THE SOUND MIND
Jesus linked spiritual maturity to a person’s thinking. Such was His rebuke of Peter at the Mount of Transfiguration, for jumping to short-sighted, religious conclusions. Clearly, there was more required of the mantle Peter was destined to wield. It was a mantle requiring not only the wisdom of maturity, but the wholeness of a sound mind.
Peter, at the time of the Mount of Transfiguration, had spent more time with Jesus than most of us have in a lifetime. Yet Jesus’ sharp rebuke was telling Peter that his short-sighted conclusions marked him as an agent of Satan. Such thinking bore the distinction of being the thoughts of men rather than God’s. Then, despite Jesus having long-since defined the trust and maturity expected of those of His inner circle, when He raised the bar to them being friends; in that critical juncture leading to Jesus’ crucifixion, Peter’s thinking was still such that his response to the circumstances would short-circuit and he would betray Jesus.
So, what is it that makes the distinction between the thoughts of God and the thoughts of men?
Solomon, the man uniquely anointed with wisdom, gave greater focus in his proverbs to those without it: fools. He observed that as a man thinks, so he is. Yet despite having walked closely with Jesus and been among the inner-circle to see Him transfigured, Peter’s conclusions failed him and relegated him to the category of a fool.
When you study the factors in the makeup of fools it is clear that being a fool has nothing to do with ones’ smarts. Indeed most fools, by the world’s standards, exhibit plenty in terms of their raw intelligence. Even success. The issue is in the conclusions drawn from their thinking. It is a matter involving the dichotomy of their thinking with God’s.
So, in the path to a sound mind, the issue to avoid is misdirected thinking. The conclusions drawn are what determine ones’ attitudes and actions. The dividing asunder of a sound mind are the choices of thinking that steer the decisions toward the realm of the thoughts of God. Wisdom, that links our thinking to God’s, then is thinking with a discernment beyond the ordinary that taps the unseen or spiritual realm.
Identity and Corrupting Influences
The world of Solomon, as was the world of the key players and scribes throughout the Bible, was a supernatural world. The cultures described throughout the Word of God were guided by thinking laced with the supernatural.
God sent Abraham away from a culture marked by sorcery and corruption. In doing so, God gave Abraham the opportunity to build his legacy based on a pure mind, a worldview, undefiled by the perversity of a society defined by sorcery and corruption that so pervaded people’s thinking in the land of Ur. Such was the foundation to the thinking that has been the distinctive defining God’s people since the days of Abraham.
Despite the cultural uniqueness embedded by David in bringing Israel together into a Kingdom, Israel would progressively shun the blessings of God while being enticed by the thinking driven by the worldview of those around them. This was the lure of wanting to be like “everyone else.” This was the chink in the armor of Peter’s thinking that triggered Jesus’ rebuke of him at the extraordinary supernatural event that had just happened on the Mount of Transfiguration.
The seeming worst example of God’s people drawing conclusions shaped by misdirected thinking was during the time of Ahab and Jezebel. Such misdirected conclusions amassed to the extent of Israel losing their grasp of their unique identity in God, Those were days when corruption and sorcery were integrated into, defiling the very seats of power of the people and culture of God. Such spiritual defilements distort the perceptions of reality, provoking misdirected conclusions and confusion.
Reaching a climax in the days of Jeremiah, the source of the undermining spiritual influence for the community of God’s people was prophetically labeled as Babylon and Chaldea. Still, it was the identical thing as was operating in the days of Abraham: corruption and sorcery. Today, despite the masks, the world around us continues to be empowered by these same supernatural dimensions.
The Battle for the Mind
The relevance of the ancient challenge is still the battle for the mind. The snare for God’s people has always been wanting to be like the world around them. The basis for Peter’s misfire at the Mount was driven by religious thinking bearing subtle similarities, but with differences that overshadow the higher-dimensions of “thinking like God.” It is the challenge that prevails even within our current generation.
The battle for the mind begins and ends as an identity thing. Paul describes those without God as being of depraved or unregenerate minds. He described the people of God with one foot in the world while still trying to identify with God as being of a carnal mind. He also made reference to the weak-minded. At the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter failed to see the big-picture of Jesus’ mission with His thinking conforming to a more base, human outlook. Getting the big-picture, God-perspective right — factors significantly into the filters of reality for the sound thinking expected of mature believers, those called as game-changers.
Unregenerate means not spiritually or morally reformed. In other words, the fear of evil, or the fear of man, or both is greater than the fear of God. The result is the acquiescence to the thoughts and forces of evil rather than those of God and unsound thinking. This all takes place in the mind. Unsound thinking yields a range of consequences, individually and culturally, each of which short-circuit God’s best.
Despite the examples of the spiritual stumbling of those who have preceded us, within the West today are entire segments of the Body, who tend to align themselves with the watered-down moral codes and thinking of everyone else. Especially within the refinements of the West, they fail to recognize the supernatural and the age-old drama playing out with sorcery and corruption. It’s been said that the greatest deceit the devil has ever accomplished was the perception of him being a myth, that he doesn’t exist.
The Subtle Challenges
Yet the realities of the supernatural underpinnings are in strong operating evidence in places like Africa. Where fear rules, it distorts the perceptions of the realities shaping the cultural thinking. Having spent time in a number of African settings, I know the realities and influence of witchcraft. It impacts the very foundations of governmental, business and religious arenas in African settings.
Trying to be like the West doesn’t change the spiritual actualities in Africa. Its realities trigger
levels of fear too frequently deferred to and at times simply adhered to by ones confessing their faith as believers. The fear of evil yields torment. The fear of God produces peace and wholeness. Jesus spent entire nights with the Father. It takes discipline to produce the sound mind able to gain mastery over the fear of evil.
One of my bedrock Scriptures is the proverb: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him [and His ways] and He will direct your paths.” This admonition in Proverbs goes on to tell us not to be wise in our own eyes, but to fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Doing so will be healing to our flesh and refreshment to our bones. God-thinking yields wholeness in both mind and body.
Yet, the stumbling from unregenerate, carnal and weak minds has been because the means of resisting evil, first given to Abraham, then elaborated on by Moses, exemplified by David, punctuated by the prophets, then brought to a new level by Jesus — have been taken too lightly by those enticed in their thinking to wanting to conform to another standard: to be like everyone else.
The Mind-Set and Courage
The orientation of one’s thinking is what we refer to as the mind-set. It represents the poise of the soul, which is one’s mind, will and emotions. The poise of the soul comprises the attitudes, worldview and thinking that have been shaped by one’s culture in the aggregate, with specifics engrained from the predispositions imparted by families and peers.
From the days of Abraham, to the proverbs of Solomon, to the prophets and Jesus, God has let those known by His Name to realize that their mind-sets, the poise of their souls, are to be distinct and different from the world around them. This is what Jesus referred to as being in the world but not of it. Our role is as a culture within other cultures. The foundation for making this work is noted by the scripture describing when God chose Abraham because he would instruct his children and his household after him in the way of the Lord. It was and is a path requiring disciplined thinking. It is the thinking that directs the emotions, rather than the other way around.
Jesus marveled at the mind-set of the Centurion: a man under disciplined authority who had discerned the reality of true spiritual authority. His words were: “I have not found such great faith, not even in all of Israel.” What was it that he discerned in the attitudes, predispositions and thinking of the Centurion?
The Centurion understood what it meant to prepare for and step into the unknown. He understood what it meant to face your fears. He understood the realities of risk — when everything was at stake. He had the wisdom, seasoning and discipline to operate under the extremes of duress. He understood what it meant to be willing to die for what you believed. Each bear on the bridge between the natural and supernatural. They reflect the courage and confidence needed in the walk of faith to uphold the standard and make the right decisions. They are the distinctions of leaders with sound minds. That is what faith produces when one faces the realities and challenges of a corrupt world with the discipline of a sound mind.
God’s purpose and plan for His people, from the time of the fall, has been to prepare a society of leaders whose influence would reshape the mores, values and thinking of the godless cultures around them. This requires thinking that accurately processes reality. As such, true leadership requires tough-minded, disciplined thinking. It requires thinking that understands the unseen or spiritual realm. It requires facts and discernment beyond the superficial. My entire career as a planning consultant was based on assisting senior decision-makers to glean the facts and alternatives that were in the threshold beyond ordinary, but too-often short-sighted, superficial thinking. It’s what Pharaoh saw in Joseph.
Solomon told the story of “a community, a small city and a great ruler who came against it and a poor wise man, who by his wise thinking delivered them. Yet no one remembered the poor wise man. Wisdom is better than strength.” Why? It is because strength or power without the wisdom linked to God-thinking, gives an inaccurate picture of reality. It is the short-sighted response based on jumping to conclusions and illusive, consensus-thinking.
Nevertheless, sadly after avoiding the dire consequences posed in this story, Solomon notes that “the poor man’s wisdom is despised and his words not heard.” His conclusion taps the root of the courage required for true leadership: that “it is the words of the wise spoken quietly that should be heard, rather than the shout of a ruler of fools.”
Sound thinking is based on facts and wisdom applied to those facts. Scripture describes the prudent as the ones who are cautious in drawing conclusions and taking action, who do their research, to accurately check out the facts. Likewise, Solomon notes that the first one to plead his cause seems right until his neighbor comes and examines him. This is as the Apostle James admonished: to walk in the gentleness of wisdom, which is pure, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits and without hypocrisy.
Spiritual Maturity and Renewed Thinking
Paul, as the Apostle and Teacher for all Jesus represented, was always pointing to our reach for spiritual maturity. At one point, he summed it up with three words: power, love and a sound mind. They go together, but a sound mind is the result of mature spiritual thinking. It comes in stages, as Paul expressed, by the renewing of our minds. A sound mind draws from this ongoing process of renewal in being exposed to Truth and the mind of the Lord.
The sound mind requires an intentional process of listening and then doing. When developed, it comprises the composition of the corridors and pillars of our minds that filter the sensory input we encounter into the conceptualizations of the realities by which we draw our conclusions.
Our mind-set or state of mind as believers starts with our citizenship, our identity. That citizenship has defined the Jews over the centuries: as being a prophetic people of God. This should be our identity as well. Holding to this identity is reinforced by the community, in that it supports and continually triggers the process of our minds being renewed according to this standard, the standard central to Jesus’ message: the Kingdom of God.
Corruption and sorcery — and perverse thinking — are embedded within the business and governmental infrastructures of both Western and non-Western societies. They foster subtle hidden agendas, that call black white and white black, that undermine their righteous values, mores and agendas. Their spiritual source is a counterfeit to the reality of God.
It is for this reason, that the Body needs a wake-up call to the realities — that as a culture within other cultures, we cannot be like everyone else. We need a wake-up call that playing church, as sweet, nice people is a losing proposition. We need to recognize that unregenerate, carnal and weak minds are as Jesus addressed Peter on the Mount of Transfiguration: being used by Satan because they trigger the thinking of men rather than God’s. In doing so, they deny the fullness of the protection and the strategies drawn from the power of God needed for the season upon us.
The Goal of Changing Our Thinking
The traction to mobilizing believers into the maturity for renewed thinking produces committed, sound minds. This can only happen by proactively engaging in the process of cleaning up and renewing our minds by our adherence to the Kingdom standard.
Jesus started off His earthly ministry with the admonition: repent, the Kingdom of God is here. Repent in that context simply means to change your thinking. Begin thinking as a citizen of the Kingdom. Kingdom thinking is different from worldly thinking. It means we face our fears rather than abide with them or allow them to overwhelm our decisions. We prayerfully turn to God at every juncture. Kingdom thinking also tends to be a paradox to the way the world draws conclusions. We live by dying. We lead by serving. Honor comes from humility. We advance by yielding. We bless those who curse us. True forgiveness eliminates bitter roots. Forgiving those who have wronged us is a gift we give ourselves. It takes courage to reach for, no less to live by this standard.
The issue that plagued Peter is that subtle factor still an issue today among highly capable believers. Peter’s actions broke his own heart, yet Jesus’ post-resurrection word to him was one of simplicity needed for Peter to align his thinking. When Jesus advised Peter to feed his lambs and sheep, it was a word of wisdom that it was not what Peter could do for the Lord, but rather what Peter allowed the Lord to do through him. That began the turning to when Peter was described within the context of great fear coming upon all the church and all who heard those things, of people being healed by simply the shadow of Peter passing by them.
The apostle Paul was constantly advising his people to raise the bar in their thinking: whatever things are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — then meditate on THESE things, and the God of peace will be with you. That’s the choice in today’s world of clutter and noise. Such focus in our thinking builds and gives life, indeed is the pathway to a sound mind.
The sound mind is what protects and gives peace. The sound mind gives passage to opportunity. It is unwavering in its fear of God. The parameters of the sound mind provide the pure filter through which reality is processed. Its unadulterated foundations are devoid of fear and serve as reflectors of God and the Kingdom standard. It requires the discipline of time spent abiding in Him, in Spirit and in Truth.
There is no coexistence between good and evil. The process of demarcation is being witnessed across the earth today, not only in the increase in the persecuted response to believers, but in the quest of seats of power arrayed against good and God and Israel.
The response, the blueprint, individually and within society, combines these three key elements: power, love and a sound mind. First, the righteous power that Jesus modeled. Next is the God-love, that greater love that sacrificially gives of itself, that Jesus spoke of that blots out fear. Then there is the sound mind, the mind operating in Messiah Jesus, that Paul advised the mature to reach for — that holds it all together and through which faith operates.
This is the force defining the sons of God that creation longs for the revealing of, the game-changers whose authority will provide the shift in the spiritual atmosphere to trigger the long-awaited restoration.
Jesus warned Martha that she was worried, anxious and distracted, but one thing was necessary. That one thing was abiding in Him. Those who enter His rest are not buffeted by fears, doubts or worries, anxieties or distractions. This is where the power resides as perfect love has no agreement with fear. This is the realm where the natural comes in line with the supernatural for those who have stayed the course to operate with faith produced by sound minds. This is the dimension in which there is no vestige of variation between the mind of the Lord and those known as His sons. These are those for whom all creation longs to see revealed.
Morris Ruddick has been a forerunner and spokesman for the higher dimensions of business leadership since the mid-90s. As founder of Global Initiatives Foundation and designer of the God’s Economy Entrepreneurial Equippers Program, Mr. Ruddick imparts hope and equips economic community builders to be blessed to be a blessing where God’s light is dim in diverse regions around the globe.
He is author of “The Joseph-Daniel Calling;” “Gods Economy, Israel and the Nations;” “The Heart of a King;” “Something More;” “Righteous Power in a Corrupt World;” “Leadership by Anointing;” and “Mantle of Fire,” which address the mobilization of business and governmental leaders with destinies to impact their communities. They are available in print and e-versions from www.Amazon.com, www.apple.com/ibooks and www.BarnesandNoble.com.
Global Initiatives Foundation (www.strategic-initiatives.org) is a tax-exempt 501 (c) 3 non-profit whose efforts are enabled by the generosity of a remnant of faithful friends and contributors whose vision aligns with God’s heart to mobilize economic community builders imparting influence and the blessings of God. Checks on US banks should be made out to Global Initiatives and mailed to PO Box 370291, Denver CO 80237 or by credit card at http://strategicintercession.org/support/
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2019 Copyright Morris Ruddick — firstname.lastname@example.org
Reproduction is prohibited unless permission is given by a SIGN advisor. Since early 1996, the Strategic Intercession Global Network (SIGN) has mobilized prophetic intercessors and leaders committed to targeting strategic-level issues impacting the Body on a global basis. For previous posts or more information on SIGN, check: http://www.strategicintercession.org