Carrying Away the Mind
By John Fast
In our previous study we began to examine how indwelling sin opposes all that is spiritually good by way of its being deceitful, and that the ultimate goal of sin’s deceit is to bring about spiritual and eternal death (Jm 1:14, 15). We saw how it achieves its ultimate end by instilling a false sense of spiritual security, thereby hardening the heart and blinding the mind to a right and true understanding of spiritual truth; to “delude you with persuasive argument” (Col 2:4). Things which are not marks of God’s saving grace are made marks, thereby duping people into a false security. Things which the Bible never makes evidences of salvation are made evidences. Therefore, the mark of true sanctification becomes seeing that they have no sanctification. Holiness is defined as something other than conformity to God’s moral law. The mark of humility becomes a wishy-washy, spineless infidelity to truth. Love is defined as the automatic acceptance, toleration, and affirmation of virtually any deviant belief, teaching, or lifestyle.
A person desires God’s grace to quiet their conscience, assure them of God’s love and forgiveness, so they can live securely in their sin. A false, carnal security is the ultimate end of sin’s deceit. What better way to harden the heart and blind the mind, and thereby produce eternal death, than to deceive someone into believing that they are spiritually safe, secure, and alive when in reality they are still spiritually dead. And all this is done so cleverly, and with such showmanship, and with such an appearance of sincerity and legitimacy, and with such flattery to the ability and dignity of natural man, that multitudes are swept away as in a flood.
Of all the sins which can characterize a people, the sin of a false and carnal security is the one which most easily entangles and overcomes. It is the sin which is least foreseen, felt, or feared. This carnal security arises primarily from the indulgence in lawful things. Before the flood, “they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage” (Mt 24:38). There was nothing wrong with these things. They saw no harm in them. They had the liberty to do them. But it was on these earthly things that, even in a time of great wickedness, their hearts and minds were set and preoccupied. To have our minds set “on the things that are on the earth” (Col 3:2), is the same thing as having “the mind set on the flesh” (Rm 8:6), and “the mind set on the flesh is death….is hostile toward God….and those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rm 8:6-8). Things that are earthly are hostile toward God.
Now, the mind that is set on the things that are on earth can do much that is wonderful, beneficial, inventive, and humanitarian. It can reach great heights of intellectual achievement. It can become great leaders and educators of men, both in and out of the church. It can become a champion of social justice, civil rights, and human freedom. It can receive the praise, admiration, acclaim, rewards and awards of men. It can found and build great institutions. They can become great people on the earth. But notwithstanding all their earthly accomplishments, and all their greatness in the eyes of man, they can never please God. Their mind remains hostile toward God.
It takes a hard and severe blow to awaken someone from a deep sleep, especially when lesser blows have failed to awaken them, “In vain I have struck your sons; they accepted no chastening” (Jer 2:30). Likewise, it takes a severe judgment of God to awaken a spiritually secure people, especially when lesser judgments have failed to arouse them. Not only a severe blow to awaken them, but also a persistent and protracted judgment to keep them awake and prevent them from drifting back to sleep. This is the only way to arouse people from a dreamy false security when less severe means have failed. It may be they are startled by some lesser judgment, as if by a sudden clap of thunder, but soon sleep and security overcomes them.
We become so accustomed to, and therefore hardened by disasters, lawlessness, and tragedies, that nothing effectively moves or awakens us. People take no notice of God in them, “causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these things” (Is 45:7). They give little thought to the hand of God in their afflictions. They attribute them to second and third causes, provide for their own defense and vindication, insist “I have not sinned” (Jer 2:35), and so utterly lose all the benefits and advantages of their sufferings. Like adulterous Israel, they shamelessly dispute, “For what reason has the Lord declared all this great calamity against us? And what is our iniquity, or what is our sin which we have committed against the Lord our God” (Jer 16:10)? Judgments that find people secure usually leave them desperate and doomed, “if a country sins against Me by committing unfaithfulness, and I stretch out My hand against it,….even though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job were in its midst, by their own righteousness they could only deliver themselves,” (Ezk 14:13, 14).
Soft words lull to sleep, and when hard words fail to awaken, only a severe and persistent shaking will arouse a secure people; they must be violently shoved from their soft and secure beds. When the same or worse sins characterize a nation which have brought God’s wrath upon other nations, then judgment is right at the door. No nation, Jew or Gentile, is immune from God’s wrath, “The arrogance of your heart has deceived you….Though you make your nest as high as an eagle’s, I will bring you down from there,” (Jer 49:16). The sins which now characterize this nation are the same sins which were the immediate forerunners and causes of other nation’s ruin and collapse, and the greatest of these sins is an arrogant, false, and carnal security, “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion, and to those who feel secure in the mountain of Samaria” (Am 6:1).
Cultists, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, and pagans are more loyal to their false views of God and their idols than most professing Christians are to their declared beliefs. Sin always leads to God’s judgment, both in time and in eternity, “Shall I not punish these people”, declares the Lord, “and on such a nation as this shall I not avenge Myself” (Jer 5:9). On what sort of nation shall God avenge Himself? On a nation such as ours; a nation that is guilty of the same and even worse sins that have brought God’s wrath on other nations, “they refused to take correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to repent” (Jer 5:3).
When God allows a people to remain secure, even under the most profound biblical and theological ignorance, and in the midst of the most conspicuously wicked and brazen sins, and under the most blatantly false teaching and teachers, this is a sign that He has given them over to a depraved and deceived mind. When in His providence God places professing Christians under circumstances where the only way to avoid suffering is to sin, and they prefer sinning to suffering, yet remain secure in their sin, then it is a certainty that they have been hardened by the deceitfulness of sin; “Be careful, do not turn to evil; for you have preferred this to affliction” (Job 36:21). They are spiritually dead and do not know it. They are spiritually blind, yet they still insist “we see” (Jn 9:41). They are sick unto death, but are persuaded they are well (Lk 5:31). The wrath of God abides on them (Jn 3:36).
To be hardened in a false security by the deceitfulness of sin does not happen all at once. If someone knew and believed that how they thought and lived would lead to spiritual death and eternal torment, then they would never think and live the way they do. Instead, sin works by degrees – little by little – to make things appear other than they really are until the heart is hardened in a false security by the deceitfulness of sin. People can think themselves wise when they are really fools (Rm 1:22); they can think themselves to be something when they are really nothing (Gal 6:3). They can believe themselves to be Christians and spiritually secure when in reality they are neither (Rv 3:17). This multi-step process of deception begins with the mind.
Carrying Away the Mind
As we saw in our last study, the first step which sin takes in its deception is by using a person’s own lusts to carry away, draw away, or divert the mind (Jm 1:14). Sin’s deception is aimed first at the mind to draw it away and divert it from its primary obligation; obedience to God, His will, and His word. As we have seen in previous studies, the mind is the lamp of the soul. Its purpose is to guide, discern, and make right judgments. The mind is the eye of the soul, “The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness” (Mt 6:22, 23).
To not comprehend and understand spiritual truth is to be blind, “They do not know, nor do they understand, for He has smeared over their eyes so that they cannot see and their hearts so they cannot comprehend” (Is 44:18). Without the mind, the affections and the will have no guidance, and so a person will consent to virtually anything that has even the most remote appearance of being good and pleasurable. “Like unreasoning animals” (2 Pt 2:12), their mind is controlled by their lusts. Evil will seem good, dark will appear to be light, falsehood will sound like truth, and what is bitter will taste sweet.
A person’s own lusts are the primary instrument Satan uses to draw away the mind. Our own lusts and desires are the handles of his temptations. We have an enemy within that collaborates with our enemy without. Our enemy within is more dangerous than our enemy without because “the heart is more deceitful than all else” (Jer 17:9). These inbred lusts side with Satan and “wage war against the soul” (1 Pt 2:11). Satan works externally, but lust works internally, “But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind” (Rm 7:8). It is a subtle enemy that does its work deceptively, “for sin…deceived me, and through it killed me” (Rm 7:11). This deception always begins in the mind. The first thing sin aims at is to divert the mind from its obligation. There are two duties which the mind has:
- First, to keep itself, and thereby the affections and the will, ever watchful against all the enticements and arguments which would draw it away into the conception of sin, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Pv 4:23), and to be always ready for every obedience to God, “gird your minds for action,….As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance,” (1 Pt 1:13).
- Second, to carefully and diligently focus on all the particular duties which God requires; that they be performed in the way God requires, and to avoid all inducements towards things which God has forbidden, And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” (Rm 12:2). A surer and faster way to their own ruin cannot be devised than for people to corrupt God’s will and adulterate His worship with their own inventions.
The Mind’s First Obligation
The entire duty of the mind in a believer consists of these two duties – watchfulness and obedience – and indwelling sin will attempt to draw the mind away from both. The first of these is the obligation of the mind not to be carried away from a constant consideration of our own sinfulness, “watch over your heart with all diligence”, and from the sinfulness of sin, “Know therefore and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the Lord your God” (Jer 2:19; cf. 4:18). Every sin is a forsaking of God, whether it is a sin of omission or commission; it is a rebelling against His will.
Indwelling sin will endeavor to draw the mind away from considering and believing that sin is bitter in its nature, in its effects, and in its consequences. If the mind is diverted from the sinfulness of sin – that it is evil in itself and bitter in its fruits – if sin’s consequences are minimized or denied, or that a person can sin with impunity, then the first step of sin’s deceit is accomplished. The way of death will have been made to appear right (Pv 14:12). If the mind fails to consider, if it refuses to acknowledge that sin is an evil and bitter thing, if it seeks to justify and excuse sin, it will never be protected against sin. This is what protected Joseph from yielding to the seductions of Potiphar’s wife, “How then could I do this great evil, and sin against God?” (Gn 39:9). He had a holy, godly fear of sin. He had a correct and humble, not an exalted, view of his own nature.
The Apostle Peter commanded his readers to “conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth” (1 Pt 5:17). This is what it is to walk humbly, not presumptuously, with God. The humble soul knows that sinning is too high a price to pay for worldly success, acceptance, and pleasure, for the praise, honor, and admiration of men, for worldly freedom and liberty, and for exemption from suffering. How is this humility obtained? How is it preserved? No other way but by a constant, habitual, and fearful appreciation of the evil, vileness, wickedness, and danger of sin and its fruit. It is this due respect for sin’s evil from which indwelling sin works to draw the mind away.
To fear sin is to fear God, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding” (Job 28:28). The ungodly have no fear of sin because they have no fear of God. “Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes…he does not despise evil” (Ps 36:1, 4). Their understanding is darkened to the evil and danger of sin (Eph 4:18). They do not despise the evil of sin because they have no fear of God. They do not fear sinful practices, sinful thinking, sinful desires, sinful worship, sinful companions, sinful entertainment, sinful philosophies and wisdom, or a sinful world; therefore they make virtually no effort to watch against them. They see no harm in them, and even make a case for their merit. They have a greater fear of challenging and resisting the prevailing opinions held of sin than they have of sin itself. They fear the hostility of sinners more than they fear the hostility of sin (Hb 12:4).
But the world’s opinion of sin is demonic, “This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic” (Jm 3:15). Earthly, natural wisdom is demonic wisdom. The prevailing opinions, wisdom, and practices of the world, which most of professing Christendom has wholeheartedly and pragmatically adopted, do not have God and His word as their source. Secular psychology is demonic psychology. Evolutionary science is demonic science. Feminist ideology is demonic ideology. Racist beliefs and practices are demonic beliefs and practices. Human ideas of justice are demonically inspired ideas of justice. Commercial, liberal, worldly Christianity is a demonic counterfeit Christianity.
Over time, the mind is carried away by indwelling sin from a proper consideration and appreciation of the sinfulness, bitterness, evil, wickedness, and danger of sin. It secretly and effortlessly insinuates extenuating, diminishing, justifying, and tolerant thoughts of sin, or it draws the mind away from considering sin as it once did; to have fewer, feebler, and less disturbing thoughts of and about sin. Over time, more and more sin becomes less and less sinful. More sin becomes justifiable, acceptable, and even necessary. More sin is given respectable, spiritual, and virtuous names. More and more of God’s means and truth are supplanted and adulterated by natural, earthly, human wisdom and inventions. Ungodliness leads to further ungodliness, until the heart and mind is hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
There are two main ways whereby indwelling sin undertakes to deceitfully carry away the mind from its obligation and disposition to watchfulness:
- By the abuse of grace and knowledge of forgiveness
- By desensitizing the mind and heart to the sinfulness of sin
By the Abuse of Gospel Grace
The true gospel of Jesus Christ and the apostles is “the doctrine conforming to godliness” (1 Tm 6:3). The purpose of God bestowing His grace in the heart is “that we should be holy and blameless before Him” (Eph 1:4). God’s grace teaches us “to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” (Tit 2:12). To live a holy life is “to conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil 1:27). “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal 5:24). This is the effect of the true gospel. This is the end, aim, and design of grace. The experience of the work of grace makes a person know what saving grace truly is. They know by experience, they feel the power of it, and see it in their life. Graceless people never do, and therefore cannot tell true from false grace, or saving grace from common grace.
Here is where the deceit of sin will interject itself; it will separate the promise of grace from the power of grace. It will divide the doctrine of grace from the effect of grace. It will separate salvation from the things which accompany salvation (Hb 6:9). And so people will have false conceptions of grace, on which they base their own images of salvation, so that when they think they possess it, they believe all is well, “I am rich…and have need of nothing” (Rv 3:17).
Because they believe they are Christians they think they are Christians. Because they try to appear spiritual, they think they are spiritual, even though the world oozes out of every pore. This is because the world – its wisdom, its opinions, its knowledge, its values, its principles, its priorities, its tastes, its fads – is their standard. Their mind is conformed to this world (Rm 12:2). They walk “according to the course of this world” (Eph 2:2); “according to the elementary principles of this world, rather than according to Christ” (Col 2:8). Their minds are set on the things that are on earth, not on the things that are above (Col 3:2). They believe that, because of the abundance of grace, there is no need for watchfulness. Jesus died for their sins past, present, and future. And so, the deceitfulness of sin will argue for a disregard of sin based on the doctrine of forgiveness of sin.
Paul denounced such a conclusion, “Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it” (Rm 6:1, 2)? Yet this is what many continue to do. Despite all the Bible’s warnings, they continue to “turn the grace of our God into licentiousness” (Jude 4), and “turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh” (Gal 5:13), all to their eternal ruin. True grace always leaves the soul with an ever increasing sense of its own wickedness, “Wretched man that I am!” (Rm 7:24). False grace never leaves a person more sensible of their own vileness, but instead leaves them self-satisfied and spiritually secure. False grace promises and teaches us to fulfill our worldly desires, not to deny them (Tit 2:12)..
This is the benchmark and test of true grace. If it keeps the heart and mind sensible of its own sinfulness, appreciating sin’s evil and bitterness “hating even the garment polluted by the flesh” (Jude 23), and detesting forgiven sin, it is divine, supernatural, and saving grace. However, if it secretly and effortlessly makes people loose, cavalier, and indifferent in their thoughts about sin (i.e. “I’m broke, your broke, we are all broken”), then it is an adulterated, selfish, and false grace. If it masks the evil of sin and its fruit with respectable names and euphemisms, it is a false grace.
The hypocrite never hated every sin as a believer does. They use grace to serve self, their lusts, and sin, not Christ. Any “faith” that encourages or produces a low view of sin, or minimizes the sinfulness and danger of sin, is a false faith. In a carnal heart, their lusts, desires, and the world are dear to them, like one of their limbs they cannot be without them, they deem them necessary, so they justify and spiritualize them, and give them respectable names. But in a believer they are sores and cancers, and so they hate, fear, and crucify them.
By Desensitizing the Mind
The more accustomed a person becomes to sin, the less afraid they are of it, and the less dangerous it appears. The more sin is normalized, the more its wickedness is belittled, and the more holiness is despised. When people see others sinning and prospering, then it becomes pragmatic and necessary to sin. When sin becomes mainstream then it losses its shame. When people see others avoiding suffering by sinning, then suffering seems pointless and foolish, so sin takes advantage to draw the mind away from a right appraisal of people in the world, “It is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept His charge…So now we call the arrogant blessed; not only are the doers of wickedness built up, but they also test God and escape” (Mal 3:14, 15).
Just consider all the sin which not so long ago was regarded as sinful, harmful, shameful, and dangerous, both to the individual and society, which is now not only mainstream, but insisted on and subsidized. Divorce, fornication, children out of wedlock, idolatry, false religions, profanity, blasphemy, homosexuality, pornography, abortion, indulgent and permissive parenting – the list is virtually endless – are all now commonplace, protected, and financed. Practices and teachings which once would have been regarded by most people as scandalous and sacrilegious are now deemed necessary for church growth. “Were they ashamed because of the abomination they had done? They were not even ashamed at all; they did not even know how to blush;” (Jer 6:15). This describes a mind completely desensitized to the sinfulness of sin, and thus hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
The fact that “sin is a disgrace to any people” disturbs virtually no one (Pv 14:34). The more experience they have with sin, the more skillful they become in it, “They are shrewd to do evil,” (Jer 4:22). The more success they have by it, the less they are afraid of and bothered with it and the more creative and clever their justifications become. The more dependent they are on it, the more vigorously they defend their right to it. There are no sinners so hardened as those who have sinned away their convictions of sin, “you have not merely walked in their ways or done according to their abominations; but, as if it were too little, you acted more corruptly in your conduct than they” (Ezk 16:47).
Now why is this? Why this unprecedented desensitization to the danger and evil of sin? Why this fanatical push to normalize what the Bible clearly defines as evil? Why have even most professing Christians been desensitized to the sinfulness of sin? The deceitfulness of sin has robbed most people today of their convictions of sin and so ruined their souls. They did not take care to fix a deep sense of sin on the mind and judgment. As their convictions decayed they took no care to have a sense of sin’s evil and danger deeply engraved on their minds. As God’s law, through which comes the knowledge of sin (Rm 3:20), is erased from society and religion, then people fail to remember the bitterness and evil of their sin. They think it is a trivial thing to violate God’s word (1 Kg 16:31). Professing Christians come to think that God’s moral law has no bearing on the welfare of their spiritual and public life, and that the public teaching of God’s moral law is even harmful. They come to think that they can worship God any way they choose, that it is all just a matter of personal preference, not biblical principle.
Sin diverts their minds from a right, true, and constant consideration of sin’s danger and evil, thereby desensitizing it and causing them to lose their fear of sin and of God. No one will ever repent of and forsake any sin which they do not feel and see to be sinful, and so do not fear and hate it. If the forsaking of any sin also requires the forsaking of the pleasure and gain from that sin, then they will choose the sin rather than lose its benefits. The greedy merchants would rather their slave-girl keep her demon than lose their hope of profit (Ac 16:18, 19). “Christian” bookstores would rather sell and profit from heresy than risk their bottom-line. Some would rather partner with enemies of the gospel than risk losing their religious liberty. Preachers would rather instill and reinforce a false security, round off the sharp edges of doctrine, and build their own ministries, than risk the hostility of sinners. This is always the hypocrite’s preference and choice. They judge suffering, not sin, to be the greatest evil. As long as they can gain from a profession of truth, they make a show of it, but when truth requires them to forsake all their gain, they protest that this will ruin them, and so choose sin over suffering.
All the sweetness, benefit, and trivializing of sin comes into the heart by a deception first begun in the mind, which the mind ignores and suppresses, and is therefore drawn away by it. It is a severe judgment of God when He allows people to lose their fear of sin and God, “Of whom were you worried and fearful, when you lied, and did not remember Me, nor give Me a thought? Was I not silent even for a long time so you do not fear Me” (Jer 57:11)? To sin away the conviction of sin and lose all fear of God and sin is to be irreversibly hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, “There is no relief for your breakdown, your wound is incurable” (Na 3:19). And so “they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the purpose of every kind of impurity with greediness” (Eph 4:19).
If people only remembered three things about sin, it would always make sin bitter:
- The sentence of condemnation which the law of God pronounces on those who willfully, deliberately, and habitually sin, “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment,” (Hb 10:26). Oh, consider the wrath of God. God promises to hear, help, and care for His poor people in times of hardship, distress, and suffering, but when others say, “Lord, help”, “let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord” (Jm 1:7).
- The humiliation, suffering, sorrows, and death of the Lord Jesus to acquit and free the soul from its guilt and slavery to sin, “knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb, unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Pt 1:18, 19). How can we remember what Jesus suffered for sin and not see its evil and bitterness? It is a low, wicked, and deceptive view of Christ’s suffering to use His blood as a cloak and liberty for sin.
- The grieving, quenching, and resisting the Holy Spirit by rebelling against God, “But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; therefore He turned Himself to become their enemy, He fought against them” (Is 63:10). It is a bitter thing to be the enemy of God. We grieve the Holy Spirit by coming short of that universal holiness and sanctification that our being sealed in Christ requires (Eph 4:22, 30). We lose the power and pleasure of obedience when sin loses its bitterness.
Jesus Christ and His grace can never be exceedingly sweet and satisfying to the soul until sin is first made exceedingly bitter. This is the reason Jesus Christ is not sweet or precious, but simply the means to a self-serving end, because for most people, sin has lost its bitterness. They would rather sin than suffer. They would rather have their sin than lose their pleasures, profits, and liberties. Holiness is despised in their judgments, and so they disgrace it with their tongues and with their lives. They have been benumbed by a corrupted gospel, a corrupted church, and a corrupted culture to the danger and evil of sin. Sin has never been bitter, especially sins of the heart.
The Mind’s Second Obligation
The second general duty of the mind is to keep the soul in a constant and diligent consideration of the holiness of God and His ways; on all the particular duties which God requires; that they be performed in the way God requires, and to avoid all inducements towards things which God has forbidden, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” (Rm 12:2). The way in which indwelling sin draws the mind away from this duty is rarely watched against and frequently indulged. The Bible everywhere declares this to be by the love of the world; by filling the mind with earthly things.
These are in direct opposition to God and His will, “Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (Jm 4:4); “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 Jn 2:15); “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Col 3:2). The world and God, the things above and the things that are on the earth, are two mutually exclusive things which are completely opposed and hostile to one another. They are two masters which no one can serve to the satisfaction of both. All preoccupation and disproportionate minding of earthly things is opposed to the nature of a renewed mind which is to be fixed on God in the way of obedience to His word and will (Eph 4:23, 24).
The primary way by which the mind is drawn away from this duty by the deceitfulness of sin is by its persuading the mind of the necessity of these things under the impression that they are lawful. By this way were the minds of the Corinthians drawn away and set on the things of this world, thus Paul had to remind them that, “All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Cor 6:12). In the parable told by Jesus, all those invited guests who excused themselves from coming to the dinner, did so on the pretext of being engaged in lawful things – one about his piece of land, another about his oxen, and another about his wife (Lk 14:15-24). Because these things were lawful, they saw no harm in being preoccupied with them. However, in being preoccupied with them, their minds are set on them, and they are mastered by them, and no one can serve and love two masters. We are betrothed to Christ, and what husband or wife would not be deeply wounded if their spouse’s mind were set on another?
How quickly people make idols of the world and its lusts. How preoccupied they are with “what shall we eat…what shall we drink…with what shall we clothe ourselves”? (Mt 6:31). How easily they deem their lawful desires necessary, and so predict disaster for neglecting them, are aggravated by anything that interferes with their pursuit of them, and are unwilling to forsake them when called to do so. The rich ruler’s wealth was lawful, until he refused to forsake it for Christ, then it became his downfall (Lk 18:18-27). How averse they are to separating themselves from carnal friends, carnal amusements, and carnal churches. How quick to turn their fellowship with darkness into a necessity (2 Cor 6:14). To turn lawful things into necessities, to set our minds on them, is to make them sinful, but to make sin a necessity is to turn day into night and night into day, to call evil good, and bitter sweet.
How hard it is to keep our minds set on the things that are above, where Christ is, especially in an age where we are inundated and assaulted by the messages, lusts, values, wisdom, and standards of the world, both inside as well as outside the church. It is an age in which most of what claims the title of Christianity is nothing more than a spiritualized version of the world. Yet how very few are ever warned of sin’s deceit; its evil, pollution, and danger. How few are equipped to recognize its deceptions. How many are already hardened in a false security by sin’s deceit. How many have been deceived into thinking that sin will shield them from suffering, even when the Bible declares that “the way of the treacherous is hard” (Pv 13:15), and “evil will not deliver those who practice it” (Eccl 8:8). To run from suffering to sin is to run from the apparent to the real danger.
If we are not diligently watchful, if we do not constantly dwell on the consideration of the times in which we live that make this duty essential, if we give any credence to the insinuations that we can serve two masters – one privately and another publically; one on Sunday morning and another the rest of the time – then our minds will be drawn off from a proper sense of the evil of sin, and a due and constant consideration of obedience to God and His word of grace. This is the effect for which sin aims, and it is the first step in leading the soul into spiritual death. How great is our need for divine assistance. How completely dependent we are on God’s grace to keep us from being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Yet how very, very, very few see their danger or the evil and bitterness of sin.
In our next study, given the neglect and importance of this subject, we will show what is required in the mind of a believer in regard to its obligations to God, and also, how sin works to try and draw your mind off from its obligations.