The Battle for the Mind
More From This Series
- Why is it important that our minds be submitted to God? How do our thoughts impact other areas of our lives?
- What impact does a consistent time in God’s Word have on our minds? Why is this necessary for us to submit our minds to God’s Spirit?
- What is one action step you can take with what you heard in Sunday’s message?
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:10)
Okay, let's begin by a little game called name the quote. The subject is war and you're going to name the quote. Here's the first one. "The M 1 Garand rifle is the greatest battle implement of all time." Who said it? Who said it? All right, here it is. George Patton. Some of you knew it. Secondly, "The expert in battle moves the enemy and is not moved by him." Anybody that was hanging around in roughly the 500s BC in China? Here it is, Sun Tzu, who wrote The Art of War If you've ever heard of that book.
And then the third quote, "They say the best weapon is the one you never have to fire, I respectfully disagree. I prefer the weapon you only have to fire once. That's how dad did it. that's how America does it." Who said it? Tony Stark, Iron Man. It's funny because generally speaking everyone gets that quicker than real things and that frightens me. Like real history we don't know but we know Tony Stark quotes. No, that's great.
So Sun Tzu was probably the one that was closest to capturing the right idea when in The Art of War he actually wrote, there was a number of things that are quotable in his book, I haven't read the whole book. I think it's about this thick. In that book I've read a number of excerpts from it but the idea that he was getting at was this, that the greatest weapon there is in warfare is actually the weapon of the mind. That's what he was arguing for and so some of the tactics that he talks about, he talks about some practical pragmatic things but he was talking about kind of the mind being the greatest weapon.
Here's the question I have for us today. What happens when it goes from the mind being the greatest weapon to the mind actually being the battlefield? Because what we're dealing with today is we're dealing with the mind as a battlefield. Now I think it was exactly at least in part what Paul was dealing with when he wrote to the church in Corinth because Corinth was functionally a battlefield for the mind. There's a reason for that because of the nature of how Corinth was wired as a city. The city itself was Greek so it was on the Isthmus of Greece, that's where Corinth was located about 50 miles west of Athens. Athens was the epicenter for ideas and thoughts and imaginations and arguments. It's what they did all of the time.
In fact, when Paul was in Athens he talked about what they did all of the time and here's what he said in Acts 17, "All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spend their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas." So Paul is actually recording what he's finding in Athens and I can tell you this that Corinth because it was predominantly Greek there were Jews there as well but it was predominantly Greek, it was influenced by the very same types of issues that they were walking through.
Now, if you were living in the city of Corinth you were going to be bombarded by new ideas, new thoughts, new imaginations, new arguments, new philosophies all the time. Paul says, this is what they live for and this is what they do. They're constantly doing that. Not unlike by the way the day and age that we're living in. It seems as if we are bombarded constantly with new ideas and new thoughts and new imaginations and new philosophies that are constantly battling for our mind.
Now part of the issue for Paul and the reason in part that he was writing both 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians is he's talking to the church about embracing some of these narratives that are in opposition to the Gospel. You see, there are opponents of the Gospel in Corinth that are basically trying to change the minds of new believers and in so doing they realize if I can change their minds I can change their actions and their behaviors and their life outcomes. And so Paul is concerned about what these opponents of the gospel are doing and he determines that he's going to address some of those things particularly the idea of the battlefield of the mind. He does it both in 1 Corinthians and in 2 Corinthians and we're going to find ourself in 2 Corinthians 10 and we're going to look at a basically just three verses in 2 Corinthians 10.
And here's the first one that I want to remind us of, it's inverse number three and it says this, Paul writes, "For though we live in the world we do not wage war as the world does." Now leave that up there for just a moment. That's the NIV translation, some of your translations if you're reading ESV or a New King James or whatever actually uses the literal term which is the term flesh. Now the idea of the world, right here where it says we live in the world but we don't wage war as the world does, that's certainly true. There's no question about it that kind of the the world meaning the spiritual system set up to oppose God wages war in a certain way. But the literal translation of that word world is the word flesh. In other words, though we live in the flesh we don't wage war as the flesh does.
I actually prefer that translation because Paul uses it in another form when he's talking about war and battle in Ephesians 6, notice what he says there. "For our struggle is not against," what, "flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." What Paul is communicating to us in the book of Ephesians and certainly is implied in 2 Corinthians 10 is that we have an enemy and that enemy is battling for our minds and it is a real enemy that is trying to bring down our lives.
Now, that real enemy is organized and the enemy himself is trying to do whatever he can, you know, when it talks about rulers and principalities and authorities, right, you've got this enemy Satan himself, this embodiment of evil that's strategically trying to organize in such a way such that people will believe narratives that are contrary to the reality of God and contrary to the gospel. But you know the enemy of our lives, the enemy of our hearts, he's always had a playbook and our job is to be wise to his schemes. That's what the Scripture tells us as believers, that we're to be wise to the schemes of the enemy.
If you look at kind of what he did in the very beginning, in fact you can go all the way back to the narrative in the book of Genesis where you have Eve and you have Adam and you have this serpent, this embodiment of Satan that begins doing what he does, you can start to see the playbook unfold right there. In fact, just a quick glance there in Genesis 3 says this, "Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, Did God really say you must not eat from any tree in the garden. And the woman said to the serpent, we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden but God did say you must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden and you must not touch it or you will die. You will not certainly die, the serpent said to the woman. For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband who was with her and he ate it."
Now, there's much that can be said about this passage and I've said it before in other contexts and in other messages on this passage, I don't remember which one so don't ask me. People ask me all the time, hey, you remember that message from six years ago when you're talking, I'm like no, no, I don't, but I can find it for you. It's probably online, I don't remember everything. Remind me of what I was talking about and I'll come back to it.
I want to give you just three super quick things out of here, I'm not going to list them for you, you can just jot them down if you want to but they are ways that the enemy kind of uses, he uses these things as part of his playbook. The first one is pride. You see it real clearly in here because what the enemy is appealing to even though the enemy is wrapped in pride and born in pride and wants to be like God, what he's trying to convince Eve of in this particular interchange is that she can be self-sufficient and doesn't need to be dependent on God. He's really appealing to the idea of our own vanity and our own pride. And Satan will do that time and time and time again.
But there's a second thing that he always does and that is he manipulates. What the crafty, subtle, smooth serpent was trying to do was manipulate Eve. And in fact was doing such in a way where he's acting like he's quoting God but he's actually not saying what God said. That is called manipulation and it is the height of what Satan wants to do. He wants to appeal to pride and he wants to manipulate the scenario for his purposes and his ends.
And the third thing besides pride and manipulation is distraction. You see, what Stan was doing with Eve, listen to this, he was taking her mind off of what she had, all that she had and tried to put her mind on what she didn't. He was trying to plant the seed in her mind as if God was holding out on her. And so, he's doing that in such a way that he can distract her so that she starts thinking different thoughts and is not as discerning as she ought to be.
Pride, manipulation, distraction. It's no different today. In the day and age that we live in the enemy is still actively doing what he can to try and win the battle for your mind and for my mind. and he will gladly use pride and manipulation and distraction and he will use things that maybe seem morally neutral or decent and he will try and even take those and leverage them in the directions of his purposes.
I'll give you for instance. Social media. I'm not suggesting by the way that it's inherently evil. Lot of good connections on there, good way to distribute information. You get to see pictures of your grandkids if they live elsewhere or your kids if they're elsewhere. All that stuff is great. I think it's fantastic, but the enemy will want to take that and he will want to do what he does with it in your world.
So, there's this guy named Tristan Harris. I don't know him personally and I've just listened to some of his talks. He's a young guy, he's still in his 30's and he was recognized as one the 30 under 30 most influential people in the world of technology. He's super, super smart. Graduate of Stanford and and he kind of was there in in their labs there in Stanford and then he had a technology company that ended up being bought by Google and then he was working for Google on the design side of the house.
And so, this is a guy who knows like all the kind of the back doors of everything in terms of what's being trying to be foisted upon us and he says some really interesting things and I've watched some of his talks and I find them extraordinarily interesting because some of the names of his talks are like how technology has hijacked your brain and talks like how social media has hacked your brain, how your brain is being hacked by social media. It's like really interesting and frightening kind of at the same time from a guy who was doing all of this.
Now what was interesting is that when he was at Google he was starting to have some problems with what he believed the ethics of how they were going about manipulating people's minds. He was struggling with it and he talked to them at Google and to Google's credit they actually created a position for him and he was the first ever Google design ethicist. That's a cool title, I just want that title. Like I don't care about the job, I just want the title. What do you do? I'm a Google design ethicist and people are like, wow, that is super awesome. I couldn't explain what it is. But his job basically was to make sure that the way in which they were designing and manipulating people's brains was actually good, was actually ethical, was actually something that is good for society and humanity.
Well, I don't know how that worked out for him but he ended up leaving Google in 2016 because he wanted to start his own not for profit called Time Well Spent because his concern was is that everybody in front of their screens is not the best time spent. This coming from a guy who has studied this and a guy who has actually design it knowing what he wanted to do as a result of it. And he talks a little bit about the backdoor way in which they do some of what they do and I figured I would just let you hear just a brief snippet from one of his talks about that. So take a listen to the screens.
[Tristan Harris video]
It's sort of hard to talk about this. Our minds have these kinds of back doors. If you're a human and you wake up and you open your eyes there is a certain set of dimensions to your experience that can be manipulated. When I was a kid I was a magician and you learn all about these limits, that short term memory is about this long and there's different reaction times and if you ask people certain questions in certain ways you can control the answer.
This is just the structure of being human. To be human means that you are persuadable in every single moment. I mean, think about magic as an example is that magic works on everybody, sleight of hand. It doesn't matter what language you speak, it doesn't matter how intelligent you are, it's not about what someone knows, it's about how your mind actually works.
So, knowing this it turns out that there's this whole playbook of persuasive techniques that actually I learned when I was at the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab and that most people in Silicon Valley in the tech industry learned as ways of getting your attention. So one example is we are all vulnerable to social approval. We really care what other people think of us. So for example, when you upload a new profile photo of yourself on Facebook, that's a moment where our mind is very vulnerable to knowing what other people think of my new profile photo. And so, when we get new likes on our profile photo, Facebook knowing this could actually message me and say, oh, you have new likes on your profile photo and it knows that we'll be vulnerable to that moment because we all really care about when we're tagged in a photo or when we have a new profile photo.
And the thing is that they control the dial, the technology companies control the dial for when and how long your profile photo shows up on other people's news feeds. So they can orchestrate it so that other people more often end up liking your profile photo over a delayed period of time for example so that you end having to more frequently come back and see what the new likes are.
So we have to have a new conversation about as these technology companies use these techniques, these vulnerabilities in our minds, when is that actually aligned and good for us, when is that ethical, when is that honest, when is that fair and when is that dishonest and unfair because they're actually manipulating our minds in a way that doesn't add up to our spending our time well on the screen.
I find that incredibly interesting because it's talking about this battlefield for our mind in something that we might consider a neutral which is social media that actually has some really good merits but that can be utilized in such a way to bring us to places that are not so good. For instance, there is a use of, here you go pride, because they want to appeal to your desire for social approval and for everybody to like you and for it to be about you.
Secondly, there's a manipulation they know the tools and how the brain operates so they're functioning along those lines and then there's distraction. He actually goes on one of his talks to talk about that very thing that do you know that the swiping mechanism that goes on on your phones and all that kind of stuff is basically a steal from the model of casino pools. It's where it basically comes from because what it's doing is it's basically hacking into the reward side of your brain that every time on the slot machines when you pull the thing and gets up there's this reward mechanism in your head and you pull and it comes up.
Do you know that in Vegas they've actually changed from the pull lever now to just the buttons to make it even easier for people to be addict. That's what they've done, just button, button, button, button, button. Swipe, swipe, swipe, swipe, swipe, swipe, swipe, swipe, swipe. You know what they're trying to do, create an addict. That's functionally what they're trying to do, why, because the longer you're on, the more ad space you get an opportunity to see, you get an opportunity to sell more stuff, that's the opportunity that's presented there.
Now, again, if you work in the digital world that's fine, I'm not dogging all of that and saying you have to throw everything out, I'm not saying that. What I'm saying is we have to be wise to when the enemy wants to get involved and use the same tools that he always uses even if they are reasonably good things like fruit trees or social media that can be useful and productive but he wants to get into the middle of it and he wants to try and capture our attention either through pride or through manipulation or through distraction. Why? Because this is the way in which he is actually waging war. You see, we don't wage war in the same way and we can't win in the same terms.
So what did Paul go on to say in 2 Corinthians 10:4. He says, "The weapons that we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary they have divine power to demolish strongholds." In other words, the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the flesh. They are the weapons of God. And so, if you want to not miss anything today here's the big idea of what we're talking about. Only the weapons of God can win the war for our mind. It's really that simple. Only the weapons of God can win the war for our mind. And ladies and gentlemen, if you don't think that there's a war going on for your mind, then you and I both need to wake up and take our head out of the sand. We are being constantly bombarded.
And by the way, in the digital age it's very different than just the T.V. age. Remember those of you who are old enough to remember when T.V. came out and you're going what is this going to do to the minds of our kids, right? Well, there is certainly a concern about that but it's even far, far exponentially more difficult in the digital age because as opposed to a T.V., there are a thousand designers on the back end of programs working on you, knowing how your brain operates, working exactly on you to try and convince you of whatever they're trying to convince you of or to sell you whatever they're trying to sell you. You wonder sometimes don't you when you're on a particular, you're like on something and all of a sudden this ad pops up for exactly what you were trying to find out and you're like, what, it found me. Now if you don't think that's sort of frightening, when it finds you, you're like how did they know I was looking for skis. Did Alexa tell them? What just happened? It's a little bit frightening.
All I'm saying is it's the world we live in and I get it, but we've got to be cognizant number one that we're not going to win the war for our mind trying to fight it the same way that the enemy does. Only the weapons of God can win the war from the mind. So Jerry, what are those weapons? Well, I'm going to basically talk to you quickly about two and then I'm going to give you some help after that. I could talk about a number of them, there are a number of them. I'm not covering them all. I'm limiting my discussion to two because I believe they're foundational for us.
So here's the first weapon that I would mention to you. You and I have to cooperate with the spirit and his sword. We have to cooperate with the spirit and his sword. Let me explain what I mean by that. When Paul was talking about kind of our battle armaments in Ephesians 6 that I referenced a moment ago, he talked about all of these but then when he got to the very end here's what he said in Ephesians 6:17, "Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God and pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and request and with this in mind be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people."
You see, what Paul was saying initially is is that you're going to have to prepare yourself in the spiritual battle that's being fought with your mind. You need a helmet of salvation. This is not just talking about the idea that you need to be born from above. Paul was actually already addressing Christians. He was assuming those were the people he was addressing. This isn't addressed to people that don't yet know Jesus. He's talking to people who do know Jesus and saying you need a helmet of salvation. What does a helmet cover? It covers our head. What's in our head? Our brain, our mind, what we think with. And why do we need this, here's why, because when our minds are actually fixed upon what God has done for us in Christ and the reality of the Gospel is rolling through our minds, it is like a helmet of salvation that is protecting kind of the epicenter of what's going on in this crazy battle that we find ourselves in.
This is super important for us ladies and gentlemen and he also says by the way the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. You see, if you and I are not cooperating with the spirit and allowing his sword to do its work in our minds and in our hearts we're going to find ourselves in a load of trouble because if we don't understand the nature of who God is and how he's revealed himself which we see in his word, we're not going to have a right understanding of the world that we live in. Everything we look at is going to be broken and shifty.
And so, it's super important for us that we grab a hold of this truth. That's why we have to press into the Word of God and that's why it changes our praying by the way. When you're pressed into the Word of God it changes your praying. Here's what I can tell you. If your praying is scripture fed it will be Spirit led.
A lot of people sometimes say to me, well, how do I know how to pray in the spirit. Pray the word. If your praying is scripture fed you know that it's going to be Spirit led ultimately. That is what you can count on because why, this is actually the sword of the Spirit of God. This is God's own word to us. For instance, when you are in a position where you are feeling worthless. I've had people talk to me like that before, they've said, I just don't matter. I just don't feel like I'm worthwhile.
Well, here's what I would suggest you need to do. You need to wage war with that using the weapons of God. Not your own weapons because they're going to fail. The weapons of your flesh are going to fail because you feel worthless. But what does God's Spirit say to us through the Word of God? That you're created in the image of God, you're an image bearer. That you've been called Sons and Daughters of God, that you are loved with a love that never ends and cannot be shaken. That's what the Word of God says to us. That is what it means for us to cooperate with the spirit and his sword. Or maybe you get so self-focused and so materialistic. What you need is you need to cooperate with the spirit and his sword and be reminded when the Spirit of God shows you in his word, the words of Jesus it said, whoever wants to gain the whole world can lose his own soul but whoever gives his life for me and for the gospel will actually find life and not lose it.
Jesus is trying to teach us what the way of life actually looks like and it's bigger than just our small minded stuff. Or maybe when the world is foisting upon you some ideas of sexuality or that you can pick whatever you want in terms of whether you're a male or a female. No, you can't, because biology matters, it's sacred to God. It's what God has revealed even in the very beginning when he created the male and female and by the way marriage matters between a man and a woman because it's a picture according to the book of the Ephesians of Christ's faithfulness to the church. A bridegroom and a bride.
You see, you have to let the narrative of how God has revealed Himself and His truth rush over your mind and rush over your heart because if not what will happen is you will give rise to strongholds and to walls so that you can't access the mind of Christ. You see, our first weapon is that we cooperate with the spirit and his sword but the second weapon is this, that we would be captive to the mind of Christ.
You see, this is where Paul's going in this text. And this is why I say these are foundational, we first have to cooperate with the spirit and his sword in order to be captive to the mind of Christ. Look with me in verse number five of our text, it says this, "We demolish arguments," that word demolish basically in the Greek language is talking about the idea of pulling down or tearing down, that's what the word demolish means, to pull down or tear down. We demolish arguments, that means reasonings or decisions, "and we demolish every pretension," that's a big word that the NIV chose to translate. It means lofty things, walls or obstacles. That's what the word pretension means. We tear down arguments and walls that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Now, for those of us that are wondering about this particular passage of Scripture, let me remind you of something. When Paul is talking about taking thoughts captive, he was not at that moment talking about his own thoughts. Paul was actually talking about the opponents of the Gospel who are bringing kind of false arguments and false philosophies and foisting them upon the Corinthian church. Paul was saying, I am going to with the weapons of God destroy and tear down these falsehoods so that they don't take root and build up walls in your minds. But even though he's talking about what he's doing, you and I know that there's really personal application for this because sometimes even in the heart of believers we allow things to get into our minds and walls to be built up in our minds that don't allow us to access the mind of Christ, because we've created what the Scripture calls a stronghold.
Stronghold also means a lofty things, buttress against something, a high place. We've created those sometimes in our minds. And that's why we have to cooperate with the Spirit of God and his sword so that we can be captive, listen to this, captive to the mind of Christ. That's what we want to be captive to, not captive to faults, pretensions and false arguments. We want to be captive actually to the mind of Christ. But to do that ladies and gentlemen, we have to cooperate with the spirit.
In fact, Paul said as much when he was writing his first letter to Corinth. That's almost in a sense how he begins by talking about that very idea, notice what he says, 1 Corinthians 2, he says, "The Spirit searches all things even the deep things of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except their own spirit within them. In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught us by the Spirit explaining spiritual realities with Spirit taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit but the person with the spear makes judgments about all things but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments for who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him but we have the mind of Christ."
Please hear what just got said to us. Those of us who've been transformed by the grace that has come through Jesus Christ. We have the mind of Christ. But see, here's the problem, here's the problem, it's a beautiful truth. Here's the problem, when we allow false pretensions and false arguments and false narratives because listen to this, because we are either bathing in our own pride or we have been manipulated or we are so distracted that we allow these walls to be built up that keep us from accessing the mind of Christ.
Do you know that that actually happened in Corinth and that's part of why Paul was writing the letter. That was what was going on. And specifically he was talking about the nature in which they used their gifts. Do you know that Corinth, of all the New Testament churches we read about, it is the most spiritually gifted of all of the churches that we read about in the New Testament. But do you know it is also the least mature. It is the most gifted and it is the least mature. I'm not saying there's a one to one correlation between those, I'm just telling you the facts of what the Scripture teaches us. Most gifted, least mature. Just because we're gifted doesn't necessarily mean we're mature.
You see, Paul was trying to help them with this because what was happening is that they were taking one specific gift, this gift of being able to speak in another language and they were elevating it to such a place that it was becoming self-centered as opposed to being what Paul said it should be that the manifestation of the Spirit should be given for the edification of the body. And it was becoming kind of a way to show how spiritual they were and that's what Paul was correcting. That's why he wrote chapter 12 in 1 Corinthians and that's why he wrote chapter 14 and that's why in chapter 13 there's a chapter on love. It's not just for weddings. It's actually there because he's talking about how we ought to be dealing with giftedness in the body of Christ and it should be done in love which means it's not self-seeking.
And do you know what Paul said when he was talking to them about all of this, listen to him because he's appealing to the way they think. Listen to what he said in 1 Corinthians 14, "Brothers and sisters stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants but in your thinking be adults." Now, what Paul was getting at here was this, is that in Corinth they were thinking like children, why, because they were impetuous, they were impulsive and they were selfish. That's just what children do when they're little. And sometimes when they're bigger. Impetuous, impulsive and selfish. They're not concerned about the people around them, they're concerned about themselves. That's just how they're bent is. Paul says, don't think like children in relationship to this, think like adults. In other words, be considered in your thinking and be others centered instead of self focused.
But how in the world can we do that when we're so distracted in the world that we live in. We're so distracted. We literally can't stop checking our phones. The reward center in our brain every time it buzzes tells us, oh, I've got to find out what's happening even if something greater is actually happening in real life. We can't get away from distraction. That is why we continue to press on the idea, listen to this, my concern in the day and age that we live in is people are losing the ability to think, to reflect, to consider, to examine, we are losing that ability and that is not a good thing because it will lead to a lack of discernment. That is a problem. Listen to this. Think about it for just a moment. We live in an age where there is more information available to us than all of the ages in history combined up to this point yet we lack wisdom.
Information doesn't equal wisdom. The revelation of who God is is what equals wisdom. Proverbs writer says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. You see, you and I have to remember this because we buy into all of these false narratives. You know, when Paul was writing to his young protege Timothy he was actually telling Timothy If you'll stop and think and consider God will give you insight. Look at look at this cooperation with God. You work hard at thinking and considering about what I'm saying in the Revelation of God and God will help you with insight. In fact, after he gave this illustration to Timothy he said, it's kind of like he talked about soldiers and citizens and athletes and farmers and he talked about all this in 2 Timothy. Then here's what he says in 2 Timothy 2, "Reflect, consider, think, dwell upon, meditate on what I am saying and the Lord will give you insight into all of this." DO you see the cooperation that's going on there?
We have to give ourselves in our minds to the reflection and the consideration on the Word of God. This is what co-operating with the spirit looks like, and what will God do? He will give us insight by the mind of Christ. This is foundational for what we do and who we are.
So, we can't battle and win this battle when we're trying to fight on the same terms as the enemy. Only the weapons of God will win the war for the mind. Only the weapons of God will win the war for the mind. So here's how to use it, okay, Jerry, how do I do that? Well, it begins when we submit our minds to God. We submit them. We submit our minds and our wills to the Holy Spirit so that the Holy Spirit can use the sword, the Word of God to shape our minds and our lives and our hearts in the direction he wants us to go. You say okay, well, how do I do that? Well, at the very least it has to begin by us unplugging from distraction and having some time where we just center ourselves on the revelation of God and his Word and listening to the voice of the Spirit as we do so. It has to at least begin there. At least.
And then when you get into that Spock I would recommend that you ask the Holy Spirit some questions based on what you're reading, based on what is going on in your life that you start to ask the Holy Spirit some evaluative questions. Say, Jerry can you help me with some of those? Yes, I am here for you. I'm going to give you four questions and I'm doing this because I think they'll be helpful, I've used them in my own world and I think they'll be helpful for you.
Here are the four questions, here's the first one. Is it true? So in other words, when you want to cooperate with God by His Spirit through His Word, you need to be able to take whatever you're being bombarded with in the world that you live in and you need to be able to press that up against the Word of God and ask the question is it true.
For instance, I hear it over and over and over and over again. Man, you just need to speak your truth. You just need to tell your truth, you just need to live your truth. As if, I understand sort of what's being said but it's implying that truth is subjective and relative and that there is no objective standard of truth at all. So what you need to do is you need to take that before the Spirit of God and the Word of God and ask the question is that true and allow God's spirit to begin to show you, for instance, if he leads you into John 14:6 when Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the father except through me." In other words, Jesus himself is truth. There is no definition of truth outside of him because he himself is truth.
So anything that is, listen to this, anything inconsistent with the nature and teaching and action of Jesus we don't consider truth because he himself is truth. He is the revelation of God in bodily form. This is why we have to press in to the Word of God so that we understand these very things. Or maybe you're experiencing those thoughts again, right. I feel alone, I feel unloved. Get with an open Bible and ask the Holy Spirit is that feeling true. Am I unloved and am I alone? I can promise you what that answer is going to be. I can promise you. You are never alone.
God says, never will I leave you, never will I forsake you. Jesus says, even to the ends of the earth I will be with you and you will never be unloved. That has been demonstrated at a cross in a town that is a historical place in time where God in the flesh went to a cross taking your sin and my sin upon himself so that we would not have to experience the wrath of God but that he would experience the wrath of God, the just wrath of God in our place so that we by faith in Him who is resurrected from the dead can be reconciled to the Father. We are so loved we don't know what to do with ourselves. It's beyond our ability to comprehend. This is what we have to understand, is it true.
Let me give you a second question. Where is my hope? And this is a really good question, when you're kind of, if you're willing to evaluate your life, listen to this, evaluate your life and lay it all on the table before God, not as if you have to put it out there for him to see it, it's actually for you to see it. He already sees it. Just put your whole life on the table in front of God and evaluate it and start asking the Holy Spirit this question, where truly is my hope. Is my hope in my job and the aspirations I have for the future? Is my hope in my relationships or potential relationships? Is my hope in my aspirations for my kids? Or is my hope really fixed in Jesus? I am hopeful in Jesus above everything else, that nothing in my life has become an idol in place of the living Lord Jesus Christ in whom I put all my faith and confidence and trust.
Ask the Holy Spirit because he can help us with that. And if he shows you that it's not, it's not to beat you down. It's actually to reshape you more into the image of Jesus.
Let me give you a third question. Spirit would you please witness to me about Jesus? I really like this question. So you might be saying, that seems like a weird question Jerry, I don't really understand it. Spirit, will you please witness to me about Jesus? Listen to this, here's where I'm getting at. The Gospel is the story of Jesus. The great news of who he is, what he's done and why he did it. And when we let the Spirit of God testify to us about Jesus do you know what we're doing, we're letting the Spirit do what he does of primary ministry.
Do you know that the priority primary ministry of the Holy Spirit is testifying to the Son of God. It is testifying to the person of Jesus Christ and do you know that when sometimes we hear the idea of the Gospel speaking to people, the only thing we think about is how people who don't know Jesus need to hear the good news of the gospel. That is absolutely true. Everyone who does not know Jesus needs to hear the good news of the gospel that they can be forgiven and set free and change forever. Everyone needs to hear that. But every believer's best news that you'll hear today is the gospel of what Jesus is doing in your life because of what he's done at the cross and through his resurrection and now the Ministry of his Spirit in our lives shaping us more into his image.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is what happens when we have strongholds that are built up in our head, when we can say Spirit, will you cast a fire to me about Jesus because I've got a scenario in my life where I'm struggling. I don't really want to forgive these people, testify to me about Jesus and the Spirit shows you that while we were yet sinners Christ still died for us and that we are to forgive even as God in Christ has forgiven us and all the sudden the Gospel starts taking every stone of every wall in our life and throwing it away. This is what this means.
You see, we have to get to places where we allow ourselves to be transformed by the Gospel. Well, I don't know if I can love these people because they're certainly not loving me back. Maybe if we say spirit, will you testify to me about Jesus who first loved us, even when we were lost and undone who first loved us. We love because you have first loved us. This is what the ongoing ministry of the Gospel in our hearts does to us ladies and gentlemen. The Spirit of God uses it significantly.
Last question and I'll have to find a place to quit. What fruit do I see? When you just lay yourself out before the Lord and say, Holy Spirit, would you show me what fruit am I actually seeing in my life? What is the fruit of my life? What does it look like? It should be obvious to us. I can show you the difference between the fruit of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, it says this, "The Acts of the flesh are obvious. Sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery. Idolatry and witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage. Selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy. Drunkenness, orgies and the like."
I warn you as I did before that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God but the fruit, that singular by the way, the fruit, singular. In other words, this isn't a smorgasbord where you just pick. Like when you're filled with the spirit you have all of this. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires and since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the spirit.
You see, I say all this to you, you need to ask the question, what kind of fruit do I see in my life? What is the fruit of my life? And allow the Holy Spirit to reshape you or to change you or to course correct you or whatever. Because there is a war going on and you have a real enemy and this enemy wants your mind because with your mind he gets your behavior and he gets your outcomes and he gets your actions. But please remember this, only the weapons of God can win the war for the mind. So, let's submit our minds to the spirit and his sword and let's start now.