Prepare Your Mind

Prepare Your Mind
Robert Wurtz II

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Peter 1:13-16)

Peter is writing to Christians at a time when they are being persecuted on every hand. In fact, it was an all too familiar theme to those who lived in the first century. Believers faced extreme hostility from almost everyone. The non-believing Jews persecuted the believing Jews. The Roman authorities persecuted and killed anyone who they found refusing to call Caesar “lord.” Christians had almost no where to turn. Indeed, serving Christ came at a very high price for believers prior to Constantine. 

Life for Christians in the first century was day to day. This is why Paul suggested to the Corinthians that they consider whether they should get married or not. Persecution was so terrible that it may be best in some cases not to have a husband or wife to worry about because they were likely to be jailed, beaten, or killed. 

Peter pens this epistle into that kind of environment. He tells them three things, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end. First, we are to gird our minds. This simply means to be ready. Focus our minds on God and His kingdom. Prepare our mind with the word of God. The mind is a battle field. Second, we are to be sober. In other words, we must be very careful what we allow to influence us. The world is always trying to influence us. It is generally so subtle that it goes unnoticed. This is why one of the definitions of “intoxicate” means “to poison.” Most people are poisoned unawares. 

You will recall that Paul told the Ephesians not to be drunk with wine, but to be filled with the Spirit. Notice the contrast. Alcohol has the ability to influence a person just as the Holy Spirit can influence a person. Alcohol clouds the judgment; hence, a person is said to sober up. This means they return to their right minds in terms of rational decision making. Peter is telling us to be being “sober” and don’t allow our minds to be influenced by anything other than the Holy Spirit. Thirdly, Peter tells us to hope to the end. This means that in spite of what we go through, we must not lose our faith. Hope has been called “faith for the long term.” We need to hope to the end and not surrender our faith. 

The Fashioning of Ourselves

If a person actually girds up the loins of their mind, is sober, and is hoping to the end, it will have a dramatic effect on the way they live. Notice Peter makes a distinction when he says, As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conduct, manner of life, and behavior. This means that our thoughts and actions are pleasing to God. How is that? Because the person refused to fashion themselves according to the former lusts in their ignorance. The word fashion in Greek is the same word translated in Romans 12:2 when Paul said, “Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Do not conform to your old lustful ways. Rather, be ye holy in all manner of conversation.

Few people understand that the reason why God calls us away from this present evil world and its influenced is because it is unholy. It is sinful and tainted with Satan’s antichrist spirit. God says, “Touch not the unclean thing and I will receive you and be a Father unto you…” So the reason we are to be holy is because God is holy. If we intend to be in a relationship with Him we have to be compatible with Him. God and sin are incompatible. The enemy lies to people and minimizes the importance of holiness. Yet Hebrews tells us to follow peace with all men and holiness without which no man can see the Lord. 

The first step to preparing our mind is to simply agree with God. Not just once, but make a determination to know God’s counsel on every subject and then agree with Him. Can two people walk together unless they are agreed? What use is it to argue with God about what He says in His word? If we are serious about knowing God we have to agree with Him. Sin intoxicates the mind to make it think that it can behave contrary to God and still be OK. We have to prepare our minds regularly with God’s word, and deprive it of false and godless influences. No matter what comes our way, we must resolve to keep our focus on Christ until the very end.  

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Peter 1:13-16)        

Enemy Invasion (Christians and Anger)

Enemy Invasion
Robert Wurtz II

Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. (Ephesians 4:26–27 NKJV)

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:19–21 NKJV)

The English word “place” in Ephesians 4:27 is translated from the Greek topos that is the root for our word topography.  We use this word to describe natural and artificial features of an area on a map. So when the scripture says “neither give place (topos)” it is saying to not give space or a place for the Devil; because he will utilize it. 

When anger goes un-dealt with a beachhead develops for the enemy. This is a landing zone of sorts for the Devil to invade your life. Like a scene from WWII, the enemy lands on this “place,” forces his way up the beach, and starts making war in your spiritual life. He lands his freighters onto the tarmac (if you will) and scores of weapons begin pouring in. Before you even know what has happened, the enemy has established a stronghold to try to bring you down.

Think about the church at Corinth. There was so much compromise and sin, that it was cooling their love for one another. A close examination of Corinth reveals that they had a carnality problem that led to a love problem. The more carnal they behaved the more hostile the environment. In the last days, because iniquity shall abound (lawlessness), the love of many shall wax cold. This was happening at Corinth in microcosm. Why do you think they were suing each other in court? That type behavior is a million miles from the first several chapters of the book of Acts. Paul told them, For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults. Paul told the Corinthians to get their act together and fast. He tells them plainly, “I have told you before, and foretell as if I were present the second time, and now being absent I write to those who have sinned before, and to all the rest, that if I come again I will not spare.” (2 Corinthians 13:2)  

We do not know what kind of punishment Paul has in mind. He had already written to turn one man over to Satan. He told them plainly that their selfish and unloving refusal to discern the Lord’s body was making some of them sick in body, while others had actually died! That is a high price to pay for allowing the sun to go down on our anger. What was happening?

Anger is one emotion that the Holy Spirit refuses to allow us to entertain. It militates against love and spoils our whole disposition. A person who is angry all the time struggles in their walk with God. Satan knows this. This is why he works so hard to causes offenses among Christians. He wants to get us angry and keep us there. Once he gets one bit of anger started, he will work on stoking it. He wants a fire of anger — like a camp fire that he can throw another log on from time to time — burning in our hearts and mind. The longer it burns the more grieved the Holy Spirit. Soon we start to struggle spiritually. 

Jesus wanted us to know that we are going to be offended from time to time. He stated, Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! (Matthew 18:7) Paul followed up this line when he wrote, Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is caused to stumble, and I don’t burn with indignation? (2 Cor. 11:29 WEB) In fact, Paul tells the Romans, Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Here we have the Greek word topos being translated as “place” again. We must not give “place” to the Devil, and the way we do this is by “giving place” unto THE wrath. In the Greek the word wrath has the definate article. This is God’s wrath.

We have to give place unto God’s wrath so that He can deal with situations that provoke us to wrath. If we take matters into our own hands we can hinder what God is doing. This is not to say we don’t confront people at times or deal with their offense, because we must. However, we cannot allow these situations, even when people have been stumbled (such as Paul referred to in 2 Cor. 11:29), to create an atmosphere of anger and wrath in us. Trade your wrath for God’s wrath. Allow the knowledge of God’s wrath to replace yours so you can be at peace. Don’t worry about it. Your wrath cannot work the righteousness of God anyhow. As it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. It is not our job to avenge ourselves. God has it covered and when He does it it will be carried out right.  
Our response? Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. God will show all parties involved where they were wrong. You keep a good spirit and don’t allow the enemy to form a beach head in your life. If the parties involved will listen to God and repent, things will go well. If not, as Matthew Henry once said, God is never at a loss for a means of punishing a rebellious people… His quiver is always full.” 

The Devil’s Device of Discouragement

The Devil’s Device of Discouragement
Robert Wurtz II

Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. (2 Cor. 2:8)

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. (2 Cor. 2:11)

I wish in this short entry to draw attention to this passage in order to demonstrate how the enemy of our soul will use discouragement to destroy a person if he is given the opportunity. It is one of his ‘devices’ or ‘strategies’. The church at Corinth was dealing with a young man that committed a terrible sin, worse than was even found among the Gentiles. He took his fathers wife to himself. Paul gives direction to them that they are to put away from themselves this wicked person. He has as a first line of priority the protection of the congregation. Fornication is a leaven that will leaven an entire church if it be not dealt with. So Paul deals strongly with it. However, it was not to destroy the person, but was always with a design of seeing the person come to repentance. 

 Restoring the Person

Paul never forgot about this young man. In fact, a close reading of the text reveals that he was very concerned about his time having been put out of the church. His desire was to see a godly sorrow bring about a repentance where the mind and behavior changed and did not change back. But there is a point in which leaving the person in the hands of Satan and this world could actually destroy them and their faith- rather than securing repentance. This is important to consider. Satan desires to destroy our faith. He wants people to feel unloved and bitter towards the church. Paul said we are not ignorant of the Devil’s devices. We know he will try to do this. The solution? Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. (2 Cor. 2:8) This is it. We must confirm our love. 

There are times when things go on in the churches of God that need to be dealt with, but we must ever be mindful that the enemy will try to jump right in the middle of what we are doing to bring confusion and destruction. He uses discouragement as a powerful weapon. Paul said if we are not careful Satan will gain an advantage over us. Literally the passage reads, “in order that we be not made gain of, or overreached, by Satan.” The Revised version renders it, “that no advantage may be gained over us.” Satan is opportunistic and when we let our guard down he will strike. Discouraged people are a primary target of Satan. It is during these times that he will move in with temptation and lies seeking to turn your heart away from God. 

Common Sense

Satan wants people mad at the church or mad at God. He wants circumstances to develop that may or may not be of our own doing that he can use to discourage us. It could be a misunderstanding or what C.S. Lewis spoke of in Screw Tape Letters when he described how Satan works on peoples minds. The devil talks to people in their mind and heart and he will work a situation with slander and lies until he has made a mountain out of a molehill. He will put the worst possible construction on an event and speak that into your mind. Where there are uncertainties he will fill the blanks in with all kinds of lies and exaggerations. Before we know what has happened Satan has brought the whole church low. Understand that the word discourage means to cause a person to lose confidence or enthusiasm. Both parties in a conflict could be right from their particular point of view and yet both end up discouraged because of the conflict of disagreement. This is Satan’s common sense strategy. Sow strife and confusion. 

Discouraged and Tempted

Don’t be surprised when Satan comes to tempt you during times of discouragement. It is his strategy. Thanks be to God we are not ignorant of it. He is liable to tell you to go back to the very sins that God set you free from. Stress and pressure can weaken our defenses and if we are not careful we can fail in the grace of God. Satan don’t discriminate, he wants to destroy the fornicator and the minister. He wants to destroy everyone he possibly can. So we have to be on guard. How? Recognize when Satan is bringing discouragement and try to deal with situations such as sin and disagreements without allowing him to prevail. Some situations are complicated and hard to deal with. Paul’s answer, again, Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. (2 Cor. 2:8) The answer is love. Why? because love counteracts the lies of Satan by compelling us to put the best construction on events. Satan will work our minds to put the worst construction on. We must not succumb to his slanderous ways. 

What about just overall discouragement? Satan will move in those times as well and we must be alert to his plan. If we get discouraged he will start talking into our ears and before we know it we are thinking carnally and reverting back to old patterns of dealing with things. Recognize these times and submit yourself unto God. We are told that if we will do this and resist the Devil- He will flee from us. (James 4:7)

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