Releasing the Mind from Theological Strongholds
Robert Wurtz II
“Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45).
“The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:18–20 KJV).
When the disciples were following Jesus they were focused on a Messianic concept that was prevalent at that time that was preventing them from seeing God’s purposes in Christ. The Jews had been under some form of oppression or occupation for many centuries and they looked forward to a time when Messiah would come and destroy the yoke from their necks, beat back their enemies, and sit on the throne as the great king David once did. This was their unfaltering focus and through that “lens” it colored everything Jesus said and every miracle He performed.
Messianic concepts were passed down and popular. They were also, in many cases, self-serving. Man (self) was at the center. Man was going to benefit. Man was going to be loosed and man was going to be happy. This is the sad pattern of many theologies. Proof text after proof text taken out of context wind up as a pretext for something other than the truth. You can prove a false doctrine with proof texts. False religions do it all the time.
Many Bible students will never come to the full knowledge of the truth because they are like the Jews of the first century who were “disciples” of their favorite Rabbis rather than simply being disciples of Christ. They spend their lives defending and building on old theologies, teachings, and traditions that are dead-in-the-water to lead them to the truth. What happens? Their mind is as focused on their favorite theological persuasion as were the disciples on the popular Messianic concepts of the day. Think about it. When they see something in the scriptures that may lead them to real truth, they dismiss it immediately because it doesn’t square with something they already believe and defend.
Opening the Eyes (minds)
The disciples were so focused on this one particular Messianic concept that Jesus had to intervene supernaturally. “Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45). Decades of brainwashing were wiped away with a single action on the part of Jesus. For anyone who has ever studied Jewish commentary and tradition, you will know that they were experts at quoting some person (Rabbi) from the past. A person’s mind can go numb reading one Rabbi who spoke in the name of another Rabbi. It happens today in Protestantism as well. This one gets quoted and that one gets quoted. For the simple Christian, they quote their favorite TV preacher. For the intellectual types, they quote their favorite theologians. The disciples were probably no different. They were mentally stuck with past theological concepts that were blocking their understanding. Finally, after all that they had witnessed didn’t do it, Jesus supernaturally opened their minds. This ought to give any serious Bible student pause to ask, what theologies might I be clinging to that are blocking my mind from knowing the truth?
The Greek word for opened is διανοίγω (dianoigo) and it’s two words dia (through) and anoigo (open). It was used to express a child opening the womb for the first time. We find the word in the LXX (Greek Old Testament), “Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:17). The young man’s entire outlook changed once the LORD opened his spiritual eyes (as it were).
A Mind Reoriented
When we are born in this world this faculty of our mind has been dragged down by the flesh until it became a “mind of the flesh,” but if we are truly born again the work of the Spirit resulted in the raising up of our mind to become a “mind of the Spirit.” The focus was completely reoriented. But this is not a one-off experience because the enemy and this present evil world are always working to reorient our focus back to the things of the flesh, the world, and the devil.
This is why many people struggle to understand the things of God. The Holy Spirit opened their mind to understand the scriptures, but they have allowed their own interests to change their focus from God’s will to their own self-will. There must be a million teachers, preachers, and theologians ready to fill your mind with doctrines that are self-serving. Many of them are dead and ancient; and many of them alive and progressive.
When Paul wrote to the Ephesians he wanted them to know he had prayed that “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power” (Ephesians 1:18-19). He then went on to discuss topics that have baffled theologians for over a thousand years. These are not topics that can be understood with the mind of the flesh—but that hasn’t stopped them from dedicating their lives to trying it.
We need the prayer answered in our lives that Paul prayed for the Ephesians. We need the Lord to open our minds to understand the scriptures. Why? Not to go on television or build a mega ministry. Not to exalt ourselves through the abundance of revelations. But that we may know the hope of our calling (and walk in it) and the riches of the glory of Christ’s inheritance in the Saints. We need to understand the full impact of the cross and resurrection of Christ in our everyday lives. That can only come when God opens our minds, reorients our focus from the flesh to the Spirit, renews the spirit of our minds, and going forward we consciously walk in that reality (Romans 8:5-11).