March 27, 2016
In this issue: Minding the Mind by Dan S. Shipley | The Standard of Truth #2 by Steven F. Deaton
by Dan S. Shipley
You wouldn't expect to learn much from garage wall graffiti, but this bit of scribbling caught my attention recently while standing around awaiting car repairs: "If you continue to think the way you've always thought, you'll continue to be what you've always been." Good graffiti for a change. There is a strong correlation between what one is and what one thinks. The Bible says so. "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he. . . " (Prov. 23:7).
That's why God says, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" (Prov. 4:23). In this regard, keeping the heart is minding the mind. Physically, the heart is the central organ of the body. In its Biblical and figurative sense, it most commonly refers to the mind of man as the center of moral, spiritual and intellectual life. You might say that man is the living expression of what's in his heart. "All our actions take their hue from the complexion of the heart, as landscapes their variety from the light" (Bacon). Jesus reinforces this idea from the viewpoint of that which defiles a man. "But the things which proceed out of the mouth come forth out of the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, railings . . . " (Matt. 15:18). Clearly, the thought in the mind is the seed of the deed. As Jesus teaches, evil men think evil thoughts that produce evil words and deeds while good men think good thoughts that produce good words and deeds (Lk. 6:45). But, in either case, it is man that determines his own thoughts, and, hence, his deeds. Thus, the need to "keep the heart." God does not require that which man cannot do. Rational man can control what he thinks. And when he does, he controls his activities and lifestyle. Every man "stores up" in his heart what he considers to have importance and priority. (Remember, it may be good or bad, important or trivial, hurtful or helpful, or whatever, but it is his "treasure.") The man, then, who stores up hate and ill-will, should not be surprised to find it overflowing into ill-treatment and evil speech because "out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh." Likewise, the man who stores up lust and sensuality will, sooner or later, find it overflowing into adultery, fornication or kindred sins. Conduct reveals thinking.
Given time and opportunity, that which fills our minds will fashion our feelings, attitudes, and concepts which, in turn, influence our behavior. And, in the wisdom of the garage wall graffiti, if such wrong thinking continues in the un-minded mind, so will the lifestyle—and so will the misery and consequences it produces.
How important, then, this business of minding the mind and being good heart-keepers. David evidently saw such a need when he prayed, "Create in me a clean heart O God; and renew a right spirit within me" (Psa. 51:10). Only God can give the sinner a clean heart and he does so through forgiveness. Man's part begins with faith. By that we mean the kind of faith that is counted for righteousness; active, obedient, and God-seeking faith. It was on the basis of such faith that God is said to have cleansed the hearts of the Gentiles (Acts 15:9). Such faith expresses itself in repentance (Acts 2:38), confession (Acts 8:37), and baptism (Mk. 16:16). Baptism is the culminating act of obedience in which the sinner receives forgiveness and, thus, having been cleansed, becomes a new creature in Christ to begin his walk in newness of life (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:4).
For the Christian whose heart-house has become defiled with sin, like Simon, he must repent and pray God for forgiveness (Acts 8:22). Now, with clean hands, pure hearts (Jas. 4:8), and a renewed mind (Rom. 12:2), the child of God sets his mind on the things that are above and not on the things that are upon the earth (Col. 3:2). He brings every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). Such is the mental discipline Peter refers to when he speaks of "girding up the loins of your mind" and being "sober" (1 Pet. 1:13). Since man's heart is the control center of his life, the man who lives for God must control the control center. That's why we must remember and heed the divine admonition, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." ~
In our last article we noted that God's Word is the standard of truth. This was the case for Israel under the law of Moses (Josh. 1:7; Deut. 4:2). This is true for all men today as they are subject to the law of Christ (1 Cor. 9:21; Gal. 6:2). Some think the gospel is not as strict as the law of Moses, but they are mistaken.
Jesus told the apostles to "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19-20). There is no ambiguity about "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you." Jesus did not say this merely to amuse Himself. He meant it.
John said we love God and His children by keeping His commandments (1 Jn. 5:2-3). He also said, "Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son" (2 Jn. 1:9). The idea is that we must remain within the standard of the gospel. If we deviate to the right or left, we are in error and not in fellowship with God.
James said the gospel is the "perfect law of liberty" (Jas. 1:25). Jesus said, "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (Jn. 8:32). The pure, uncorrupted gospel is the only thing that can set you free from sin and Satan. Paul said the gospel is "the power of God to salvation" (Rom. 1:16).
We have to see that the standard of truth, which is the gospel, saves souls and a departure from it severs fellowship with God. This is why we write these articles week after week, setting forth the truth and exposing error. In our next article we will look at exposing error as a positive part of the standard of truth. ~
Steven F. Deaton