"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace." — Romans 8:5-6, ESV
It is easier to focus on the issues rather than dealing with the root of those issues. It is easier to deal with symptoms than it is to face the real problem that the symptoms all spring out of. The problem with this is that we never really settle anything. Nothing is changed until the root is taken care of.
I was spending time with Jesus this morning and this passage from Romans made me stop. I was not able to go on until I chewed on it for a bit. And here's the line that came to me: it all starts in the mind. The battle for us begins in the mind. This is why Paul, later in his letter to the Christians in Rome, says this, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of our mind,…" (Romans 12:2a, ESV). It all starts in the mind.
Every decision that we make begins with a willful decision in the mind to move forward with that decision. Whether we decide to do something virtuous or destructive, it all begins in the mind. We think about it. We think through it. But what exactly is the mind? As the picture shows, we think the mind to be something in our brains. Because all of our thinking happens in the brain, the mind must be there. However, the mind is more than the thinking part in the brain. Rather, the mind is the thoughts/emotions/passions/convictions of the person.
Jesus would refer to this all-inclusiveness of the person as the heart. Jesus said, "The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks" (Luke 6:45, ESV). From within my person will come the words and actions that coincide with my person.
But so what? Why does this matter? Christians: are we involved in a purposed process of renewing our minds on a continual basis. The battle begins in the mind, not in our actions. The battle begins in the "heart" of man, not in outside appearances. The battle has been waged and is raging.
Are we experiencing victory? Are we experiencing life and peace? Are we in the fight? We must continue in the fight. We proclaim that Jesus changes and transforms lives. Do our lives show that? Are we walking and breathing testimonies of the faithfulness and life-changing power of Christ? Our answer is dependent upon this: what we set our minds on. Period. It all starts in the mind.