Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered May 1. 2004 by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

It's All in Your Mind

Romans 8:5-11

This morning I would like to speak with you about what's between your ears. The Bible calls it the "heart." In other places it's called the "mind." I used to give a lot more credit to the devil than he deserves. I used to think that if a temptation came it was the devil's fault. However the truth is that in most circumstances my own sinful nature is quite often the real culprit. I am led away because of my own desires. The Devil is not even mentioned in our Scripture today in Romans 8. If you would like to come to Romans 8 in your Bible, here the Bible says that every one of us are controlled by two things. There are just two things that control us. We are either controlled by our own sinful nature, or we're controlled by the Holy Spirit. One or the other. Let's first talk about the sinful nature.

Controlled by the sinful nature:

This leads to death and the other one leads to life. Look at Romans 8:5. Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires;... You have seen people domineered by their sinful nature. They focus on self. Their desires are all selfish. We could say they are controlled by lust or pride or sinful passion. Their mind is "set" on sin. They are controlled by their evil nature. There are several people in the Bible that have displayed at one time or another in their life this attribute.

Isaac was controlled by his carnal nature in Genesis 27. He was controlled by the lust of the flesh. What was one of Isaac's favorite things? Savory venison! He loved it. In Genesis 27, the words, venison or savory meat or eat, are mentioned about twenty times. This was one of the big things in his life. If you look at Genesis 25:28. I'm going to use the King James Version. It says, And Isaac loved Esau because he did eat of his venison. I think that is a fair idea or concept to get from that translation. He loved him because he cooked the good food. Do you men love your wives because of the food? We don't read that Isaac loved Esau because Esau was a holy man of God. Esau was not a man of God. Esau had the upper hand because he catered to his father's warped appetite.

Isaac's lusty appetite led to many mistakes in his life. The errors of the carnal mind are illustrated in Isaac's successive mistakes with his two sons. He had Esau and Jacob. His stomach ruled and his mind failed him. Isaac thought he was going to die (Genesis 27:2). He was wrong in that, because actually he lived on for at least another 40 years or more. His senses failed him. He thought, "Well it is time to give away everything. I'm going to die." But he didn't die at that time. The carnal mind relies exclusively on the five senses. His sense of taste deceived him; He thought he was eating savory venison, instead he was eating an old goat. His sense of touch failed him. He touched and he thought that was Isaac's hairy arm. But it wasn't. It was part of the goat. I'd think it would get your goat after a while. His sense of sight was gone, so that failed him. His sense of smell deceived him. He smelled Jacob, or what he thought was Jacob, and thought that it was Esau. Only his sense of hearing did not deceive him. If you go by the carnal mind you will be deceived.

It was God's will for Jacob to have the blessing according to Genesis 25:23. However Isaac at that time, like Eve, was controlled by his stomach. And so, he thought Esau got the blessing. If you are controlled by your hormones you will be out of control. Isaac's son Esau caught the same spirit from his dad. He became a man controlled by his passions. A very interesting man if you study his future. He was always carrying a chip on his shoulder. He slipped further and further away from God.

We meet folk controlled by the carnal nature every day. You've met people who are dominated by their passions. Have you met people like that? You talk about one man and he says, "You know, I wrote a hymn in this hymn book. I did that!" You're meeting a person who is full of a lot of pride anyway. You meet other people and they 're controlled by beauty. Others by pride, or ambition or beauty. They keep the tanning parlors in business. They are controlled by lust. They are controlled by wealth. "If you could just see the size of my bank account!" They are controlled by materialism. "Look at all this stuff I've got. I need some more stuff." I'll tell you that if you allow such things to control your life you are headed for self destruction; for spiritual suicide. You are being controlled by the carnal nature, the worldly nature, the sinful nature. You are not becoming fit for heaven but fit for destruction.

Peter did that. Come over here to Matthew 16 in the bible. Peter was a man controlled by the carnal nature at one time in his life. He was not an evil man. Peter just had his thoughts in the wrong place. And was that bad? Is it bad to have your thoughts in the wrong place? Well, notice what Jesus said to Peter in Matthew16:23. Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan!" Was this serious, or not? What was wrong with Peter? Get behind me, Satan because you are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." "You are thinking carnally. You don't have the things of God in your mind. You have the carnal nature." Peter's problem was between his ears. His mind was set on bad things and Jesus saw the Devil coming through in his life.

James and John had the same problem. They had spiritual mental illness because their minds were not right. They clamored over who would sit in this side of Jesus and who would sit on that side of Jesus. We shouldn't be arguing about that stuff. Let's just be thankful to be there even if you live near the city dump of the New Jerusalem if there is such a place. Just be thankful to be there. This doesn't necessarily mean that Peter and John were focused on gross sensuality or sexuality. They were selfish and envious. These are all a part of flesh thinking. You can read the whole list in Galatians 5:19-21, all of the flesh thinking that goes on.

Another example of this type of behavior: if you are controlled by your carnal mind are your children. Your children could be controlled by the carnal mind. If your children feed for hours on the cartoon diet and sit mesmerized by Hollywood's videos and TV all that fun and and all that violence, they are experiencing moral disintegration. It will desensitize their young minds. Bit by bit preschooler minds can thus be taken captive by the world. During the first six years especially, the minds of our children are the most vulnerable. This is when their personality, their character, their habits, their mind potential are established. All this during the first six years. Don't let the tube take your kids down the tubes. It will happen

I just read in a magazine that one of our members supplies me. Researchers found... You'll find this very interesting. They studied hundreds and hundreds of kids and researchers found that if a child between the ages of one and three watches TV, for each hour they watch per day, they face a ten percent increased risk factor of having attention deficit disorder. Two hours - 20%, three hours - 30%. And they develop that up to the time they are seven. This is (u)The Week Magazine, April 23, 2004. p. 21. This is the latest findings. Just out. Watch what is taking the kids down the tubes. It could be the Tube. (TV)

We've got to reset our mind. We reset our clocks. You've got to refocus your mind, you've got to refocus your family on Jesus, on spiritual things. You can't focus your family on the world. What dominates your thoughts? What do you think about in your spare moments? What pops into your mind when you really don't have anything to particular going on? Is it something spiritual? Or is it something carnal?

Continuing at Romans 8:6. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; You might think this verse would say, and you might have thought this when I read it, "the mind of a sinful man leads to death." That's not what it says. The Bible says, "the mind of a sinful man is death!" It doesn't lead to death, it is death. Those who have their mind "set on the flesh" (NASB) are spiritually dead. Now, the question comes, "If they are dead, how can they come back to God?" Can a dead person come to God? Can a dead person set out to find God? No, they can't! Dead people can't find God. As George Knight aptly puts it:

He makes the first initiation in the return process. Praise the Lord, God does that.

God gently shakes us, and tries to wake us up from our fleshy thinking. And when you respond to the Lord, before it's too late in our lives, before sin has us, and we don't even want to listen to Him any more. Those who refuse to awaken to His efforts will eventually be eternally dead. Respond to God before it is too late, while you can. Romans 8:7-8 (RSV). "The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God: it does not submit to God's law, indeed it cannot; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. We reset our clocks, we must also reset our minds on God. Don't set your mind on the flesh. What your mind dwells on has eternal consequences. If you think about the carnal things, that's the direction you're headed. Instead, set your mind on the things of God.

Controlled by the Holy Spirit

So, now let's talk about being controlled by the Holy Spirit. Do you know how to avoid the mistakes made by the carnal mind? Well, you need a new mind. You need the mind of Christ! Philippians 2:5. Various versions read differently. The NIV reads, "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus." The King James says. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. The RSV says the same thing. You need the same thinking, the same attitude, the same mind that Jesus has. "Let this mind which is in Christ Jesus." This is one of the most exciting things in the whole Bible right here. It's fantastic. Think about what this is saying. This text says that it is possible for the human mind for saved human beings to eventually think like Jesus, with the mind of Jesus! It is possible for you to think with the mind of Jesus. Wouldn't you like to think with His brain, His mind? It is possible for human beings to eventually think with the mind of Jesus. Do we normally do this? No, probably not. Because we don't think with the Mind of Jesus we don't live as Jesus lived. Our goal is to be like Jesus. At least that's my goal. I'll never be God, of course, but I'm striving to be as close to Him as I can be. You'll never be like Jesus in your actions until you become like Jesus in your thoughts. Don't go out and battle the battle with alcohol. That's not where the battle is. The battle is with the brain. If you'd think the right thoughts, your body will respond.

Human beings can change their lives by changing the thoughts of their mind. That's how you change your life. If an unrighteous man wants to abandon his sinful ways he has to abandon his sinful thoughts. It's just that simple. Isaiah 55:7,8. KJV Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts. In order for you to forsake the way of sin, you have to forsake the thought of sin. Verse 8: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. If you want the way to be right then the thought ought to be right. It starts with the brain. One reason His ways are different than our ways is because His thoughts are different than our thoughts. Well, you can think with the mind of Christ. We need and we can have the mind of Christ.

You know, I'm not smart enough to be in charge of my own brain. I want to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, don't you? We need to have the mind of Christ. Now, why do we need the mind of Christ? Well, Romans 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God. (NIV) The sinful mind is hostile to God. How do we get the mind of Christ? I wouldn't want to close without telling you how to get the mind of Christ. You get it by just by inviting and allowing the Holy Spirit to control our mind.

Then, we daily grow closer to Jesus. Heaven is reflected more and more in our thoughts and more and more in our actions. We live the Christ controlled life and make steadfast advancement toward Christ-likeness. Like Enoch we walk with God and got closer and closer and finally he just in heaven one day. That's what it needs to be like with us. And you can do this. On resurrection morning, heaven will be just a natural transition of a Spirit led life.

Romans 8:9. 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.

Author and professional speaker Debbie Ford was leading a workshop at a large hotel a few years ago when the fire alarm suddenly went off. It was a loud alarm and finally over the P.A. system came this recording: "Please exit the building. The building is on fire. Exit in an orderly way. Get out of here." The hotel management assured the workshop participants "There is no fire. We're testing the system. Everything is just fine. You may stay here, everything is great." The people said, "Go ahead with your lecture. And she tried to, but it was a powerful distraction all through the hallways and in the room, with the blaring, "Please get out of here!"

The workshop participants asked Ms. Ford to continue her talk. But the recording in the background served as a powerful distraction. She asked her audience, "How many of you would choose to listen to this alarm all day? If you could turn it off, wouldn't you do so?" And they all wanted it off.

Then Ms. Ford made the point that many of us walk around all day with destructive distractions going off in our mind and we never can focus on God. We can't focus on the things of the Holy Spirit because of all these distractions that are going off in our mind. That's our problem. We are hopelessly bogged down by negative thinking, maybe, or by worldly thinking. If each of us monitored our inward thoughts we might find that they are filled with negative worldly junk. It bogs you down. You don't want it. Each item screams for our attention. But you need to focus on the Holy Spirit and get the mind of Jesus.

What goes on in our heads is very, very important. You can control your actions by controlling your thoughts. How we respond to those thoughts determines our eternal destiny. Isaac thought he could not control his craving for savory venison. Mark 9:23 KJV Jesus said - If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. If you invite the Holy Spirit into your heart, you can live the Christian life. You don't have to be hopelessly bogged down into sin.

Jeremiah 17:9. "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. You can't cure this disease. That's why we need a new heart. I don't need God to come in and remodel my brain. I need a new mind. I need the mind of Christ in my life. I need a brand new heart.

Each of us needs a spiritual heart transplant. Our heart is not clean. Scientists have discovered that every snowflake has a tiny piece of dust at its core. Every snowflake has a "dirty heart." In the spiritual realm, when the blood of Christ is applied to the heart of an unbeliever, it cleanses him from all sin. Not a speck of defilement remains, for God removes every stain. I wonder if God knew about the tiny piece of dirt in the heart of each flake of snow when He caused David to write in Psalm 51.7, wash me, and I will be whiter than snow, Every snowflake isn't quite white. It has a dirty heart. And David said, "If you wash me I will be whiter than snow."

The average man has sixty-six pounds of muscle, forty pounds of bone, but only three and a half pounds of brain maybe that explains a lot of things. However, when the Holy Spirit takes up dwelling in your brain, in your heart, the new heart then outweighs everything else! Maybe that explains a few things, too. You need to have the Holy Spirit in your mind. That is the key, and you get that by praying for it and asking the Lord for it, by studying your Bible. I read a whole book of the Bible through this morning before I arrived here at 7:15. We must have a new mind.

God says: And I will give them a new heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take out the stony heart. I will take the stony heart out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh that they may walk in my statutes and keep my ordinances and obey them. And they shall be my people and I will be their God. Ezekiel 11:19-20

I want a new heart so I can think new and good thoughts. What you think about all day long has eternal consequences. Proverbs 23:7 KJV, For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. You are what you think about.

One day a pretty white wooly lamb walked by a pig pen and saw the pigs wallowing in the cool mud. "Momma, can I jump in?" "No." "Why not?" The mother sheep said: "Sheep do not wallow!" One hot day the little lamb could not get the pig pen out of his mind. Finally he followed his thoughts and ran and jumped right into the pig pen. The mud felt so cool on his feet, legs and soon his stomach. He was so cool and so nice and he was having a good time. Mommy had been wrong.

Finally he felt cooled off and started to leave. He could not get out because the mud had stuck o the wool, and he was bogged down with the stuff. His Pleasure had become his prison. And if the pleasures of this world get a hold of you, they will become your prison. Finally the little lamb cried out and the kind farmer came and rescued him. From that day on he focused on filling his mind with thoughts of the cool shade of the green pastures beside the clear flowing waters.

What starts out as a simple thought may ultimately determine our eternal destiny.

If you wallow your thoughts in the hog yard of filth and sin, you may soon follow your thinking and that's where you'll be. Then your temporary pleasure will become your eternal prison. Christians don't Wallow! Proverbs 23:7 For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. You are becoming what you think about. Can I urge you to think about Jesus Christ? Can I urge you to allow the Holy Spirit to come into your mind, invite Him to come into your mind? Ask God for a new heart. He'll give it to you. Ask Him to breathe on you. "Breathe on me, Breath of God. Make me new."

You see, Your future is in your mind. You are becoming what you think about in your private moments. If it isn't good, ask God for a New Heart! Ask forgiveness for the past wallowing in muck. Invite the Holy Spirit to take charge of your mind.

Romans 8:11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

Jesus' own resurrection is the guarantee that those who ask God for a new mind set on Jesus will also be raised back to life at the last day. Sources: Walking with Paul through the Book of Romans, by George R. Knight, Review and Herald Publishing Association, Hagerstown, MD, 2002. The Letter to the Romans, by William Barclay, Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1975. The Secret of the Shadow by Debbie Ford (Harper San Francisco, 2002). Excerpted in The Oprah Magazine Jan. 2002, p. 65. Exploring Romans, by John Phillips, Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, NJ, 1991. *****

Hymn of Praise: #4,  Praise My Soul, the King of Heaven
Scripture:  Romans 8:5-11
Hymn of Response: #265,  Breathe on Me, Breath of God 


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