Most people understand that excellence in almost any area of life is a function of the state of our minds when we engage in the activities. Coaches preach this in athletics. Teachers exhort this in academics. Bosses encourage this on the job. The quality of familial relationships often rises and falls based on the mental presence of the family members.
We should not be surprised that the Christian life requires a discipline and presence on our minds. After all, the Greatest Command of Jesus tells us as much
One of the most important theology books ever written is Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards. There is no way that I can give a brief synopsis of the book (although Joe Rigney has a great readers’ guide https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/religious-affections), but there is a key concept underlying the book concerning the way that the human mind, body, emotions, and actions work together.
Actions do not simply occur without precedent. Every action begins with something our body detects with our five senses. Those senses then translate into understanding in the human mind. The human mind takes its various thoughts and forms affections concerning how we think and feel about the things we understand. Affections in turn give force to the human will. It is by our will that we perform actions in our bodies.
Any and every right behavior has to run its course through our mind. This is what makes the state of a Christian’s mind so important.
In teaching the believers of Asia how to thrive in exile, Peter digs into the state of mind that is required for this. Read together what he says:
Austin summarizes three keys in this passage to winning the battle of the mind.
- Get your hope right. Long for what He alone will bring you.
- Don’t be conformed to sin. Let the standard of His holiness be what you expect for yourself.
- Respect what got you here. Let the weightiness of your salvation keep you grounded and motivated.
- Describe a time when you lost hope and it impacted your way of living.
- Why is hope so critically important for preparing our minds? (v. 13)
- Where do we have to find hope?
- What role does hope play in becoming “obedient children?” (v. 14)
- How do knowledge and ignorance play a role in our obedience (knowing God’s person and ways)?
- What does God’s holiness have to do with our righteousness? (v. 15-16)
- Do you think that a Christian necessarily has to sin?
- How do you reconcile our failures with God’s holiness?
- What role does Christ play in making us right with God? (v. 18-21)
- Does knowing the depth of the Gospel make a difference in your frame of mind?
- How are you developing a healthy fear that will result in a changed mind? (v. 17)