Mind Over Matter

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, September 12, 2014 1 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

“Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” -Romans 12:2.

We are all familiar with cliché “mind over matter.” That is true in so many different ways. We have heard it, and we say it so frequently, that we really don’t think twice about what it means. We hear it in sports. We hear it in dealing with regular daily activities. We hear it in regards to long term goals. We hear it in business, politics, and even the military.

It comes in a variety of different forms as well. It’s the emphasis of using your head more than your physical strength. We all love the stories of the underdog overcoming the heavy favorite. We see it in movies frequently. They are often seen in sports accounts. And interestingly, apart from the cases of direct divine intervention, the underdogs that won used and relied on their heads more than they physical strength.

In a military campaign, this idea is best expressed in the war between the ancient Chinese nations of Wu and Chu in 500 BC, when the military genius Sun-Tzu lived. In his book, The Art of War, Sun-Tzu says, “To win 100 battles is not the height of skill. To subdue your enemy without fighting is.” And in the war between Wu and Chu, Sun-Tzu led Wu’s army of 33,000 against Chu’s army of 300,000, and won. Despite being outnumbered almost 10-1, Sun-Tzu used his mind to outthink his opponent rather than outfight him.

The mind is such a powerful thing. It gives us the will and focus to get done what we need to get done. What we set in our mind is very frequently what we will end up doing. The sports heroes that we love to cheer for, professional or Olympic or whichever, set their minds to do the task that needs to be done. When I wrote my first novel, I set my mind to write it. I finished my first draft at 250 pages in just six weeks. I was focused and that was all I thought about in my spare time. Then came the editing process. I wanted to see this book out and published and with patience and focused hard work, I got it done.

But the mind can be a naughty thing too. I heard about a study that showed when people look at pornography, it tends to wire their brain in that direction. When people look at porn, it does not satisfy and soon they start looking for more and more. Then they start acting it out and it only goes downhill from there. And it all starts with a look, an image in the mind, and dwelling on it. I believe it is safe to say that very few men (and women) if any have not had struggles in this area, some more severe than others.

This study of how the brain is wired works for positive things too. In my personal life, I have seen when I constantly think about God and who he is, what he did for me, and what is doing with me and in me, that I tend to not struggle with thinking about thoughts I should not have. Last week, I talked about how we as Christians should share our faith. My mind is constantly thinking about how to respond to this argument or that argument I see online. And there are times where I come up with that “brilliant” response that is actually not so good overall.

There is an intense battle going on in our minds. When we are saved, God makes us a new person, a new creation, with a new mindset, a new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17). But that old self, that sinful, selfish, “old self” still lingers. And the life of a Christian is a process of removing that old self. But it doesn’t want to go down without a fight. Paul constantly references this battle in Romans 7. He even goes as far as saying in 7:20, “when I do sin, it is not I who sins but sin living in me.”

Now, some have taken this verse as an excuse or as a license to sin. After all, we can say, “Oh well, that’s not really me. It was just my sin that took over.” A friend of mine describes this in another way. “On your ship, do you let pirates hijack it and control it for you?” We’ve all done stuff we know is wrong. And we’ve all known stuff we need to do and don’t do it. This is that struggle in our mind.

This what Paul is talking about in Romans 12:2. We need to not conform our minds to the patter of this world. We need to not let our minds run and think as everyone else around us does, or as the government would like us to. We need to have our minds transformed, outright changed, to be what God would like them to be. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 tells us that the weapons we as Christians fight with are not carnal. We do not fight in the same way the world does. But to use the spiritual weapons we fight and to tear down strongholds, we need to take captive every thought and submit them to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This is no easy task. And to be honest, it is a job we cannot do in our own strength. We need Jesus to do it in us and through us.

When we have our minds focused on the right thing, there is nothing we cannot do. When our minds are focused on the wrong thing, there is no telling how dark and depraved we can get. Set your mind on the right things. Philippians 4:8 is a great place to start to start looking.


Bob Sorensen said...

This is an important subject, and I'm glad you wrote about it. I've done some material on this, and it seems like there can't be enough. We need to learn how to think (critically and biblically), and the worldly people want to tell us what to think. Presenting the faith, daily life, intellectual arguments or whatever are not just on the intellectual level, as you indicated, they are also on the spiritual level.