Everywhere you turn people are talking about the battle over the mind. Truthfully, it isn’t the mind where the battle begins for the Christian. That is a semi-Buddhist philosophy, and it is true for someone who is not a Christian. For believers, however, it is not the mind where the battle takes place. Don’t misunderstand: the mind is very important. Nevertheless, it is not the mind that creates the greatest amount of problems for God’s people. So if the battle is not over the mind, where is it?
The battle for the child of God is in the body. Romans 12 tells us that we are to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. When our bodies are submitted, then our minds are transformed by the Holy Spirit within. When a person trusts Jesus, they try to change their life by changing their mind, but the only change of mind that we are to have is one of repentance which leads us to three conclusions:
1. I am not my own.
2. I was bought with a price.
3. I am to glorify God in my body.
Heretofore we live to satisfy our flesh, but when we repent, we change our mind to acknowledge these three principles. That is the only work of the mind over which we have any control. The control of the mind is the work of the Holy Spirit for the believer. Once we have submitted our bodies, the Holy Spirit begins the work of transformation. Our battle is our body—our flesh. Paul spoke of this fact numerous times as he spoke about buffeting his body, not living in the flesh, and other examples where he refers to bringing his body under subjection, not his mind.
Let me give you an example:
All decisions begin with the flesh. If I decide to stop eating junk food, my mind does not automatically quit wanting junk food. If I submit my flesh to refrain from eating that food, my mind will eventually be convinced of the benefits that have taken place. I don’t fill my mind with transforming thoughts so that I’ll quit eating junk food. I quit eating junk food, and then my mind is transformed. I repented of the fact that junk food is bad for me, but that did not make my mind hate junk food. “Mind over matter” is psychological, not spiritual. It is possible that someone can mentally change, but that is not a transformation from within. Spiritual transformation can take place only by the work of the Holy Spirit, not our own mental determination.
I am not my own, therefore I am to glorify God in my body. The submission of the body is the beginning of the transformation of the mind. The reason people cannot win the battle of the mind is because they are fighting the battle themselves. The battle of the mind is won by the Holy Spirit after we have committed our bodies to Christ. The person who has an impure mind must submit their bodies to God to be chaste or holy. After the submission of their body, the spirit of God begins the work of transformation of the mind.
Paul spoke of himself as having victory in his mind, but a battle in his flash. Truly in our minds we often determine to submit ourselves to God, but our bodies fight us. It is when we submit the body to the Holy Spirit that the transformation of the mind takes place. That is why it’s so important that our bodies are under submission. It is not just the words of a song that affect our minds, but the way the song affects our bodies. It is not just a message of what we read that is the problem, but the temptation within our bodies. The lust of the flesh is mentioned first, because it is the one that causes us the most problems. Most people sin because their bodies have never truly been sacrificed to God. Paul said to “mortify your members,” and that means to treat them as though they are dead, along with the affections and lusts. The Holy Spirit is within us to control our minds, but we must first submit our bodies.
The philosophy that states that it is a mental thing to be submitted to Christ is a pagan philosophy. It teaches that our minds control our bodies rather than the Holy Spirit through our minds. The Bible says, “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” However the beginning of the pure heart is the presentation of our bodies as a sacrifice to God. We are to deny ourselves for the purpose of God taking control of our minds. Jesus said “if any man will come after me, let him deny himself.” There you find the denial of the flesh. If you read your Bible carefully you will find that it is the surrender of our bodies that proves our commitment to Christ. Once we have done this, the Holy Spirit begins the work of transformation in our minds, which gives us an even greater victory over sin in our lives.
Just filling our minds with all good thoughts will not overcome the flesh. Only when we put our flesh on the altar and sacrifice it to our Lord can we truly have victory in our minds. The purpose of transformation in the mind is not to give us victory over the flesh. Victory in the mind is to give us direction to accomplish the will of God in our lives. You see, it is a step-by-step process that begins with surrendering the body. Transforming the mind is so that we can know and do the will of God. We think that victory of the mind will give us victory over sin, but it is actually given to us in order for us to know and do the will of God. To have a transformed mind to accomplish our physical victory is self-centered. However to have a transformed mind in order to know the will of God is God-centered. When we teach our children to have a pure mind, we are not saying something wrong, but we must also teach them how to consecrate their bodies to Christ. Denying ourselves is a pivotal part of doing the will of God because until we submit our bodies to him, our minds will not be transformed for the purpose of doing his will.