Have you ever tried not to think about anything? It’s impossible. If nothing else you end up thinking about trying not to think. The mind is constantly working, even when we sleep. Psychologists say that 10,000 thoughts go through the human mind in one day. We can’t choose not to think, but we can choose what to think about.
There is a famous scene in Peter Pan. Peter is in the children’s bedroom; they have seen him fly; and they wish to fly too. They have tried it from the floor and they have tried it from the beds and the result is failure. “How do you do it?” John asked. And Peter answered: “You just think lovely, wonderful thoughts and they lift you up in the air.” The same is true for the believer. The only way to defeat evil thoughts is to begin to think of something else.
In our reading today, Paul contrasts different mindsets, different patterns of thinking.
Romans 8:5–9 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. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
Paul is describing in these verses two kind of people, those who live according to the sinful nature and those who live according to the Spirit. A person is either one or the other. The first thinks of what they want, how to fulfill their desires. The second thinks about doing what the Spirit desires. Paul says that the first kind of person does not belong to Christ while the second does.
As disciples, then, we are to have our minds set on what the Spirit desires.
- If I knew what you think, I would know what you are. Our thoughts make us what we are.—Dale Carnegie
- A man is what he thinks about all day long.—Ralph Waldo Emerson
All who belong to Christ have the Spirit of Christ
This is the promise made to all believers
Acts 2:38–39 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
It is impossible to live the Christian life without the Holy Spirit
Gives a new life
Gives a new identity – children of God
The result is:
A new life here and now
Peace – with God
As a result of what Jesus did
We do not become puppets, however. We are called to walk in the Spirit, to allow Him to fill and control us.
Ephesians 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
We have a choice. God has given us everything we need for life, abundant life, and offers to help us in living that life. We can continue living with our selves at the center, fulfilling our own desires, or we can surrender to God and let Him be at the center, of our lives and our hearts.
Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
What are our minds set on?