One of the reasons there is so much confusion within the church today regarding what the Bible teaches on such issues as creation or the definition of marriage is that many Christians make decisions based upon sentimentalism, emotionalism, and anti-intellectualism. The church is continually having to contend against those who position faith only in terms of emotionalism and feeling. This is why, when issues arise within the church (such as evolution or homosexuality), anyone who dares to give a biblical response to such issues is seen as wrong and unacceptable. People can be more offended that sin is confronted than that sin offends a Holy God.
The end result of this is that many Christians see the mind as a terrible thing and head knowledge as a disease that needs to be cured. However, this is in total contrast to how Jesus told us how to love God:
Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. (Matthew 22:37)
This is not to say we become “puffed up with knowledge” (1 Corinthians 8:1) but that we use our minds to think biblically when it comes to the decisions we make in life. There are three things to keep in mind when thinking about the mind. But before we look at the mind we need to consider how the Bible understands the heart.
The biblical understanding of the heart refers to the center of our will and moral activities (1 Samuel 16:7; Jeremiah 17:10). Yet in order to avoid using the mind many Christians follow the cultural definition of the heart (emotions) when it comes to decision-making. This is why we hear people say things like “just follow your heart” or “trust what you heart says.” Yet they forget that the Bible tells us not to trust our hearts: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9).” The reasoning of our hearts depends on our moral condition (Matthew 12:33–34; 15:19). This is why the Bible tells us that we need a new heart, given to us by the Spirit of God, in order to love God (Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10). It is only God who can purify our hearts if our consciences have been defiled (Psalm 51:10).
Rather than dulling our minds with the thinking of the world, we need to educate our hearts by applying it to the knowledge in God’s Word (Proverbs 22:17). In this way it will be guarded against sin (Psalm 119:11). Because of its vital importance, we are told to
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23, ESV)
One of the reasons we struggle to think biblically about the decisions we make in our lives is that ever since Adam disobeyed God in the garden, our minds have been corrupted by the effects of sin. The New Testament uses various words to describe the ruin of humanity’s intellect: futile (Romans 1:21), debased (Romans 1:28), deluded (Colossians 2:4, ESV), and darkened (Ephesians 4:18). This is important to understand, as the effects of sin on our mind has consequences for how people view God and the world around them (Romans 8:5–7).
For this reason, the Apostle Paul exhorts Christians, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). The word world (aion) in this context refers to the thinking of the age. Becoming a Christian does not erase all effects of sin—even as Christians we still have the capacity to think like the world if we do not allow Scripture to renew our minds.
For example, when it comes to making biblical decisions that are opposed to the thinking of the culture, people often respond, “How can you be so close minded?” However, as G. K Chesterton pointed out, “The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid.” Once we realise what the Scripture says on issues like the definition of marriage, i.e. between a man and a woman (Matthew 19:4–6), then we need to shut our minds upon it.
Yet many Christians today have been influenced by a pagan understanding of the mind in that they see the mind as something that needs to be emptied in order for the divine to invade us. However, the biblical understanding of knowing God is not that of emptying one’s mind but of filling it up with God’s Word (Psalm 1:1–2).
In the Christian’s spiritual battle, the key element that is being fought over is the mind (2 Corinthians 10:3–5). Just as Satan appealed to Eve’s mind to get her to disobey God, so he wants to deceive Christian minds (2 Corinthians 11:3). For this reason, our minds need to be daily renewed by God’s Word so that we are not conformed to the world and do not adopt its thinking patterns.
Paul told the Corinthian church, which loved the wisdom of the world, that Christians are to “have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). Therefore, as Christians, whatever Jesus believed concerning issues such as creation (Mark 10:6) or marriage (Matthew 19:4–6) should be what we believe.
Jesus, in his humanity, was the ideal example of someone who loved God’s Word and meditated upon it (Luke 2:41–49). He even applied God’s Word when correction needed to be given (Matthew 15:1–9, 22:23–33).
Although it may be a very easy thing to say, it will be a daily challenge for us all to have the mind of Christ in our lives. Nevertheless, Jesus’ use of His mind is an example to us. The resources that Jesus relied on to complete His ministry are the same resources available to us: the Word of God (Matthew 4:1–11), prayer (John 17:1), and the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:14–18; Acts 10:38).