Saturday, May 19, 2012

Guarding Our Minds for the Lord

"Gird up the loins of your minds" (NKJV)
"Prepare your minds for action" (NASV)
"Preparing your minds for action" (ESV)
"Think clearly and exercise self-control" (Living)

These different translation of 1 Peter 1 :13 help us understand the real meaning of this verse. We also have to keep in mind that in the Bible times they wore really long robes. So to gird ones self has the idea of pulling up the robe or anything else that is hanging loose in our lives, so that we can really get serious about running or working or whatever it was that you were to to achieve. To "gird up the loins of our minds" has the idea then of doing what it takes to get your mind ready to serve the Lord. Pulling back everything that would hinder you from living for Him!

If athletes dedicate and discipline themselves in order to possibly win a race and receive “a perishable wreath” from the world, how much more should believers in Jesus Christ dedicate and discipline themselves to absolutely win and receive an “imperishable” wreath from God (1 Cor. 9:25)? Paul reminds us that as a soldier of Jesus Christ each of us ought to "be girded with truth" (Ephesians 6:14). Here Peter challenges us to live in this world that is dark with sin in such a way that our lives are set apart to make a difference. So as one who is running after Christ, I am to be girded that I might be a winner. As a soldier I am to be girded that I might be a warrior and here I am to be have my mind gird that I might be a witness for Christ.

If Peter was writing this today he might use a different analogy. I would like to suggest for us in thinking about guarding our minds for the Lord, the analogy of a computer. Most of us have computers, a desk top or a lap top and we all know the importance of protecting our computers. If we are going to be useful for the Master our minds have to be protected just as we protect our computers, even better! 

I sat down with a friend of mind (he's a computer geek) and had him tell me all the things we need to do to protect our computers. He gave me a long list of things, but I have narrowed it down to five. 

Protect your mind by installing a fire wall.
I am told that one of the way to keep your computers problem free is to make sure you have a good firewall up. A firewall, as I understand it isolates the computer from things like the Internet. It allows the information that is safe to freely enter while keeping that which is not safe out.

Our minds need a spiritual fire wall in order to guard our thoughts! 2 Corinthians 10:5 exhorts us to "bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." Proverbs 23:7 reminds us as a man "thinks in his heart, so is he." The Lord Jesus echo this when He declared, "For within man, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornication, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within man" (Mark 7:21-23). So we must bring every thought into captivity to protect our minds. How do we do this? I would suggest that our fire wall is the Word of God. The Word of God is "quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and the joints and marrow, and is a discerning of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12). Paul knew the importance of the mind, his had been changed. He confessed before Agrippa, "I thought...I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth" (Acts 26:9). His cry, "Lord, what would you have me to do?" (Acts 9:6) shows that he had completely changed his way of thinking and had become captive in mind to his new Master. In Romans 12:1-2 he stress the need for Christians to have their minds renewed when he wrote, "I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Only the Word of God can act as a firewall to protect our minds from the constant influences of this world. 

Provision your mind by installing antivirus software.
Many of us have had viruses destroy our computers. They get attached to a program and eventually can destroy the computer if not clean up. We have been provided the greatest antivirus software known to mankind, the indwelling Spirit of God! If we want to guard our minds for the Lord, we must allow Him to work in our lives. He does that through prayer. In Matthew 26:41 the Lord Jesus admonished the sleeping disciple to "watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." If we rely on our own strength, we will fail (Proverbs 28:26, Jeremiah 17;9, Matthew 26;33). 

We must prevent any viruses from attacking our thoughts, by keeping our antivirus programs up to date. Paul told Timothy this when he said, "Follow the pattern of sound words that you have heard from me, in faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit (treasure) entrusted to you" (ESV). Romans 8:5 reminds us "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit." We must daily allow the Holy Spirit to renew our thinking as we yield to His convicting and changing in our lives.

Purifying your mind by guarding against spy ware and feeding on good food.
Spy ware can invade your computer without you even knowing it. It can track your computer usage, what Web sites you visit. It collects your information and can even send it to a third party without your permission. This can be a real threat to your privacy and to your computer. 

We have an enemy that watch us and try to sidetrack us and cause us painful experiences. 1 Peter 5:8 exhorts us to "Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." Satan is always going to attacks us one way or another. He is always trying to influence our thinking. But we must take action to stop the spy ware of Satan. By feeding on those things that are "noble, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is anything praise worthy, meditate on these things" (Philippians 4:8). We must not allow him to have anything to work with. Romans 13:14 says, "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill it lusts." Ephesians 4:27 tells us to "give no place to the devil." We should avoid T.V. shows, magazines, WEB sites, conversation, and situations that will set us up for a fall. We should also avoid spending time with those who would encourage us down these wrong roads.

Prevent dangerous contact by pursuing after the Lord. 
Our computers can be contaminated when we receive and open unknown emails or other programs from unknown sources. As those who desire to guard our minds for the Lord, we must not listening to wrong teaching. We shouldn't spend time with those who might influence our thinking in a wrong direction. Psalm 1 says, "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful, but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper."

Partners for Accountability
The Internet is a helpful and entertaining tool, but because most of its activity is anonymous, it is also full of hidden dangers for those who are seeking to keep their minds pure for the Lord. So there are many filtering systems and accountability programs to help. In the same way the Lord has provide us with a family of other Christians around us. Hebrews 10: 24-25 says, "Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some, but exhorting one another , and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." We have one another to encourage and build each other up in our faith, but also to hold one another accountable. The Lord has place us in His body that we might help one another (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12 and Ephesians 4).

Just as we worry about our computers we must be concerned about protecting our minds! We must be on guard and realize the power influences that are out there in movies, music, the Internet and many other things. We must understand that the road to sin starts in our minds and we must get off that road before we travel too far because it will take us places we don't want to go!

Let's go back to were we started in 1 Peter 1:13. We are to girded up the loins of our minds in order to be prepared and we are to be alert to those things that might threaten to control our thinking. But I would like to end by looking at the last part of this verse. We are told to "rest our hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." We are to be prepared, be alert and lastly, be focused. Don't get sidetracked, keeping looking of f unto Jesus! Keeping our eyes on what really matters.

I think David knew the dangers of an unguarded mind. He had gone down the wrong road starting with his own unguarded and ungirded thoughts. But listen to the longing of his heart in Psalm 19:14, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight O Lord, My Strength and my Redeemer." May that be the prayer of everyone of our hearts!

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