By Billy Graham •
This issue of Decision features several articles from Christian apologists—scholars who show that Christian faith rests on solid historical evidence and that we do not need to shut down our minds in order to believe in Jesus. This classic message from Billy Graham tells how our minds can be renewed, transformed and filled with life and peace.
One of the most important things in our lives is the control of our minds. Our thoughts are powerful. They can harm us or do us good. The Bible says, “As [a person] thinks … so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Many people have troubled minds. There’s a story told in the eighth chapter of Ezekiel about priests and leaders who on the outside were worshiping the true and living God, but who on the inside, in their minds, had idols. They were worshiping other gods and acting out sexual fantasies, and God condemned them as great sinners.
Scripture has several things to say about the mind: First, the Bible says that the mind is naturally at enmity with God (Romans 8:7). A person’s mind is against God. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians that before they came to Christ, they were “alienated and enemies in [their] mind” to all things relating to the true knowledge of God. Because of sin, the mind is an enemy of God (Colossians 1:21). Such a mind will not obey the law of God. You may say you believe in God, you may say you love God, but you don’t obey God. You live like an atheist.
The works of the flesh are listed in Galatians 5. I’d like to quote them for you, because they talk about the mind. When you follow your own wrong mind, your life will produce these evil results: “impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, idolatry, spiritism (that is, encouraging the activity of demons), hatred and fighting, jealousy and anger, constant effort to get the best for yourself, complaints and criticisms, the feeling that everyone else is wrong except those in your own little group–and there will be wrong doctrine, envy, murder, drunkenness, wild parties, and all that sort of thing” (Galatians 5:19-21, TLB). Paul went on to say, “I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21, NKJV).
If you continue without repentance, the Scripture says that God will eventually give you over to a “reprobate mind” (Romans 1:28, KJV) to do those things which are not right. The word reprobate carries with it the idea of having been rejected. What a terrible thing it would be to be rejected by God. There were many people who followed Christ in His day, but the Bible says He saw their hearts, He saw their minds and what they were thinking, and He rejected them. There is a point beyond which you cannot return, where your heart is so hard that you can no longer hear the Holy Spirit. Your mind is so hardened that it becomes reprobate, and the Bible warns against having this kind of mind.
Second, the Bible says that you can have a blinded mind. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). In other words, when the Gospel is presented, the devil has a veil over your mind. The devil blinds your mind to spiritual truth. You may know all kinds of disciplines and fields of knowledge. But when it comes to spiritual things, you don’t know anything that is right. You’re blinded.
Our minds don’t want to believe that. That’s why the Holy Spirit has to come and lift the veil. Many people tell me, “I cannot understand. I’ve heard this all my life; I’ve tried to believe and cannot.” I tell you, seriously and tenderly and earnestly, the reason is often because of sin in your life. Satan holds you in his control, and the reason you cannot believe is that you do not really want to believe. You don’t want to give control of your life to Jesus Christ. It would mean giving up those things in your life that the Bible condemns.
Now, when you come to a place where you desire God’s will above all other things and say, “I want to be freed from the power of sin and be forgiven for my sins,” your spiritual eyes are opened. Your mind is freed.
Third, the Bible talks about the doubtful mind. Jesus said, “And do not … have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after. … But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you” (Luke 12:29-31). In Romans, the Bible says, “He who doubts is condemned” (Romans 14:23). The Bible warns that a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8). This carries with it the idea of a person who wishes to be secure in both worlds, who doesn’t want to give up the sins of this world, but who doesn’t want to give up heaven either. God says we can’t have it both ways.
Fourth, the Bible talks about the defiled mind. Paul wrote to Titus about certain people whose minds are “defiled and unbelieving” (Titus 1:15). A religious leader came to me years ago and said, “You know, my mind is filled with evil thoughts, lustful thoughts, all the time. What can I do?”
You see, people don’t fall suddenly. Before the outward fall, there is the inner rehearsal and preparation. Think about it. Shakespeare wrote that sexual passion looks not with the eyes but with the mind. And that’s what Jesus meant when He said, “Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).
But Jesus Christ can cure the mind and the body of their craving of the things that destroy. Christ can liberate and change a person’s mind.
Fifth, there is the renewed mind: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). This means that you renounce the pride, the jealousy and the lusts of your mind, and you receive Jesus Christ into your heart. You let Christ control your mind and your heart, your conscience and your will.
How do you have your mind transformed? By repenting of sin and receiving Christ into your heart. The Scripture says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). The mind of Christ can, through the Holy Spirit, control your mind, your thoughts, your intents and your actions, if you submit to Him daily.
That doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes, but it does mean that you can have the mind of Christ. Do you have a mind controlled by Christ? Do you have a renewed mind? Do you know that all your sins are forgiven, and that if you died right now you would go to heaven? If there’s a doubt in your heart that you are totally and completely Christ’s, you must do three things: First, repent of your sin. Jesus said, “Unless you repent you will … perish” (Luke 13:3).
Second, by faith receive Jesus Christ. He died on the cross for you. When He died on that cross, He took your sin. Something terrible and glorious happened when Jesus said, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). In that moment, God the Father laid upon His Son your sins and mine. Because Jesus bore our sin and death for us, God can say, “I forgive you.”
And instantaneously you can start a new life. It happens in an instant, but there is a lifetime of decisions and commitments to make that relate to the Lord Jesus Christ. Every day I make a commitment concerning thoughts in my mind, what I’m to read, the discipline of my time, my prayer, my Bible-reading, my relationship with my family. Whatever it may be, I say, “Lord Jesus, I want Your mind in this matter.”
Third, follow Christ as a disciple. It’s not easy to follow Christ. The pull of the world, the pull of evil, is tremendous. But you can follow Christ, for in Christ you become spiritually minded. Romans 8:6 says, “To be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
Wouldn’t you like to have eternal life right now? You can have eternal life, life that goes on for eternity. With it comes peace–peace in a world that seems to be falling apart. Wouldn’t you like to have that peace? Deep down in the recesses of your mind you know you ought to receive Christ. Make that commitment to Him right now.