed this need for hope a bit more eloquently when he wrote: “Take from a man his wealth, and you hinder him; take from him his purpose, and you slow him down. But take from man his hope, and you stop him. He can go on without wealth, and even without purpose, for awhile. But he will not go on without hope.”
Hope not only gives us a peace of mind which enables us to think positively, but it also allows us to live in holiness as we live with the expectation that Jesus could return at any moment. Think about it. If you were a child and your parents had left you alone, sure you might be tempted to do something you shouldn’t have, and in Thom’s case, he often did! J However, if you thought the time of their return was any minute, you were scrambling to clean the house and do whatever was necessary to ensure a smooth transition when they got home. Living in the light of the hope of Jesus’ any minute return gives us an anchor for right living. We must never give up the mindset that Christ will come at any moment.
If you want to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, you’re going to have to walk in holiness. To walk in holiness, you’re going to need to develop the mind of holiness. The mind of holiness is a disciplined mind, a self controlled/sober mind, an obedient mind and an optimistic mind.