Sunday, August 08, 2010

Value of Spiritual Mindset

Paul told the Romans that those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. I believe that a spiritual mindset could also be described as desiring to do what is good (7:18), delighting in God's law (7:22), or being in one's mind a slave to God's law (7:25). Paul's struggle as one who wanted to do right, but didn't do it, put him in a horrible predicament as long as he was under the Law of Moses. He was dead even though he wanted to do right. After all, the law of sin and death is "You sin, you die."

There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, though! As a baptized believer, Paul had died to sin and the law of the Spirit of Life had set him free from the law of sin and death. Before faith, when he sinned, he died. That was the law.

Now a more powerful law put him in a relationship with God in which when he sinned, because he has the Spirit, he lived! The law of sin and death had no authority in his life.

If you are in Christ, you have your mindset on what the Spirit desires. You know what the Spirit desires! His fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You know that when you are struck, his way directs you to turn the other cheek. The Spirit's way is one of "extra-mile" living, enemy loving, truth telling, marriage sticking, anger controlling, self-less giving, cross carrying, Christ-modeled forgiving, and mercy offering.

When you have the war going on between what you desire in your mind and what you actually do in the flesh, you can be assured that God knows your mindset, he knows your heart, and for you there is no condemnation when you do what you don't want to do – or fail to do what you want to do. We don't have to worry over "the wretched man" syndrome. Yet, doesn't the war in our minds make us want to get better at the battle? Of course it does. Considering the power of sin, is there any hope for that? After all, while my salvation is not based on my ability to ultimately refuse all temptation, committing the sin does often still consequences beyond the sorrow.

N. T. Wright wrote After You Believe (Harper Collins Publishers) and Relevant magazine ( included an excerpt in the article "Living in the In-Between" (July-Aug 2010, p. 66-67). He addressed the impact of spiritual "effort and concentration" (i.e. mindset). His description of "virtue" from 2 Peter 1:5 ("goodness" in NIV), affirms the hope we have for winning more battles by God's grace!

Virtue, in this sense, isn't simply another way of saying "goodness." The word has sometimes been flattened out like that (perhaps because we instinctively want to escape its challenge). Virtue, in this strict sense, is what happens when someone has made a thousand small choices, requiring effort and concentration, to do something which is good and right but which doesn't "come naturally" - and then, on the thousand and first time, when it really matters, they find that they do what's required "automatically," as we say. On that thousand and first occasion, it does indeed look as if it "just happens"; but reflection tells us it doesn't just happen as easily as that. Virtue doesn't come by accident. It comes through the self-discipline required to do anything in life really well - to learn a musical instrument, to mend a tractor, to give a lecture, to run an orphanage. Or, indeed, to live as a wise human being.

A mindset on holy living reveals that we are "in Christ" where there is not condemnation. That same mindset is the beginning for developing Christ-like virtue so that we can live as wise citizens, employees, husbands, wives, parents, and children.

Care to mention virtue in a particular area that you've seen grow in someone – even yourself?

That's Life at Work!