True Freedom- wk 5 - Spiritually Minded

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Spiritually Minded

Last week we talked about identity. Specifically, we saw that God alone has the right to determine our worth and define our identity. He sets our value and has decided that we are worth the life of His own Son. When Jesus traded places with us, He took our punishment and, in Him, He made us righteous. Our true identity is found “in Christ.”
We also looked at some scripture that talks about our identity “in Christ.” What we found is that all of Christ’s accomplishments and victories that were made for our benefit were also credited to us as though WE had accomplished them. When Jesus suffered and died for us, He did so as our representative. He won the victory in our place.
Everything the bible says is true of Christ followers is true because we are “in Him.” Scripture identifies believers with Christ. That is an important stepping stone for our subject this week. Today we are talking about being “spiritually minded.” What does it mean to be spiritually minded?
You’ve probably heard of worshipping with your heart or your head. That is Christian-ese for the idea that some people see musical worship or some other emotive method of worship as the primary means of drawing close to God, while others see it as being teaching and preaching.
Even the bible mentions different categories when it comes to worship. A great example of this can be found in Jesus’ teachings. Someone once tried to test Jesus and asked Him how to inherit eternal life...
Luke 10:26–28 NLT
26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?” 27 The man answered, “ ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” 28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”
Here they discussed the heart, soul, strength, and mind. In other places, Jesus mentions the Spirit and the body. Later we will see Paul make the same comparison in his letter to the Romans. This series is based on the River Valley Church bible study called “Freedom: Moving Forward in Purpose”, and I really like the way they state this thought in a simple and easy to grasp way by referencing 1 Thessalonians 5:23.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 NLT
23 Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.
They teach that you have 3 parts, and I will paraphrase this part...
You are a spirit, you have a soul, and you live in a body. Your body is the part of you that you naturally know best because you are fully aware of it’s needs and desires. Your 5 senses alert you to pain or pleasure, comfort or discomfort, sickness or health, and so-on.
The soul is made up of the mind, the will, and the emotions. It is the part of you that reasons, thinks, and feels. It determines which of the body’s needs get met and which of the desires of the spirit are carried out. But even with all the decision-making power, soul is not the real you. The real you is your spirit.
Your spirit is the most important part of you. It is the part of you where God determines your acceptance and righteousness. He doesn’t look to your soul or to your body, He looks to your spirit. Thankfully then, this part of you isn’t even really you — it is Christ in you.
Galatians 2:20 NLT
20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
I really love the way they portray this idea. When I think of my spirit like this, it really puts faith into perspective. For example, I am familiar with my body. I have 5 senses that I use for that awareness. I am familiar with my command center, or the inner workings of my thoughts and emotions, what they call my soul. But when it comes to my spirit, I must rely on Christ in me and not myself. Faith.
Here is the most interesting part though. Even though your spirit is the most important part of you, you cannot perceive it’s existence. We can’t smell it, touch it, etc… Science cannot locate it. Many people aren’t aware they have one. The only way to know what is going on with your spirit is by faith in what God tells you.
If that sounds risky, think about your body for a second. You can perceive your body. Raise your hand if you know what you look like… How do you know? You have never actually seen your face. It is physically impossible to see yourself in the same way other’s can see you. You’ve seen your reflection in a mirror, but you’ve never stared into your own eyes in the way others can.
You look in a mirror, see your reflection, believe that reflection, and act on what you see. James paralleled looking at our reflection in a mirror with looking at God’s perfect law.
James 1:23–25 NLT
23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.
In other words, the Bible is a spiritual mirror. When we hear or read the Word, it is like we are looking into this spiritual mirror. We see what the spirit inside of us looks like and what it is like to live a life of true freedom.
The spiritual mirror says that…
“In Him, we became the righteousness of God.”
“Through Him, we are more than conquerors.”
“By His stripes, we were healed.”
Here is a local favorite… “We have the mind of Christ.”
The tough part is when we feel more like the man looking into the mirror that James described. I see myself, walk away, and forget what I look like. Forget what God’s Word says about me. Forget who God says I am. My soul and my body are not naturally in agreement with the spirit, so it is important to take deliberate steps to remember what I see in the mirror. Looking in the spiritual mirror is the only way to get a clear picture of what my spirit looks like, and having that clear picture is the only way to see results in the rest of me.
Everyone faces the struggle between spirit and flesh. Even the disciples faced the conflict of willingness of spirit and weakness of flesh. Jesus warned them to pray so they wouldn’t fall into temptation. Shortly before Jesus was arrested He was praying. He told the disciples to sit and pray as well. Every time He returned to them, they were sleeping. That’s when He told them…
Matthew 26:41 NLT
41 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”
We all must face this struggle. The important thing to remember is where we set our minds. James said to focus your mind on God’s perfect law, not just being a listener, but also a doer of the word. Focus on what God say’s about who you are and DO what He has called you to do. Let God’s word define you.
In what has become a fairly well known passage of scripture, Paul compared people who set their minds on flesh with people who set their minds on the Spirit. Things of the flesh would be the old way of thinking, the old self. Thinking about things that aren’t in line with God’s law. Alternatively, things of the Spirit are things that submit to God. Things that produce fruit, such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Romans 8:6 ESV
6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
The Greek word Paul used in this chapter is “phrónēma” (fron'-ay-mah), and it means “what one has in the mind, the thoughts and purposes.” So, according to Paul, the question for us becomes...

What thoughts and purposes are in your mind?

When life happens, how do you respond? Do you have a spiritual response because you have set your mind on the Spirit? Or do you have a carnal response because your mind is set on the flesh? When something happens and you begin to evaluate that situation, do you hear “I can’t, I will never, I, I, I, I”, or do you hear “Jesus will, He heals, He provides.
When you think about the crazy economy:
Carnal response would be, “What will I do? Who will hire me in this economy? How will I pay the bills? I am so worried.
Spiritual: “I didn’t see this coming, but God knew it would happen. He has a plan. He will provide. I will trust Him. He will take care of me.
Someone hurt you:
Carnal: “Why do I even try to have friends? I always end up disappointed. Everyone has good friends but me. Nobody likes me. I am so lonely.
Spiritual: “God will never leave or forsake me. He is near to the brokenhearted. I can always count on Him. He will heal my heart.
An opportunity was given to someone else:
Carnal: “I never get asked to do anything. All the meaningful jobs are given to others. No one has ever noticed what I have to offer. I am offended.
Spiritual: “I wanted to serve in that position, but I am thankful they found someone that could fill the need. God has gifted me and given me a desire to use these gifts. He will provide an opportunity for me.”
Carnal: “What am I going to do? Dr. Google says these symptoms are serious. I am so afraid.”
Spiritual: “I will not fear, Jesus is my healer.”
These are just some quick examples to get your mind fired up. What thoughts and purposes are in your mind? How do you respond to situations? Do you remember what you look like in the spiritual mirror? Is your mind set on the Spirit or the flesh?
Every day most, if not all, of us step in front of a mirror and remind ourselves what we look like. We make small changes here and there, trim the hair we don’t like, and hopefully at least brush our teeth. It is far more important for us to step in front of the spiritual mirror and remind ourselves of what God says our spirit looks like. Renewing our mind with the identity that He has given us.
My weaknesses don’t define me, the strength I have in Christ defines me. My failures don’t define me, the victory I have in Christ defines me. How much could it change your life to see yourself the way God sees you? What if it was at least as important to us as our own physical image that we see in the bathroom mirror? How much different would you think and live on a daily basis? To Paul, this was of utmost importance...
Romans 12:1–2 NLT
1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
So how can we be more spiritually minded? Most of the time things are much more complicated than than just “giving it to God and letting Him transform my mind.” How can I live the life that James and Paul described, where my mind is set on the Spirit, I am living for God, and I am a doer of the word? John Piper wrote an article online in 2006 called “How to be Spiritually Minded.
He said that one day he was watching TV when a Mac ad came on. You may remember those ads where the cool looking guy represented a Mac computer and the nerdy guy represented the PC. The idea was that Mac’s are super cool and PC’s are super lame. Piper said that while he was watching the ad he began to wonder if he was being lured away from being spiritually minded. In his words, “… Was I drifting into the very fascination and desire that makes God feel remote and the Bible unattractive and heaven irrelevant and hell inconceivable?
Longing to be spiritually minded all the time, he decided to write down some strategies for being spiritually minded.

Realize your outer nature is wasting away and inner nature must be renewed by setting your mind on things that are above. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

2 Corinthians 4:16–18 (NLT)
16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Take radical steps to keep your mind pure. (Matthew 5:27-29)

Matthew 5:27–29 (NLT)
27 “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

Make God the gladness of all your joys. (Psalm 43:4)

Psalm 43:4 (NLT)
4 There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God!
Piper explains this thought to mean that every joy you experience should become a joy in God. If it cannot do that then it is unspiritual joy.

See each person you meet as you will see them a hundred years from now. (Luke 16:22-23) (2 Corinthians 5:16)

Luke 16:22–23 (NLT)
22 “Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to sit beside Abraham at the heavenly banquet. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and he went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side.
2 Corinthians 5:16 (NLT)
16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!

Ponder that at every moment, even your happiest, there is misery and wailing in 10,000 places, some of them very near. (2 Corinthians 6:10)

2 Corinthians 6:10 (NLT)
10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.
John Piper shared a story written by David Brickner that puts the pain of those around us into perspective. There is always someone hurting somewhere. Someone who needs that inexpressible joy that only God can bring. The spiritual riches that we can share. Listen to his story...
Some months ago I was flying home from a meeting when the man sitting behind me began gasping for breath. An announcement over the plane’s intercom called for a physician. Soon a doctor and several nurses came to the man’s aid but to no avail. I began to pray for the man and his wife, who was sitting beside him. The pilot announced that due to a medical emergency the plane was going to land in Edmonton. I could hear the activity behind me escalate as the doctor and nurses took turns doing CPR. If you’ve never been near a person who is dying despite these efforts, I can assure you that it is not much worse than what we see on television. The sound of air being forced out of a human being’s lungs, the sounds and smells of the death rattle were horrific. I heard the doctor pronounce, “Time of death, 10:25 A. M.”
And then the captain announced that the passenger’s situation had “stabilized,” and therefore we would continue to San Francisco. I don’t know how many people realized that what was announced as though it was the passing of the emergency was actually a veiled announcement of the passing of this man’s life. Certainly those of us nearby knew. The flight attendants pulled a blanket over his head. His wife, still beside him, was sobbing and moaning. And then the flight attendants began to come through the aisles . . . serving lunch! Lunch!? How could anyone in that cabin eat after what had just happened? But they did. (Jews for Jesus, Newsletter, Nov. 2006, p. 1)

Remember Jesus’ warning about what chokes spiritual life: cares, riches and pleasures of life. (Luke 8:14) (Mark 4:19)

Luke 8:14 (NLT)
14 The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity.
Mark 4:19 (NLT)
19 but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced.

Ponder what smells good to God and what he delights in! (Ephesians 5:2) (2 Corinthians 2:15) (Psalm 147:10)

Ephesians 5:2 (NLT)
2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.
2 Corinthians 2:15 (NLT)
15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God...
Psalm 147:10 (NLT)
10 He takes no pleasure in the strength of a horse or in human might.

Be friends with spiritually minded people. (Proverbs 13:20) (1 Corinthians 15:33)

Proverbs 13:20 (NLT)
20 Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.
1 Corinthians 15:33 (NLT)
33 … for “bad company corrupts good character.”

Read God-besotted, spiritually minded writers.

In the article, Piper lists some recommendations if you are interested in checking them out.

Ponder your life that will very soon be without a body. (2 Corinthians 5:8)

2 Corinthians 5:8 (NLT)
8 Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.
Piper asks, “How attached are all your joys to your body?” I think that is a profoundly important question to ponder often.

Think about how short life is. (1 Peter 1:24-25)

1 Peter 1:24–25 (NLT)
24 … “People are like grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades. 25 But the word of the Lord remains forever.” And that word is the Good News that was preached to you.

Ask for spiritual-mindedness. (Psalm 90:14)

Take a note from Psalmists in the bible. They would often pray for the heart and mind they longed to have.
Psalm 90:14 (NLT)
14 Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.

Remember you died with Christ and have crucified the flesh. (Galatians 5:24)

Galatians 5:24 (NLT)
24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.

Accept God’s appointed suffering as discipline to bring about greater spiritual mindedness. (2 Corinthians 1:8-9) (Hebrews 12:7-11)

2 Corinthians 1:8–9 (NLT)
8 We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. 9 In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.
Hebrews 12:7 (NLT)
7 As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father?

Go to the hospital to pray with a dying man. (Ecclesiastes 7:2)

Ecclesiastes 7:2 (NLT)
2 Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties. After all, everyone dies— so the living should take this to heart.
This is a very sobering thing to do. In Piper’s words the experience, “blew away much worldliness from [his] mind.”

Risk being thought foolish and weird. (Matthew 10:25)

Matthew 10:25 (NLT)
25 Students are to be like their teacher, and slaves are to be like their master. And since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, the members of my household will be called by even worse names!

Realize that millions of people in the other religions of the world are not looking for people with more American cultural coolness or techno savvy. They are looking for a “holy man,” a “man of God.”

People all over the world are not looking for the funnest church atmosphere, the funniest preacher, or the heart wrenching emotional concert experience. They are looking for something real. Someone who is more than a hearer, but a doer of the word. Someone who is like the person Paul described who doesn’t copy the behavior of others, but who gives themselves as living sacrifices to God so that He can transform their mind.
What thoughts and purposes are in your mind? What mirror do you look into to see who you really are? You are a spiritual being with a soul who lives in a body.
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