The Dangers Of Thinking With Ourselves
As we know, Jesus said the first and the greatest commandment requires that we…
“…love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”
Mind: dee-an’-oy-ah, Our thoughts, our disposition, the exercise of the imagination and understanding.
Hence, we understand that we have an obligation to think properly; to submit our thought life to God and to His Word. Furthermore, the Bible commands us in…
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Our minds are to belong to God. We must not think independently from Him, lest we fall prey to a multitude of satanic lies and fleshly delusions. Repentance demands that we forsake all sin to follow Jesus. We must renounce all behavior that is contrary to God’s law, but remember, every act has a mind behind it. Every sinful attitude of heart is birthed out of a philosophy. Hence, true repentance requires we not only turn away from sin, we must change our mind. In this article, a warning from the testimony of the Apostle Paul, “The Dangers of Thinking With Ourselves.”
“I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.”
Of course, the context here is the Apostle Paul’s testimony before King Agrippa. Paul is giving the King a short personal history before leading into his dramatic conversion. Here, beginning in verse 9, he makes this incredible, but very telling statement…
“I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.”
Of course, I realize this statement addresses the Apostle’s pre-conversion experience. Nevertheless, there are lessons for us to learn. If we’re not fully abiding in Jesus and submitting our thought-life to Him, we indeed will, by default, think with ourselves…
“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
According to our text, this mind, this independent thinking, has great potential for destruction…
FIRST, WE SEE THAT THIS MIND IS SELF-CENTERED
Acts 26:9a I verily thought with myself…
To the casual observer, this looks like an innocent enough statement. However, there is perhaps nothing more dangerous than ourselves. Think about it, who has been the worst influence in your life? Who has gotten you in more trouble more often than anyone else? Who has led you into sin after sin? If we are honest, we must confess it is none other than ourselves. Hence, an inner exchange with our worst spiritual enemy is dangerous indeed.
1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
Because of the above principles, we are always seeking to limit bad influences in our lives, and rightly so. Nonetheless, our greatest enemy, our most undermining influence, can be found in our own mind unsubmitted to God. That old mind, that carnal mind, is self-centered in the extreme. It always concentrates on “self” and puts God somewhere other than first. In regeneration, it is essential that independent thinking be crucified. Without exception, that old, carnal way of thinking will always counsel you to consider what’s best for “you”; and, make no mistake, “you first” thinking is the foundation for all sin and deception. Hence, if we fail to recognize, confess, and forsake our selfish thought life we have fallen short of Biblical repentance.
This is a basic and elementary condition if we are to submit to Jesus as Lord, as the Bible says…
2 Cor. 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ…
DON’T BE SURPRISED, THAT MIND CAN WAX RELIGIOUS
Galatians 1:14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
We know that Saul, the Pharisee, was a very “religious” man. He was familiar, even intimate with the Scriptures. He was zealous for the law, even blameless in externals. Yet, he was so deluded that he openly opposed the God of the Bible and fought against the Lawgiver of the law. Make no mistake, if we allow ourselves to think independently from God and His Word we potentially conditioning ourselves to violently, yet unconsciously, resist Jesus Christ. No doctrine will be sacred, no eternal truth above our desecration. To preserve the self-life, that fallen mind will crucify Christ afresh over and over.
However, even more intriguing, notice, Saul was blessed by current/popular spiritual wisdom.
Acts 26:12 Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests…
Friend, when you find yourself thinking thoughts that the world/apostate church would approve of, you’re in grave trouble.
1 John 4:5 They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.
THAT MIND IS DECEIVED
Acts 26:15a And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.
When we think with ourselves we become oblivious to spiritual reality. As I mentioned, so deceived was Saul the Pharisee, that when he met the God he professed to serve face to face he asked, “who are you?” Such is the fruit of thinking with ourselves. Don’t be deceived, we cannot think our own thoughts and remain intimate with God for very long.
1 Cor. 3:18-20 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.
Our wisdom is futile, vain, and dangerous, in fact, that carnal mind alienates us from God. We must allow God and His Word to reign in our thought-life.
Ephes. 4:22-24 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
THAT MIND IS ANTI-CHRIST
Acts 26:9b-11 I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.
The prefix “anti” constitutes either direct opposition or subtle imitation. Thus, the spirit of anti-christ will always either oppose or attempt to imitate Jesus. In the Apostle’s pre-conversion experience, it was both. He practiced false religion, taught and lived contrary to the Scriptures, while persecuting those who did. Thus, if we allow ourselves to think independently from God, we will ultimately find ourselves under the same delusion.
John 16:2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.
Time and time again, I’ve seen men turn on God and His people so as to justify their own reasoning. If we allow ourselves to reason apart from the Scriptures we open ourselves up to a thousand accusatory voices tempting us we every conceivable false notion. Our only safe-guard is to submit our minds to the Lord.
Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee…