Last month we continued our series Against the Tide: Getting Beyond Ourselves by focusing on the subject of single-mindedness vs. double-mindedness. In the Greek, single-minded means only one life is being lived; whereas, double-minded means two lives are being lived.
We said that a person is single-minded when he continually chooses to relinquish himself (all his thoughts, emotions and desires that are contrary to Gods) so that Gods Life from his heart can come forth. In other words, only one life is being lived, Christs.
Onthe other hand, we said that a double-minded person is a believer (Gods Life is still in his heart), but one who has chosen not to relinquish himself, therefore Gods Life is quenched and blocked from coming forth. Thus, the love and wisdom that others see and hear from this individual is not Gods as it should be, but self life. Consequently, two lives are being lived, Gods Life in his heart, but self-life in his soul.
Therefore, we can be Christians all of our lives and yet, because we continue to make emotional choices to follow what we think, feel and desire over what God has asked, Gods Life in us becomes quenched and blocked. Thus, no one will ever see the difference between our life and that of our neighbors who dont even know God. Gods Life is still in our hearts (were Christians), but the life that is coming forth from our soul is self-life, our own thoughts and emotions, and not Gods at all.
Titus 1:16 describes this state, They profess that they know God [intimately], but in works [actions] they deny Him....
Double-mindedness, obviously, is the enemys game plan. e knows that double-mindedness will:
keep us unstable in all our ways (James 1:8);
quench the light of the knowledge of Jesus in our lives (Luke 11:34c); and finally,
3) cause us to fall (Luke 11:17).
...Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth. (Luke 11:17)
Simplicity in Christ
In 2 Corinthians 11:3 Paul warns us about double-mindedness. He says, I fear lest by any means as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ!
Simplicity does not mean ignorance, naivete or being unschooled in the things of God; it simply means singleness of mind. The Greek word for simplicity is haplous, which can be defined as something that is folded together, braided together or intertwined. Simplicity in Christ means having our thinking folded together with and focused on Christ. Haplous, therefore, is the same thing as single-mindedness.
Paul is saying here that just as Satan deceived, seduced and tricked Eve in her thinking, so he fears that our own thinking can easily be corrupted from the simplicity or the single-mindedness that is in Christ. And hes absolutely right. Because we have not understood the power and authority that we possess to make faith choices (choices to obey God, regardless of how we feel) and stay single-minded, weve not been prepared to stand in the battle against Satan, and instead, weve ended up crashing and burning even before weve begun.
Faith Choices Work!
Maggie found out that her husband, Mark, was having an affair. She was devastated and not quite sure which way to turn. Mark began to come home for only a few days at a time, and then he would leave again for weeks. At the same time, he also began to drink heavily and smoke pot.
Mark had had a very troubled youth and was raised in a gang- type environment. He was involved with people who committed terrible crimes and who had consistently abused drugs. Maggie knew about Marks background when they first began dating, but she had fallen in love with the tender, beautiful man inside and thought she could be instrumental in changing his life.
Shortly after they married, however, he began doing heroin. He was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison. While incarcerated, he became on fire for the Lord and was released early because of his good behavior. Maggie thought all the bad times were finally behind them. She became pregnant, had two beautiful daughters and life became bliss.
After several years, however, Mark began to again stray. Maggie felt it was her job as his wife to keep him straight, so she put up all sorts of rules and conditions. But, of course, this only made Mark hate being home. He lost his job and began to live off of their credit cards.
When Maggie finally found out about the other woman, she came to the conclusion that enough is enough and decided to leave. She got a legal separation and a restraining order against Mark, so that he couldnt harass her or come by anytime he wanted. Not being able to see his wife or his girls devastated Mark. And when he realized that Maggie was really going to divorce him, he totally broke. This was the first step towards repentance.
Five and a half months after Marks affair was over, Maggie returned to the marriage. She felt strongly that the Lord had told her to come home. She chose to trust God totally; by faith, unconditionally forgive Mark; and, become willing to start over again. She really did love Mark and, more than anything else, wanted to rebuild their marriage.
It hasnt been easy for her, but she writes, How awesome its been since I have chosen, on a daily basis, to be a cleansed vessel and present my body to God as a living sacrifice. The realization that I can make a choice to do what God wants me to do, even when I dont feel like it, has helped me tremendously. I didnt know you didnt have to feel willing, but simply be willing. I am happy to say that it really works!
Faith choices work!
The Light of Gods Life
Gods plan for our lives is that we might be conformed into His image so that we can show forth His Light (His Life), and the Gospel can be passed on.
Luke 11:33-36 perfectly describes both single-mindedness and double-mindedness:
No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light. The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single [single-minded], thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil [double-minded], thy body also is full of darkness. Take heed therefore, that the light which is in thee be not darkness [covered over]. If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.
Jesus Life is the Light that Luke is talking about here (John 8:12), and our goal and purpose as Christians is not only to be filled with that Light, but also to let that Light shine out to others. We are not to hide that light under a bushel (under a wall of hurts, doubts and fears), but, as this Scripture says, put it on a lampstand so all can see it. In other words, be a genuine witness of Christ - show forth His Life.
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify [be filled with, reflect, manifest and shine forth] God in your body.... (1 Corinthians 6:20)
Again, the only way this is ever going to happen the only way we are ever going to be single-minded or filled with Gods Spirit is by learning how to make faith choices to go Gods way, even if its the last thing in the world we want to do. Learning how to put off the garbage in our thinking and put on Christ is the only way we can ever reflect Him. Only then can Gods Spirit freely issue forth from the Holy of Holies of our hearts and fill our souls as He desires.
Again, its a mind battle. Whoever controls our thinking will ultimately control our lives. When we dont understand how to make faith choices to surrender ourselves to God, well become conformed to the world and the enemy will rejoice.
If, however, we can learn to follow Christ even when we dont feel like it, want to or think it will work, well have a chance to be conformed into Christs image and able to stand against the enemy of our souls.
Therefore, our efforts to change should not be focused on our wrong actions, but on our wrong thinking and our wrong choices. Only by constantly taking every thought captive, putting off the debris and putting on Christ, will we ever be able to walk the victorious Christian life.
All that is required for us to live the victorious Christian Life is to be clean and to be willing. The dictionary defines willing as ready to act without hesitation.
Luke 14:26 reminds us that we really cannot be Gods disciples unless we are willing to (not wanting to or feeling like it, but simply willing to) lay everything down (father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters). Yea, He says, [even our] own lives.
The Result of Unwillingness
Several years ago, while having lunch with some dear old friends, we began to talk about how important it is for us to be willing to deny ourselves, lay everything down to Jesus and follow Him. One friend of mine said, Nancy, I dont agree with you. I think some people dont have the ability or the capability to lay everything down and do it Gods way. She then gave various reasons why she was convinced they couldnt do this: dysfunctional families, co-dependency, poor marriages, physical abuse, emotional problems, and other environmental circumstances.
I thought for a moment and then replied, Suzy, if these people are Christians, then God is in them. Right?
Right, she said.
Well, then, He is the One who will make them capable and give them the ability to deny themselves. I think all Christians are capable of laying themselves aside because God is in them, but not all Christians are willing to do so! That, to me, is the bottom line!
The people Suzy was talking about simply werent willing to lay themselves aside. Their excuses ranged from dysfunctional families, to my husband is not trying. But, I dont believe these things were the real problem, because God has all the Love, Wisdom and Power they need; they just werent willing to set themselves aside so that God could do these things through them.
Perhaps this example will help us to understand Matthew 24:12 a little more clearly. This Scripture says that in the end times ...because iniquity shall abound, the Agape of many will grow cold. This is simply saying that in the end times, many Christians will not be willing to deny themselves, but rather want to hold on to their justified hurts, unforgiveness, etc. Therefore, the Agape Love of God in their hearts will grow cold. It will be covered over, blocked and unable to flow forth
Thus, the bottom line is that all Christians have Gods Love in them, but not all Christians are willing to set themselves aside to let it flow.
God promises us in Luke 18:30, as well as in many other Scriptures, that the more we are willing to deny ourselves, the more He will return a hundredfold, not only in this present time but in the world to come as well. I know this has been true in my own life. My first book Why Should I Be the First to Change? shares how God has restored a hundredfold my marriage, my family, my kids, etc. because I finally learned how to surrender myself to God.
Im certainly not any more capable than anybody else, but one thing is for certain: Im willing. And that seems to be all thats necessary! The question is: Are you?
As Matthew 16:24 says, If any man [is willing to] come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
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This article was excerpted, in part, from Chuck and Nans book, Against the Tide.