Thank you for coming this evening. It's good to have you with us, and gathered around God's Word. It's a privilege for me to be taking this part over the next number of weeks, and I would value your prayers for it, as the Lord has laid upon my heart a title for these next four studies: 'Sins We Have Sanitized' - and I'll explain that a little bit later. The one that I want to take up tonight is: 'Mental Sins'. Next Thursday night, God willing, we'll be looking at 'Verbal Sins'. The following Thursday we'll be looking at 'Spiritual', or we could call it 'Religious Sins'. Then on the final night, in the will of the Lord, we'll be looking at 'Cultural Sins' - and that might intrigue you a little bit, and it's intriguing me as well, so come along and see what the Lord has to say.
Now let me say, before I enter into anything tonight, that - and I don't want to be dramatic here - but God has led me to these messages. The message in particular tonight is one that I have suffered deeply for in the spiritual realm. Now, I'm not going to enter in any more than that, save to say that I believe that this is a message that the devil wants to hinder getting forth, the reason being that it will - I hope and trust - be a liberating message for many of the folk here tonight. It's something that is fundamental to our Christian lives, and yet it is something that most children of God are completely ignorant to - and that is the realm of the mind.
I want to do a general introduction first of all on this theme, 'Sins We Have Sanitized', and then we're going to look more specifically at a couple of verses, and then many verses throughout the scriptures. But we'll turn first of all to Psalm 139 verse 23: "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts". We'll turn then to Romans 12, please, you might want to put a marker in Psalm 139 - Romans 12 verse 1: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service". Now this is the verse that I want to get at: "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God".
'Sins We Have Sanitized' - you may not know what the word 'sanitized' means, but if you were to look up any reliable dictionary you would find a definition something like this: it is to make more acceptable by the removing of that which is unpleasant or undesirable in features. To make more acceptable by removing unpleasant aspects or undesirable features - and I feel that this is what we have done, as Christians, regarding certain sins. Tonight we will look at the mental sins, then we'll look at verbal sins, we'll look at religious or spiritual sins and cultural sins. There are certain sins that we, as Christians, have grown to become acceptable with. They are in our lives, and we are comfortable with that.
Now there may be several reasons why that has happened, one major reason, I believe, is this: these sins we have sanitized are usually internal sins, rather than external. Now, of course, every sin originates internally. I think that could be proven if you went through them all. Some of those sins that originate in embryo internally, in the mind and in the heart, will manifest themselves externally eventually in our actions - yet there are a group of sins that begin internally and stay internal, and because of that they are less obvious. I believe that the most dangerous sins are the internal sins. They are most dangerous because they exist undetected, often times, almost anonymous in nature because others cannot see them, and we could very easily grow comfortable with inhabiting them. You could call them 'secret sins'. You could say that they are undercover within our being, and yet these sins are dangerous - because often times they dominate believers' lives...yet externally our lives may appear to be blameless.
Everything might seem to be going well for us as Christians, and we come to all the meetings, and we look right, and we talk right, and our lives are not tainted with the 'big sins', as we call them, the obvious sins that we abhor as Christians and the Bible condemns. I think, to a large extent, the church has exacerbated this problem, because often the church focuses on the external life of the Christian, rather than the internal. Now that's for obvious reasons, of course, because it's easier to police our external lives, it's easier to spot when we're doing something externally wrong and when we're doing external things right. So it's easier to judge the external life of the believer, and the antithesis of that is: it's easier to rectify it. When you see something that's wrong externally in yourself or in another, it's easier to put it right.
Now there is one group of people in the New Testament that warns us against this great danger of concentrating on externals at the expense of internals, and that is the Pharisees. They were all correct in their externals, and yet those externals, the Lord Jesus said, were no real indication of spiritual health. You remember in Matthew 23:25 the Lord said: 'Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess'. Internally they were a mess, externally things were right - and the tragedy is that we, as believers, can do the same. We can learn to live with sins that we have sanitized. Worse, at times we can even attempt to legitimise these sins; or, even worse still, we learn to cherish them, love them, and they become the pet sins of our private worlds.
It was Billy Sunday, the great evangelist, who said: 'One reason why sin flourishes is that it is treated like a cream puff instead of a rattlesnake'. He was right, wasn't he? We don't realise the seriousness of sin, to the extent that we learn to live with it, and even legitimise it, and even cherish it. It's like having a beautiful meal, and maybe going into the lounge afterwards and there's still a bit of that steak, or whatever it was you were eating, stuck in your teeth - and with your tongue you hoke it out, and start to roll that little titbit over again and again, and you get the taste. You're tasting something, unknown to other people in the room, and you're savouring it - that's what internal sin is like. Yet there is a deadly element to it, because this secret sin is a secret killer, it's the cancer of the believer's soul. It's deadly for individual fellowship with God, and spiritual growth.
Psalm 66:18 tells us: 'If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me'. First John 1 verse 6: 'If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth'. It's deadly to us individually as Christians, but corporately it has an adverse effect on the church of Jesus Christ locally and universally. Achan's sin, you remember in the Old Testament, of stealing the treasure and hiding it and Babylonish garments - it affected the whole congregation, and it estranged God's people from the presence of God and the blessing of God. Now this is what we are saying now: our inner worlds, as Christians, can be so removed from what we claim to be, what we should be, what we could be, that perhaps the enemy has deceived us into actually thinking that our inner lives are normal! We have come to sanitize internal sins, and that is fatal - it is fatal.
Years ago in pastoral ministry I had a number of folk who were very ill with asbestosis. Now asbestos was valued years ago as a great source of insulation, until they discovered that one speck of the stuff inhaled would be deadly. It could lie dormant for 40 or 50 years before manifesting any problems. I remember very vividly visiting a man called Fred in the congregation in the Iron Hall, and he had just been diagnosed that this was his problem for breathlessness and fluid on the lungs. I went up to visit him in the City Hospital, and I sat down and talked with him about how years ago now - 40 years ago - he was an electrician in the shipyard. He said to me: 'David, what we used to do as sparks was, we used to climb a ladder behind men that were called 'drillers'. They would drill through asbestos pipes, and we were going to do all the electrical stuff after them, after they drilled the holes. But as they were drilling the holes, we were standing behind them on the ladder, and the dust of the asbestos would just cover us'. There were men that worked with it, and they called them 'the snowmen', because from the top of their head to the tip of their toe they were covered in asbestos dust. When they had some spare time, which I'm told they used to have quite a bit of in the shipyard, they would have taken balls of the stuff and played snowball fights. There were some men that would have licked their finger - and it was held in barrels - and they would have licked their finger, poked their finger into the barrel, took it out, and then licked their finger again and ate the stuff! Of course, this was always the bravado that 'there's nothing to be afraid of' - well, I buried Fred a year later. My uncle died of it, my grandfather probably had it when he died. In fact, I'm led to believe that anyone who worked in the shipyard, even if it didn't manifest itself, had it in one form or another. Now all of science and industry know the dangers, but it's too late for those that are dead, and there's no hope of cure for the living who harbour it - they don't know how to be any different.
That's like many a Christian, now we're talking about Christians tonight - they realise the dangers of these in sins, but they don't know how to change, they don't know how to be any different, so they've learned to live with it - and maybe even come to justify it, and just say: 'Well, that's the way I am. I'm a bit of a worrier. I'm melancholic, that's my personality, my nature', or, 'I'm a bit of a talker, I'm a chatterbox. So, verbal sins, that's just my personality'. Now let me say very categorically, and I'll labour this later on, it has got nothing to do with your personality! It's got nothing to do with your disposition! If we're talking about sin, and that's what we are talking about tonight, sin is sin is sin! Christ died to free you from sin, and it is your right to be free of it - externally or internally!
Now, perhaps I would go as far as to say: the greatest of internal sins is in the area of the mind, mental sins - that's what we're dealing with tonight. If you look at Psalm 139, you will see that that seems to be indicated in what David is saying at least, verse 23: 'Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts'. He's asking God to know his thoughts, I think, because he didn't know them himself! We know from Jeremiah 17 and verse 9 that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it? The heart is synonymous there, in a sense, with the mind. We don't know our own minds! So David is coming and crying to God: 'O, that I would know my mind, my thoughts, they're so elusive at times, unpredictable - in fact, they're an open cesspit of vileness and iniquity!'. Is that the way you feel about your mind? God has been really speaking to me and convicting me, because that's the way my mind is at times.
Now, when we come to Romans 12, into the New Testament era, and verse 2 we see that Paul is exhorting believers to be renewed, not conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of their mind. So we can't know our thoughts, they're so unpredictable and elusive; and yet, when we come into the New Testament, something has happened whereby we can renew our minds. Now, look at verse 1 first of all. It has to be said that, whilst Paul exhorts believers by the mercies of God to present their bodies a living sacrifice, most believers don't even get to that point. They are saved and stuck - is that you? You'll never have victory in the Christian life if you've never completely given yourself up to God as a living sacrifice. Yet there are few people who get to verse 1, but there are fewer people who ever get to verse 2, the renewed mind.
Do you have a renewed mind? Have I a renewed mind? Do I even know what a renewed mind is? This is a real challenge to me, as I have looked into this in great depth: do I even understand how I'm made up? Oh yes, we talk so much about God, and that's right - we should think more about God and Christ than ourselves - but we don't even understand how we are made up as human beings: body, soul and spirit; mind, intellect, emotion, volition. Do we understand what these things are, and the differences and the emphasis of Scripture regarding them? How can we ever learn to be whole, and know what it is to overcome, if we don't even understand what we're like? It's like trying to walk, and not knowing that you put one foot in front of the other! It's a challenge, isn't it? Is your mind renewed?
The New Testament - now listen carefully - teaches that it is possible to have new life and a new heart, without a new head. New life, a new heart, without a new head! Many possess new life, they are saved, they're born again - and yet they still carry around with them old heads. You might be confused about what I'm saying, well let me ask you a question: have you ever been utterly pure in your heart regarding motive or sincerity of something that you were going to do, but though your heart was right, in the right place we would say, your mind was all confused? Have you ever been like that? We're all like that at times. Let me say to you tonight - and we're going to touch on things here tonight that will be very sensitive, but I believe they are intrinsic and fundamental to you knowing victory in your inner life, particularly in the mind - listen carefully, if you know anything about the cross, you need to know this: Christ died for the whole man, the whole man, body, soul, spirit! Salvation is an eternal salvation, salvation for your past, but also for your present and your future - but let's not overlook the present! Now I'm asking you the question tonight, Christian, as God has seared it upon my heart: is your mind saved? Is your mind saved? Have you ever been asked that before? In Ephesians 6 and verse 17 Paul tells us to put on the armour of God, and he says this: 'Take the helmet of salvation' - salvation for the head, the mind!
Now we're going to look at two things tonight: first of all, the mind. We're going to look at the mind at creation, before regeneration, before salvation, and then after salvation. Then we're going to look secondly at the renewed mind, and how you can get it. Now, you listen carefully, because at this moment there might never have been a more important message for you, my friend. I feel in my spirit, and have done right throughout this day and this week, that this is a message that God wants to get not just to me, but someone else in this meeting who He wants to emancipate, He wants to deliver, He wants to free in the mind.
What was the mind like at creation? Well, Genesis tells us that man was created in the image of God, and God stood back on His great work of creation art, and He said: 'It's good'. God's mind was to make a mind in His own image that was perfect, and that was Adam's mind. His mind was to enjoy God and glorify God with his thoughts and his actions that derived therefrom. Now if you go right back to the beginning in the Garden, you will see that the fall happened - Satan fell from heaven - and Satan approached Eve, Satan's first instigated attack came to humankind through what avenue? The mind. It is exactly the same today, he hasn't changed his tactics one bit. Now notice that Eve was not attacked first of all in the heart, not her emotions but her head. Now here is a principal right at the very beginning of the book: the mind is the battleground where Satan contends against the truth - the mind!
If you think of the whole man as a castle, a fortress; and the will and the spirit, the will is what you act with, the spirit is what you relate to God with - that's what the devil wants to get his hands on. Evil spirits strive to capture our will so that we might act wrongly, and our spirit so that we will relate wrongly to God - but if evil spirits are going to capture this castle, they've got to come across an open field. The open field is where the battle is waged for the seizing of man's spirit and will, and that open field before man is his mind. If they're going to capture the castle of man's soul, they must win on the battlefield of the mind - because thoughts are what influence our actions, our will. Thoughts are what influence our relationship with God, that is our spirit. Satan knew at the very beginning of time, and he knows now, that if he can conquer a man's mind, he can conquer the man.
Our mind is the weakest link, and the first temptation to man instigated by Satan came to the mind - and what was the temptation? To take of the tree of what? Knowledge of good and evil! Again the mind is the battleground, and from thereafter every - I think you could prove this - every temptation that has ever come to man has been through the mind. Indeed, every communication that an evil spirit or a satanic influence has made with humankind has been through the organ of the thoughts. Now, please notice a little bit further - and this is going deeper, but it's important - Eve's heart was sinless! Eve's heart was sinless, and yet she received Satan's thoughts. He needed the mind first, before the heart. Now listen, believers, we're talking to ourselves here tonight, to the redeemed: your heart might be right, but that's not enough! God wants your head, and He wants new heads, saved heads!
That's at creation, but come with me now before regeneration. You know that Eve succumbed and Adam succumbed, and when they fell all humanity fell, and we have this depravity that is the ramification of it all. Now before we are saved there are two aspects to our mind that are very obvious. The first we'll call 'the old nature' - what do I mean? Well, I mean that old part of us that has a sin appetite, and wants to indulge in the things of this world - the flesh and the things of Satan. Now, to the Pharisees, who were so concerned about externals, the Lord Jesus said to them: 'Look, forget about externals, you haven't dealt with the internals! For out of the heart, out of the heart, out of that wicked, fallen, sinful nature that all of us have, evil thoughts proceed: murders, adulteries, fornications, theft, false witness, blasphemy'. We have a depraved heart, a nature. The Bible says that carnal, fleshy mind is at enmity with God. So if God's going to save our minds, God has to alter our minds. Now, to an extent, that happens at new birth when we are born again, because when you're saved - what do you do? You repent, and repentance in its original language simply means 'a change of mind'. You change your mind about Christ and God, and about your sin, and you turn to Him for salvation - but listen: the mistake that many make is that they think once they are saved, repentance ends. Yet repentance, a change of mind, is a daily thing - we're to daily take up our cross, we're to daily repent. There is a changing of the mind that is to go on and on and on.
Listen to what Paul says in Ephesians 4:22-23: 'Put off concerning the former conversation', or way of life, 'the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind'. He's talking to believers now, and he's saying: 'Put off your old mind, and be renewed in the spirit of your new mind'. Now listen: if you have an unrenewed mind as a Christian, that means your mind is still operating in old thought patterns that you had before you were saved. Did you hear that? Your mind is still operating in old thought patterns that you had before you were saved - and maybe you wonder from time to time why there is no victory in your Christian life. Have you ever considered that you haven't a renewed mind? Oh, you're saved, and your heart is right, but what about your head, your thought processes? The old nature is still there, and many a believer struggles because they don't realise that they still have this old nature - and if they feed it, it will rise up. The way we feed it is through our thoughts.
But there's something else that most believers - even if they know that much - they ignore. Before regeneration, not only are our minds subject to the old nature, but our minds are subject to evil spirits. We must not underestimate this aspect. We've already seen in the book of Genesis that evil spirits established, at the very beginning, a deep relationship with the minds of mankind. It has gone on, he is still influencing the minds of unregenerate people. You only need to read 2 Corinthians 4:3-4: 'If the gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world' - that's Satan - 'hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them'. So the Bible says - whatever Christians today think - that Satan, it is Satan who blinds the minds of unconverted people.
He is blinding, we read also that he binds unbelievers and has a great influence on them. In Ephesians 2, listen carefully to these verses, Ephesians 2:2-3: 'Wherein in time past', Paul says to the Ephesians, 'ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air', that is Satan, 'the spirit', now watch the tenses, 'the spirit that now worketh', that now worketh, 'in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation', lifestyle, 'in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others'. Now that basically means that Satan and evil spirits are active, working in the lives of unbelievers - now we're not talking about possession. Possession is a reality, demon possession, but that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about the influence that evil spirits can have on the minds and lives of unbelievers. Timothy was told that in the latter days there will be lying, deceiving spirits - and I think you don't have to look too far to see evidence of this.
Turn with me to 2 Corinthians, please, and chapter 10, for here it is spelt out very clearly for us - 2 Corinthians 10 verses 3-5: 'For though we walk in the flesh', that means physically we live on this earth, 'we do not war after the flesh' - do you know we're in a war? '(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal', fleshly, 'but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ'. Now what is this saying? It's saying that we are wrestling with authorities in the spiritual realm, demons and evil spirits that are imposing Satan's authority on people's minds by putting into their thoughts diabolical influences and impulses. They influence other people to rise up against the knowledge of God. Now that's what we're seeing all around us through philosophy, through science, through education, and even through theology. What Paul is saying is that everything that is against the knowledge of God has its origin with evil spirits in the minds of men.
Ephesians 6 comments on this, now I'm going to read it in the Amplified Version because I think it really bears this out. You can read it in your own Bible, and look at the emphasis here, or just listen: 'For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood', the emphasis in the Amplified, '[contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere'. Master spirits, world rulers, evil spirits! Now most of us haven't got a clue about any of that. Many Christians, it has to be said, deny it, don't even believe in it.
Before regeneration the unconverted man deals with his own nature in the mind and evil spirits in the mind - now let's come to after regeneration. Now it might surprise some of you for me to say this, but though repentance occurs at new birth, often - and I think every time - the mind is not completely free. None of us are perfect - I hope you don't think that - at salvation, there's a lot of sanctifying to be done, although positionally we are sanctified in Christ - but we are not totally free in our minds from our old nature, our old thought processes that we had when we weren't saved, and we are not totally free in the mind from the influence and the oppression of evil spirits - we're not! If we were, you wouldn't have verses like - turn with me to this - 2 Corinthians 11 verse 3. Now remember that this is a letter addressed to saints, God's people: 'But I fear', Paul says in verse 3, 'lest by any means', notice where he's going now, the very beginning again, 'as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds' - saved minds, at least positionally if not practically - 'your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ'.
Now this is serious stuff. Yes, Satan blinds unbelievers, but we have got to waken up to the fact that Satan deceives born-again believers! This is after regeneration, we can experience - and will experience if we are truly saved - the onslaught of the enemy in the mind. Let me say this: you'll experience his onslaught there more than anywhere else in your whole man - the mind. Now, this is where it must get personal: how is your mind? Our minds can be teeming with all sorts of uncontrollable thoughts as believers - is that your mind? Do you have uncontrollable thoughts? Do you know that God made us to control our thoughts? It is a lie of the devil to tell any man created in the image of God that he cannot control his thoughts, but maybe you have got beyond that: that you really honestly can't control your thoughts, you've lost all control of it and sovereignty of your mind? How is your mind? How many of us must put their hands up and say: 'I am wracked mentally by anxiety, by anxiousness, by thoughts of worry, unreasonable concern - paralysed by fear!'. Maybe it's thoughts of hatred, thoughts of even rage - incidentally, the Lord Jesus touched on all of those things in His Sermon on the Mount, including lust, thoughts of lust. If you think thoughts of lust, it's adultery - just like the act. If you think thoughts of hate, it's murder - just like the act.
Do you know something about the apostle Paul that I am very encouraged by? Romans chapter 7 - and we haven't got time to look at this - but Romans chapter 7 details how Paul, as a Jew, Pharisee of the Pharisees, Galatians talks about that, as touching the law, external law, blameless. In other words, you couldn't have pointed the finger at Paul and said: 'He did that, he said that, he broke that law'. Yet Paul, in Romans 7, says this: that his life was consumed with lust - that's what he said! You read it when you go home: covetousness and all manner of concupiscence, the Authorised Version says - that's just desire. This is Paul, now, we're talking about, and that was the old flesh, the fallen Adam in him. It affected his mind uncontrollably, the things he didn't want to do and didn't want to think, he found himself thinking and then doing. Is your mind controlled uncontrollably by lust? This is a real problem today, because there's a proliferation of filth everywhere - everywhere!
Without prejudice? We know all about that in our wee land, we'll maybe touch on it when we look at cultural sins. What about envy? Greed? Bitterness? How much bitterness is there in the minds of believers in Ulster in local churches? What about problems in your mind with how you think about God? Maybe you had a cruel father, a distant father, an abusing father, and you've a problem relating to your Heavenly Father? Maybe it's problems in your mind concerning yourself, thoughts about yourself or thoughts about your circumstances? Maybe you've condemning thoughts, compulsive behaviours, personal conflicts with other people, spiritual struggles or even despair in your life - and these thoughts overcome you at times, till you're dominated by them and they control your emotions and eventually are manifest in actions!
Now listen, believers tonight, and this is a message that has gone right through me like a fire! Be warned! Be warned! Guard your mind! What you allow into your mind has ramifications! We need to know this. Proverbs 23:7 says: 'For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he'. Alfred Gibbs put it like this: 'You are not what you think you are, but what you think, you are'. In other words, the content of a man or a woman's mind is an index to their character. It doesn't matter what you're like on the outside, or what I'm like! The wisest man said: 'Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life'. You see, the mind - this is why the devil wants it, remember that battlefield before the great fortress of the will and the spirit - the mind is the spring from which all our behaviour flows. If you can control the source, you can control the stream that flows from it - and the devil wants our minds!
Our old flesh, if it gets hold of our minds, or our minds are not renewed, will control us too. Romans 8:5-6 says: 'For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally', fleshly, 'minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace'. In other words, what Paul is saying is: whatever the mind sets itself on is what that man will walk after. Are you getting it? Don't think that the things you think about don't matter because nobody sees! Here's a law - now there are some laws of the mind, and we haven't got time to go into them all tonight, but here's one, and please remember this: if you adopt a pattern of thought - if you adopt a pattern of thought - it will eventually manifest itself in your emotions and your behaviour, that's a law of God's word. If you adopt a thought pattern it will eventually manifest itself in your emotions or behaviour, if it's there unchecked.
So, you see how serious it is what we let into our minds - what could be more serious? Sow a thought, reap an act; sow an act, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny. Let me ask you this question, this is the question God is asking you tonight: how is your mind? How is your mind? Is your mind frenzied? Is your mind disturbed? Is your mind wrecked? Is your mind broken? Believer, I'm talking to you: it could be that you have an unrenewed mind, you're still working in the old thought patterns of an old nature - or it could be, and I believe it is for many believers, that your mind has been deceived by evil spirits. Now here's another law, and you'll not hear this too often, evil spirits are operating in the minds of believers - but they can only operate if we give them the opportunity of doing it by giving them ground. Did you hear that? God created man as the sovereign of his own mind, and even with the fall man still can have control over his thoughts. Now, admittedly, sometimes unconsciously he opens his mind to things that are harmful, and the devil gets a foothold. Sometimes he does it consciously by pushing open doorways to danger and dabbling in the things of the occult and other ungodly and wicked and more seemingly benign things than that. Yet the devil and evil spirits can only have an influence if we give them an opportunity.
You say: 'Well, that's okay, I've never done that'. Maybe I'm wrong in saying this, but I don't think there is anybody here tonight that has never done that. All of us have given the devil ground, all of us, at some time in our life. This is where it's serious, I'm asking you tonight: have you given the devil ground? You have a problem with your mind, don't you? Now come on, you've a problem with your mind - some of these things I have mentioned have touched right on the button for you. Can you think of the time when you gave the devil ground, or the times when you did? Listen to me: I have been wracked by impurity of mind, and I know exactly the times when I gave the devil the ground, I know exactly. What about you?
If you don't know anything about this, and the mind, and the spirits, and all this stuff - how will you ever have victory? Your cry should be, as my cry is: 'O, search me and try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting'.
'Search all my thoughts, the secret springs,
The motives that control,
The chambers where polluted things
Hold empire o'er the soul'.
Is your cry tonight, saved and all that you are, maybe even given over to God as far as you'd thought you were: 'Lord, cleanse my mind'?
Let us deal finally with the renewed mind. You see, not only can a mind be free from the power of the flesh - and many believers still have fleshly minds, carnal minds - but the mind can be delivered from the power of darkness. But, you know, neither of those things are essentially a renewed mind - what am I talking about? Well, those are negative aspects - you don't think in the flesh any more, you don't think according to evil spirits any more - but a renewed mind is positive to God, it is a mind that is completely cooperating with the Holy Spirit of the Living God. Romans 12 verse 2, don't miss this: 'Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove', there's always a purpose, 'that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God'. You're not in the good, and acceptable, perfect, will of God - and you know it because you're not living with a renewed mind! Sure you're not?
Now, here are the steps to the renewed mind, you listen very carefully - and if you've got pen and paper, you write it down, if you don't have paper write it on your hand - if you don't...I don't know...just try and get it into your brain, or get somebody to write it down for you, but don't miss this. Now, before I give you these steps, I've done an acrostic of them - A, B, C, D, so that you can try and remember them - but before we even look at them, listen carefully: you've got to recognize, you've got to face that your mind is not normal. I don't care who you are, it's not the way it was at creation, it can't be. Maybe you've been saved, but you still have an old thought pattern of the flesh, so you need a renewed mind. Or maybe, because of the things that you've opened up in your life to Satan and evil spirits, your mind is not even normal to you the way it used to be. Now that's important: can you remember - now this is what I'm getting at - can you remember a time when you didn't think the way you're thinking now? Can you? Can you remember a time when these things didn't plague you, when things were going well? Well, that's a sign that things are not right just now. You've got to get to that point before we go on any further - there's no use listening any more if you can't get to that point, and I've got to that point even this very week.
Now here is the A, the first thing you need to do for a renewed mind is to apply the power of the cross to your mind. Oh, we all know what it is to, 'Just as I am without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me', but we've got half a gospel, or even a third of a gospel. We believe God can save us from the past sins, and even save us from hell, but we don't believe God can save us from a depraved mind - and He can, and He will if we come to Calvary and realise, as Romans 6:11 says, 'We are dead to sin'! Now listen, this is a lesson that most Christians never get to: that when Christ died, my old nature died. I'm alive to God, dead to sin and alive to God!
You see, let me put it more specifically, you see your old thought patterns that control you and plague you? They have been put to death with Christ on His cross, they have been, they have been! There is no power any longer in them! Now the problem is: you're not reckoning them as dead, effectively you're trying to breathe new life into a corpse! But they are dead, and the devil wants to lie to you and have you believe, 'O, they're alive, they are still alive and well, sure you know what wracked your mind and coursed through your thoughts this very day' - that is a lie of the devil, they died with Christ and were buried with Christ, and when He rose again from the dead He left them behind Him. You are free! You are! You don't need to get free, you are free! Maybe faith is the problem here: you're not reckoning it so, you're not believing what God has said, what God has done:
'By faith, for my cleansing I see Thy blood flow
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow'.
By faith! Apply the power of the cross to your mind - I know you've applied it to your soul in a sense, and your eternity, and your sins, but have you ever applied it to your mind? That's what you need to do, that's the A. Second, B, believe the truth of God and not the lies of the devil. Believe the truth of God and not the lies of the devil! Jesus said: 'Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free' - that's what He said, if you have a problem with that, you go to Him, and you contradict Him. What that is simply saying is: you believe what God says. Now the devil will tell you - he is a liar from the beginning, he lied about God, he lied about the Garden in the mind, and he'll lie to you every day of your living life if you believe him - but you've got to believe God, not the lies of the devil. Can you imagine it's like every day to your mind there are two postmen come. One is the devil, and one is God's Holy Spirit. The devil has a parcel of lies, and the Holy Spirit has the Book of God. It's as simple as this now, if you're in Christ, it's: which parcel you're going to receive, and which you're going to refuse. Now, you see, the devil would even tell you: 'Ach, it's not as simple as that' - you listen now, you listen: it is as simple as believing God's word over the lies of the devil. You've got to choose the truth, you've got to choose it! That's why you've got a helmet of salvation, it's got to affect our minds - and the only offensive weapon we have in the armour of God is the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, the truth of God.
Are you believing what God says about you, are you? Or what the devil tells you? Or what other people say about you? Or what your past says about you? Or what God says about you? Do you know what would be a good exercise? Go through the whole of the New Testament and find out what you are in God and in Christ, and you just flow those scriptures over your mind and believe the truth. Here's the third thing, C - apply the power of the cross to your mind; two, believe the truth of God not the lies of the devil - three, control your mind. Control your mind! You say: 'I can't control my mind!' - well, listen, if you apply the power of the cross to your mind, and you believe God's word, you can control your mind. What I mean by controlling it is: taking authority over it! Why? Now listen, this is the truth: it's your mind! It doesn't belong to the devil, it's your mind! Remember: it's only with permission that anything harmful will come into your mind.
Now turn back please, this is important, to 2 Corinthians chapter 10. If you mark your Bible, mark these verses - 2 Corinthians 10 and verse 5 now. You study those verses in private, because those are phenomenal words: '[But we are to cast] down imaginations', there's the thoughts, that's what the devil works in, 'imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself', verse 5 of 2 Corinthians 10, 'that exalts itself against the knowledge of God', now mark, double, treble underline this, 'and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ'. 'Bringing into captivity', do you know what that means? Arrest the thoughts in your mind, and drag them - even if it's kicking and screaming - into the presence of Jesus Christ, into His light, whatever they are.
Now that means, practically, that when those things flood your mind - have you ever, by the way, had things come into your mind, just as a flash, and you think: 'Where did that come from?', and it appals you, even in your most holy moments, even blasphemous thoughts, perverted thoughts? They come from the devil, they come from the devil. But when those come, and even the thoughts from your own flesh, you arrest them! Say: 'You're not going there! By the authority of Jesus Christ and the power of the blood, I bring you into the presence of Jesus', and confess it to the Lord! Use the word of God, that dagger that you have, whatever one is most appropriate for that moment - but you have got power, don't believe the devil, you've got power over your mind! Arrest those thoughts, every thought that comes in, you can analyse it, and expose it, and dispose of it if it's not godly and it's not Christlike.
You say, 'Oh boy, that's a bit of a hassle. I've already enough trouble with my mind, without having to think about everything that comes into my mind'. Listen, we are in a war here, this is a war! This is the problem: we don't believe it's a war! These spirits are real, and our flesh is real, and if we're not going to live up to it, we're going to lose out in eternity. Control your mind. Fourthly and finally - one, apply the power of the cross to your mind; two, believe the truth of God not the lies of the devil; three, control your mind - four, dedicate your mind to truth. Dedicate your mind to truth! There's work to be done, you've got to be proactive in renewal.
Let me give you three ways this is practically done. One, how to dedicate your mind to truth, there is a negative aspect: do not allow your mind to be passive. Do you know what passive means? Lying back and letting things happen to you and to your mind, rather than you making things happen and being in control, and deciding what happens. Now it's obvious, as far as the old nature is concerned, that you should not feed your old nature in your mind. Now you've got to apply that as far as you can, we haven't got time to speak about that - but listen: your mind must never be blanked, never empty your mind! Churches are hosting yoga classes, people clearing their mind for the devil to come in, subliminal messaging tapes. My friend, you don't blank your mind, it becomes the prey to evil spirits. Don't have a lazy mind: daydreaming can be very dangerous, and I know that, because we can allow unchecked thoughts to flow through our mind. But wait till I tell you something: you can mindlessly digest hours of television, and do you know what you're doing? Do you know what I'm doing? I'm letting the thoughts of scriptwriters and producers and godless men enter my mind, and once they're in there I can't get those pictures out. Now, you can call it the 'devil's horns' if you like - and I watch TV, don't think I'm setting myself up above everybody else - but let me tell you something: the devil has used it, damnably, damnably, and we are ignorant of it!
Don't have a lazy mind, you've got to be ruthless! If this is mattering, and it ought to matter, do not allow your mind to be passive. Secondly: wash your mind with the word. Dedicate your mind to truth, wash your mind with the word. Read, study, meditate, memorise - do you read your Bible? Do you read your Bible? You haven't got a hope if you don't read your Bible! Thirdly: choose to think good thoughts. Choose to think good thoughts, and claim God's peace - it's yours, it's your blood right in Christ. Choose to think good thoughts.
Turn with me, and this is what I close with, to Philippians chapter 4 please, Philippians 4 verse 6: 'Be careful for nothing', or anxious for nothing, 'but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God' - is that what you long for tonight? - 'the peace of God which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things'.
What is the greatest commandment? 'Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind'. How's your mind? How's your mind? Is it saved? A.T. Pierson said of C.H. Spurgeon: 'Of all the mind he had, and all the chance God gave him, he made the most'. Of all the mind he had, and all the chance God gave him, he made the most. Can we bow our heads please? In Luke chapter 4 and verse 18 Jesus said, listen carefully now my dear friend, Jesus said: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor', now listen, 'he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised'. The Lord Jesus has given this message for you tonight, for you! He wants to set you free, what are you going to do? Oh, come to the cross and apply that power, believe God's word and not the devil's lies, take control of your mind and your life in the power of Christ, and determine to think good thoughts and claim God's peace.
Oh Lord Jesus, Lord Jesus, I don't think I have ever been as glad to get a message off my mind and off my chest - but, Lord, You're going to do something tonight in some poor soul, Christian, saved soul's mind that hasn't known what is going on in their heads until now. Lord, heal them and set the prisoner free, sell us all free Lord, for Your glory. Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Lifeboat Mission in Moy, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the first recording in his 'Sins We Have Sanitized' series, entitled "Mental Sins" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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