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Tag Archives: self discipline

The Battlefield of the Mind

In my last post, I started talking about the war that we wage against our own flesh – our sin nature.  We saw that the flesh wages war against our soul.

Your soul is your mind.  It’s who you are.  It’s your soul that decides your course of action.  So, if your flesh can gain victory over it, you’ll carry out the desires of that nature.

Scripture clearly teaches that this is where the first battle is fought.

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Romans 13:11

Before we ever commit a sin, we begin thinking about it.  That’s where we start losing ground.  It all rests upon our thought-life.

I know from experience that it’s nearly impossible to simply stop thinking about something.  Actually, the more you try to “not think about it”, the more you do.

Instead, I’ve found it more effective to start thinking about something different.  The Apostle Paul agrees.

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
Romans 8:5

Where you set your mind determines the direction that you head toward.  The word, set, in this verse means to be mentally disposed toward or to interest yourself in.

The direction of your life is determined by the direction of your thoughts.  While you probably won’t be able to stop thinking about something, you can replace it with other thoughts.  You can start thinking in a new direction.

There are so many things to think about.  We need to start disciplining our thought-life.  Stop obsessing over tonight’s basketball game.  Instead, think about what God’s done for you, a Scripture you’ve memorized, or what you expect the Lord to bring about in your life.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.
Philippians 4:8

The Bible is very positive.  It usually doesn’t tell you to stop doing something without giving you something to replace it with.  In this case, it’s applied to our thoughts.

There are enough good things to think about without opening our minds to the desires of our sin nature.  However, this requires discipline.  And disciplining ourselves is not usually something we enjoy doing.

The battle against the flesh starts in our minds.  This is the first area of conflict because it’s where the flesh strikes first.  If my old man can get my mind on his side, then that sets the course of my life.

We need to take control of our thought-life.  It may be difficult at first, but it is doable.

From there we can go on to the offensive strikes against the flesh.  I’ll be posting about them as we continue this series.

Question: What do you see as a difficulty in controlling your thought life?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Spirit vs. Flesh

In my last post, I started talking about Paul’s teaching on the Spirit-led life.  He tells us that we must cultivate our spiritual life if we want to overcome the flesh.

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.  For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.  They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
Galatians 5:16-17

When I read verse 16 in the original language, it’s very powerful.  Paul says that if you walk in the spirit, you will not bring to completion the things that the flesh is passionate about.

It doesn’t matter how much will-power you have or how many good intentions.  I’m writing this in September – how have your New Year’s resolutions turned out?  The only thing that can change the destination of our life is a walk in the spirit.

Verse 17 explains why this is true.  Your flesh is passionate against what your spirit wants.  Your spirit also has different goals than your flesh.  The two of them are battling for control of your mind.

But it’s the last sentence that gives us the understanding.  Because of their conflict, you cannot determine the things you do.  That’s the literal meaning of that verse.

You may not want to hear it, but your mind has very little to do in determining the path your life takes.  It usually bends either to the will of your spirit or your flesh.  Whichever has the stronger voice, determines what your mind will decide.

The teaching that “whatever you put your mind to you can accomplish” is a lie.  The illusion is strengthened by the fact that your mind can change course over the short term.  Like the first month of the gym membership that you knew would change your life.

The only time it appears to work is when your flesh and your mind are passionate about the same things.  If your flesh wants to be rich, or to own a large company, or to have great political power; that’s when it seems like your mind’s in control.

Other times, your flesh my use self-control as a means to an end.  That’s why many people who look like successes on the outside, turn out to be alcohol, drug, or sex addicts.  Then we’re shocked when their life ends in a tragic overdose or a suicide.

That’s why it’s so important that a Christian doesn’t fall victim to this false teaching.  You can’t bring about God’s plan for your life by disciplining your mind.  It has to be done in the spirit.

Paul brings this out in the next verse.

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
Galatians 5:18

Being led by the spirit is not about controlling yourself.  The only way to walk in God’s plan for you is to strengthen your spirit.  Then, your spirit will take over in plotting the course for your life.

But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
Romans 7:6

Spend time praying in the spirit.  Activate your spiritual walk.  Only then will you see the change in your lifestyle.  You’ll be glad that you did.

Question: How has your life changed since you started praying in the spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
 

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The Secret of Knowing God’s Will

I’ve been posting about the power of God at work in us.  This is the power that changes us and others.  We saw that the first component of the Holy Spirit’s power in us is love.  It’s this love of Christ that provides the spiritual pressure that propels us forward.

We started by looking at Paul’s view of this power.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7

The second component of power is described here as self-discipline.  Actually the word translated self-discipline is literally a saved mind in the Greek.  I believe that the two components of power in the Word of God are love and a saved mind.  If we follow this through we find that the rest of Scripture confirms this.

Remember what I said about electrical power.  The two parts were voltage and current.  How does electrical current relate to the truth of a saved mind?  Physically speaking, current is electrical movement.  Current is how fast the electrons are moving through the wires.  In the verse we read from Second Timothy, Paul said that the components of spiritual power were love and a saved mind.  Just how important is it to possess a “saved mind?”

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2

Without a saved mind, a mind that has been washed and renewed by the Word of God, we will never grasp what God’s will is for our lives.  The problem is that most modern Christians don’t place a priority upon renewing their minds.  We want to think and act the way the world does.

This makes for a very interesting dilemma.  Most Christians seem to want to know God’s will for their lives.  Yet, we don’t prepare our minds to receive it.  According to this verse the only way to know God’s will, is to renew your mind.

This was evident in the ministry of Christ.

“For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.”
John 6:38

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”
John 4:34

In natural terms, electrical current is the movement of electricity in the lines.  Power requires movement or action.  Jesus was able to move and act because His mind was attuned to God’s will.  It’s clear from Scripture and the life of Christ that a saved mind is spiritual current because it produces action.  We know from the Word of God that “faith without works [action] is dead.” (James 2:17)  A saved mind is a mind that is full of faith THAT ACTS upon that faith.

Question: Is renewing your mind a priority in your walk with Christ?  What do you do to accomplish this?

© Nick Zaccardi 2012

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2012 in Power of God

 

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Discipline, Knowledge, & Correction

Proverbs 12:1
Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.

Discipline is one of those words that we don’t want to hear about too often.  It brings up all kinds bad memories.  But, like it or not, we all need discipline.  In this verse, Solomon tells us that discipline and knowledge go hand in hand.  Unfortunately it is something that this society seems to know very little about.

There is an attitude that says that I deserve to have what I want right now – no matter what.  In many cases people will have their own way no matter what it does to their future.  So often we are more than willing to place our future earnings, our relationships, and our health all on the altar of instant, momentary pleasure.  Only discipline can keep our destiny safe.

The fact is that knowledge, without discipline, is almost worthless.  Discipline is the ability to restrain my actions now and do what I need to do, so that I can have a greater enjoyment in the future.  This goes against the “feel good now” attitude of our generation.  Too often we are willing to sell our future for gratification in the present.  That’s what Solomon is speaking to here.

Correction is when you are willing to listen to critical advice from someone who has been there.  The word translated stupid in this version, simply means that they are destroying themselves.  If you are not willing to take correction, and show the discipline it takes to change your direction, then you will slowly lose your future benefits.

How many times do we look back and say, “I wish I’d have done that differently.”  The time is now to heed the voice of godly correction and allow discipline to shape your future.  Don’t lose out on the destiny that God wants you to have.  Don’t trade your future blessings for the instant gratification.  Let discipline, knowledge, and correction bring you to a life worth living in Christ.

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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