MARK 7:18-23: “Don’t you understand either?” he asked. “Can’t you see that the food you put into your body cannot defile you? Food doesn’t go into your heart, but only passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer.” (By saying this, he declared that every kind of food is acceptable in God’s eyes.) And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” NLT
OBSERVATION: Am I taking care of my heart? With just four days until Christmas, the ads are already arriving in the mail promoting exercise equipment. Soon the diet commercials will start and everyone’s focus will be on losing the weight they have gained over the holidays. With all this attention on our physical health – what about our spiritual health?
It is an easy pitfall to focus on the externals of life. We do this in every area of life. One’s beauty is judged by how one looks. One’s success is judged by what one has. And, one’s health is judged by what they can do. Yet, heart disease is still the silent killer. The heart is something that you do not see and yet it is the center of our entire life. This is true in the physical and it is equally true in the spiritual.
When the Bible speaks about the heart it is referring to the center of man or the spirit of man. Yet, within the spiritual center of man, there are two components. There is the mind, the psyche of man and there is the spirit, the very essence of man. The Scriptures focus on the two invisible aspects of man.
When we are born again we are given a new heart, or our spirits are made alive in Christ. Our minds are the spiritual center that is geared to this life and after salvation, they are to be renewed by the Word of God. We are given insight into these two areas through the teachings in I John and James.
The spirit of man.
- “Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God.” 1 John 3:9 NLT
The mind of man.
- “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2 NKJV
In Romans 7 Paul gives us insight into the battle that can go on between the two. He states – “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” What does he mean by that? The flesh is our old nature. Our born-again spirits are always willing to do the will of God but there is another force that we have to deal with. Our old sinful nature keeps trying to resurrect itself. The thing that stands between the two is our mind!
Our lives, before we were saved, gave evidence of what was occupying our minds. Jesus said,
- “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”
Now, this next point is paramount if we are to walk after the Spirit and experience victory in our lives. After we are saved, our minds can be used to express the new life we have in Christ, or they can lead us back to the old patterns we lived in before we were saved. This is why Paul exhorts us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Our minds are like a computer. If we put garbage in, garbage will come out. If we put God’s Word in, the fruit of the Spirit will come out.
We have a choice to make when it comes to our minds!
Today, we live in a world with a myriad of distractions and wrong influences. Facebook is littered with garbage. Television is filled with moral mind-bending. Media, books, and our culture are continually trying to fill our minds with thoughts and concepts that focus on the wrong things and cause us to neglect the things of God. This New Year, as we are bombarded with ads for our physical fitness, let’s think about our spiritual fitness!
If you have never discovered the joy and discipline of reading through God’s Word and journaling your thoughts and journey, I encourage you to do so today! All it takes is a Bible, a notebook, and a pen. Or, if you are like me, an iPad and journaling software. Years ago I discovered the joy of this journey and it has transformed my thinking and my life! Each day I need to eat food to survive. And, more importantly, each day I need to receive the Word of God to renew my mind and feed my spirit!
The Song of Solomon tells us that it is the little foxes that spoil the vine. Most believers are not derailed in their walk of faith by overt acts of rebellion and sin. The enemy is more subtle than that. He tries to slowly bend our thinking, to keep us out of God’s Word, and to redirect our path slowly – until we find ourselves in a ditch! The victory over this is a daily time of meditation, prayer, worship, and journaling in God’s Word!
When I read God’s Word I may quickly forget what I have read. However, when I wrestle with God’s Word with paper and pen (or keyboard and tablet), I am forced to reflect, think, and allow God’s Word to sink deeply into my heart and renew my mind. It transforms me from the inside out. I don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars this year to get into shape. All I need is a Bible, a willing heart, an open mind, and paper and pen!
Lord, as I look forward to beginning another journey through Your Word this year, renew my mind. Create in me a clean heart. Wash me with the water of Your Holy Spirit and the truth of Your Word. Let me prepare my heart, mind, and body for the New Year.
In Jesus Name!